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Obama wins North Carolina; Clinton squeaks by in Indiana

By Richard Lui
CNN Headline News
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Sen. Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle, greet supporters in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Leading up to the North Carolina and Indiana primaries, three obvious scenarios were discussed by analysts: Obama would win both states, Clinton would take both states, or they would each win one. The latter was thought to be most likely.

Well they did each win one state by CNN estimates, but somehow it wasn't quite that...at least if you were following the results as they came in.

In North Carolina, the polls closed at 7pm, some of the exit poll data was being parsed by analysts, and anchors and reporters were afoot about possible outcomes. Normal fare. Then some 30 minutes after the polls closed with little precinct data: Obama was declared the winner by the networks; the results later giving him a win by 14%. Neat and all wrapped up like a nice chicken burrito.

Indiana was quite a different night.

They were the first to report results and they favored Clinton heavily. Clinton was leading by some 18 percent, with only a third of the vote counted earlier on. But then that lead was whittled away hour by hour. The attention began to focus on a little known area of Lake County that for some reason hadn't provided its results. Little known, but the second largest county in the state. And when this Obama-leaning county reported, Indiana became the late night squeaker. A little bleary eyed, the networks finally declared Clinton the winner after 1am ET. Clinton shimmied by with a 2% win - an omelet that almost fell apart as it was being closed up.

Needless to say, by the numbers, Clinton needed strong wins in Indiana and North Carolina. And with the tight win in Indiana, she now falls behind by more delegates and more votes in sanctioned states. And in order to win the nomination based on current superdelegate counts, she would need some 90 percent of the popular vote in the remaining six primaries. That doesn't seem likely, which has led many analysts to say it's over.

Nevertheless, she said in her victory speech last night, "full speed ahead", saying she is more electable, and that getting Michigan and Florida to count is paramount. Her morning schedule has been moved around a bit after the results came out which has some thinking they are discussing options internally. We expect to hear from her in West Virginia this morning.

As for Obama, he solidifies his frontrunner status on all manners of numbers. His victory speech was inclusive and upbeat and his energy was back after seeing the Jeremiah Wright controversy test his campaign's message. In his speech, Obama appeared to have been recharged by his clear North Carolina victory and narrow Indiana loss.

So what do you think of last night's primaries. Where does this leave the Democratic party? Should the two candidates continue until June 3rd, or up until the convention in August? And what do you think of how the two candidates won last night? Many of the dynamics that gave each their wins in previous primaries were reinforced again yesterday: the older and working class vote went for Clinton, and the upscale/educated and black vote went for Obama. Good for the GOP was that the dynamic of a chasm widening also persisted. Early exit polling showed about half of Clinton voters in Indiana would not vote for Obama or sit out the vote in November; a third of Obama voters in North Carolina felt the same.

Let us know what you think -- leave your comment in the Sound-Off section below, and we'll be reading some of your thoughts on Morning Express with Robin Meade today.

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