Among the cruel ironies of campaign '08: The candidate who was winning right up until the voting started to count would now be winning again -- if only the voting still counted.
Another lopsided loss -- albeit tempered by a simultaneous victory, and yet another boffo fundraising month -- wasn't the way Sen. Barack Obama wanted to set up his triumphant speech Tuesday night in Des Moines.
Again Obama loses a state in a landslide (35 points) despite his near-coronation. Again it matters just about not at all in terms of the nomination -- yet more than Obamaland wants to concede when it comes to the general election.
So it is with a clearer-than-ever picture of the obstacles before him that Obama, D-Ill., stands ready to claim the Democratic nomination. And it's with disappearing arguments about the match-ups and the math with which Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., continues to try to stand in his way.
This is what the precipice looks like: With Clinton's blowout in Kentucky, and Obama's solid win in Oregon, Obama clinched a majority of pledged delegates, ABC's Karen Travers reports.
He now stands just 70 delegates away from capturing the nomination (and 190 ahead of Clinton), per ABC's delegate count. He can afford to stumble his way past the finish line if he has to: He needs just 23 percent of the outstanding delegates to get to 2,026, ABC's political unit calculates, and he'll almost surely get there June 3, unless the supers move him there sooner.
"Within reach," is how Obama described it in Iowa, mustering all the symbolism a presidential candidacy is capable of in returning to the site of his biggest victory.
"The Democratic presidential race is all but over," the AP's Nedra Pickler and Beth Fouhy write. "The only real issue is whether [Obama] and rival Hillary Rodham Clinton leave the race with their futures -- and their party -- intact."
(What does House Speaker Nancy Pelosi -- who said in February there would be "a problem for the party if the verdict would be something different than the public has decided" -- say now? How many supers were math majors?)
"The Democratic Party has never denied the nomination to the person who won the most pledged delegates in all the contests," ABC's George Stephanopoulos reported Wednesday on "Good Morning America." "And the superdelegates are not going to do that for the first time, with the first African-American candidate to reach that milestone. There would be a revolution if they did. So unless some kind of lightning strikes, Sen. Obama is the nominee."
Obama's delegate edge is now an "all but insurmountable advantage," Adam Nagourney and Jeff Zeleny write in The New York Times. "Even as Mr. Obama moved closer to making history as the first black presidential nominee, he stopped short of declaring victory in the Democratic race, part of a carefully calibrated effort in the remaining weeks of the contest to avoid appearing disrespectful to Mrs. Clinton and alienating her supporters. Instead, he offered lavish praise for his rival over 16 months."
Next up: "He was planning a vigorous schedule of travel to general election states and a voter registration drive focusing on black voters to offset any losses among whites. Aides said he was considering delivering another speech to deal with damage in the primary because of attacks on his relationship with his former pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr., as well as on his patriotism," Nagourney and Zeleny report.