It definitely could. One thing that has been highly underreported is that North Carolina has a much higher delegate and popular vote yield than Indiana, thus, while Indiana may be the media’s focal point, a major win in North Carolina could render Indiana mathematically irrelevant.
As of the time of this writing, it’s looking to do just that.
At 115 total pledged delegates up for grabs in North Carolina, this dwarfs Indiana’s yield of only 72. As a result, a smaller margin of victory in North Carolina brings with it more delegates, and more votes and forces Clinton deeper in the hole.
As of right now, CNN is reporting that Obama has a miraculous twenty six point lead in North Carolina, a lead that could deliver to Obama a net delegate gain of close to thirty delegates.
To put things in contrast, that would mean, in order for Clinton to simply nullify Obama’s North Carolina victory, she would have to win the popular vote in Indiana by upwards of around forty points.
The result? That would give Clinton a net gain of four delegates in Indiana, to the twenty five delegates Obama wins in North Carolina, or a total net delegate gain on the day of around twenty delegates for Obama.
Given that Hillary’s delegate gains in Pennsylvania are estimated around the low teens, the North Carolina blowout would not only cancel out Clinton’s victory in the Keystone state, but her small victory in Indiana AND increase his pledged delegate lead over Clinton after both states have been canceled out.
And this is nothing to say that Obama, depending on the count, has more than doubled the intake of Super Delegates to boot. The recent advantage of Super Delegates alone is enough to have mitigated either Pennsylvania or Indiana.
Granted, North Carolina is still being reported, and there is plenty of room for the margin of victory to shrink appreciably, and I don’t think that we can really expect Clinton to drop out over any foreseeable outcomes tonight.
But there are two things to take away from this.
The first is that Indiana and North Carolina are not one for one. They do not equal. North Carolina holds more delegates and popular votes, and therefore is weighted heavier than Indiana.
The second is that a major win in North Carolina and a slim win in Indiana is not likely to sway many Super Delgates over to Team Clinton, not appreciably so in any case. In the week between now and West Virginia, and I would expect Obama to continue to lead Clinton in the Super Delegate hunt.
Another thing to take away from this is that if the numbers we are seeing now hold, or improve for Obama, he should be able to build up a momentum buffer against what is certain to be a sure loss in West Virginia, a buffer that should help him at least hold on until Oregon where he could take back the momentum for the rest of the primary.