From Chuck Todd, Mark Murray, and Domenico Montanaro
*** Back to square one? It took just two victories in one week -- including last night's 61%-37% win in Mississippi -- for Obama to erase the net delegate gains Clinton picked up on March 4. Will the pattern repeat itself in the next two months? Clinton goes on to win Pennsylvania, but Obama negates that after victories two weeks later in North Carolina and Indiana. If so, how does Clinton change the dynamics and math of the race? Going back to Mississippi, Obama's formula to success was the same as in other Deep South states he's won. He beat her among African Americans, 92%-8%, while Clinton beat him among whites, 70%-26%. One other thing: The turnout was huge. More than 400,000 participated in the primary -- near the 460,000 Mississippians who voted for Kerry and Edwards 2004 in the GENERAL ELECTION! Is there a hidden vote here than Obama can tap into if he's the nominee? Perhaps, but it will have to be greater than the nearly 700,000 who voted for Bush in 2004…
VIDEO: March 12: NBC's Political Director Chuck Todd offers his first read on indentity politics in the Mississippi primary results and the media's focus on Geraldine Ferraro's comments about presidential candidate Barak Obama.
*** The delegate count: Obama leads Clinton 1,610-1,496. That includes the NBC News pledged delegate total of Obama 1,394, Clinton 1,242 and the NBC superdelegate total of Clinton 254, Obama 216. Obama, so far, has a 15-12 delegate lead in Mississippi, with six delegates yet to be allocated (most of which will go to Obama). There are also 19 other delegates that have not yet been allocated from previously completed contests, including nine from the Texas caucuses, nine from Colorado and one from Dems Abroad. There are now 566 pledged delegates left, and Clinton needs 64% to overcome Obama's pledged delegate lead. Obama needs 46% of all remaining delegates (including undecided superdelegates) to get to 2025.
*** The popular vote: By winning by almost 100,000 votes in Mississippi yesterday, Obama increased his popular vote lead over Clinton to approximately 700,000. It's Obama 13,402,903, Clinton 12,705,360. And now even if you include Florida and Michigan, Obama leads the popular vote. That total is Obama 13,979,117, Clinton 13,904,497. This is fitting a pattern for Obama: When he wins a state, he wins it by a large margin and pads his lead in delegates and votes; hen Clinton wins, she usually does so narrowly.
*** "I will stand my ground … and I won't back down": This Ferraro controversy isn't going away anytime soon. On ABC this morning, Ferraro once again stood by her earlier remark that the only reason why Obama is in the position he's in is because he's black. "Every time somebody opens their mouth [in the Clinton campaign], Bill Clinton-racist, Ed Rendell-racist," Ferraro said this morning. "My concern is how I've been treated. I am absolutely offended… And to take it out on Hillary, because they can't talk about the issues." This will dominate the political news today (unless Eliot Spitzer chooses this day to resign as New York governor), and will force the Clinton campaign to once again respond to it. In pure political terms, however, does this controversy help Clinton with white voters in Pennsylvania? Of course, short-term gains for Clinton could be major long-term pains. Obama's campaign has taken pains to be a candidate for president who happens to be black rather than the black candidate for president. But these controversies sometimes force him to be the black candidate rather than just the candidate with a unique racial background.
VIDEO: March 11: Hillary Clinton says she does not agree with Geraldine Ferraro who said that if Barack Obama "was a white man he wouldn't be in this position." MSNBC's Contessa Brewer talks with NBC's Chuck Todd.
*** Florida, Florida, Florida: Fresh off the email this morning is a letter from Clinton manager Maggie Williams to Obama manager David Plouffe calling for the Obama campaign to do one of two things: 1) accept the Florida and Michigan results or 2) join them in calling for a re-vote. The Florida Democrats appear to be on the verge of submitting a new plan to the DNC for approval that would result in a mail-in primary election, something the Obama camp has already raised doubts about and something the Florida House Dems unanimously opposed last night. So what does Obama do? The campaign has been VERY cautious on this issue. Surprisingly, they haven't called for a re-vote, mostly because the last thing the campaign wants to do is give Clinton more contests to compete and therefore extend the race. But shouldn't Obama, who is made a lot of hay about the fact he's campaigned in every state and taken every contest so seriously, be on the side of a re-vote? Sure, at this point, winning Florida seems remote and who knows if Michigan Democrats can agree on anything. But there's a difference between playing not to lose and playing like you have nothing to lose. Clinton has nothing to lose because she's behind, so it's easy for her to be for a re-vote. Obama obviously has more to lose but how often does a prevent defense work in football or politics?
*** Ain't too proud to beg: Romney told FOX yesterday: "I think any Republican leader in this country would be honored to be asked to serve as the vice presidential nominee, myself included." He did something most veep wannabes don't do -- he admitted he want the job. Doesn't this guarantee he won't get the job now?
*** On the trail: Clinton is in DC, where she speaks to the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce in the morning and then to the National Newspaper Publishers Association in the evening; McCain stumps in yet another battleground state, this one that began his 2008 comeback -- New Hampshire; and Obama has a media availability in Chicago. Also, Bill and Chelsea Clinton campaign in Pennsylvania.
Countdown to Pennsylvania: 41 days
Countdown to North Carolina, Indiana: 55 days
Countdown to Election Day 2008: 237 days
Countdown to Inauguration Day 2009: 314 days
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