The Political "Brief"
Post-Mortem: Nevada Caucuses & South Carolina Primary (R)
Saturday was busy. Long/short: Hillary (51%) comes out with a win in the Nevada caucuses over Obama (45%) and Edwards (4%).
Romney (51%), by dint of being the only one campaigning in Nevada outside of Ron Paul (14%; go TV ads!), wins the Republican NV caucuses over the other serious contenders, McCain (13%), Huckabee (8%) and Giuliani (4%).
Though not a commanding win at first glance, McCain (33%) beat out Huckabee (30%), Thompson (16%) and Romney (15%) in South Carolina's primary.
What does this mean for Florida, South Carolina (D) and the overwhelming Super Tuesday?
By winning South Carolina, McCain has reinvigorated a campaign that faced serious questions after Michigan. Yeah, I know, Romney came from Michigan, but McCain should've been able to close that gap easier. Still, the "gateway to the South" is a major win for any Republican candidate because every one to secure a victory there in the last 20 years has gone on to win the party's nomination. Thompson is effectively out, as his scored half the votes of McCain. Expect to see him throw support behind McCain either right before Super Tuesday or right after; he can wrest a few more delegates out of Huckabee's hands and place them in his old Senate buddy McCain's lap.
With the most gold medals of any Republican, and the most delegates, Mitt Romney should be gracing more headlines, but the truth is, he's made it in 1) his homestate and 2) the West, where Mormons are a lot more common. One in four voters in Nevada was a Mormon, and over 90% voted for Romney. He won't see those numbers west of the High Plains, though, but he'll still rack up a fair number of delegates on Super Tuesday.
Giuliani, even if he loses Florida, has a chance come Super Tuesday when CT, NY and NJ all vote. He's holding steady around 20% nationwide if you bend the numbers right, and I'd guess many are waiting for Florida to see if he has what it takes. Should he lose in the Nation's Retirement Village, expect quick poll plunging.
Duncan Hunter is out, Ron Paul will have some delegates to assign in September and Huckabee is praying the South rises in better numbers than the North has.
John Edwards is a man on a mission. He was trounced on Saturday; no hyperbole does it justice. Yet he remains. I've stated before he has his sights on the Vice Presidency...again...but personally, I see him as poison for a Democratic ticket. For those of us who have no lives around election season and watched the 2004 VP debate, we saw VP Dick Cheney mercilessly eviscerate then-Senator Edwards for all to see with logic, facts and wit. I cannot see the Republicans choosing a VP nominee who couldn't mop the floor with Edwards. No, Johnny sticks around on the off-chance of a VP-ship, cabinet position or just simple kingmaker. HE HAS NO CHANCE AT WINNING THE NOMINATION, MUCH LESS THE OVAL OFFICE. His delegates will be a key part in what is shaping to be a brokered convention for the Dems.
Brokered conventions are not new in American politics, but because of delegate totals, the major parties haven't entered that back-door territory in decades. Basically, when two or more candidates enter the convention with a goodly number of delegates, but not the required amount, supporters and bosses go around and try to get those delegates to change sides after rounds of voting. Since 1980, the nominees have all been picked in first-round voting, as clear choices enter the conventions without any major opposition. Reagan almost upset the apple cart in 1976 by winning only 17 less delegates than President Gerald Ford, who had the required majority. Both the Republicans and Democrats may face a tough nomination process if the fractured voting continues through Super Tuesday.
Hillary's decisive (popular vote) win in Nevada keeps her rolling to Feb. 5, even if she takes 2nd in S. Carolina. Obama may have gotten more delegates in NV, due to the district split they each took, but the headlines read "Hillary Wins!" I can pass on how honestly frustrated the Obama campaign was at losing, and there are talks of disenfranchisement, caucus bosses closing doors early in the hopes of keeping black voters out. The theory there, racist of course, that black people are lazy and would show up at the last minute. Arguments were had to keep the doors open, but alas, they fell on deaf ears. "But this is democracy!" "My caucus, my rules!"
I don't think this really puts a major kink in Obama's campaign. He has yet to go South, where blacks make up a far larger proportion of the primary/caucus-goers. No, that isn't a racist thing, but a racial thing: he is identified as the candidate of choice by over half of black voters (according to several polls), and that is no doubt due to his being the first, serious black candidate for the Presidency. Who counts Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson anyway? I thought so. Expect Obama to win in S. Carolina in a week, but not by much. If he messes up, if Clinton can sneak her claws into his image somehow, that lead he enjoys (45% vs 39%) will quietly vanish, like in New Hampshire.
Next up is South Carolina for the Dems, Saturday the 26th, followed by the Flordia primaries for both sides, though like in Michigan, only the Republicans are campaigning. Maine has a nominal caucus (R) on Feb. 3.