The Note: Eliot's Mess

This busy Tuesday brings actual real-life voting Mississippi, where 33 delegates will be awarded proportionally in Tuesday's primaries. Polls open at 8 am ET and close at 8 pm ET, and then follows a six-week stretch with no voting -- plenty of time for spin to become reality in the run-up to Pennsylvania, the next state on the calendar.

It's a mild day in Mississippi, with a good chance of rain across much of the state.

"A close race between Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama will draw more voters to the polls today than the last presidential primary, state officials predict," Natalie Chandler writes in the Clarion Ledger.

"Most of the polls predict that Obama will win the state, but both candidates have campaigned hard in Mississippi during the last several days. Obama made his first appearance in the state Monday, and the Clinton campaign has hit the state hard since Thursday," Michael Newsom writes in the Biloxi Sun Herald. "Democrats expect record turnout for the primary."

Obama is heavily favored going in (the state is 37 percent black, and more than half of primary voters are expected to be African-American) but margins -- as the Clinton campaign is fast learning -- count. And the results could take on outsized meaning as the first primaries held since Clinton revived her candidacy with wins in Ohio and Texas last week.

"Mississippi's large black electorate in Tuesday's voting makes it fertile ground for Obama, who has swept the other Deep South states and has pulled huge margins among black voters," AP's Chuck Babington writes. "Clinton, the New York senator and former first lady, campaigned in the state last week, but by Monday was in Pennsylvania, where the primary is April 22."

Time's Jay Newton-Small recalls that black voters didn't swamp the polls in Texas -- a result the Obama campaign sure hopes isn't a trend that carries into Pennsylvania (where blacks have been about 13 percent of the Democratic electorate in recent elections).

"For better or for worse, today's results are likely to be picked over again and again for any kind of trends -- blacks, whites, men, women, young, old -- as Mississippi is the last state to vote for the next six weeks, until Pennsylvania's April 22 primary," Newton-Small writes. "As they like to say in Mississippi, this election will now start running slower than molasses rolling uphill in January."

The primary itself continues as a bitter battle with no apparent end on the horizon. "The groups that for months have energized the Democratic campaign and have given Democrats high hopes -- blacks, women and young voters -- are increasingly sniping at each other, raising concerns that the battle could create problems in the November election," Jonathan Kaufman writes in The Wall Street Journal.

Smart hands are getting worried. Says former Gore campaign manager Donna Brazile: "The Clinton backers are as adamant as the Obama people. The undertones [about race and gender] are the kind of cultural fault lines that lead to divisions. It is alarming and sickening."

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