Thursday, January 31, 2008

Super Tuesday Preview

More than twenty states will hold their presidential primaries next Tuesday. On the Democratic side, Clinton and Obama will likely split the delegates right down the middle, leaving the race wide open.

I'm backing Barack Obama 100% and devoting as much time as I can to volunteering for the campaign. A victory for Obama means a progressive future, while a Clinton victory means a return to the conservative Democratic Leadership Council politics of the 90's. In November, I predicted a Clinton victory because it was clear that Obama and Edwards would, and did, split the anti-Clinton vote. Now that impediment has been eliminated.

None of the contests for the Democratic nomination are winner-take-all. As a result, a substantial victory in the popular vote in any one state may only translate to a small majority among delegates awarded. For example, even in New York, where Hillary can expect to win big, she may only take four delegates for every three collected by Obama.

Both candidates have certain advantages. Obama has the most momentum, having won big this past weekend in South Carolina and having picked up a lot of important endorsements. Furthermore, recent polls showing him closing in on Hillary's long-standing national lead. Lastly, Obama can expect to benefit more than Clinton from John Edwards' exit from the race.

Clinton's advantages for the showdown next week come mostly from the fact that the Super Tuesday states are those where she has a natural base of power. Both of her “home” states, New York and Arkansas, will vote on the 5th, as well as several states adjacent to them. Hillary is also much stronger than Obama among Hispanic voters, giving her an edge in California and several other southwestern states.

Hillary has one more advantage, a very annoying one. She will probably win the popular vote in more big states than Obama. This will translate into a lot of good buzz for her from the major media outlets, even if she doesn't actually win a majority of the delegates in those same states. This is exactly what happened in the Nevada caucus earlier this month. Did you know that Obama won Nevada? He won more districts than Hillary did, translating into 13 delegates for him and only 12 for her. But since Hillary won the popular vote, all the major media cared to report was Hillary's “big win” in the contest.

Here is a really good analysis on what we can expect to see on a state-by-state basis.

It's all over on the Republican side, barring some major game-changing event. When Giuliani was the prohibitive front-runner, I predicted that his unfolding personal scandals would quickly doom him. That much I had right.

John McCain's candidacy will be just like Bob Dole's in 1996. McCain is a too-old, too-angry man that the base doesn't really like, but what does it matter? They don't expect to win anyway.

2 comments:

BROKEN LADDER said...

Heading into Super Tuesday, it would be nice to know more about both depth and breadth of support than we ordinarily can glean from a simply "choose one" poll. This poll does so, by using an increasingly talked-about voting method called Range Voting, championed in William Poundstone's book Gaming the Vote (due out on Super Tuesday incidentally).

http://polls.zoho.com/brokenladder/super-tuesday-2008-presidential-poll

It's kind of funny how much more reflective this voting method seems to be of the actual beliefs that we generally perceive people to hold. Now if only we could use it in real elections.

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