The primaries today in Indiana and North Carolina will be important markers of whether there's been a fundamental shift in the Democratic nomination fight between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.
The race has been remarkably stable since February. Obama has dominated among younger voters, college graduates, high income Democrats and African Americans. Clinton has dominated among women, older voters, and working class whites.
The outcomes from state to state have varied largely according to the proportions of these groups within the electorate the campaigns are courting that week. Through it all Obama has remained the front-runner, with a small but stable delegate lead.
But now voters are digesting two developments that could change the equation. One is the continuing controversy over Obama's former pastor Jeremiah Wright. The other is Hillary Clinton's proposal for a sumertime "holiday" in the federal gas tax--scorned by Obama and economists as old-politics hokum, embraced by Clinton as an emblem as her concern for blue-collar America.
If both provide the boost Clinton aides are hoping for, she could win Indiana and perhaps even upset Mr. Obama in North Carolina. A sweep would dramatically improve her odds of fighting back to the nomination, but even a single win would almost certainly assure the campaign goes on through the end of scheduled primaries on June 3.
At an Indianapolis poll place this morning I discussed the campaign--and the prospect that Clinton's moment might change its course--with my colleague John Broder of the New York Times--check out the video clip.
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