A ringside seat

By Dan Juneau

February 13, 2008 at 12:04 pm  | Mobile Reader | Pring this storyPrint 

Break out the popcorn, settle into your easy chair, and get ready to watch some high drama as the presidential nominating contests move toward critical mass.

On the Republican side, John McCain has all but wrapped up the nomination. In 20 words or less, Mike Huckabee doesn’t run very well outside of the Bible Belt, and Mitt Romney didn’t run very well within it. In a nutshell, that is why McCain will be the nominee. The fireworks on the Republican side aren’t over who will be the nominee; they center more upon whether the warring factions in the GOP will coalesce before November to give McCain a shot at winning the presidency. If the staunch conservatives persist in saying “Never!” to supporting McCain, not only will McCain lose, but the Democratic majorities in the House and Senate will also likely swell even larger due to the lack of electoral energy on the right.

As contentious as the battle on the Republican side is, it pales in comparison to the food fight among the Democrats. Recent hug exchanges at debates aside, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama aren’t pals, and each will continue to do whatever it takes to win. According to the Real Clear Politics blog (www.realclearpolitics.com) as of February 8, Clinton has 1,060 delegates to Obama’s 981. That is extremely close, and the narrowness of the margin will likely continue through the balance of the primaries that end in early June.

On February 9, Louisiana, Washington state, and Nebraska have their primaries. Louisiana has a closed primary, which means that an African-American vote energized for Obama should give him the bulk of the delegates here. Neither Washington nor Nebraska is winner take all, so Obama should hold his own with Clinton in those states and likely be tied or even have a slight lead over her moving to the next round of primaries. Virginia, Maryland, and the District of Columbia come next on February 12. That should be a good day for Obama, quite possibly establishing him as the leader.

Wisconsin and Hawaii follow on February 19.  Neither state is winner take all, so Obama should still be in the lead going into Texas, Ohio, Rhode Island, and Vermont on March 4, where a total of 444 delegates are up for grabs. None of those states is winner take all, so barring some large jolt of momentum for one of the candidates, both should still be in the race on March 5.

On March 10, Obama should take the bulk of Mississippi’s 40 delegates. On April 22, Clinton should garner the majority of Pennsylvania’s 188 delegates, since it is a closed primary, and Obama won’t be able to count on Independents to help him there. On May 6, Obama should do well in North Carolina (134 delegates); Indiana (84 delegates) should be evenly contested. The balance of the remaining primaries—again, barring some major momentum factor—should result in a split of available delegates.

It is quite likely that Obama will enter the Democratic convention in August with a plurality, but not a majority, of the delegates needed to win. That is where the “super” delegates enter the equation. These are office holders and party officials who are rumored to already be committed to Clinton. If these unelected delegates clinch the deal for Clinton, it may be an expensive victory. All of those energized Obama voters who led him to victory in the contested primary elections would be incensed at the “establishment” for denying him the nomination.
Stay tuned. This is going to be a war.




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