California results are still trickling in, but the networks have called it for Hillary. With 22 percent of precincts reporting, she’s got a 20-point lead of 54 to Obama’s 34. (See up-to-date results here .) Her actual delegate lead probably won't be huge, but she can now claim victory in the biggest, if not the most important, state. How did it happen?
Most polls from the past few days showed Obama gaining on her, and one or two even projected he would win. But judging from the voting results, he was too late. The state of California allows voters—not just seniors and absentees, but anyone —to cast an absentee ballot by mail. As a result, more than 3 million Californians voted early this year (one elections official put the number at 4.1 million). And judging from polls in previous weeks, they voted largely for Clinton. If Obama was actually gaining in recent days, the vote totals may not reflect it.
Apparently the "semi-open" election didn’t help Obama much either. "Open" elections normally let independents and Republicans vote in Democratic primaries. California is slightly different: Independents can ask for "decline-to-state" ballots that allow them to vote Democratic, but they have to make a special request. There have been some reports of complications, but nothing widespread.
Exit polls tell a fairly predicable story. (Disclaimer: They’re misleading/wrong/unscientific/godless blah-blah-blah.) They
Clinton winning among white women and Latinos, whereas Obama wins among white men and blacks. Clinton wins among every age group, even the young’uns. (Explanation:
.) She also won among voters who attend church by double digits. No matter what the spin, Clinton beat Obama fair and square.
And she sure plans to make the most of it. In their last e-mail blitz of the day, the Clinton team called her win a "Golden Finish" and argued that "Senator Obama made an unprecedented effort to win CA—he campaigned throughout the state and his campaign ended its efforts in the Golden State with a large rally over the weekend." We’re not going to begrudge her the win, but for the record, this is a stretch. In the past week, Barack Obama appeared at a total of two events in California, including the Los Angeles debate; Clinton attended five. Likewise, he has made five stops in the state since Jan. 1, whereas she has made 11. If Obama’s effort in the Golden State may be "unprecedented," that’s only because he has never run for president before.
We’ll have more details on the California results once all the precincts have reported. In the meantime, check out the California SecState’s home page for absurdly granular county-by-county and district-by-district results. You can also cross-check that with our analysis of each district’s delegate numbers . Or just wait for us to do it tomorrow.