I imagine that we're going to see a lot of Winston Churchill quotes in the news pretty soon. You know where he says that we're at the "end of the beginning." Nice try. But today definitely marks the beginning of the end of the Democratic nomination contest and Hillary Clinton's campaign. As it stands this morning, Obama is only 42 delegates shy of claiming the nomination. Coupled with good showings tonight and the expected post-primary surge of endorsements, and Obama should have the nomination.
That didn't take long.
I'm going to echo what every other living commentator has said, which is that once he's got the nomination, Obama needs to move quickly and aggressively to consolidate the Democratic base and unite the party behind his leadership. Some of this will happen naturally, to be sure. But there's going to be a diehard contingent of Hillary supporters who aren't so happy about it. And they're very strident in their Obama attacks. I know. I get regular e-mails from them.
The best case scenario is that Obama tallies two wins tonight by a margin of about 400,000 votes. That way, he's ahead of Clinton no matter how anyone tallies the popular vote (i.e. counting Michigan, but giving Obama a zero in that state). Given the relatively small populations of the states voting tonight, I'm not sure how likely that will be. Which brings up back to Hillary.
What she does in the next few days is going to have huge impacts on the rest of this race. I'll write more about this tomorrow, but for now suffice it to say that she's going to need to do some pretty agile tap dancing in order to remove herself from the race without further riling up her base. Because we know they're plenty riled already. Now is the time for calm and reconciliation. I hope she's got it in her.