1:40am (last upate): With a 2% win in Indiana and a 14% loss in North Carolina, Hillary’s results very clearly do not fall in the category of “credible victory.” Whether it is enough for her to stay in the race despite that is entirely up to her but there will be tremendous pressure on her to drop out and superdelegates will probably start moving towards Obama now that they have an opportunity to do so. So will Clinton deem this enough to stay in the race and go on to WV and KY after which she could at least go out with a win, or will the pressure just be overwhelming? More importantly, has Clinton already made up her mind? Tonight’s email and her cancellation of tonight’s media appearances imply that she might have.
1:15am: Clinton wins Indiana. The votes were just not there in the rest of Lake County. The margin in Lake County is now 55% for Obama to 45% for Clinton, confirming that the rest of the county was pro-Clinton. The fact that the county held the non-Gary votes for surprisingly long created confusion and suspense but it was simply impossible for Obama to catch up since all the Gary votes were in (and I do think they have some explaining to do since the non-urban parts of the state reported after 7 hours when even Gary reported in less than 6; more confusing is that those rural areas were reportedly done counting by 6:30pm and the only part of the county that released its results around press time was the part that went big for Obama and gave the impression he could close the gap.) In the gubernatorial race, Lake County has allowed Thompson to pull oh so slightly ahead of Schellinger at the last minute (50.2%).
12:50am: Props to the North Western Indiana Times which is doing a faster and better job than most of the media. They are now confirming that Gary, Indiana is completely in and that the remaining 44% of Lake County is entirely non-Gary. That should guarantee that Indiana is added to Clinton’s column. No new hard numbers though… Also just to be clear on how close this is: Shellinger is leading by 609 votes. (Lake County is explaining that they have too many absentee ballots… though since when does a county want to count all absentees before releasing voting totals?)
And continuing the list of things that are fitting: Isn’t it appropriate that Tim Russert has been among the first who is calling Obama the nominee and reporting that Clinton is canceling her morning appearances considering that he was the moderator of the October “driver’s licenses debate that started Clinton’s fall and that he moderated that Ohio debate back in February?
12:45am: Unnoticed in that latest batch of Lake County votes was Monroe County pretty much finishing its own count (only one precinct outstanding). To win the state Obama needs to find 17,000 votes in Lake County (which isn’t looking that likely anymore) but he also has 7 precincts from Marion County he can get a few hundred votes out of if it comes to that. (As I said, this is obviously all for the symbol. But until the recap post I will write tomorrow it’s hard to not cover Indiana like a true nail-biter). Also, in what is an actual nail-biter, Thompson and Schellinger both have 50,0% in the gubernatorial primary with Thompson pulling even thanks to Lake. Also, Obama has just been coronated “The Nominee” by Drudge (it’s the headline). What is certain is that tonight guarantees that Obama will have a majority of pledged delegates.
12:30am: Is it not fitting that what is potentially the last election night of this primary season is such an agonizing nail-biter? Naturally, this is little more than symbolic at this point; we are talking about a one or two delegate change and Clinton clearly did not get what she needed. But if Clinton has any desire to stay in the race for a few more weeks to compete in the remaining 6 contests — perhaps to withdraw after two victories in WV and KY — she certainly needs her margin (now 17,000 votes) to hold in Lake County. After all, even the media is now calling Obama the Democratic nominee; Russert reports that Clinton has canceled her appearances on morning TV shows.
Also, the Clinton campaign just declared victory in Indiana in an email they sent out: “Every time we’ve celebrated a victory, we’ve celebrated it together. And tonight is no exception. This victory is your victory, this campaign is your campaign, and your support has been the difference between winning and losing. Thank you so much for making this campaign possible. Let’s keep making history together.” The e-mail is very short and while it contains the customary “contribute” button at the bottom there is no future-oriented statement at all in the entire email, even no plea for money…
12:22am: More updates from Lake County! The two candidates have roughly split the votes of the new 150 counties that have reported. Obama is now up 21,000 votes in the county; he was up 18,000 after the first 158. The Northwestern Indiana paper says this includes almost all of Gary — which would mean that Clinton is likely to hold her to her 2% margin in Indiana.
12:20am: By this time on Super Tuesday we knew almost every result — even California! And tonight started at 6pm… Hopefully the general election will not come down to Lake County, Indiana (not that it will). Still nothing new from Lake County… The Northwest Paper of Indiana reports that there is a history of slow counting in Lake County and reminds us that the Clintons made stops here because there are a lot of white ethnics in the non-Gary part of the county. In other words, the margin is very unlikely to stay at 75-25. The question then is why the county did not report totals from towns that reported their totals at 6:30pm (if the Hamond mayor is telling the truth), as those numbers being in might have allowed Indiana to be called much earlier.
12:10am: Lake County is showing no intention of releasing the 72% of precincts remaining there (it has been 5 hours the polls have closed in the county). The Mayor of Hamond, Lake County is saying that his town voted for Clinton and so did all the non-Gary towns of the county. He added that he reported his results to the county at 6:30pm and that he was not sure why the results were not reporting and why only the Gary results were in right now (see next paragraph). If confirmed, the Clinton campaign’s anger of most of the past 2 hours that Lake County’s not reporting is preventing them from declaring victory and getting that news in tomorrow’s paper could be justified. Whatever happens with the remaining votes in Indiana, tomorrow morning’s narrative is going to be one uncalled race and one Obama blowout.
The question is what remains to be counted in the county. The city of Gary, or the rest of the county? Also, Marc Ambinder says that the 28% of precincts reporting were mostly from Gary so that half of the city remains to report and the rest of the county. Clinton should do better in the non-Gary part of Lake than in the city itself, especially if the Hamond Mayor is correct.
11:50pm: Lake County is finally getting its act together and has started reporting! And Obama is getting a huge margin out of the county. With 28% of Lake County reporting, Obama has 75% of the vote and has closed Indiana to a 2% race and a 20,000 vote margin. If the rest of Lake votes the same way, the state (and the night) belong to Obama. Note that Gary is only one part of Lake County so not all the county is likely to have uniform results. Will we have to wait as long for the next batch of Lake County results?? (Even Kos is casting doub
t on Gary’s results now: “The question is whether this was legit. The way the vote is being released makes this stink to high hell.”)
Lake County could have an even bigger impact on the gubernatorial primary. Thompson was trailing against Schellinger 50.4% to 49.6% before Lake county started reporting… now, the margin is down to 0.4% and Thompson is winning Lake County!
11:20pm: Hillary Clinton did not drop out in her speech and justified that by using Obama’s statement last week that Indiana would be the tie-breaker. I did not get to watch the speech as I am not in front of the television tonight, but Ben Smith reports that Clinton sounded very “muted,” drained of energy and visibly down. Not to mention that the Clinton campaign is angry that Gary is withholding the final results. Even if Clinton wins Indiana now, it will be post-primetime, post-her speech and, perhaps, post tomorrow’s paper settle on their articles and storylines. What is up with Gary, Indiana???
10:30pm: MSNBC reports that Lake County (67% of the remaining precincts) will not start reporting before 11pm… Monroe and Marion County have about 60 precincts combined, and some counties have outstanding precincts here and there. It appears that most of the remaining counties should help Obama; it is unlikely — though not impossible — that they could carry him towards a victory. In North Carolina, a 14% margin is holding.
10:10pm: I have no idea why Lake County has not reported at all yet but until it does it will be hard to know the final margin in that state. Obama is trailing by 35,000 votes statewide and since half of the remaining precincts are in Lake County he will need a huge victory there. He is likely to get it in the city of Gary which is heavily black but not necessarily in the rest of the county. In North Carolina, Charlotte is now reporting on par with the rest of the state; the numbers will probably stay stable for the rest of the night.
Also, contrary to what the Huffington Post is suggesting, tonight’s exit polls do not suggest that the Limbaugh effect is having a big impact. Yes, as the Huff Post notes, most of those who say neither candidate shares their value are voting Clinton and it is also true that more Clinton voters would not vote Obama in the general than the other way around; but the fact that most blue-collar white Democrats (who have always been the first group to desert Democrats in the general) are Clinton’s base makes that perfectly predictable; also, most polls in the past month confirms that Democratic Clinton supporters are more likely to cross-over than Obama’s. Consider that 35% of Clinton supporters in Indiana said they will vote McCain in the general. But only about 5% of Clinton’s support comes from Republicans (10% of voters tonight were Republicans and they voted for the two candidates roughly equally). Clearly those 35% were not Republican and not Limbaugh listeners. (Marc Ambinder agrees that the Limbaugh effect is “marginal.”)
9:55pm: The margin keeps narrowing in Indiana — 3% with 79% reporting. But that is almost entirely driven by Indianapolis getting close to done (94%). There is no reporting at all in Lake County (Gary), which is expected to be big for Obama. Lake County represents a third of the remaining precincts, so the margin could narrow some more… perhaps leading to an Obama victory? The symbol of an Indiana victory would be huge, off course, and make it hard for Clinton to justify staying in the race. Even if Clinton holds on, the difference in size between the two victories would already make it hard for her to resist pressure; this has not been a good night for the new New York Senator.
9:45pm: Results are coming in slower now. Kay Hagan will be the Democratic nominee in North Carolina’s Senate race, Beverly Perdue in the governor’s race. In the GOP’s gubernatorial primary, Charlotte Mayor McCrory looks good in the GOP one: He is ahead by 9% only but “his” city is reporting significantly slower than the rest of the state.
The Clinton campaign is having trouble spinning the North Carolina results giving how much energy they put to convince they had a shot in keeping North Carolina close (there was even suggestion last week that the state was winnable). The exact margin is still unclear (it’s now down to 14%) but with Charlotte still to report Obama looks assured of at least a double-digit victory.
9:25pm: Giving his first victory speech in two months in Raleigh, NC, Obama concedes Indiana and calls Democrats to unify: “This primary season may not be over, but when it is, we will have to remember who we are as Democrats – that we are the party of Jefferson and Jackson; of Roosevelt and Kennedy… This fall, we intend to march forward as one Democratic Party, united by a common vision for this country.”
Results-wise, the race keeps tightening in Indiana but Indianapolis is now 84% reporting (a 45,000 vote lead for Obama in Allen County alone). Clinton’s overall lead is down to 5% with 71% reporting — though that’s a stable 50,000 vote lead. In North Carolina, the margin is down from the 28% it was at earlier to 18% with 39% reporting. Keep in mind that the numbers we saw at the beginning were early voters, of which a far larger percentage were African-Americans (40%, versus 33% overall).
9:15pm: We are up to 68% reporting in Indiana, including 73% in Indianapolis which is now reporting above state average. Clinton’s statewide lead is down to 6% (50,000 votes) and Obama is up 40,000 in Allen County. But Lake County (Gary) has not started reporting and Monroe County is only at 10% (though it doesn’t look that there are a significant number of votes there). CBS is still the only network to have called Indiana.
8:50pm: Down-the-ballot races are being decided as well. Kay Hagan and Beverly Perdue are headed to big victories. The IN gubernatorial primary is too close to call. In IN-07, Carson (who won the special election a few months ago) is holding on by 15% against a challenger.
8:40pm: Indianapolis is now 54% reporting, and Monroe County (college-heavy) is starting to trickle in — more than the state total (52%) which is helping Obama catch up and close to 8%. In North Carolina, 14% are reporting but that includes almost all the votes in the Triangle (Chapel Hill, Raleigh, Durham) are reporting — and going huge for Obama (there was some talk of Clinton closing the gap somewhat in the Triangle).
8:20pm: CBS calls Indiana for Clinton. Other networks don’t go there yet. With 47% reporting (and 37% in Indianapolis), Clinton’s lead is down to 10%. Still nothing from the Northwest or from Monroe County.
8:15pm: Allen County (Indianapolis) is now 33% reporting and Obama is leading by 22% (9,000 votes). Clinton is now leading by 13% with 39% reporting. The bad news for Clinton is that many of the remaining votes are from Obama counties: college student-heavy Monroe County is only at 1% and the Northwest is still completely out. And, of course, Allen County will bring in many more votes.
8pm: A note on the NC results: A 14% victory for Obama would by no means a surprise. He was leading by double-digit in a number of polls this week and routinely beat Clinton by more than 14% until last week. Thus, we can’t even say that Obama exceeded expectations. But there is no question that Clinton needed to perform much better than a double-digit loss here. It looks like NC will be the mirror image of PA to the end — a victory that has nothing shocking will be portrayed like a significant triumph.
7:50pm: Updated exit polls in North Carolina have Obama expanding his lead a bit to 14-15%. This is going to hurt Clinton quite a bit. She is now projected to carry 60% of the white vote and 6% of the black vote. She was hoping for a bit more among both groups, but her failure to even hold to her usual level among African-Americans is what is driving her so far down here. If those numbers hold, it will also allow Obama to increase his pledged delegate total meaningfully.
Clinton supporters will at least be happy that she is holding on to her 57% to 43% lead (50,000 votes) in Indiana with a third of the precincts reporting… including 20% of Indianapolis, where Obama is up by 20%. It does look like the reporting precincts in Indianapolis are the smaller ones, however, since there is only 20,000 votes from Allen county while at least 150,000 voters were expected (correct me if I am wrong here).
7:40pm: Given how bad North Carolina looks like it could be for Clinton, she really needs to outperform exit polls in Indiana. With 26% of the vote reporting, she is still up 57% to 43% — a 38,000 vote lead. Indianapolis is starting to come in more rapidly, with 11% reporting there Obama is up by 20%. Fort Wayne has almost finished counting, with Clinton closing the gap a bit to 8%. Monroe County (Univ. of Indiana) has only reported 1% of the vote. Obama has a big source of votes there as well.
7:30pm: Polls close in North Carolina, Obama declared the winner. The improbable scenario of a double victory for Clinton is squashed. More problematic for her is the fact that networks calling the race this quickly means that the margin is likely to be big, potentially striking a terrible blow to Clinton. The exit polls right now give Obama a 13% lead, certainly significant. Since I have repeated that the racial breakdown is important, let’s look at it: 33% of voters are African-American, what Clinton needed to make this a race. But she appears to have fallen to 6% among black voters while getting ‘only’ 59% of white voters.
7:25pm: With 17% reporting, it’s still Clinton 57% to 43% (27,000 votes). That includes 68% of Allen County (Obama is leading by 10%). Indianapolis has started reporting, so numbers could start moving soon. With 3% reporting, he is leading by 10%. Appropriately, Hillary is winning Clinton County (with 61% of the vote).
7:15pm: 10% are now reporting and Clinton is ahead 58% to 42% (20,000 votes). Nothing yet from the Northwest and from Indianapolis, so this will all obviously change. Numbers are coming in from Fort Wayne, Indiana (Allen County) and Obama is performing above expectations. With 32% reporting, he is ahead by 12% (3,000 votes). That bodes well for his overall numbers.
7pm: All polls have now closed in Indiana, so we have access to CNN’s exit polling data. It looks like the numbers are the more reliable third wave of polling. This exit poll is projecting a tight race with Clinton slightly leading (about 5%). It could be a long night… Noteworthy findings: Only 55% of voters are women, expect a very good night for Obama in Indianapolis, and the polarization along partisan lines is not as dramatic as anticipated. As for the black vote, Obama seems to have had some room to grow… he is projected to be at 93%. I will wait a bit more for more exact breakdown among different constituencies; for now, all the usual voting behaviors are holding, with Clinton holding on to blue-collar voters. (Note: As far as understood, exit polls do have mechanisms to take early voting into account).
6:45pm: As I predicted, results have started trickling in before all polls closed. With 3% reporting, Clinton has a 61% to 39% lead in Indiana. As in most states, there will be some huge geographical polarization tonight, and the counties that are reporting right now are from rural areas likely to go big for Clinton.
6:10pm: Polls have closed in most of Indiana now but the full exit polls are not being released because small pockets of the state, on Central time, are closing in an hour. Results could start trickling in soon though. CNN reports that exit polls in North Carolina have the black vote at 91-6. If confirmed (which is far from certain), this would mean Clinton has fallen lower than her usual percentage and would make it tough for her to keep the race in single-digits.
There are very troubling signs for Democrats in the general, however. Ambinder notesthat 60 to 66% of a candidate’s supporters would be dissatisfied if the other wins the election. Also, the g-e breakdown among Clinton voters does not bode well for party unity: In North Carolina, 45% of them would vote Obama and 38% McCain (!); in Indiana, it’s 48-33.
Original post: Both Indiana and North Carolina have more delegates than any other state that still has to vote — 115 for NC and 72 for IN. Polls close at 7:30pm ET in North Carolina; Indiana polls close early (as you might remember from previous election nights), 6pm local time. That means that polls will close at 6pm ET in most of the state but not until 6 pm CT (7pm ET) in some areas. It is for now unclear whether numbers will start being reported before all polls are closed (they often are).
We should start having a good idea of where things are heading when early exit polls give us a precise idea of the partisan and racial breakdown of tonight’s electorate. For now, the AP is reporting preliminary exits with vague indications: (1) “About a third” of the NC electorate is African-American. Anything higher than 32% would make things tough for Clinton. (2) Respectively “about one in five” and “one in ten” of Indiana voters are independents and Republicans. If confirmed, this would be good news for Clinton. Some polls over the past week had suggested that the proportion of registered Democrats could be as low as 60%. (3) 48% of voters in both states are apparently telling exit pollsters that Wright was “very” or “somewhat” important in their choice…
As for exit polls of the horse race, they are suggesting an easy Obama win in North Carolina for now and a smaller Clinton lead in Indiana. But keep in mind that almost all exit polls from almost every state have been very skewed towards Obama. The second wave of exits from both Pennsylvania and Ohio showed Obama narrowly ahead, so swings by at least 10% are definitely possible.
For now, you can read my guidelines to tonight’s results; and, as always, stories from election day. Ben Smith posts on stories of people being turned away because of Indiana’s strict ID law that was just upheld by the Supreme Court.