The PA primary (MULTIPLE UPDATES)

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Election 2008**This post will stay on top for the remainder of the evening and will be updated often. The newest updates will appear at the top of the post.**

Update 13 – 10:55 PM: Hillary’s lead is now at 10%, with 80% reporting. Obama is still lying about McCain’s economy comments (see the current links in the Obama Files section on the right side of the page for the reality of what McCain said and how Obama is lying about them, and his ties to lobbyists). I can’t watch anymore of his speech – it’ll probably go on for another 30 minutes anyway, knowing him. Good night.

Update 12 – 10:42 PM: Obama will be speaking shortly (from Evansville, IN). Will be interesting to see how he spins his loss.

Update 11 – 10:13 PM: She’s getting ready to give her victory speech. Bubba is in the house.

Update 10 – 9:54 PM: At this stage in the game with 45% reporting, Clinton is ahead by about 80K votes and 8%. FYI, Obama outspent Clinton in PA by 3-1.

Update 9 – 9:00 PM: Michael Barone is on Fox saying that PA may turn into another Ohio, which would mean that Hillary may have a double digit percentage win under her belt tonight.

Update 8 – 8:45 PM: Fox is calling PA for Hillary. No surprise there. The margins, though, will be key.

Update 7 – 8:36 PM: Numbers are finally coming in.

Update 6 – 8:30 PM: Strange – no vote counts are rolling in yet. In the meantime, we all missed out on Obama’s leftover Scranton, PA waffle and sausage link, which was up for bid on E-bay earlier today.

Update 5 – 8:02 PM: Polls are now closed. Per Fox, Clinton “dominating” among her core groups – women, seniors, union househoulds. BO is winning big with the black vote, young voters, urbanites, college grads. “Independents” split between the two.

Update 4 – 7:55 PM: Polls close in five minutes. Remember to bookmark this link to see voting numbers as they come in.

FL/MI news via the Hotline Blog: “Howard Dean tells Air America’s David Bender today that there will be a rules committee meeting later this spring and that the fates of the Florida and Michigan delegates will be decided by June.”

Update 3 – 7:38 PM: Shep Smith is reporting that one of the campaigns is asking for certain polling places to remain open beyond the 8pm close.

Ok – they’re reporting on it now. It wasn’t a request from either campaign. The group “My Vote One” wanted to have polls in a certain county (didn’t catch the county) because there were supposedly problems with the voting machines but they were denied.

Update 2 – 7:30 PM: Bill Clinton – unmedicated.

Polls close in half an hour.

Update 1 – 7:09 PM: Polls close in a little less than an hour in PA. Record turnout (over 50% is being predicted. Per Fox, the exits show Hillary doing well among voters she normally does well with. Geraghty’s first round of exit numbers suggest a possible Obama stunner, but Drudge has different numbers suggesting otherwise. Stay tuned …

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It’s been six weeks since the last primary, which has given both Democrat candidates plenty of time to plead their case in Pennsylvania, home to 188 delegates (29 of them supers). The total delegate count as it stands now – as per RCP, including supers, shows Barack Obama with 1,650 and Hillary Clinton with 1,508.

The junior Senator from New York has always lead in the polls in PA, at one point as high as 33 points (that was in October) but Obama’s money advantage has helped him to move within single digits of her in some polls in the closing days of campaigning in PA, although the final Zogby numbers going into today’s primary show her with a 10 point lead over BO.

Mrs. Clinton (who has taken to sounding rather hawkish lately) is expected to win in PA today (and Obama is already doing the “loss as a victory” spin) – but the big question is by how much. This could turn into another Ohio, which looked like it was going to be close judging by the single digit margins in the polling in the final couple of weeks but ended up being a double digit win for her. Or, Barack Obama could suprise everyone and overcome his “bitter” remarks he made to a group of m/billionaires in SF a couple of weeks ago and his poor debate performance last week to keep this primary to within 5 percentage points. As we’ve seen time and time again this campaign season, anything can happen.

I watched some of the talking heads on Fox and Friends this morning, and they were saying that Hillary needed to win by a double digit percentage tonight to be able to justify staying in the race. Of course, even if she doesn’t, it won’t matter as she’s vowed to stay in it until the convention, and says she will continue to make her case to seat the Florida and Michigan delegates.

The polls in PA opened at 7 this morning, and will close at 8pm ET. If you’re a PA voter, Dem or Republican, please weigh in in the comments with how your experience was voting today, what you saw, etc. I’ll update this post regularly this afternoon/evening with new news as I hear/read it. Refresh this page often after the polls close for updates on the vote numbers as they come in.

NYT launches another questionable attack on McCain, while McGovern criticizes McCain’s war service

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The NYT is up to it again, with yet another hit piece that lacks crucial evidence that would, of course, essentially relegate the story to a mere blip on the radar screen (via Memeo):

Donald R. Diamond, a wealthy Arizona real estate developer, was racing to snap up a stretch of virgin California coast freed by the closing of an Army base a decade ago when he turned to an old friend, Senator John McCain.

When Mr. Diamond wanted to buy land at the base, Fort Ord, Mr. McCain assigned an aide who set up a meeting at the Pentagon and later stepped in again to help speed up the sale, according to people involved and a deposition Mr. Diamond gave for a related lawsuit. When he appealed to a nearby city for the right to develop other property at the former base, Mr. Diamond submitted Mr. McCain’s endorsement as “a close personal friend.”

Writing to officials in the city, Seaside, Calif., the senator said, “You will find him as honorable and committed as I have.”

Courting local officials and potential partners, Mr. Diamond’s team promised that he could “help get through some of the red tape in dealing with the Department of the Army” because Mr. Diamond “has been very active with Senator McCain” a partner said in a deposition.

For Mr. McCain, the Arizona Republican who has staked two presidential campaigns on pledges to avoid even the appearance of dispensing an official favor for a donor, Mr. Diamond is the kind of friend who can pose a test.

A longtime political patron, Mr. Diamond is one of the elite fund-raisers Mr. McCain’s current presidential campaign calls Innovators, having raised more than $250,000 so far. At home, Mr. Diamond is sometimes referred to as “The Donald” Arizona’s answer to Donald Trump — an outsized personality who invites public officials aboard his flotilla of yachts (the Ace, King, Jack and Queen of Diamonds), specializes in deals with the government, and unabashedly solicits support for his business interests from the recipients of his campaign contributions.

Mr. McCain has occasionally rebuffed Mr. Diamond’s entreaties as inappropriate, but he has also taken steps that benefited his friend’s real estate empire. Their 26-year relationship illuminates how Mr. McCain weighs requests from a benefactor against his vows, adopted after a brush with scandal two decades ago, not to intercede with government authorities on behalf of a donor or take other official action that serves no clear public interest.

Captain Ed asks, essentially, where’s the scandal?

Jim Rutenberg has a new beat at the New York Times, and it must be called the Get McCain desk. He co-wrote the abominable story about Vicki Iseman in February that attempted to insinuate that McCain had traded legislative favors for sexual favors, only his story didn’t have a shred of evidence of either. Today, in another page-one blockbuster, Rutenberg claims that McCain gave out legislative favors in land-swap deals — but fails to mention that they had widespread support from legislators, businessmen, and environmentalists.

[…]

First, let’s congratulate Rutenberg on his interest in land deals involving the Senate. Unfortunately, he chose the wrong target. Despite several investigations by the AP and the Los Angeles Times, Rutenberg failed to cover or even mention the land deals that directly benefited Harry Reid personally, fueled by land swaps he explicitly sponsored. I wrote about this extensively in 2006, including in a column for the New York Post. Reid’s family got employed by his partner in these deals and both Reid and his family made a lot of money off the sale of federally-owned land.

None of that happened here. In fact, the legislation McCain sponsored didn’t require the sale of the parcels at issue in Rutenberg’s article at all. It authorized the Secretary of the Interior to swap land as deemed necessary and beneficial. Neither McCain nor his family had any personal stake in the land deals that Donald Diamond negotiated with Interior, nor did McCain write legislation requiring Interior to sell anything at all to Diamond.

Read the whole thing, as Ed pretty much demolishes the NYT’s latest attempt at digging up dirt on McCain.

In other McCain-related news, Jim Geraghty reports on an emerging theme coming from prominent Democrats, including Hillary Clinton supporter George McGovern and that is to … attack McCain’s war service. Geraghty calls McGovern a “jerk” – but that’s putting it mildly, I think.

Whatever it takes to win, right?