Thursday, February 07, 2008
It's been about 36 hours since the results are in from the over-hyped, mega-state Super-Duper Tuesday primaries and caucuses. As I suspected, Arizona Sen. John McCain all but locked up the Republican nomination. He now sits with 689 delegates to Mike Huckabee's paltry 156 and Mitt Romney's even thinner 133. Look for Romney to leave the race fairly soon. Sure he's got all the money in world to keep going...but he didn't get mega-rich by making dumb personal financial decisions. As for Huckabee, the affable yet right-wing extremist former Arkansas governor will also soon realize that the rest of the nation's states are not as evangelical-rich as the few Southern states he won this week. Let's not forget that this part of the country, where religious zealots are in abundance, only gave the Baptist minister a mere handful of delegates. Watch McCain on TV now. He's downright giddy. New-found confidence that knows no bounds. And that's because he's now the shark who sees and smells the blood. He knows it's over.
But the Democratic landscape is anything but decided, which is a surprise to me. I had expected a much stronger showing from NY Sen. Hillary Clinton on Tuesday, and a dimmer one from her rival Illinois Sen. Barack Obama. Kudos to to Obama. He picked up key swing states like Missouri and even somehow managed to pick up states like Idaho. All in all, he captured 13 states to Hill's 8. Granted, she won huge states that really count in a national election--NY, NJ, CA--and she's ahead in the polls of many upcoming key contests in Texas, Ohio and Pennsylvania for example, but we cannot discount Obama's ability to attract, excite and inspire voters. He's a great campaigner, and is even better at raising funds. He's really giving her a run for the money.
But what Clinton has that Obama doesn't is a very powerful political machine behind her. One that may very well afford her the lion's share of the all-important "super-delegates;" the behind-the-scenes party leaders and officials (governors, senators and other Democratic power-brokers) who comprise 40% of the total delegates needed to win the nomination. This advantage could likely push her over the finish line if things get too close around convention time, when the party could possibly see a brokered convention for the first time since Thomas E. Dewey took the prize in 1952. The NY Times estimates that Clinton's total count of all delegates and super-delegates currently rests at 892 to Obama's 716. That's a 20% margin, and one that would surely grow once others begin to commit to her.
I still believe that Hillary has a better cross-section of Americans behind her, which will be to Obama's detriment going forward. Clinton pulls in the blue-collar, latino, female and white female voters, as well as a healthy percentage of white males. Obama's strength remains among Blacks, white males, the wealthy and educated. To be sure, if I was running, I'd prefer Clinton's constituency over Obama's.
It's just a question of time, but the race will soon boil down to Clinton vs. McCain. And then the real fun begins.