Local Politics

Will Obama’s North Carolina win be seen as Clinton's last stand?

Posted May 7, 2008 11:22 p.m. EDT
Updated May 8, 2008 7:04 a.m. EDT

— After U.S. Sen. Barack Obama's strong win in the state's primary, North Carolina Democrats with an eye on the general election have started to coalesce around the Illinois senator.

Of the state's 17 super-delegates, eight have now committed to Obama.

State Party Chief Jerry Meek and Cumberland County Commissioner Jeanette Council – both super-delegates – became Obama's latest endorsers on Wednesday.

Democratic consultants say that because of Obama's dominant win, more super-delegates are likely to trickle in. Some strategists even suggest Obama's dominance in North Carolina will eventually be seen as having ended the race for the Democratic presidential domination.

"I think history is going to say North Carolina resolved the race this year," Democratic Strategist Gary Pearce said.

Pearce said that is because U.S. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton lost by such a large margin. Obama won North Carolina by 14 percentage points while Clinton squeaked out a victory in Indiana. He now holds a larger lead among delegates.

Clinton won slightly more counties than did Obama, but he took the state's most heavily populated areas.

"I think you've got to look at the psychology and the expectations. The Clinton people really thought they had a chance here. They thought at the very least, they could keep it close, maybe 5 points," he added.

Pearce said the tone of Clinton's speeches is a giveaway.

"I want to commend Sen. Obama and his supporters on their win in North Carolina. We are, in many ways, on the same journey," she said Tuesday night. "It’s a journey begun long before we were born. It is a journey by men and women who have been on a mission to perfect our union, who marched and protested, who risked everything they had to build an America that embraces us all."

Pearce said the suggestions of unity in her rhetoric could mean she is thinking about pulling out.

Meanwhile, Obama planned to start traveling to swing states as a way to signal that he is looking to the general election.

"What North Carolina decided is that the only game that needs changing is the one in Washington, D.C," he said.

"I think the great irony of this is the state that gave America Jesse Helms and some of the other toughest racial campaigning over the years, is going to be viewed historically as the state that clinched the nomination for the first African-American nominee," Pearce said.

Clinton did pick up three super-delegates Tuesday. U.S. Rep. Heath Shuler had said he would support the primary winner in his western North Carolina district, and she won it handily.

Six North Carolina super-delegates remain uncommitted.