Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Wait And See Wednesday

It was a veritable bacchanalia of ballots. An Obama orgy. A Hillary hoedown. A Huckabee hullabaloo. A McCainapalooza. Yes, it was Big Fat Super Tuesday - Mardi Gras in New Orleans, Election Day pretty much everywhere else. And who won?

Well, for the actual results, check all our links and tables and numbers on the Sovern Nation home page.

But here's a thumbnail of what I think, at 1-something in the morning in Sacramento, where I covered the California primary tonight. I mean, last night.

As expected, the battle for the Democratic nomination was not ended by Super Duper Tuesday. Barack Obama won 13 states, but Hillary Clinton will end up with slightly more delegates, thanks to her wins in New York and California. I was surprised by her margin of victory here; all the polls pointed toward a closer race in the Golden State. Obama did carry San Francisco, beating Clinton there, 53-43. He did well among white men, African Americans and younger voters. She did better with women and Latinos. There was a 26-point gender gap in California; Hillary beat Barack by 18 points among women, but he had an eight-point margin among male voters.

But neither of them even has half the delegates needed for nomination, which means the fight goes on, to the next wave of voting in Louisiana, Virginia, Washington D.C. and Maryland - and ultimately, to what now loom as huge primaries in Pennsylvania, Ohio and Texas. States that were supposed to be anticlimactic are now going to be all-out delegate scraps, with blanket media coverage and 24/7 punditry. Obama has more money, but Hillary's not exactly going begging. Will she go negative again? Probably not as long as she's still got the delegate lead, and the edge in superdelegates - Democratic officeholders whom she doesn't want to alienate further by getting nasty. If Obama can build on his momentum - and he's likely to gain more by winning the next few primaries, all in areas favorable to him - he may be able to wrest the nomination from her.

On the Republican side, John McCain is clearly the prohibitive frontrunner now, as we expected Super Tuesday would confirm. Mitt Romney has been mortally wounded by Mike Huckabee. Is it really a surprise that Bible Belt Southerners would prefer a Southern Baptist preacher to a Boston Mormon? Yet in many of these states, even ones that McCain won, two-thirds of Republican primary voters preferred someone else. That doesn't bode well for McCain in November. More and more conservatives are talking about sitting this one out, if McCain is their nominee. They can't seem to rally behind either Romney or Huckabee though, so McCain's going to win the nomination by default. As my brother Mark points out, McCain polled best Tuesday in Blue States - places the Republicans will be hard-pressed to carry in November, even with McCain's appeal to moderates and independents. There's little Red State enthusiasm for the Arizona Senator. The silver lining for the Republicans is that the Democrats are likely to have a much more protracted, and potentially divisive, nomination battle for the next two months, while McCain consolidates the GOP behind him.

I did my own number-crunching in the wee hours to see how the California delegates pencil out, and the way I add it up, right now McCain wins 164 of our GOP delegates, Romney gets the other six...and Hillary beats Barack for delegates here, 199 to 171, but the Democratic numbers will certainly change a little bit.

One thing is certain: the party's just getting started for the Democrats, while they're ordering up McCain banners for the Saint Paul convention down at the Republican National Committee.


Marndar said...

It's interesting that Clinton may be running out of money somewhat when it appears she and Obama are going to have to duke it out several more months.

It's also interesting Obama's most prominent recent endorsements (the Kennedys, Maria Shriver, etc.) didn't really help him to win specific states or even certain demographics. McCain's big endorsements undoubtedly are the reason he continues to win the biggest states.

I still think Obama has the edge over Clinton based on what states are left. I'm not sure if Hillary can coast to victory in any states left. She'll win some states but none will be easy for her like some states will be for Obama.

Romney doesn't have much left to get excited over besides perhaps Idaho. If he and Huckabee could somehow team up, they could hold off McCain a bit longer but that won't happen. The interesting thing to me is to compare McCain's vote totals to Obama and Clinton. Did he even get half the total vote they did?

Anonymous said...

It would be great to see this race go all the way to the convention. That's what conventions are for.