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Grand Finale Night Liveblog

*** Newer material will be posted in Thread #2

8:54 PM. Obviously, this is a speech that can be read in a lot of different ways. I’ve had separate friends e-mail me to say that it was the best speech she’s ever delivered, and the worst thing she’s ever done. But — I don’t know — I think it’s possible to read too much into this and that in the heat of the moment. From a party unity perspective, it might even be healthy for Clinton (and by proxy her supporters) to press their case one last time.

8:39 PM. If anyone’s wondering why we’ve been getting mixed messages out of the Clinton campaign, just look at the candidate herself.

8:35 PM. From Sean:

“How much fun do you think that was for Olbermann to break into McCain’s painfully pat speech to announce Obama is the presumptive nominee? On a scale of 1 to 10… an 82?

I second Nate’s thought about McCain coming off far better in one-on-one interviews, especially chummy ones. In interviews (Jon Stewart springs to mind), McCain actually comes off as likeable. These speeches are grueling and they don’t hold the attention. He makes Bob Dole look downright riveting. For some reason, he’s chosen “condescension” as his orientation toward Obama. Five months of condescension, once the public is actually playing attention? Smirkingly self-aware chuckles at his own “clever” turns of painfully canned phrases like “that’s not change we can believe in!” Yeah, that’s not gonna work. Ask Ms. Xerox.

It’s really hard to think of a worse match for the country’s furious mood at its government in a major change election year than condescendingly cynical smirkery at someone who is offering big change. Of course, Harold Ford. Jr. found McCain’s speech “powerful and compelling.” That’s a direct quote. (On Morning Joe, Joe Scarborough loves Harold Ford, Jr. Loves him.)”

8:25 PM.
CNN and MSNBC call South Dakota for Senator Clinton and … nobody cares. American Research Group and Matt Drudge might have really done a favor to Obama tonight.

8:15 PM
. I’m ripping this off from a commenter, but I was also struck by the extent to which every time McCain said “That’s not change you can believe in!”, I had a Pavlovian response of “That’s change you can Xerox”. We’re going to notice little echoes like that throughout this campaign.

8:04 PM.
The exit polls show only about a 2-point advantage for Clinton in South Dakota. (EDIT: This was wrong; the margin was ~8 points in the exits and I apparently forgot how to do math). On the very early returns that are coming in: I haven’t really parsed the state on a county-by-county basis, but I’d guess that Obama’s strongest areas will be in Sioux Falls (Minnehana County) and on the Indian Reservations. (Shannon County, which went more heavily for John Kerry than any other county in the country, looks to be the big one). We don’t have data in from those areas yet.

8:01 PM.
MSNBC and CNN call the nomination for Obama. We can finally say that it’s over. His media people planned and staged this day masterfully and he’s going to get some slobbering media narrative out of it.

7:41 PM.
We’ll be here until … I don’t know when. Two relatively worthless thoughts about McCain’s speech before the narrative shifts back to the Democrats: (1) If Barack Obama and Ronald Reagan could keep people’s attention with a stump speech for about 15 minutes, and Hillary Clinton for about 10 minutes, McCain’s time frame is probably more like 5 minutes. I think he’ll find that his strength is more in quick-hit, quick-reaction stuff rather than these sorts of set pieces. Fewer speeches, more interviews. (2) Clearly, McCain’s primary campaign color appears to be a handsome shade of blue, but the green background got me to thinking: when was the last time a nominee from one of the two major parties used a color other than blue or red on their yard signs?

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