Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Super Tuesday

Forget November -- this could be the day that decides the future of our country. Here are a few looks at what might go down today.

Super Tuesday showdown

The Republican race should have one dominant story line -- the coronation of John McCain. Unless the polls are grotesquely wrong (and after survey miscues in New Hampshire and South Carolina that remains a slim possibility), the Arizona senator should score a coast-to-coast triumph, sweeping winner-take-all primaries in New York and New Jersey and picking up a lion's share of the delegates in California (which allocates them based on the statewide result and the winner in each of 53 congressional districts).

But unless Mitt Romney or Mike Huckabee manages to organize a last-minute McCain Mutiny by winning more than a handful of states, the GOP contest will effectively be over before anyone has to learn the intricacies of Republican delegate-allocation rules. Ron Paul -- talk about a "change" candidate -- does have a snowball's chance of prevailing in the all-important Alaska caucuses.

The Democrats, though, rarely take the easy route in choosing a presidential nominee. All 1,681 pledged delegates (the magic number for nomination is 2,025) up for grabs on Woozy Tuesday will be awarded proportionally, which means that neither Hillary Clinton nor Barack Obama is likely to score a breakaway victory. (Please remember all the usual caveats about the unreliability of polls, the track record of pundits and the volatility of voters.) As a result, the returns from the 15 primaries and 8 caucuses on the Democratic side should be analyzed both for themselves and for their ability to create -- or crush -- momentum for the long slog to the nomination.

This de facto national primary has, in some ways, cheated the voters by giving them a rushed crash course in Politics 2008. A full week-long media buy in the Feb. 5 states would cost in the neighborhood of $35 million. But both Clinton (who has been circumspect about her campaign finances) and Obama (who claims to have raised a stunning $32 million in January) have been cherry-picking media markets. As of last weekend, according to a study by the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Obama has spent only about $11 million and Clinton $8 million in these states.

Read the rest of this article from Salon.

Super Tuesday: transformational, cliff hanger or confusion?

Will Super Tuesday be transformational and “get America going again” (in the words of John F. Kennedy)?

The conventional wisdom of the moment among political pundits is that Americans are crying for change. Voters are fed up and disappointed and want to be able to look at themselves in the mirror and feel that the President they choose to rule the world is honest, ethical and moral.

Most of this hope is reposed in Barack Obama. His uprightness, appeal to the high road of ideals, flights of poetry and personal charisma are being compared with JFK. Especially so, after endorsements from Caroline Kennedy and Edward Kennedy, the elder statesman.

In this moment, Barack seems also to appeal to young people, in whose nature often plays the desire to better the world. Then they reach middle age and their early high mindedness often crumbles under the pressures of bills and taxes, and having to safely raise their children and save for retirement.

Robert Kennedy’s children provided the counterpoint by saying that a President should be able to win fistfights. The Kennedy family has diametrically-opposite points of view and as such mirrors the conflicted feelings of voters. Most dislike George Bush but are unable to decide whether they would like to see a little bit of him in the new President.

Those who want a hint of Bush might go for Hilary Clinton and those who want even more of him might settle for John McCain. Mitt Romney may get those who worry more about the economy than Iraq or foreign policy.

This is a cliff hanger but not yet transformational. It will be transformational when Obama gets elected President in November but almost nobody outside America expects that to happen.

Read the rest of this article from The Moderate Voice.

The Final Sprint to Super Tuesday

Both parties predicted that turnout would be high, if the enthusiasm voters showed in the final days is any guide. An all-star sisterhood of Oprah Winfrey, Caroline Kennedy and Michelle Obama rallied 9,000 people on Sunday at UCLA, where California's First Lady Maria Shriver made her surprise leap into the political fray and came out for Obama; the Grateful Dead reunited in San Francisco for a concert. Obama himself drew 20,000 people in Minneapolis and 14,000 in Boise, Idaho, which is nearly three times the total that came out to caucus there four years ago, a fact which enforced his argument that only he could feel the love in Red State America. "This is the most consequential election in a generation," he told the crowd.

Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton crisscrossed the country with a new stump speech about "The America I See," and took to the air, appearing on Inside Edition, The Late Show with David Letterman and in her own interactive Town Hall meeting on the Hallmark channel. Responding to concerns that her husband was getting too involved in her campaign, Clinton joked with Letterman, "in my White House, we will know who wears the pantsuits." Ron Howard showed up at a Clinton house party in Stamford, CT; Bill Clinton watched the Super Bowl with his old pal, New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, who hasn't endorsed anyone yet. Polls showing Obama closing what had been Clinton's national double digit lead just two weeks ago left her team counting on her high name recognition and deep institutional support to carry the day. Among the imponderables: whether the large numbers of California voters who voted early — at least 20% and possibly as many as half — might be enough for her to hold onto her edge in the state with 370 delegates in play. "We've had good movement (in California) in the last two weeks," Obama advisor David Axelrod said Monday "but she's had an edge in the early vote, there's no doubt about that."

All the activity just spoke to the stakes, 1,681 Democratic delegates to be divided up in proportion to the popular vote in 22 states. Though that is more than half the 2,025 needed to win the nomination, it's unlikely either candidate will emerge the presumptive favorite. The rules are so convoluted that either candidate could win more states and still not emerge with a significant edge in delegates; in some places the strategy has come down to focusing on congressional districts with an odd number of delegates in hopes of picking up one here, one there. "Obviously," Clinton told reporters traveling with her over the weekend, "we're all making it up as we go."

The Republican side promised more clarity, since most of its 21 contests are winner take all: a McCain victory in New York could net him as many delegates as he has earned to date in all the previous races. In the final days, McCain was stacking up endorsements like fire wood, including the Republican governors in the key states of Florida, Texas, California and, to salt Romney's wounds, Paul Cellucci, the former Republican governor of Massachusetts. California's Governator Arnold Schwarzenegger went so far as to man a V.F.W. phone bank for McCain, and Rudy Giuliani was faithfully smiling at his side in New York and New Jersey, where McCain confidently declared that he was going to "take" both New Jersey and the nomination on the big day.

Read the rest of this article from Time.

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