Obama and McCain Win in Wisconsin

Sens. Barack Obama and John McCain strengthened their holds on their leads for their respective parties’ nominations yesterday:

Sen. Barack Obama won the Wisconsin Democratic primary decisively last night, extending his winning streak to nine consecutive contests and dealing another significant blow to Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, whose imperiled presidential candidacy now hangs on the outcome of showdowns in Ohio and Texas in two weeks.

After a week of sparring that included the first negative ads of the campaign, Obama emerged victorious in a critical general-election battleground state. For the second week in a row, the senator from Illinois made inroads into the coalition that Clinton has counted on to carry her to the nomination — women and white working-class voters — while rolling up big margins among white men.

In Wisconsin’s Republican primary, Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) won an easy victory over former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, moving him ever closer to clinching the party’s nomination. In his speech afterward, McCain all but dismissed Clinton as a potential adversary, focusing his rhetorical fire on Obama as offering an “eloquent but empty call for change.”

Hillary Clinton is far from out although, as James Joyner pointed out earlier today, she needs to do well in both Texas’s and Ohio’s primaries next week to have a credible claim on the nomination. I expect that she’ll fight over every delegate, using every venue at her disposal.

I don’t typically comment on the horserace aspect of the race for the nominations but if Barack Obama succeeds in securing his party’s nomination, the 2008 contest bodes to be the most interesting presidential election campaign in 35 years (Nixon v. McGovern), may more than 40 years (Johnson v. Goldwater). The differences in style, substance, policies, and character between John McCain and Barack Obama could hardly be more marked.

As you may have noticed, I like making predictions (and am frequently correct, even on farfetched ones). I think in a McCain v. Obama contest, the race is likely to be decided by events beyond either candidate’s control, by how Americans view the world situation six months from now. If things are looking sunny and hopeful, that should give Obama a decided advantage. The more dangerous things look, the more risky he’ll look.

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