The Political "Brief"
Obama takes the reins while McCain slaps Huckabee around
Yesterday's Potomac/Chesapeake Primary (Maryland, Virginia, Washington DC) put Obama in command of the delegate count in a way no one can argue: pure and simple, he has won more competitive delegates than Hillary. Take Superdelegates into account, and Hillary might be in the lead. That is a big might. Last night, Obama proved his support surpasses race (though that was a huge factor in winning) by claiming victories in all major demographics save white women.
So what is Hillary to do...? Sorry to say, she won't curl up and say die. This is going to be a prolonged battle, going at least another month if not more. Texas and Ohio loom large in the primary horizon. Despite Obama's string of victories, the successes themselves can be largely written off by the Clinton camp as a demographics battle (Did you know Obama is black? Black people now do, after being unsure for a while) and the "caucus argument." Due to his wild popularity with youth - and those strange feelings of hope and optimism engendered in many hearts - Obama is well-positioned to win any caucus, as the whole point is to persuade your fellow voter why you are right. And how better than with soaring rhetoric and mental bridges to the shining future?
So losing at those caucuses over the weekend is no great blow. Maryland is, Virginia not as much. Clinton still leads Obama 56% to 38% in Ohio as of a poll released today (Survey America? ABC? I forget), and taking error margins into account, she still trounces him. Texas looks thusly: 48% Hillary vs 38% Obama (Feb. 1). I'm sure these numbers will flex a little differently after this current round.
Clinton and Obama are exactly tied according to an average of the last twelve days of polling, with 44% apiece. Hawaii is coming up, but Obama was born there and has home field advantage.
McCain came away with victories across the board, and though close for a while in Virginia, was there ever any doubt? Huckabee remains in the to prove one of two points: "conservatives count!" or "I should be your VP." McCain is three hundred delegates (roughly) from the Nomination, and Huckabee - were he to win everything else - would come up very short. Unlike Romney, who knows he's not first choice for VP and that he had no chance winning after his poor Super Tuesday performance, Huckabee sees his victories last week and over the weekend as proof of his beliefs and electability. Really, this can also be chalked up to conservative backlash that's already fading.
While the Democratic party will face a brokered convention in August (unless someone drops out...), the Republicans look to have a nominee after the next three weeks of contests. That helps them immensely in fundraising and exposure; it also gives the nominee a break from the rigors of the primary season (let John go back to work for at least two days in a row!).
Washington and Wisconsin Primaries next Tuesday (19th), along with the (D) caucus in Hawaii (prediction: Mike Gravel from left field!).
Ohio, Rhode Island, Texas and Vermont take place on March 4th, and Hillary absolutely has to win Ohio and Texas to remain viable. Ideally...this will all be over the evening of March 4th. Huckabee will be defeated, and some Democrat will pull ahead by more than a few dozen delegates (this would be Obama sustaining growth, or Hillary stepping up her campaign).