So Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton split the two state primaries Tuesday. Sort of.

Obama was expected to win North Carolina, but won much bigger than
expected. Clinton was expected to win Indiana, but eked out a very
narrow victory. By early evening as the results were coming in, some
commentators and Democratic leaders among them, were saying it’s time
for Clinton to drop out of the race. She is not. But Tuesday’s primary
results finally gave the evening a new, pivotal feel. After all this
time, it seems like the race has turned the corner and may be coming down the stretch.

Here’s some buzz…

There is considerable discussion about what would happen
the Florida and Michigan primary results could be counted; there is the
debate about whether Obama is electable, and there is an extended
conversation about one paragraph in [a] story, which said, “A Clinton
adviser said the situation was increasingly becoming one in which ’she
cannot be nominated and he can’t get elected.’ “

That seems to be the emerging line right now. There are a lot of
comments on that blog, some interesting and some insulting, which is
regrettably too common in blog comments. I particularly like the one
calling for “noblesse oblige”.

So are we down that final stretch, finally? Is Clinton staying in
this to position herself for some significant role in the a Democratic
administration and/or the party? Does she really think she can still win?

Clinton has a chance at winning in a few of the
remaining states, but the likelihood of her taking the delegates she
needs to win is nearly insurmountable…Still, she argues the count is
close.  Clinton touched on this theme Tuesday night, citing the “he
wins one, she wins one” nature of the campaign.

Well….he won a whole bunch on Super Duper Tuesday, securing a huge
bloc of delegates, and her wins since early March still haven’t brought
her to any point that seriously threatened Obama’s lead. Now, this.

Despite narrowly winning Indiana, while losing North
Carolina, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton did not fundamentally improve
her chances of securing the Democratic presidential nomination. If
anything, Mrs. Clinton’s hopes for overtaking Senator Barack Obama
dwindled further on Tuesday night.

Obama’s victory is all the larger given all the controversy he has
struggle to overcome lately, between his wife’s remarks on different
occasions reflecting a bleak picture of America, Obama’s own remarks
about bitter and angry working class Americans clinging to their guns
and religion, and his pastor’s inflammatory remarks on all sorts of
issues, mostly racial.

That he was able to hold his own under those
circumstances should allow him to make a case that he has proved his
resilience in the face of questions about race, patriotism and
political mettle — the very kinds of issues that the Clinton campaign
has suggested would leave him vulnerable in the general election.

There’s an interesting line in this article, a common-sense look at
what to make of the ups and downs of the Democratic campaigns. It’s a
quote that says nothing has really changed.

“Unfortunately for her, the math reasserts itself,” said
Carter Eskew, a Democratic consultant not affiliated with either
candidate.

And here’s the math:

…after 50 nominating contests, there are only 6 left,
with just 217 pledged delegates left to be elected, not enough to get
either of them over the 2,025 threshold necessary to win the nomination.

Mr. Obama’s aides said Mrs. Clinton would have to win close to 70
percent of the remaining pledged delegates and superdelegates to win
the nomination, a shift in the campaign’s trajectory that would seem
possible only if some big development came along to hurt Mr. Obama.

That’s one possibility. Another involves Florida and Michigan, the
superdelegates, and more victories in the remaining primaries.

The other big hope for the Clinton campaign is making
the argument that Mr. Obama would suffer against Senator John McCain,
the likely Republican presidential nominee. The exit polls gave Mrs.
Clinton ammunition in that regard: half the Democrats who voted in
Indiana and North Carolina said Mr. Obama’s association with Mr. Wright
was very or somewhat important.

And in Indiana, for example, less than half of Mrs. Clinton’s
supporters said they would support Mr. Obama in a general election,
while one-third said they would vote for Mr. McCain. About one-fifth of
Mr. Obama’s supporters in Indiana said they would vote for Mr. McCain
in a general election should Mrs. Clinton get the nomination. Many of
those Democrats can probably be expected to stay with their party in
the end, but the figures suggest the intensity of the passion dividing
Clinton and Obama supporters at the moment and the challenge facing the
eventual nominee in uniting the party.

In his victory speech last night, Obama said he believes the party will unify behind whichever candidate is the party’s nominee.

But we’re not there yet.

Sheila Liaugminas

Sheila Liaugminas is an Emmy award-winning Chicago-based journalist in print and broadcast media. Her writing and broadcasting covers matters of faith, culture, politics and the media....