Obama aides may be smelling the smell of victory

Jake Turcotte

It was early evening. Barack Obama's chief strategist, David Axelrod, was trying to show CNN's Wolf Blitzer that his candidate was taking no chances.

So what had the boss done as the polls were closing, Blitzer asked?

"He played his traditional basketball game with friends and staff," Axelrod said.

Any other election day "superstitions" to note, Blitzer asked.

"One superstition is not claming victory too early," said Axelrod.

Of course, implicit in Axelrod's answer was that it will be victory for Obama tonight. It's just important not to celebrate too soon.

At Grant Park in Chicago,  the early evening Obama crowds could sense the direction. They were noisy and happy. In Phoenix, a boy's choir solemnly performed.

So when does the plus-sized female individual sing?  When does the gambler Maverick fold 'em? When do the networks decide to make a call?

"We're not going to be able to call this election until well after 11," Chris Matthews at MSNBC pronounced around 9 (ET).

But Keith Olbermann was getting close, noting that John McCain needed to win eight crucial battleground states to stay alive -- a difficult table to run.

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