The Political "Brief"
Kucinich Out, NYTimes Endorses..., S. Carolina (D) Primary, FL Run-up
Dennis Kucinich, bastion of ideals, has taken his graceful bow from the presidential (campaign) stage. And boy (mayor), is his supporter going to miss him. All kidding aside, we must respect the former mayor of Cleveland and current US Representative for sticking in the race for purely ideological reasons. He never had a chance of winning. If all the other candidates blew up, well...then they'd just vote for Pedro.
Obama will win the South Carolina Democratic primary, all sources are saying tonight. This is a major win for him and not a major loss for Hillary, despite what you might think. Demographically, she was up against a wall, with a popular black candidate running in a state that's 50% black. If Obama didn't win here, his candidacy would've been over, as that would've said to the world, "Black people don't even like him! They'd rather vote for the ice queen!"
The New York Times named its endorsements for each party, and I find them not surprising at all. They name Hillary Clinton for the (D)s and John McCain for the (R)s. Hillary, they say, is extremely bright, driven, has experience and can bring America to a better place internationally. That isn't to say Obama wouldn't do the same, but he is "incandescent if still undefined," and the Democratic party needs a strong hand at the tiller. McCain is obvious, becasuse despite what they call "pandering" to a faction of the party (the conservative Right), he is still the candidate who best epitomizes the social change and forward momentum they want to see out of a Republican.
That they didn't choose Obama is a little surprising; it would make sense for them to hope that his lack of experience would be compensated by advisers and a cadre of Old Guard Dems. We'll see how his win in South Carolina turns their opinion page.
This week has seen two debates, the Democrats in South Carolina and the Republicans in Flordia. I commented earlier on the Dems, and how if you can, you should find some video of the crossfire between Hillary and Obama. That is past, though the enmity it created lingers.
The Republican debate in Boca Raton was not as hostile for the candidates on the Right side of things, but Clinton sure took a whalloping. The idea was to gang up on her, their most-desirable Democratic opponent, and in doing so clearly defining her as the one they are concerned about. This is strategic: McCain can win against Hillary in November, as his "personal" rating is higher than hers. More Americans, in short, trust him to lead them. That, and there's no huge target like Bill Clinton hanging on his back. That's not to say they didn't take some swipes at each other, but this was far more restrained than the Democratic debate. In Florida, they have to appear presidential, whereas in South Carolina, it was a brawl to see who came out with the boldest words and ideas and made the others look like fools. Floridian voters, the elderly a large group, don't want the mud-slinging. That's old hat in Carolina.
Currently, McCain (28.75%, avg over four recent polls) has a slim lead over Romney (26.25%), Giuliani (15.75%) and Huckabee (13%). One poll (ARG, done on Jan. 24) has the breakdown as follows:
McCain - 31%
Romney - 26%$
Huckabee - 15%
Giuliani - 14%
Paul - 3%
Were those numbers to hold, or McCain at least to keep the barest of margins, he would win. You see, Florida has a few quirks going for it: it's a winner-take-all primary, and it's a closed primary. "Closed" means that only Republicans can vote in it, the demographic that (haha) McCain does worst in. However, Romney and Huckabee are still splitting that vote, and the recent exit of Fred Thompson - lacking and endorsement - means his conservative backers are directionless. Thompson backed McCain in 2000, not Bush, and he could do so again before Super Tuesday, to add a little gasoline to this contest.
The Florida primary is Tuesday, with the polls closing at 7PM Central. Find yourself a news station at 7:15PM to see how things are shaping up, and be in for a long count. Half the delegates in the state are up for grabs; the others were stripped as punishment for the early scheduling (before Feb. 5th), but will probably still sit at the Republican National Convention come September, should the 1) need arise or 2) a clear winner magnanimously request it.
The Democrats next "compete" in Florida, though like in Michigan, it doesn't count. As Florida was stripped of its Democratic delegates for scheduling its primary so early (again, before Feb. 5th). Though, for the same reasons above, these delegates may still sit in August at the DNC, it's unknown right now. Should they sit, and the voting on Tuesday tie - proportionate to the vote - delegates, it could mean a heck of a lot. I believe the big three are still all on the ballot, though don't quote me. It might just be Hillary again.
Aside from Florida, the next step is Super Tuesday, the de facto national primary, and the Democrats proportion their delegates by popular vote percentage, no winner-take-all. This means that it's unlikely one person will take every delegate. It also means no one will come out with the required 50% +1 delegate to secure the nomination. A clear frontrunner may be determined, making the rest of the primaries a formality on the road to coronation. I think it'll be tooth and nail between Obama and Clinton, with Edwards bogarting his delegates until he is asked to choose sides and make the pick (a theory).
Going back to South Carolina, this will boost Obama tremendously going into Super Tuesday. Truly, his loss there would've been catastrophic, but the victory propels him like a rocket across next week. Provided he can stay above the Clinton machine's slander and craftiness, he should make this a contest worth watching.