While most of the votes are still to be counted, even CNN (who has been notably careful in calling races this cycle) has called the race for Obama. Judging from the exit polls, it looks like Obama will win South Carolina easily. As I noted earlier, however, more important than the delegates he will pick up are the stories that will appear on tonight's news and in tomorrow's papers (along with the storyline over the next 10 days).
At first cut, it appears that Obama has done well enough to meet expectations, and possibly exceed them.
From the AP: "Barack Obama routed Hillary Rodham Clinton..."
But where does the media coverage go from here? How much will reporters spend discussing Obama's margin of victory? How much will the news media continue to focus on issues of race and gender over the next 10 days? How much (more) will we hear about Bill Clinton's role in the campaign? And how much will any of these storylines help or hurt the candidates?
One thing is clear from tonight's vote (if it wasn't already): February 5th is now set up to be the most interesting and significant day we've seen in the modern era of presidential nomination politics. Over 20 states holding nominating events on a single day with no clear nominee in either party. Incredibly, the candidates have 10 days to try to campaign across more than 20 states. To put that in perspective, in the most recent general election campaigns, candidates have had more than 6 months to compete for votes in 10 states or less (since the campaign usually comes down to just a handful of battleground states). This should be interesting...