Liveblog: South Dakota and Montana

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02:50 | Where to now

“This is a long campaign, and I will be making no decisions tonight,” amidst a chant of “Denver, Denver.”

This has been a pretty aggressive speech. Hillary’s definitely going to
be fighting hard for the Vice-Presidency in the next few weeks.

02:34 | Clinton at the podium

Senator Clinton, the only candidate not to release her speech in advance, speaks in New York City.

She opens by congratulating Senator Obama on the race he has run,
particularly in bringing out new voters: “our party is stronger as a
result.” There is audible heckling during this section. Note too, that
there is no mention of Obama being victorious, only that he has
accomplished alot.

Hillary’s dubious popular vote maths makes a resurgence. Her
arguement is reliant on votes in Michigan (where Obama wasn’t on the
ballot), and excludes several caucus results where Obama is known to
have done better.

It’s more of the usual in this speech before a particularly rowdy
crowd. As expected there’s no concession and Clinton is restating her
argument that she is better placed to win in November.

She also refers to a party that “counts every single vote” – that would be the Michigan and Florida dispute again.

02:07 | McCain speech finishes

Senator McCain has done well to get on primetime just as everyone tunes in for the results of South Dakota.

As he wraps up Fox News has declared Clinton the winner in South
Dakota. With 11% of the vote in she leads 56%-44%. A 12-point lead, but
not as big as the 24-points the latest poll gave her.

02:00 | Polls shut in South Dakota

Fox and AP declare it too early to call.

01:50 | McCain speaks

McCain is currently speaking across cable news, getting in before
the polls close. He’s standing behind the slogan’A Leader We Can
Believe In’ (it’s a spin on Obama’s ‘Change We Can Believe In’,
geddit). The speech so far is an appeal to Clinton’s voters and a
rehash of the criticism of Obama we’ve seen in the last few days. The
basic pitch: Obama’s wrong on Iraq, wrong on meeting enemy foreign
leaders, and the wrong kind of change. He’s seems a little bit
surprised by that audience reaction so far, as though he isn’t sure
where to expect applause. McCain is also stressing his history of
independence and playing up a break with Bush.

Meanwhile, there’s a lot of love for Matt Drudge
with the Obama campaign leaking their speech too. At a quick scan
there’s also a lot of praise for Senator Clinton and lots of historic
references – FDR, Truman and JFK are all getting name-dropped. So too
do all the key swing states – Iowa, Ohio, Penn., Michigan are all
getting referenced.

01:03 | Target: McCain

Obama is now 9 delegates away with polls closing in 56 minutes. At that
point it is expected that a number of superdelegates will declare for
the Illinois senator, pushing him to the ‘magic’ 2118.

He’ll be speaking tonight in St Paul, Minnesota. In the exact team
convention centre where the Republican National Convention will take
place later this summer. Expect his speech to turn fire on John McCain
and to begin mapping out a narrative for the general election, as well
as to be lavishing praise on Clinton’s campaign as Obama seeks to unite
the party.

John McCain will also be speaking tonight and Drudge has an advanced preview. McCain is expected to attack Obama over his apparent inexperience and weakness on foreign policy.

In Montana and South Dakota exit polls are showing that there is a
roughly even split between Democrats addressing the question as to
whether the extended race has ‘divided’ or ‘energised’ the party.

00:00 | Barack clinches the nomination

All the major news organisations are now following AP’s lead and
unofficially calling for Obama. His own campaign puts him 10 delegates
away, but the AP statement takes into account the forthcoming
endorsements of President Carter and a delegation of 8 senators, along
with exit polls ahead of tonight’s results.

The New York Times is reporting that Clinton is actively seeking the V-P nomination.

Meanwhile, looking ahead, head over to 270towin.com where you can play with the electoral math on an interactive map ahead of the Obama V. McCain November matchup. Talking Points Memo has a good article exploring avenues for an Obama victory should he hold Kerry’s ’04 states (namely Colorado or Virginia).

22:15 | Fox News makes the call

Well, I wasn’t going to start until 1am but as I write Fox News
has called the nomination. They have Obama’s tally at 2023 delegates,
five over the 2018 required to secure the nomination. No word on where
this figure is from (crucially, whether it includes exit polling
projections from later this evening).

No other news organization has made this call yet: The New York TImes still
has Senator Obama 12 delegates away. Stay tuned this evening as the
results from Montana and South Dakota comes in and Obama and Clinton
make key speeches. The big question: will Senator Clinton concede?

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