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« A Dem Deep In The Heart Of TX | Blog Home Page | Do Newspapers Follow Big Mo? »

Morning Thoughts: Badger State Blowout

Good Wednesday morning. In four years, can we all please make a concerted effort to pay more attention to Hawaii? Washington's not as cold as Wisconsin, but a trip to Hawaii's always welcome. Here's what Washington is watching this morning:

-- The House and Senate remain out of session for the week. The Senate Small Business Committee meets in Lake Charles, Louisiana, to examine business recovery in the southern party of the state after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. The House Natural Resources Committee, meanwhile, heads to Miami, Oklahoma, to discuss Native American issues. President Bush, continuing his Africa tour, is in Ghana today, where he will meet with President John Kufuor, have lunch with Peace Corps volunteers and play tee ball.

-- Last night's elections were just about what everyone expected, aside from larger margins for Barack Obama than polls indicated. This morning, though, after reflecting on exit polls, Obama's victories look much bigger. Obama won men two-to-one, tied among women, won every age group under 65, and more people said he is most qualified to be commander in chief. It was the last number that stuck out so much: 51% of Badger Staters, asked who is most qualified, chose Obama, while 47% chose Hillary Clinton. That thud sound was Clinton's experience argument hitting the ground.

-- Obama won big margins in Milwaukee and in Southern Wisconsin, which includes liberal Madison. But he won convincingly in the Northern part of the state as well, and racked up a ten-point margin among those who made less than $50,000 and a 21-point lead among those making more than $50,000. It didn't matter if voters said the economy, the war in Iraq or health care was the most important issue -- Obama won all three subgroups. A quick note: Each news outlet weights their exit polls differently, so the numbers are a few points different in each. We're using CNN's weighting.

-- The overarching theme of last night: Barack Obama walked into a state Clinton should have won, given its demographics, and not only beat her, but beat her among voters who have so far made up Clinton's base. Clinton has made few inroads to Obama voters, while Obama is stealing as many of her voters as he can get his hands on. For good measure, he racked up another three-to-one victory in the Hawaii caucuses, the Honolulu Advertiser writes. If these trends continue, the Democratic Party's super delegates, who are causing so much anger and confusion, will be able to return to relative anonymity: Unless Clinton does something to turn her campaign around, Obama will be the consensus nominee come March 4.

-- Networks, once they had called Wisconsin, cut to Clinton rallying with union supporters in labor-heavy Youngstown, Ohio. Her speech, which her campaign had previewed for reporters, offered some of her harshest rhetoric yet against her opponent. Rubbing salt in the wound, and at the same time making sure Clinton's speech didn't win free media, Obama bounded on stage in Houston, Texas just moments later, where he spoke for a whopping 45 minutes. In politics, as in life, timing is everything, and that one had to sting the Clinton camp. Still, she called Obama afterward to congratulate him on his win, Andrea Mitchell reports.

-- At his own victory rally, also in Ohio, John McCain joined in the Obama shots, offering a preview of some of what's coming down the pike in the Fall. "I will fight every moment of every day in this campaign to make sure Americans are not deceived by an eloquent but empty call for change," McCain said. "I'm not the youngest candidate. But I am the most experienced." As Jonathan Martin notes, McCain warned of Obama promising a "holiday from history," a reference to the slack national security atmosphere of the 1990's. Watch as the Republican tries to make the election about terrorism. Few could pull that off like McCain, and if he does it again, Obama could be in real trouble.

-- Obama's press shop wasted little time in firing back, with spokesman Bill Burton labeling McCain's candidacy a "third term of George Bush's policies," ABC News writes. While top Republicans maintain that, because President Bush is not on the ballot next year, he won't be an issue, Democrats from Capitol Hill to the Obama campaign consistently accuse the GOP of a "third term" philosophy and label the entire opposing party as Bush Republicans. Yes, Bush won't be on the ballot, but Democrats must have significant polling on the subject, and it's not one that looks like it will go away.

-- Technically, the Republican race isn't quite over, and as McCain inches toward the GOP nomination, he's still contending with Mike Huckabee, who hasn't given up his windmill-tilting. Huckabee told the AP's Andrew DeMillo, the news org's top Little Rock writer, that ego isn't a factor in his continuing campaign. He just wants to deliver a message, Huckabee said. That message, though, could come to an end sooner rather than later. After a weekend stop in the Cayman Islands and while McCain was barnstorming through Ohio, Huckabee met with reporters in Little Rock, not somewhere else on the trail.

-- Opening Of The Day: A matchup between McCain and Obama will effectively end Michael Bloomberg's interest in a presidential race: His path through the middle has been scooped up by both the Democratic and Republican candidate. But maybe there's room for a populist on stage. With McCain, seen by some in the party as soft on immigration, as the GOP nominee, Americans for Legal Immigration has restarted its efforts to get CNN anchor Lou Dobbs to run for president, The Swamp reports. Dobbs hinted at the possibility in a recent Wall Street Journal article, and he might just have an ego big enough to go for it.

-- Today On The Trail: Obama has a campaign rally in Dallas, while Clinton heads to a reception in New York before holding her own rallies in Hidalgo and Brownsville, Texas. Mike Huckabee is in Plano, while John McCain campaigns in Columbus and Yellow Springs, Ohio. Tonight, he holds a media availability with Illinois Congressional candidate Jim Oberweis in Sugar Grove.