Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Kentucky special: Memo to journalists on primary

Last night’s results in North Carolina and Indiana leave Kentucky as the largest state yet to vote in the presidential primaries, with the Democratic nomination still undecided. Our state has never played such a role before, but it’s possible that the closest primary on our May 20 ballot will be for U.S. senator, not president.

Kentucky’s presidential primary already has an anticlimactic air about it. Nationally, more superdelegates remain at stake than regular delegates, and the candidates’ focus is shifting to them. Sen. Barack Obama may trot out some to endorse him today; Sen. Hillary Clinton has already started talking more about full seating of delegates from Florida and Michigan, which currently have none because they held primaries too early.

Clinton’s end-game strategy has called for her to gain the edge in total popular vote by racking up big margins in Kentucky, West Virginia (which votes next Tuesday) and Puerto Rico (which votes June 1). But Obama’s big margin in North Carolina makes that strategy less likely to succeed, and now Clinton supporters are pointing to the other state that votes May 20: Oregon. “She needs to shake something up. . . . She has to win Oregon,” Clinton supporter James Carville, who has some experience in Kentucky, said on CNN this morning.

For the rest of this memo, click here.

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