The following is a very lightly edited version of a response that I just sent to an inquiry from a political science professor in Texas, of all places. No time today (so far) for the LDP strategy post, so I’m satisfying my addiction with this.
I think that most of my "smart friends and insiders", to use your words, who don't have a stake in one campaign or other have concluded that Barack Obama is going to win the nomination. If Mrs. Clinton loses Texas, they expect/hope that she will graciously bow out, sparing the Democrats a long, divisive and bitter fight to the convention floor and allowing them to rally behind Mr. Obama. Stranger things have happened (New Hampshire, Mr. Obama's entire campaign, come to think of it), so never say never, but there appears to be a growing consensus that Mrs. Clinton has no chance of winning the nomination unless she wins Texas and Ohio big, so that she is at least very close to Mr. Obama in the number of pledged delegates and committed superdelegates committed to her. I personally think that she cannot win unless she's at least very close to Mr. Obama in the number of pledged delegates or beats Mr. Obama in the popular vote, both of which look like near-impossibilities.
What's really interesting is the reason most experts got it wrong. People thought that Mrs. Clinton's money and political machine, of which Bill Clinton's legacy admittedly was a great part, would trump Mr. Obama's charisma. Most experts believed that Mrs. Clinton would prevail over the long haul, and by last summer, Mr. Obama's candidacy indeed appeared to be treading water, and people began taking about a New York battle between Mrs. Clinton and Rudy Giuliani (blast from the past!), plus perhaps another New York candidate in Michael Bloomberg.
Some people blame the raw deal Mrs. Clinton got from the media, and now that she's being sent packing, non-partisan figures are coming out and talking openly about it. However, this was a known factor. What was not known at the time was that Mr. Obama would be running an incredibly well planned, superbly executed campaign. Recently, after the February 5 Super (Duper) Tuesday, an article came out explaining how the reporter had obtained a long interview with Mr. Obama soon after he had announced his run in February 2007. In it, the reporter related how Mr. Obama had gone through his campaign strategy state by state, and that events had unfolded mostly as had been related at the time. That was the backstory that everyone had missed or, in the case of this reporter, failed to report.
The shortcomings of Mrs. Clinton's campaign are also being written about, and the arguments may indeed have merit. But everything is relative. It is Mr. Obama's organizational skills that became mostly the ace in the hole that the media, pundits, analysts, the smart people, the insiders, overlooked, to Mrs. Clinton’s regret.