Inevitably, tonight and tomorrow will be filled with hyperbole concerning the impact of tonight’s results. I’m not here to discount their significance entirely- the polling in Texas especially is compelling, though it did show the late-deciders going towards Hillary, which seems to be what happened.
First things first: The delegate count for today will be incredibly close to a draw, though I expect HRC to take a net gain of +6 or so, which is a small dent in the pledged delegate lead.
The lasting legacy of tonight is that it will likely reinforce Hillary’s negative tactics and direct attacks on Obama and keep her in the race substantially longer, since today has given her a narrative she can run on, at least for the time being. While I do not expect her to win the nomination, this will have a dramatic effect on the national campaign, especially when coupled with John McCain securing the GOP nomination tonight. Essentially, the next month will be a two on one, since I’m positive McCain and the GOP know they have more than enough material to hammer HRC on should that time come. After all, the strengths she’s touting against Obama (particularly experience and national secruity) are gigantic weaknesses against McCain. If a person has national secruity as their #1 issue, why would they vote for Hillary over McCain?
Also, this does not bode well for Obama in the General Election, should he be the nominee. While he does not need to take Ohio or Texas to win the GE, losing to Hillary with as much momentum as he had sends the message to me that they probably would go McCain over him in the General, though of course that could change in the next six months. That said, he is a substantially stronger candidate overall in the GE because he is a less polarizing figure and runs well enough to win the blue states easily, believes in a 50-state strategy that is pivotal for making the GOP spend their money in every state (particularly salient if Obama holds his $ advantage through then), and can turn a few red/purple states blue in November, while also providing a natural foil to McCain that Hillary simply is not.
In summation, tonight changes the narrative and hurts the Democrats’ chances of taking the White House in November to a degree, but the aggregate impact of the February wins and the overall delegate lead for Obama should prove substantial enough to get him the nomination.