U.S. Senator Barack Obama clinched the Democratic presidential nomination Tuesday night, becoming the first African American presidential nominee of a major U.S. party in history.
Based on the latest tally of all U.S. media organizations, Obama now has passed the threshold of 2,118 national convention delegates needed to clinch this year's Democratic nomination.
CHANGE IS THE KEY
One year ago, it was very hard to imagine that Obama, a young politician without a strong political base and little known to the public can defeat Hillary Clinton, the heir-apparent of the Democratic Party.
As former first lady who has the backing of the majority of party elders, Clinton was 30 points ahead over any rivals in the party and raised more money than anyone else in the campaign.
Some analysts attributed her defeat to her flawed strategy of focusing on big states and her wishful thinking for a quick victory. When the contest turned out to be tougher and longer than expected, her campaign did not know how to cope with the situation.
As a result, Obama won 11 consecutive contests after the Super Tuesday of Feb. 5 and formed an insurmountable lead in the tally of delegates.
But some analysts said losing touch with voters is a far more serious flaw for Clinton's campaign. While highlighting her experience and strength as a candidate, she failed to cater to the general desire for change among a majority of democratic voters.
By contrast, Obama captured the voters' mentality by describing himself as a "candidate of change."
PARTY UNITY AT STAKE
The contest between Obama and Clinton is believed one of most competitive presidential primary elections in the U.S. history.
In fact, Obama only won six of the 13 races in the last three months, and trailed Clinton in total votes. His victory owes a lotto the 11 consecutive wins after Feb. 5, analysts say.
The long and fierce battle between the two candidates, however, has alienated supporters from both sides. The division was apparent at a meeting of the Democratic National Committee, or DNC, in a Washington hotel last Saturday.
After daylong debates, DNC's rules and bylaws committee finally reinstated all of Florida and Michigan's delegates to its party's presidential nomination convention in August, but delegates from the two states will only have half a vote at the convention because the two states held its primary earlier than the DNC allowed.
The DNC ruling was viewed as favoring Obama and effectively ruined Clinton's last hope to catch up with Obama in delegate tally.
Clinton supporters protested throughout the meeting and threatened to carry the fight all the way to the August convention.
Some of her supporters even said they will defect the party and vote for Republican candidate John McCain in November if Clinton can not get party nomination.
In the May 20 Kentucky primary, two-thirds of Clinton supporters said they will vote for Republican or not vote at all in the general election if Clinton is not the nominee.
For Obama, the top priority is to mend fences with Clinton and unite the party as soon as possible.
Clinton's reluctance to concede the race has made the healing of wounds difficult and put party's unity at risk.
The Democrats seem to stand a good chance to beat Republicans in this presidential election and that boosts Obama's odds against his Republican opponent McCain in the general election.
Though voters now prefer Democratic policy positions on most major issues, Obama has only a 0.7-percent lead over McCain in the RealClear Politics average of polls.
His favor ability ratings among independents has dropped from 63percent to 49 percent since late February.
Furthermore, although Obama has spent months to court working-class voters, his efforts don't seem to pay off yet.
Voters agree with Obama's position on Iraq, but they put more trust in McCain's ability to handle the concrete issue, according to the polls of Pew Research Center.
At the moment, Obama's main strategy against McCain is to define the latter as Republican President George W. Bush's heir, but that doesn't prove very persuasive as many voters view the definition as inaccurate.
In fact, McCain is at odds with Bush on many issues, ranging from the torture of terrorist suspects to global warming, though he has to stick with the president on his very unpopular Iraq policy.
Analysts said if Obama wants an overwhelming victory over McCain, a formidable rival in many sense, he must quickly readjust his strategy and adapt himself to the forthcoming new battles.