Barack Obama's Very Good Primary Night

The Senator's win in North Carolina and virtual draw in Indiana almost assures him of the nomination.
The last really good primary night for Barack Obama was February 19, when the senator from Illinois won the Wisconsin primary by a 58-41 margin.

Since then, the candidate who has been on the verge of claiming the Democratic presidential nomination for so very long has struggled to "close the deal."

He did not close it Tuesday night.

But he did have his best finish since February. And that finish all but assures that this most unlikely presidential contender will soon secure the nomination of his party.

The headlines may suggest that Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton split Tuesday's primaries in North Carolina and Indiana -- with North Carolina for Obama and Indiana for Clinton.

But it was not an even split.

As Obama secured a landslide win in North Carolina, Clinton barely prevailed in her firewall state of Indiana.

In North Carolina, Obama was ahead 56-42. His popular vote advantage was more than 230,000.

In Indiana, Clinton squeezed out a 50.5 to 49.5 win. Her popular vote advantage was barely 20,000.

Bottom Line No. 1: Obama has come out of a night that was supposed to be a mixed one for him with a solid boost in his delegate total. He now leads Clinton by almost 150 pledged delegates and the gap is widening.

Bottom Line No. 2: Barack Obama has finished the night with a tremendous improvement in his popular vote total -- a boost so significant that it now seems all but certain that he will finish the primary competition with an overall popular-vote advantage.

That's very bad news for Clinton, who really needed to narrow the margin in the delegate race and improve her popular vote position if she was going to make an effective appeal to wavering super delegates.