Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Super Tuesday and What it Means For the General Election

First off, anyone who tells you that they know what happened last night is probably full of it, especially if they're this guy. The last episode of the Sopranos had more closure than Super Tuesday. Five people went in and five came out with no clear favorite, but one clear winner: Mike Huckabee.

Huckabee, considered the spoiler for Mitt Romney, did more than just take away votes from Mitt, but won nearly all the southern states that participated last night. These wins did more than just elongate Huck's candidacy, but virtually guaranteed him either a VP spot on the McCain ticket, or a cabinet post. Why? Because in a battle to shore up the Republican base Huck is the CLEAR favorite. Come election time, McCain is going to need these votes to have a fighting chance and only Huckabee will be able to deliver them. If the Huckster isn't around the evangelicals will stay home since it's extremely unlikely that they'll rally around Micky C who they consider a traitor to the social conservative movement. His wins, by the way, were really the only surprise of the night.

Mitt Romney is in a WORLD of hurt, bleeding out his behind like the dude who got raped in American Me. Though he managed to snatch up more delegates than Huck, he trails McCain by a significant amount, he's lost Mittmentum and his attempt to become a face of mainstream conservatives. Losing Cali was a huge blow, and really showed that for all his money he just can't shore up voters. According to MSNBC, Romney's campaign said today will be a day of "frank discussions" regarding the rest of the race as they crunch the numbers to see if they still have a shot.

McCain is doing A-ok, finally conceding that he is the front runner. As long as his body holds up, it looks like he's got the GOP nod.

But, for the Democrats, things aren't nearly as obvious, as the race has become nearly a dead heat. If you take the Obama's campaign at face value, everything is going according to plan as they reported to Ambinder:

"We fully expect Senator Clinton to earn more delegates on February 5th and also to win more states. If we were to be within 100 delegates on that day and win a number of states, we will have met our threshold for success and will be best positioned to win the nomination in the coming months."

'Binder thought they were aiming low (probably trying to get some of that underdog Giants momentum) and sure enough they did do slightly better, garnering more states and slightly more delegates than Hillary, although they're still behind by about 70 or 80 delegates. Clinton tried to claim that she was gaining momentum, but what we're seeing is an Obama surge, pushing against her ingrained supporters, especially the Latino community that gave her a big push in California. What happens when an immoveable object meets an unstoppable force? Well claims they might go negative, and I'm sure they will as the spin war intensifies to tornado proportions.

But what really has been bobbling around in my mind today is how the picture is looking for the general election. If you'd asked me a year ago how the GE would go I would have given you the same answer I gave in 00 and 04: all Democrats, all the time. But with the Huckabee surge, and the impact of Latinos in the Democratic primaries, I'm not so sure. Let's say it's Hillary and McCain and let's say McCain takes Huckabee as his running mate. Huck shores up the South, Hil takes Cali and the strong Northwestern Democratic states, which leaves the East coast open. Assuming she's able to take white women, and blacks from McCain, and splits the white male vote (which is definately not guaranteed) then that puts Latinos is the driver's seat and they tend to be more pragmatic while socially conservative. Still I can't say that they wouldn't go Hil's way since they like her. But now substitute in Obama for Hil and the picture changes. Not only do I think he'll do worse with Latino voters, but he'll, most likely, bring the war up as his focus since his early opposition is his strongest point, and he definitely lacks experience versus McCain. Now here's where it becomes VERY tricky.

See there's two ways you can look at the war: a) we shouldn't have been in there in the first place, and we should withdraw at the earliest possible time (Obama) or b) Yeah, yeah we shouldn't have been there, but screw it, we're there, Middle East = Terrorist, 'we need to fight them over there so we don't have to fight them over here' (trademark Don Rumsfeld 2003) and the real issue isn't should we be over there but we're not fighting them competently and we want to 'win'. (McCain). While I totally agree with item a--I see that b, strategically can work. It worked for Bush in 04, and considering that Americans don't like to 'lose', and McCain has a war hero 'presidential' image, b can be enough of a polarizing argument for McCain to make against Obama to win if he can siphon off enough white men and Latinos.

Of course it's too early to tell, and most of this is mere speculation. Obama has shown himself quite able to bring out votes from no where, McCain has hung the Bush albatross around his neck, some of those southern voters wouldn't vote for McCain if Jesus Christ was running with him, and I'm underestimating Latinos' adherence to both the Democratic party and progressive ideas. But even the Death Star had a weakspot, and although it was no bigger than a womp rat, the rebellion was able to exploit it. We may be enthralled in watching 'history unfold' (trademark Wolf Blitzer 2007), but we shouldn't forget what lies down the road.

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