The early line on tonight's results

The first expectations-setting leak of the day goes to Matt Drudge, who says Clinton aides believe she'll win in Indiana and lose badly in North Carolina.

By Alex Koppelman
May 6, 2008 6:20PM (UTC)
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Voters are heading to the polls for primaries in both Indiana and North Carolina today; between the two states, 187 delegates are at stake.

The conventional wisdom -- and the polling -- has these contests as a split decision, with Indiana going to Hillary Clinton and North Carolina, the more delegate-rich of the two states, voting for Barack Obama. provides the polling averages that, to my knowledge, are relied upon by every reporter and their mothers -- its current averages show Clinton up by 5 points in Indiana and Obama up by 8 points in North Carolina. The conventional wisdom also holds that, for Clinton, anything short of a win in Indiana and a strong showing in North Carolina will be disastrous.


There has been an early attempt at expectations setting, apparently from the Clinton camp. The Drudge Report says Clinton insiders are predicting their candidate will win in Indiana and lose badly -- by as many as 15 points, maybe even more -- in North Carolina. Drudge quotes an unnamed "top [Clinton] campaign source" as saying, "Look, we worked hard and gave it our best shot, but the demographics, well, they are what they are."

Considering that there still isn't much other spin out there yet, I don't think Drudge's story necessarily gives us much insight into what those in the Clinton campaign are really thinking; that'll become somewhat clearer as they talk more to other reporters throughout the day. One thing I'd definitely keep an ear out for, though, is anyone high up in the Clinton organization calling a state a "must-win" for Obama. I first heard them saying that on a conference call with reporters on Super Tuesday, when they said it about California and Massachusetts, two states Clinton ended up winning, and subsequent experience has just about confirmed for me that "must-win for Obama" is Clinton camp code for "a state we know we're going to win."

Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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2008 Elections Barack Obama Hillary Rodham Clinton Matt Drudge War Room