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Looking Ahead to Indiana and N. Carolina Primaries

Senator HILLARY CLINTON (Democrat, New York; Presidential Candidate): It's a long road to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, and it runs right through the heart of Pennsylvania.

(Soundbite of applause)


While Hillary Clinton was in Philadelphia, celebrating her victory in the Pennsylvania Democratic primary on Tuesday night, Barack Obama was already back on the campaign trail. He was in Indiana, which holds its primary on May 6th. North Carolina's primary is the same day.

Either or both primaries could hold the key to the presidential nomination. Amy Walter is editor in chief of the Hotline, the National Journal's daily, online briefing on politics. She joins us from her office in Washington, D.C. Welcome.

Ms. AMY WALTER (Editor in chief, Hotline): Well, thank you for having me.

YDSTIE: So who's got the advantage in these states?

Ms. WALTER: North Carolina, that's a state where, when you look at the demographics of that state - and let's face it, in the contest here for the Democratic nomination, demographics have been destiny. And North Carolina has a significant African-American population very similar to Georgia or South Carolina, two places where Barack Obama obviously has already done very well. So the expectation is Obama wins in North Carolina.

Indiana is the tougher call. And in fact on Friday, two new polls came out in Indiana, both showing the race basically within the margin of error. And the question there is, as always, who's going to come out and vote.

This is a state that on the one hand, looks very much like a state where Hillary Clinton has done well. There's a big blue-collar population, there are a lot of rural areas. It feels a lot more like Ohio than Illinois, which is obviously Indiana's neighbor. But the fact that it does bump up against -shares a border with Illinois, is helpful to Barack Obama.

Forty percent of Democratic voters in that state get their television from Chicago, and so right now this is one of those places I think if we're looking for a breakthrough, Indiana may give it to us.

YDSTIE: After Pennsylvania, Senator Obama was quoted as saying that his problem - if there is a problem = is more with older women than it is with working people. Would you agree with that?

Ms. WALTER: You know, Hillary Clinton, yes she does well among women, but where she's also very successful is among union members. We saw that in Ohio. We saw that in Pennsylvania. She does very well among voters who have no college degree. She does well among voters who make less than $50,000 a year.

And so what we're coming out with, though, is really a bifurcated Democratic primary electorate. Neither candidate has been able to break the logjam. We saw a little bit of in Wisconsin, where Obama was able to do better among women, to win over those voters who make less than $50,000 a year, who don't have a college education. But the rule really has been that those are Hillary Clinton voters.

YDSTIE: One of the arguments that Senator Clinton and her campaign make is that she's ahead in the popular vote because she won Florida and Michigan, whose contests were disowned by the Democratic Party because they broke the rules and held them too early. Is that argument likely to get any traction with the superdelegates?

Ms. WALTER: The fact that, you know, she may have won some of those big states or that if you include Florida and Michigan she actually has more popular votes doesn't necessarily jibe with the way that national polls look in terms of who'd be the better candidate to face John McCain.

So I think that, you know, when it comes right down to it, on June 3rd, we'll see just how much of a case she has to make, whether Florida and Michigan would have made that difference. Remember, we still have some other big states coming up, and the margins there - if Obama is able to rack them up - may make Florida and Michigan a moot point.

YDSTIE: Amy Walter is editor of National Journal's Hotline. We spoke with her from her office in Washington. Thanks very much.

Ms. WALTER: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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