Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Initial Thoughts on Super Tuesday

Some initial thoughts on last night....
1. Romney is DOA. Even though Huckabee has proven remarkably resilient, it's impossible to see how McCain fails to win the nomination. The oft-heard meme last night and this morning has been about a McCain-Huckabee ticket. This, of course, is something I've said makes political sense for months - even back when McCain was still the underdog. Let the record show that on Dec. 26, I argued that such a ticket would be the only way for the GOP to unite its coalition for one last battle in November. Let the record also show that on that same day, I argued that McCain would win the nomination as long as he could keep his campaign afloat through Super Tuesday. Just sayin'
2. With McCain inevitable at this point, every extra dollar that Mitt Romney spends from his personal fortune on this campaign will show that he (Romney) really would not make a good President. Unless you think that doing that is a wise investment at this point.
3. On both the Republican and Democrat side, Missouri showed that it is not just a bellwether state in general elections. The closeness of each race is just staggering.

1. My predictions were off on a couple aspects, and hit the mark perfectly on others. Overall, I actually underestimated Obama's support slightly, although it's tough to say how representative the caucus states are of the party's mood within those respective states.
2. Had we been told what the results would be a week ago, we would have probably said that Obama was the new frontrunner. Unfortunately for Obama, the media and a number of his cheerleaders built up expectations to an unrealistic level with their overreporting of poll results in California and New Jersey that showed Obama closing rapidly. As a result, last night was a draw in the truest sense (not in the sense of a draw actually being an Obama win). In California, the pundit-class that argued Obama might pull of the upset there utterly ignored the huge percentage of voters who voted by mail at a time when Hillary was ahead by 20 or 30 points. In New Jersey, that class ignored New Jersey's sordid history as a machine state. I personally would have been shocked had either state gone for Obama. In Massachussetts, the polling was showing a big lead for Hillary for quite some time - the expectation that the state was a toss-up just because of endorsements was laughable.
3. Hillary is still the favorite to win the nomination. It is almost inevitable that the race will come down to the Super Delegates, and I suspect that the race for binding delegates will wind up extremely close to tied. If that is the case, then it's hard to see how the Super Delegates break in Obama's favor.
4. The big surprises of the night from my perspective were Missouri and New Mexico (although my prediction on Alabama turned out to be wrong by several degrees of magnitude).
5. Looking at my original predictions, it looks like Obama took 4 of the 5 states I had listed as toss-ups, possibly one true "Lean Hillary" state (New Mexico- still undecided at this moment, but with a razor-thin edge to Obama), as well as one "Lean Hillary" state that probably should have been a "Lean Obama" state all along (Utah). Most pundits had Delaware as a "toss-up" state as well, giving Obama a major victory in the true toss-up states (I had it as a "Lean Obama" state due to its demographics).
6. Obama will have won several more states than Hillary when the counting is done. This is significant.
7. Obama's huge margin of victory in every single caucus state shows an ability to drive turnout that Democrats need to keep in mind if they want to win in November. If Hillary is the nominee, she will need to have Obama on the ticket if she wants to beat McCain; Obama does not need Hillary, though, if he is the nominee.
8. Obama may wind up ahead in pledged delegates on the night - no small feat given the media's (proper) emphasis on delegate counts as the true indicator last night.

More thoughts as they occur....

If you really need more thoughts right now, though, you can find them at Memeorandum.