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Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Super Tuesday Breakdown

I sat up last night and watched the Super Tuesday election returns, flipping between CNN, FOX News, and MSNBC. MSNBC was mostly talking heads and I didn't really care much what they thought -- talking heads have a bad tendency to talk, even when they have nothing useful to say. CNN had big weird maps and graphics on an interactive touchscreen, which they played with a lot. CNN's big high tech spaceship/studio proved unnecessary when I flipped over to FOX. Their big computerized doohickey was Karl Rove with a legal pad. There are a lot of really bad things you can say about Rove, but that he doesn't know electoral politics isn't one of them. Still, FOX was quick to insert BS and just looking at Pillsbury Doughboy Rove distracts me with the thought, "Why isn't this load in jail?" so I went with CNN and their graphics. At least that way I'd get numbers. Although, at one point, John Roberts played with the touchscreen to show off what it could do and it almost made me wish I'd stuck with Rove's notepad.

I don't know why I burn the midnight oil on election nights. It's never settled by the time I decide it's not worth falling asleep on the couch over. I can get all the info the next day.

Which I've done. The New York Times has their own high tech doohickey in the form of a flash map of the nation, complete with county by county breakdown. Cool...

So, we can look at California and see that, not only did Clinton take the state by 9 points (with 95% reporting at this writing), but that she won LA County 55% to 41%, while she lost Marin County 39% to 55%. There aren't any delegate results for California yet, but there are 370 to win and, if you break out the calculator, you can come up with an extremely rough estimate of 192 Clinton, 178 Obama. In other words, damned close.

So far, I'm really liking the NYT's delegate count, since they're not counting superdelegates. This leaves them counting only those convention votes that are absolutely certain. In that count, Obama has won 34 pledged delegates to Clinton's 21. Obama won the popular vote overall and the most delegates, but it's still pretty much neck and neck. In other words, no real democratic surprises last night. Hillary still leads among unpledged delegates, but you can't really count those yet -- it's kind of like looking at a public opinion poll and expecting the vote to mirror it in November. It won't.

I have only anecdotal evidence to base the following on, so take it with a grain of salt, but Obama's momentum seems to be because of Edwards voters -- at least, partly. From what I'm hearing from people I talk to, from callers to radio shows, and from blog posts, that seems to be the case. That's not the most scientifically sound assessment I've ever made, though. Still, I think it's probably true.

On the Republican side, John McCain kicked ass. This was pretty much expected, so no real news there. The big GOP news last night was Mike Huckabee. NYT lists the Republican delegate count as 89 McCain, 27 Mitt Romney, 25 Huckabee. No one expected him to do so well. Mitt Romney is reportedly meeting with his advisers today -- this may be the last we see of Mittens.

McCain's sudden dominance could be good news for the left. A lot of people have been worried that right wing talkers would tear down the eventual dem nominee. But they tried to tear down McCain -- they failed. The once powerful Republican noise machine has been significantly reduced in influence. It's clear that no one cares what Rush Limbaugh thinks anymore -- even on the right. In fact, that's not only good news for the left, it's good news for the nation. Yay for that, at least.

Huckabee's surprising showing isn't such good news. I'm willing to bet good money that these are the "movement conservatives" -- the whack-a-doodles who do care what Limbaugh thinks, the religious right, and a few mixed nuts. One thing it does is show that the complaint that a Huckabee voters were drawing off Romney voters was BS. They're in an honest to goodness battle for second place. Romney's second place status turned out to be extremely presumptive.

Where do we go from here? Onward and upward. If you're thinking of voting Democrat and you haven't had a primary yet -- like me -- your primary vote is probably going to count more than you're used to. If you're a Republican in the same situation, however, not so much. Sorry. It's hard to see how either Huckabee or Romney can close that massive gap. And Ron Paul? That dream is dead.

Still, I don't see Paulites going anywhere else. Paul's playing the role in his party that Kucinich played for dems in 2004 -- message candidate. He seems intent on going all the way to the convention. Of course, at this point he's polling so low that it wouldn't make much difference either way. He can't even claim spoiler status.

For the GOP, the race is probably effectively over. For Democrats, it's wide open. But the energy is definitely on the left. Some are saying that a prolonged Obama/Clinton battle will help McCain, but I don't see that happening. I think McCain news will be sidelined by a high profile debate and the dems will own the free media. Especially when you look at the difference between Republican and Democrat turnout -- in this cycle, the left is where the ratings are.

We've got a long way to go, folks. Don't try to stay up to watch it all.


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