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Clinton wins West Virginia

I’m not planning on extensive coverage tonight, but we’ll leave this thread up as a placeholder.

9:44 PM.. On second thought, I think the optics might look a little strange if Obama rolled out a big name superdelegate tomorrow. I don’t think he wants to create the perception that he’s trying to push her out of the race. On the other hand, Obama’s media narrative is not all that bad tonight considering Clinton’s margin of victory, he picked up a good talking point with Travis Childers’ win in Mississippi, and his polling has looked good in Oregon. So, there’s really not a whole lot to be lost simply by waiting for a week. But I do think we’ll see a continued stream of not-so-big-name superdelegates toward Obama, in order to steal a few headlines.

Also, Clinton now has 77.5% of the two-way vote in WV-3. It looks like she will get that fifth delegate.

9:17 PM.. Clinton now has 76.8% of the two-way vote in WV-3.

8:56 PM.. As of about 15 minutes ago, I had it:

Clinton 31540 (66.8% of two-way vote), Obama 15661 in CD-1
Clinton 23491 (65.2%), Obama 12541 in CD-2
Clinton 16668 (73.8%), Obama 5914 in CD-3

So, it looks like it will come down to the wire as to whether Clinton picks up the 5th delegate from CD-3.

8:17 PM. In its polite, if somewhat perfunctory tone as well as in its substance, this really really sounds like a speech made by a woman with her eyes on the Vice Presidency.

7:52 PM. Among Democrats and independents who voted in this primary, 53 percent say they’d vote for Obama in November, as compared with 27 percent for McCain, and 17 percent who would sit out. That doesn’t sound very good for Obama. But a SurveyUSA poll in February had him winning West Virginia Democrats just 48-39. Granted, that poll also had him losing West Virgina by 18 points. But because more than half of the West Virginia electorate identifies as Democrat, a candidate could tolerate a defection rate as high as 25 percent and still compete in the state.

7:05 PM. Exit polls imply a spread of 65-32-3 for Clinton. But, as any of you who read this blog regularly should know, the exit polls have tended to overestimate Barack Obama’s support. That wasn’t the case in Indiana or North Carolina, and it’s possible that Edison-Mitofsky changed their methodology — we’ll know soon enough.

The two things to watch are turnout and the disposition of WV-3. The exit polls have Clinton winning Southwestern West Virginia, which should overlap heavily with WV-3, by a margin of 70-26. That’s 73 percent of the two-way (Obama + Clinton) vote, so she’ll need to outperform those exits by just a couple of points to hit 75 percent and take a fifth delegate from the district. WV-1 appears that it should definitely go 4-2 for Clinton. There’s an outside chance that Obama can salvage a 3-3 split in WV-2 — he performed comparatively well in Charleston — but he will probably lose too many votes in the more rural parts of that district.

It occurs to me that my model may have underestimated turnout — but not for the reason that it had been before. The issue is that we estimate turnout as a percentage of the Kerry vote. But in West Virginia, there are a lot of Democrats who did not vote for John Kerry (nor for Al Gore). Specifically, 30 percent of West Virginian Democrats voted for George W. Bush in 2004, which I’m pretty sure is the highest figure in the country. If Clinton has turned out those lapsed Democrats — and she’s the sort of candidate who can — the turnout may beat our expectations.

Nate Silver founded and was the editor in chief of FiveThirtyEight.