Sunday, February 10, 2008

Primaries & Caucuses: SuperTuesday and the Saturday Stumble

For a variety of personal reason, I never really got around to commenting on SuperTuesday. But now that the dust has settled a little, there are some things worth saying about each party's race for the presidential nomination.

I haven't heard much comment on voter turnout.

  • In Colorado, about 120,000 people turned out for the Democratic Caucuses; the GOP drew only about 55,000 people. Colorado went for Clinton in 1992 (but not in 1996), for Jimmy Carter in 1976, and for Johnson in 1964. In the last 12 elections that state has gone to the Democrats just three times.
  • In Georgia, 1,046,000 people voted in the Democratic Primary. Only 958,000 people voted in Georgia's GOP Primary. Georgia went for Kennedy in 1960, Carter in 1976 and 1980, and Clinton in 1992 (but not in 1996).
  • In Missouri only about 585,000 people voted in the GOP Primary compared to around 820,000 in the Democratic contest. Missouri has gone to the GOP in seven of the last 12 presidential Elections.
  • In North Dakota the Democrats drew almost 18,000 caucus goers, compared to only about 9,000 for the GOP. North Dakota hasn't voted for a Democrat in November since 1964.
  • In Oklahoma the Democrats drew over 400,000 voters to their primary while the GOP only saw about 330,000 come out. Like North Dakota, Oklahoma hasn't voted for a Democrat in November since 1964.
  • Democrats in Tennessee drew 614,000 voters to their primary, while the GOP managed to get out only about 547,000 (even with favorite son Fred Thompson running). Tennessee went for Clinton in 1992 and 1996, Carter in 1976, and Johnson in 1964, but they've gone to the GOP in eight of the last 12 elections.
The question: Will this translate to the November election? Maybe...

The trend continued in Louisiana, where over 350,000 people voted in the Democratic primary yesterday and only and only about 155,000 voted in the GOP race. The state went for Kennedy in 1960, Carter in 1976, and Clinton twice, but has gone to the GOP two-thirds of the time since 1960.

Did SuperTuesday have winners? Well, it certainly had losers on the GOP side. Fred Thompson placed fifth in his home state. I'll go back to the actor metaphor I heard somewhere a while back and say that Mike Huckabee seems to have gotten the part that Fred Thompson tried out for.

Time to make another pot...Romney fell victim to a combination of factors. There was the fact that the Conservative vote was divided three ways. That made it easy from McCain to pull out a win in states like Missouri and Oklahoma. In a head-to-head race with just the two of them, Romney might well have beaten McCain out of those 90 or so delegates. Romney fell victim to high expectations; he was expected to do better than he did, and that made it difficult to justify staying in the race. I think Romney also fell victim to his own ambitions in as much as he's more committed to being president someday than he is to being president now. He could be perceived as having hurt the party by staying in, so he suspended his campaign.

While McCain carried the day, the biggest GOP winner may well turn out to be Huckabee. The former Arkansas governor is now the only choice for many Conservatives and logic choice for the anti-McCain block. Huckabee picked up the endorsement of Dr. James Dobson, champion of the Religious Right. And Huckabee's two wins yesterday testify to his new status as Last Conservative Standing. Mathematically, it's still possible for Huckabee to win the nomination (especially is Romney releases his delegates to vote however they want). It's not very likely, but it's possible at the moment.

On the Democratic side, SuperTuesday proved that the Clinton-Obama race really is a tie. That translates to a win for Obama. And that momentum carried him to three new wins yesterday. More and more, the focus of the Democratic race is on SuperDelegates since it doesn't look like either candidate will get enough delegates from the primary and caucus process to win outright.

The Saturday Stumble is the name pundits giving to the performance of McCain and Clinton yesterday. If McCain is not careful, he could end up being offered a position as Huckabee's VP. If Hillary is not careful, she could just plain lose.

No one seems to stay a front runner for very long...

In case you hadn't noticed:

  • Fred Thompson endorsed John McCain.
  • Ron Paul made some statements to the effect that he probably really would support the GOP candidate (he refused to rule out running as an independent during a Washington Post interview a few weeks ago).
  • NYC Mayor Michael Bloomburg seems to have shut up about running for President as an independent now that it looks like the GOP will nominate a moderate candidate.
  • President Bush said yesterday that McCain wasn't a moderate and endorsed McCain's credentials as a true Conservative.
  • Conservatives from Ann Coulter to Dr. Dobson are suggesting that their people should just stay home in November and left the Democrats have the White House if McCain is the nominee.
  • And Mike Gravel is still technically a candidate for the Democratic nomination.
But who cares about trivia...

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