Another Tuesday, another pair of inconclusive primaries. Because Oregon uses mail-in voting, there will be no exit polls, and this could dent Barack Obama's message: Kentucky will be called so early for Clinton that she'll get to run the airwaves for a few hours.
Kentucky (7 p.m.): The Democrats: It can't be worse for Obama than West Virginia. What could be worse? Obama's hell is Appalachia, and after 18 months of campaigning he can't get mountain whites to trust him. West Virginia was nothing but mountain whites; only half of Kentucky is Appalachian. Clinton carried every county in West Virginia (Obama only came close in Virginia-bordering Jefferson County), but Obama would have to work hard to lose Louisville-centered Jefferson County—19 percent black, median age 37, median income $44,000, and home to several universities. He has a chance in hell at winning Lexington-centered Fayette County. Lucky for him, the Louisville-based 3rd Congressional District sends 8 delegates to the convention, and he has a chance at winning them 5 to 3. Unlucky for him, the rest of the state will go for Clinton. Clinton 64 percent, Obama 35 percent, with Clinton netting around 11 delegates (out of 51).
The Republicans: I'm going to guess McCain finally breaks 80 percent here: 84 percent for him, 8 for Huckabee, the rest for Paul.
Oregon (11 p.m.): The Pacific Northwest loves Obama, and I think this analysis gets it right: Perceptions-wise, Obama is the more lefty, "reformer" candidate, and has gotten more so since Clinton became the candidate of the John Steinbeck novel. For a similar reason, Clinton has regularly underpolled Obama here versus McCain, even during periods of relative Obama weakness. The state's just not that into Clinton. I don't buy the few polls that showed a close race: Survey USA, a pollster with a lot of experience in the state, has shown Obama consistently ahead, dipping a little during Wright, and bouncing back since May 6. Obama 56, Clinton 43, with Obama netting around 8 delegates (out of 52).
The Republicans: I predict a slightly higher Paul vote here: Otherwise, similar to Kentucky.
UPDATE 10:56: I skipped the usual pundit wankery for some more important stuff, but really, did you miss anything? Hillary wins Kentucky, blah blah. Obama experiences weakness with Appalachian whites, yadda yadda. The pledged delegate majority finally goes to Obama, &c &c. At this point this is like obsessing over post-season pick-up games. Either the DNC engineers an anti-Obama coup or it doesn't.
Moreover, it's time to stop giving McCain the benefit of the doubt. Another opponent-less election, another failure to crack 3/4 of the vote. He hands 28 percent to Huck, Paul, and Uncommitted.
UPDATE 11:02: I was wrong: CNN was able to make a semi-exit-poll by calling Oregon's voters. If the early numbers bear out, Obama wins easily.
UPDATE 11:07: Everyone except CNN calls Oregon for Obama. Bill Kristol informs Fox viewers that Oregonians are all "drinking lattes and sipping granola." I'm confused as to how this is a greater character flaw than the Kentuckyian trend of "strongly disliking black people."
UPDATE 11:45: Here's a signal of how over this race is: Hugh Hewitt is grumbling that The Decemberists inflated Obama's numbers at his 75,000-person rally. They play the Internationale sometimes! And the bass player doesn't like George W. Bush!
The country these people inhabit is getting smaller and smaller.
Here are The Decemberists, by the way. WARNING: This video may cause mild Islamofascism.
UPDATE 12:08: Ah, I see now that Clinton claimed "as goes Kentucky, so goes the nation." Unfortunately, McCain is beating Clinton by 12 poi nts in Kentucky right now. Obama loses Kentucky, too, by much more… but Clinton makes Oregon a toss-up, while Obama wins it easily. I'm not hearing this data point amidst the weird cable news babble about how Hillary Clinton can add four new Appalachian states to the union and seize the nomination.
UPDATE 12:16: With more than half of Oregon ballots counted, I think Obama's going to stick with a 15 or 16-point lead. 80 percent of Oregonians live west of Bend, and Obama's crushing Clinton there. They're breaking even east of the Cascades, which actually represents some slippage for Obama: He mopped up in the Idaho caucus in the counties that border (and are culturally identical to) this part of Oregon. Still, Obama's going to win by about 100,000 votes, meaning Clinton's up a net 150,000 votes for the night: Losing the popular vote unless you count the sham Michigan primary, discount the caucuses, and argue that Puerto Rico should decide this game. Are the Clintons shameless enough to argue that? Excuse me, I need to grab my flashlight: I think I just saw a bear shit in the woods.
UPDAT 12:36: Another point about the Clintons and Michigan: I don't see the point. They're galavanting around the country telling low-information voters that somebody cheated Michigan out of its primary vote and that the 328,309 voters she got there, against Chris Dodd, Dennis Kucinich, and "Uncommitted," should translate to delegates and a popular vote lead. But the only people left voting are South Dakotans, Montanans, Puerto Ricans, and superdelegates. The first three groups don't care about Michigan. The latter group does care, and is pissed off at Michigan for 1)trying to cheat and hold an early primary and 2)trying to get rewarded for cheating. There are 179 uncommitted superdelegates in these 48 states and territories. Obama needs fewer than half of them to clinch the nomination, even before we count delegates from the final three primaries.