That's Keith Olbermann's acronym for Vermont Ohio Texas Rhode Island. Polls close in VT at 6 Iowa time; VT gets called for Obama at 6:01. Things start to get more interesting at 6:30 when Ohio closes.
There's the also-ran factor tonight: Dennis Kucinich and Ron Paul both face primary challengers, and both are expected to win. (Technically. Paul is still running for president, too.)
Brokaw is reporting that 50 superdelegates are just waiting for the word to endorse Obama.
6:02 and just as we thought, Vermont is in for Obama and McCain.
Who's where tonight: Clinton in Columbus; Obama in San Antonio. Is that a predictor of who wins where? McCain's in San Antone' too, and Mike Huckabee -- remember him? -- is in Dallas.
6:30 and it took 27 seconds to call Ohio for McCain. They're expecting a clinch tonight. How many times in a row can Chris Matthews say "seven weeks of bashing each other in Pennsylvania"?
Polls open an hour late in Cuyahoga County; weather. How does that play?
OMG WTF it's Ken Blackwell, back from the dead to suppress some more votes! Is this the best they could get for an Ohio Republican? Maybe, given the lousy streak they've had lately. A clip shows a sign: "Don't be insane, vote for McCain."
7:17 and are they showing the Texas early vote before the polls close? Obama has a big lead with numbers in the 100,000s. What are the rules there? The commentators aren't mentioning it, maybe it's a graphics mistake and they mean Ohio?
That Texas number is growing with a 58-41 Obama lead and something like 400,000 votes to 300,000 and NO ONE IS MENTIONING IT. Is Terry McAuliffe is backing a re-vote in Florida and Michigan? He's says "whatever it takes to be inclusive" -- and he bashes caucuses again. Thanks, buddy. Matthews presses on: "will you live with the election" and not win it on superdelegates? He hedges.
CNN has it too, at 7:26
Obama 439,240 58%
Clinton 308,430 41%
Ah, Kos explains. The 8PM CST closing time is the close of the LAST polls in the state -- and El Paso is on Mountain Time. And Olbermann says it's mostly early vote so far.
Texas caucuses look simple: "once you sign in for Obama or Clinton, that's it. You can walk in, sign your name, and leave."
Norah O'Donnell: "One in 5 OH voters said race was an important factor in their vote -- and 80% of those voted for Clinton." Words fail me.
7:41 and reports that Huckabee will be quitting tomorrow and that McCain is going to the White House to get the W seal of approval (Kos: "I hope there's lots of pictures and video"), then to the RNC to "officially become the presumptive nominee." Huh? Then what's the point of a convention?
Here's the district by district good stuff from Texas.
8:00 and John McCain clinches the nomination with RI and TX. Olbermann gets a funny: "I don't know who that is on the big screen there," as the Huckabee event is showing Blitzer on CNN. Huckleberry is conceding graciously; wonder if he's still in the veepstakes. Probably not; he stayed in a couple weeks too long.
More significantly, Hillary takes Rhode Island. First win in a month. Took 22 minutes to call it, as opposed to one minute to call VT. Numbers trickling from Ohio.
Bush advisors: it's best for McCain to take the endorsement now and "get it out of the way." Heh.
Now that the Texas numbers are coming in, MSNBC is starting the Hillary Death Watch again.
McCain finishes speaking, they play Johnny B. Goode, and... Obama calls to congratulate? Still no calls in TX and OH as of 9:10. Looks like a long night. New York Times has the best interactive map. Nothing from Cleveland, nothing from Houston. They're talking 3:30 AM before Cleveland is done.
Ohio's called and Hillary's ready to speak soon, as of 9:57. She's also inched ahead in Texas, but still no Houston. Kos notes that Obama's still ahead in the OH delegate count, though.
Matthews has an interesting thought: it's not so much momentum, it's "just the contours of the Democratic Party" as the schedule moves across the demographics. Ohio and Texas might have had the same results three months ago.
Well, here's the speech. Looks like a long spring in Pennsylvania while the party self-destructs. And once again, the single mom who sent her ten bucks tells the daughters anything is possible, hint hint hint. And she listed states. YEEAH!
The damn Canada NAFTA thing cost Obama Ohio, and his third chance to put this thing away. Basically we're going into double overtime here.
Obama's on, congratulates Hillary to very light applause and scattered boos; touts the delegates. She's 35k ahead in TX with about
I think Matthews had something, listening to the two speeches: idealistic movement types vs. blue collar lunch bucket types. Not a surprise that Johnson County was Obama's best spot in the state.
He's called Hillary out on the McCain comparisons, I'll have to paste the quotes later.
John McCain and Senator Clinton echo each other in dismissing this call for change. They say it is eloquent but empty; speeches and not solutions. And yet, they should know that it's a call that did not begin with my words. It began with words that were spoken on the floors of factories in Ohio and across the deep plains of Texas; words that came from classrooms in South Carolina and living rooms in the state of Iowa; from first-time voters and life-long cynics; from Democrats and Republicans alike.
10:57 and last I checked Ron Paul looked to be in OK shape. Since Cleveland's running late we dunno about Dennis.
11:09 and they just finished voting in Houston, must have been lines.
It's almost like there's a sense that people don't want this to end and want every state to matter.
Looks like there may be a half million left in Houston where Obama is up 60-40; that would net him 100k when he's down about 50k now... or maybe not, as MSNBC calls it at 11:48. That might haunt them if it turns out wrong, and the caucus and delegate math will take days.
Pennsylvania could work for Obama, with six weeks on the ground. No one's been able to focus that much on one state since... Iowa.