DEAD MAN WALKING….I know I’m repeating myself, but the rebuke of John McCain by Republican voters tonight has been stunning. Sure, Kansas and Louisiana are prime Mike Huckabee territory, so maybe you can rationalize McCain’s losses there. But what about Washington state? McCain managed only 26% of the caucus vote there, barely edging out not only Huckabee, but Ron Paul and Mitt Romney as well — the first a protest candidate and the second a no-show. These were caucus goers, not primary voters, and they knew perfectly well that Romney had pulled out of the race, but they voted for him anyway. Why? To thumb their noses at McCain, presumably.

(Did you get that? 26%! For a presumptive nominee!)

Bottom line: this has been a disastrous night for McCain. Sure, he’ll win the nomination eventually, but he looks like a goner in the general election. He’s either going to be forced to spend so much time pandering to pissed-off conservatives that he loses the independent vote, or else he’s going to beg for independents and wake up on November 5th to find out that half his base decided to stay home rather than vote for him. He’s screwed either way. This is a mighty narrow tightrope he’s walking, and it looks like he’s going to be fighting gale-force crosswinds the whole way.

On the Democratic side, it was a very impressive clean sweep for Barack Obama, including two big caucus wins in Nebraska and Washington. Which reminds me of something: I’m a little puzzled about Obama’s consistent success in caucuses, which usually seems to get chalked up to his background in community organizing. Somehow, though, that doesn’t really seem like a persuasive explanation. After all, I’m sure Hillary Clinton’s team knows perfectly well how to organize in a caucus state. And yet Obama has won every caucus state but one, most of them by wide margins. Does anybody have a good explanation for this? (And no, “Obama is teh awesome” doesn’t count as a good explanation.)

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