Anyone that thinks that Sen. Obama has North Carolina wrapped up better rethink their thinking because of this news:

Gov. Mike Easley will endorse Hillary Rodham Clinton for president, The Associated Press has learned.

Easley was expected to announce the endorsement Tuesday morning in Raleigh, the state capital, one week before North Carolina’s primary on May 6, according to persons close to the governor and to Clinton. The individuals spoke on condition of anonymity because a formal announcement had not yet been made.

Easley is a Democratic superdelegate who has served two terms as governor. His decision comes despite several recent polls showing Clinton trailing rival Barack Obama ahead of the state’s May 6 primary.

The endorsement is a major boost for the former first lady. Besides being a respected figure among Democrats in the state, Easley is one of the all-important superdelegates likely to choose the party’s presidential nominee.

I didn’t buy into the punditry’s thinking that North Carolina would be a big Obama blowout. Beasley’s endorsement of Sen. Clinton a week before the primary is a momentum-changing event. Sen. Obama still might well win North Arolina but I’m betting that it won’t be a blowout.

Bob Beckel has often said that “Superdelegates aren’t profiles in courage”, something that I agree with. If we accept that as fact, then it isn’t a stretch to think that Hillary showed Gov. Beasley some polling that showed her running more competitively than is being reported in the press.

There’s two other considerations to think about in North Carolina:

  • There’s a ton of pressure on Obama. Expectations are high because of the high percentage of African American voters in the Democratic primary.
  • Would Sen. Obama be perceived as a weak candidate if he doesn’t win with a significant margin?

If Hillary wins Indiana, which I’m predicting, and gives Sen. Obama a run for his money in North Carolina, there’s gonna be alot of superdelegates rethinking their commitments to Sen. Obama. If these superdelegates start panicking, who knows what’ll happen? I still think that the delegates will hang with Sen. Obama even if they though he was going to lose because I’m not convinced that Hillary would run that good of a campaign and because they know pitching Sen. Obama overboard at this stage would alienate black voters.

Either way, North arolina just got alot more interesting.

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Cross-posted at California Conservative

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