The consensus in the mainstream media is that Hillary Clinton lost any chance for the Democratic presidential nomination yesterday, thanks to a big defeat in North Carolina and only a wafer-thin victory in Indiana. Yesterday’s results pretty much mirror the primary season as a whole: Barack Obama’s victories have tended to come with wider margins than Clinton’s, and that means more delegates for the Illinois senator.

In retrospect, the biggest disappointment for Clinton over the past five months may have been that her win in California, the biggest state to vote on Super Tuesday, didn’t make her the prohibitive front-runner. Instead, Obama raised eyebrows with his landslide victories in the Super Tuesday caucuses, including Colorado, Kansas, and Minnesota. As I’ve noted before, elections are almost always won by the candidate with the fewest geographical "black holes" — states, counties, or cities where he or she gets absolutely walloped. Obama had a couple of states like that (Arkansas, Oklahoma, Rhode Island), but Clinton had a lot more (including the belt of states from Maryland to Louisiana and most of the Rocky Mountain states).

More analysis to come in the next few weeks…