Now that the Florida votes have been cast, it’s worth noticing some things that have become apparent:
Hillary Clinton’s victory, while (as of the time of this writing) a respectable 50-33% over Barack Obama, was not impressive when you consider that Democrats ignored Florida due to its audacity to hold a primary before it was “supposed to.” She did pile up absolute majorities in counties with significant numbers of Hispanics and retirees. Still, despite the lack of campaigning, Barack Obama did well with blacks and university liberals and carried eight counties. John Edwards received pluralities in 11 small rural counties.
As mentioned before, the “Hillarycratic” coalition of “downscale” Democrats, older women, organizational Democrats, and Hispanics delivered for her again. However, Senator Teddy Kennedy’s recent wholehearted endorsement of Barack Obama, if coupled with energetic campaigning, could make “Super Duper Tuesday” states like California and New Jersey competitive. John Edwards remains an “also ran”, and questions remain as to how much longer he plans to campaign, as he has not topped 17% of the vote in any primary or caucus state that has voted so far.
One cautionary note for Republicans: despite a lack of a campaign from the Democratic nominees in this “forbidden primary”, an impressive 1.7 million Democrats voted, which not only represents a 41% voter turnout, but represents a turnout volume of more than double that of the 2004 Democratic primary turnout.
While 21 states vote on “Super Duper Tuesday”, there are also primaries/caucuses in eight additional states next month. Currently, Hillary maintains a comfortable, but not overwhelming, majority with 249 delegates to Barack Obama’s 179 delegates (2,025 delegates are required for the nomination) and John Edwards’ 58 delegates – below is a graphical map of where each candidate has won. At this stage in the game, Hillary Clinton’s odds of winning the Democratic nomination are 3:2 favorable.
Florida for the first time establishes John McCain as the Republican front-runner. His 36-31% victory was impressive in its broad base, with strong performances with retirees, evangelicals, military voters, and anti communist Cuban Hispanic voters in South Florida. He carried 47 of 67 counties. Romney carried 16 counties with a strong suburban/economic conservative presence. Mike Huckabee carried four small rural counties. But despite his extensive campaigning here, Rudy Giuliani finished a poor third with 15% of the vote and was unable to carry a single county.
Essentially, the contest becomes a McCain/Romney competition. Mike Huckabee may carry a few scattered states like Alabama, Arkansas, and Oklahoma on “Super Duper Tuesday”, and Mitt Romney may win a few random states as well, but John McCain’s emerging broad based support makes him tough to beat, especially since he will receive an additional assist from Rudy Giuliani’s expected withdrawal and endorsement of McCain. This endorsement will undoubtedly help McCain in states like California, Illinois, New Jersey, and New York which vote in “Super Duper Tuesday.” Plus, McCain has an additional advantage: despite grumblings from talk radio and from strong conservatives about his voting record, he has been steadfast in his convictions. Mitt Romney, on the other hand, has not played to his strength as a successful businessman who has turned around failing companies. Instead, he has spent valuable time trying to “out conservative” his opponents.
The Republican turnout was impressive – in this contested race, 1.9 million Republicans voted, which not only represents a 50% voter turnout, but represents a turnout volume nearly three times that of the last contested Republican primary in 2000.
While 22 states vote before or during “Super Duper Tuesday”, there are also primaries/caucuses in six additional states next month (this includes Louisiana’s February 9 primary). With John McCain’s victory in the “winner take all” state of Florida, he now has a 93-59 lead over Mitt Romney. Mike Huckabee has 40 delegates, Ron Paul has won four delegates, and Rudy Giuliani has a single delegate (1,191 delegates are required for the nomination). Below is a graphical map of where each candidate has won.
At this stage in the game, John McCain has a 55% chance of winning the Republican nomination.
The Florida contest sets the state for a McCain/Romney contest on the Republican side, and a Hillary/Obama contest on the Democratic side. There will be some benefit to McCain of the Rudy Giuliani endorsement, while the Kennedy endorsement of Obama gives him a valuable assist as well.