Sunday, January 20, 2008

The Chase for Change 2008: South Carolina (R) and Nevada Editions: We Have Front-Runners but It’s Far from Over

So I would say last night the race for the White House got two clear front-runners for each party:
On the Republican side: John McCain banished the ghosts of South Carolina lingering from 8 years ago and won the state that has picked every Republican nominee since 1980. So that, his win in New Hampshire and his good poll numbers in virtually every delegate rich state I think puts him at the front of the pack for now. However, one interesting fact I was happy to hear from this race was that while McCain won in South Carolina this time, he did it with over 100,000 votes LESS than in 2000 when he LOST to George Bush in that state. Those Republicans sure are excited to turn out and vote this year aren’t they? It’s good news for the Democrats anyway.

McCain won’t be running away with this race anytime soon though, as Romney still leads the delegate count and he nabbed another 18 from Nevada yesterday. Even if Mitt doesn’t finish first in a lot of primaries, as long as he’s close each time he’ll still keep racking them up and with enough super-delegate support (and support from anyone left in the race) he could go over the top at the convention. Also, with many Republican only primaries coming up, McCain might not do as well without the help of independents and Democrats. I’d really rather the democrats go up against someone else besides Romney or McCain though (why Democrats and progressives ought to be worried about both candidates will be the subject of another post)…

My favourite Republican Mike Huckabee (because no one else would be so thoroughly crushed by the Democrats) unfortunately lost a lot of momentum last night. I can’t see where else he is likely to pick up another big victory to get the wind at his sails again. I don’t think he’ll do well in the big delegate states like New York, New Jersey and California (he may do ok in Florida), but he may be able to rack up enough decent close finishes to keep him in till the convention to play to king-maker (it’s looking more likely that’s where it will be settled), but I’ve been wrong before…

Then there’s Giuliani. He’s pinned it all on Florida, if he doesn’t win there on the 29th, well then he’s finished, but even if he does, he’s going to need to win big to get back in contention and have people take him seriously again. I mean he’s behind Ron Paul in delegates right now…

On the Democratic side: I would say Hillary clearly has the big mo now with her win in Nevada. Yes it seems for now Obama got more delegates (13 to 12) through their weird caucus system, but all the media networks and the people at home will take home the message that she won 51-45% even though Obama had the endorsement of the largest union in the state.

Obama though has a chance to get some momentum back with a big win in South Carolina next weekend, but this will be a MUST win for him or people will really be starting to count him out. Though if he keeps finishing so closely behind Hillary in each state (or beating her in some) she’s not going to get the delegate threshold required to win automatically before the convention. So it would be decided on the floor instead.

If it goes to that then there will be squabbling over whether Michigan’s and Florida’s delegates should count, the super-delegates will come into play, and Edwards strategy of staying in till the convention may pay off as he might gets to play king-maker (at this point he’s gonna need a huge breakthrough or a huge Hillary or Obama collapse to do better than that role). But we’ve got a long way to go yet…..

Recommend this Post