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Bottum: New York, New York

12:23 PM, Feb 5, 2008 • By JOSEPH BOTTUM
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Everyone thinks Hillary Clinton is a lock in her home state of New York. The RealClearPolitics average of polls has her up by more than 17 percent. "Clinton will carry the state that has twice elected her to the Senate," the reliable Michael Barone flatly concludes. The only independent source I could find that likes Obama's chances of victory is the Toronto Star, and it doesn't argue well for the Canadians' sense of American politics or geography that it goes on to add, "Obama was expected to return to his hometown of Chicago after campaigning in neighbouring states of New Jersey and Massachusetts yesterday."

New York's 232 delegates are divided according to a formula that only a professional mathematician could love: 151 delegates split by the vote in the state's 29 congressional districts and the other 81 distributed by the statewide popular vote. Still, the result is that even if finishes shockingly poorly, Obama will pick up at least a few New York delegates.

Here in Manhattan, however, it just doesn't feel that he is going to finish poorly. Clinton has the party apparatus on her side, and its delivery of voters upstate will probably carry her home. But I'm astonished by the level of Democratic excitement about Obama all around the city - and by the general indifference to Clinton. They don't hate her; they're just ignoring her. Obama signs and bumperstickers are everywhere. Clinton signs are nowhere. In the Starbucks and the supermarket - in the line at the polls near my apartment, for that matter - talk about Obama is omnipresent, and support for Clinton is a whisper.

Back in 1972, the New Yorker's film critic Pauline Kael gave us a classic line when, in the midst of one of the biggest landslides in American electoral history, she said she didn't believe Nixon had actually won, because she didn't know a single person who had voted for him. The view from a New York window, in other words, isn't the most reliable take on the world. I know all that, and yet, when I glance out on Manhattan today, it sure looks as though an Obama victory parade is coming down Broadway.

Unlikely, I admit, but if it proves true, then what for Hillary? Thomas Hardy may have the last word:

We shall see her no more
On the balcony,
Smiling, while hurt, at the roar
As of surging sea
From the stormy sturdy band
Who have doomed her lord's cause,
Though she waves her little hand
As it were applause.