The Filter: 2.13.08

A round-up of this morning's must-read stories.

PERFECT GAME
(Arian Campo-Flores, Newsweek)

Clinton suffered another wave of dispiriting losses against Sen. Barack Obama. He beat her in Virginia 64 to 35 percent, in Maryland 61 to 35 percent and in the District of Columbia 75 to 24 percent, according to incomplete returns. These trouncings give Obama a perfect 8-0 record against Clinton in the primaries and caucuses held since Super Tuesday... Obama found plenty to celebrate in Tuesday's exit polls. In Virginia--the most closely watched and contested of Tuesday's competitions--it was no surprise that he trounced Clinton among blacks and young voters. What was surprising, and surely worrisome to the Clinton campaign, was that Obama beat her among women, 58 to 42 percent, and pulled nearly even with her among whites, garnering 48 percent compared to her 51. He also defeated her in two other categories that she has usually dominated: lower-income groups and people without a college degree. All of which shows that Obama succeeded in broadening his coalition.

SURGING, OBAMA MAKES HIS CASE
(Adam Nagourney, New York Times)

For weeks, Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Obama had approached this race the same way: as state-by-state trench warfare, in the belief that the nomination would go to whoever got the most delegates. But the latest results suggest that the race might be tilting back to a more normal form, where the goal is achieving a series of splashing victories and thus momentum. That has provided Mr. Obama with the opportunity, which he plans to seize in a more full-throated way starting on Wednesday, to argue that voters across a wide cross-section of the country have embraced his candidacy, and that the time has come for the group that could hold the balance of power, those 796 unpledged superdelegates — party leaders and elected officials who have an automatic seat at the national convention — to follow suit.

SHIFTING LOYALTIES
(Jonathan Weisman, Washington Post)

For more than a month, the grand coalitions of Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama battled to a draw: women, rural Democrats and the white working class pairing almost evenly with African Americans, young voters and affluent, educated whites. Then came Virginia and Maryland. Obama's thrashing of Clinton in the two states yesterday raised the possibility that her coalition is beginning to crack, three weeks before she reaches what will probably be more friendly territory in Ohio and Texas. Obama won among men, among women and among union voters. He won big among the affluent, educated voters in the District's suburbs, but he also won convincingly among rural voters and small-town Democrats.

CLINTON PLAYS ELECTION ROULETTE
(Jeanne Cummings, Politico)

Hillary Rodham Clinton is now on a path to the Democratic nomination that is remarkably similar to the one that failed for Republican Rudy Giuliani. Just as the former New York mayor pinned his hopes on a late Florida victory to sling-shot him into front-runner status among Republican candidates, the New York senator is banking on wins in Ohio and Texas next month to revive her campaign after a February string of back-to-back-to-back losses. It’s a high-risk play for the once undisputed Democratic front-runner. It also may be the only maneuver she has left after rival Barack Obama managed to effectively counter her planned Super Tuesday knock-out punch. 

INSIDE THE CLINTON SHAKE-UP
(Joshua Green, The Atlantic)

In one sense, Solis Doyle performed exactly as Hillary had hoped. Somewhat to my surprise, the long-standing fissures in Hillaryland never truly erupted when Clinton came under presidential-campaign pressure, certainly not the way they did in 2000. For all the chaos and disillusionment with Clinton’s performance so far inside the campaign, very little of it had leaked to the press until just recently. And despite her late start, Clinton did not lag on the money front: she has raised $175 million since winning her Senate seat in 2000, which should have been enough to fund a formidable campaign, even one that dragged on as long as this one has. That the money was so obviously mismanaged and Clinton was essentially left helpless to compete in last weekend’s primaries and caucuses is the reason Solis Doyle ultimately had to go. The problem, as before, was mismanagement — only this time against a worthy enough opponent that the cost was obvious to everyone. 

BUT WHICH DEMOCRAT CAN WIN IT ALL IN NOVEMBER?
(Christopher Cooper, Wall Street Journal)

Right now, Mr. Obama has the stronger argument: In nine polls in the past two months that are posted by RealClearPolitics.com, the Illinois senator tops Mr. McCain in eight of them, with several of the most recent showing him winning by more than the survey's margin of error. Mrs. Clinton, by contrast, loses seven of the nine head-to-head contests, but only slightly. But polls have proven volatile this political season, and at this point neither Democrat is close to a lock for a theoretical November victory. Both candidates display weaknesses that could hinder their electability.

DEBATE INTENSIFIES OVER ROLE OF SUPERDELEGATES IN CLINTON-OBAMA RACE
(Peter Wallsten and Peter Nicholas, Los Angeles Times)

Even as the primary schedule rolls on -- Wisconsin and Hawaii vote next Tuesday -- the campaigns are devoting a huge amount of energy to gaining the upper hand in the private conversation among the super delegates, most of whom are members of Congress or party officials... In a breakthrough for Obama, his victories Tuesday pushed him ahead for the first time in the race for delegates overall, according to an Associated Press tally. Obama is certain to use his victories in Tuesday's so-called Potomac primaries to try to change the minds of super delegates such as Parker and Rodriguez by building the case that the party's elite insiders would set off angry protests if they overturned the will of the voters. The strength of Obama's winning coalition Tuesday could help him in that effort.

MORE: The Democrats' Undemocratic System (Ruth Marcus, Washington Post)
The Democratic Party has come up with a characteristically muddled method of choosing presidential nominees, with rules that are simultaneously overly and inadequately democratic.

MCCAIN ROLLS ON, TAKES AIM AT OBAMA
(Jonathan Martin, Politico)

While the plucky Huckabee soldiers on, McCain made clear in his speech tonight that he’s turning his focus to the man who stole the headlines tonight with blowout wins on the Democratic side. “Hope, my friends, is a powerful thing,” McCain said, alluding to Barack Obama’s chief selling point... But, McCain said, continuing to implicitly contrast his compelling POW story with Obama’s lofty language, “to encourage a country with only rhetoric rather than sound and proven ideas that trust in the strength and courage of free people is not a promise of hope. It is a platitude.” In ending his speech, the 71-year-old McCain unmistakably threw down the gauntlet, promising a fight against the 46-year-old Obama. “I am fired up and ready to go!” he said, cribbing Obama’s signature line. 

WHERE HUCKABEE GOES FROM HERE
(Byron York, National Review)