Tar Heel and Hoosier DayToday is voting day in the Democratic primaries in North Carolina and Indiana, and both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are now predicting a blow-for-blow fight right up to the last primary on June 3rd:
Resolute rivals Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama straddled North Carolina and Indiana on Monday on the eve of a pair of crucial primaries in the unceasing contest for the Democratic presidential nomination.
Both predicted the race would stretch into June, regardless of Tuesday's outcomes.
Obama is ahead in the hunt for convention delegates — 1,743.5 to 1,607.5, according to an Associated Press count Monday — but Clinton senses an opening after a win in Pennsylvania last month. Still, the delegate math works to Obama's advantage, and it will be hard for Clinton to overtake him. NBC's national delegate count currently stands at 1603 for Clinton and 1738 for Obama. NBC’s estimated superdelegate count stands at 267 for Clinton and 248 for Obama.
The most likely outcome of today's vote at this point is that Clinton will win Indiana and Obama will win in North Carolina. This is the first set of Democratic contests since Super Tuesday where a win is an absolute requirement for both candidates. For Hillary Clinton, failure to win either State will likely shut the door on her campaign, as it will be impossible for her to raise the money to compete in the remaining contests. In the case of Barack Obama, if he cannot win either State, it will raise real questions about his electability and give Clinton supporters funding to keep fighting until the convention if they wish.
If the results turn out as predicted and the two candidates split the voting today, it is very likely that a brokered convention is inevitable. The "nightmare scenario" that Democratic Chairman Howard Dean is trying so hard to avoid will likely materialize, making Democratic defeat in November all the more likely.