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Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Super Tuesday Preview and Predictions--Democrats

If tomorrow morning's lead story for the Democratic Primary is that Hillary Clinton wins Super Tuesday, Barack Obama and his supporters will all be thinking the same thing:

"If only we had two more days..."

Obama showed some impressive closing speed over the last week. As January was ready to pass the baton to February, the Illinois junior Senator found himself in the same situation as he was in during December - down double digits nationally, down double digits in California, and projected to lose most Super Tuesday states by significant margins. Save a practically insignificant lead in the pledged delegate count, not too much had changed in the big scheme of things in the Democratic Primary.

On the eve of John Edwards' exit from the race last Wednesday, if one looked at the numbers, Barack Obama had no avenue to victory. With California and New York expected to be landslide victories for Clinton, as well as 15-17 of 22 Super Tuesday states expected to go to her column as well, Obama, unbeknownst to most of the country, was just playing out the string. Sure, Clinton wouldn't have the 2,025 delegates needed for the nomination on Wednesday the 6th, but she'd have it by month's end, and if Obama was lucky, maybe his loss wouldn't be official until March or April.

But then the feel of the race started to change. When Edwards dropped out, he didn't have to endorse Obama for Obama to get a bump in polling. First, most Edwards supporters were excited about the "change" mantra pushed by Edwards and Obama, so they were naturally inclined to gravitate to Obama over yesteryear's candidate in Clinton. Second, many undecided voters were undecided because they did not want to support Hillary Clinton, and once there was only one other candidate left, they were no longer undecided.

Third, and most important, Obama was now officially Clinton's equal. It was no longer Hillary and the Eight Men. It was Hillary and Obama. This manifested itself in last Thursday's Democratic debate in California. On stage, it was just the two of them.

What were the effects of this image?

Well, on Friday, I ran through Super Tuesday polling numbers, which projected that Clinton would win between 150-200 more delegates than Obama today. On Monday, I ran through the same states, but with updated polling numbers. Obama gained on Clinton in nearly every state poll. Incredibly, this weekend, he pulled even in California and nationally.

So, that was the Monday headline in blogs and newspapers. On the day in an election cycle when the number of people interested in the primary hit at an absolute peak (today, this website smashed its record for hits), Barack Obama was the comeback kid, making a run at the dynastical power, an underdog who was hitting all cylinders late in the fourth quarter.

But was it enough?

Did Barack Obama completely overcome the deficit by today, or did he need a few more days to fully diminish the lead that Hillary Clinton has had for three years?

(Prediction alert)

Methinks Clinton hangs on to win more delegates today, but mealsothinks that's not the point. Try as they might, the Clinton camp will spin the tiniest of victories as a national Democratic validation that while Obama can steal a caucus and a black state, Clinton is still the candidate of mainstream Democrats across the country. Anything under 100 delegates, however, and it's a Pyrrhic victory.

The story tomorrow will be that Barack Obama has taken Clinton's best punches and is still standing. Even if his 15 delegate lead turns into a 50 point deficit, what's important is the message that this sends the country. It tells the rest of the country that this candidate is here to stay. It tells the country that the national lead Clinton had been nursing for months is evaporated. It tells the country that this one is going the distance.

I'll be back tomorrow to break down the results. Don't forget to read my Republican preview and predictions from this morning.

1 comment:

The Dude said...

The fact both came to CT on the Monday before Super Tuesday was great. As one of her most influential native sons, I felt the Constitution State went above and beyond to welcome both candidates.

It was too bad Joe Lieberman was in Taxachuesetts,...hating America.

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