Obama comes home to await Feb. 5 results

February 5, 2008 3:28:28 PM PST
For the Democrats, the stakes are huge. But both candidates expect the nominating battle to continue into a host of additional states in the weeks ahead. Barack Obama's finally back home with people from the neighborhood who actually know him. He and his wife, Michelle, stopped to vote at a polling place in the gym of an elementary school, a block from his Hyde Park home.

"Obviously we've got a big race all across the country. But to be able to come back home and to see all these wonderful friends and neighbors, people, many of whom I've known for years, is really gratifying. And it's nice to know that I've got so much support back home," said Obama.

"My thoughts today is that I hope Barack wins and that we are in for much better times," said Peggy Studiger, Hyde Park resident.

The run-up to Super Tuesday following a landslide victory in South Carolina a week-and-a-half ago has taken Obama to 15 states. The tour was highlighted by endorsement rallies with Ted and Caroline Kennedy in Washington and Oprah Winfrey and Maria Shriver in Los Angleles.

And as of Tuesday morning, the delegate dish looks like this: Obama's leading Hillary Clinton 63-48 after the voting in four states. But when you include the super delegates, party leaders committed to one candidate or the other, she leads 261-190, which is hardly conclusive when you realize that 1,600 delegates are at stake Tuesday night.

One needs 2,025 to win. And they're distributed proportionately in each state, so if the vote totals are close so is the delegate count.

Obama's obviously got a lot of momentum. But he's trying to lower expectations going into Tuesday night.

"I still think that Senator Clinton is the favorite. She had 20, 30-point leads in many of the states. We've been closing some ground. My guess is we'll have a good night and probably a split decision," he said.

One indication of how fluid this all is: California is the biggest state. Clinton was up by 20 points a few weeks ago and 12 points as recently as one week ago. But according to one poll Tuesday morning, Obama was up by 13. Although another poll in California had Clinton up by 13, which is why Obama said that they're all flying blind.

The only thing everyone is relatively sure of is that with this proportionate delegate distribution, no one will take an overwhelming lead Tuesday night. And this race will continue to 20-plus states for at least the next month and probably two.