Thoughts about the 2008 Presidential race – Pre Super Tuesday II

February 19, 2008

In less than two weeks, the Republican nomination is essentially settled, while Hillary Clinton faces a “do or die” situation in Ohio and Texas on March 4. We will discuss where the race stands at this point.

Democrats

After the Louisiana primary, not only did Obama’s winning streak continue (as of the time of this article, he has won in the most recent five primaries in Virginia, Maryland, Washington DC, Wisconsin, and Hawaii), but he has begun to make inroads into the “Hillarycratic” coalition in those four states. At the same time, Obama has begun to use more populist themes in his campaign speeches now. The Clinton camp, on the other hand, has been reduced to acts of desperation (accusing Obama of plagiarism, attempting to grab Florida and Michigan’s delegates despite earlier promises to stay out of those early primaries, getting into verbal arguments with Obama supporters). Here are the states each Democratic candidate has won

So what happens on March 4 ? Hillary must win overwhelmingly in Texas and Ohio. While it’s likely she’d carry those states (particularly Ohio), it’s not clear how strong her victory margin will be in those states. Which then leads us to wonder how well she can play the remaining cards in her deck: (1) The April 22 Pennsylvania primary (with its older and unionized electorate), (2) The 800 superdelegates, and (3) getting Florida and Michigan’s delegates recognized.

At this stage in the game, Hillary Clinton’s odds of winning the Democratic nomination are 50%. If she wins unconvincingly in Texas and/or Ohio, the “loser” label will be attached to her, which makes it harder for the superdelegates to be convinced to support her nomination. And for Hillarycrats to continue to support her in strong numbers.

Republicans

When Super Tuesday established John McCain as the front-runner for the Republican nomination, staunch conservatives and those in talk radio were in the anger and denial phases. Now, as the closing of ranks with the party leaders has begun, the acceptance phase (though a very grudging acceptance) has started. Mike Huckabee refuses to withdraw from the race until the nomination has been numerically decided, although that will probably be a reality after Super Tuesday II on March 4.

Still, McCain’s victories have stubbornly remained in the 50-55% range in recent primaries, which suggests that he has his work cut out for him. Fortunately, he will have a headstart on uniting the party that the Democrats don’t have at this point.

At this stage in the game, it’s worth wondering how/whether Mike Huckabee and/or Ron Paul will reach the “acceptance phase” when John McCain formally clinches the Republican nomination. Mitt Romney has recently reached that stage, and is working to get his delegates to change their support to McCain. Here are the states each Republican candidate has won

Conclusion

The real questions at this point are: (1) How Mike Huckabee will fold his campaign, as McCain’s already apparent inevitability becomes more and more real with each passing day, (2) How many “Hillarycrats” will hold on in Ohio and Texas, and (3) Who John McCain will pick as his Vice-President.


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