Saturday, February 9, 2008

Here Come the Results...and the Delegate Count

As Mike Huckabee has been apt to do during this cycle, he struck first. He won the nation's first contest in Iowa. He won the first contest of Super Tuesday in West Virginia. And, as I posted earlier, he won the first contest of this weekend in Kansas. His win there kicked off the results of the day. Results that are just now starting to come in.

I'll resist the urge to go faux game show voice on you and declare, "Tell them what they've won," (Well, I just did it, didn't I?) but here is the picture that is beginning emerge this evening. This is going to sound like a broken record from Super Tuesday night and its aftermath, but caucuses are Obama's territory. He's been given the nod in both Nebraska and Washington (state). And by the same large margins he enjoyed in the caucuses on Tuesday night (two to one in both cases). At some point these large margins in the caucuses are going to help him catch up with (or increase) and pass Clinton's delegate total. His totals relative to hers will increase because the margins in these caucuses are so large compared to the near even division of delegates in most of the other primaries.

While we're on the subject of delegates, the New York Times has a couple of good pieces up now. One discusses the disparity in delegate counts from the networks, new outlets and the campaigns while another details the efforts of the Clinton and Obama camps to lure superdelegates into their folds. The members of Congress they spoke to in the latter article, seemed a bit unnerved by the task of potentially choosing the party's nominee. They seem to be biding their time, hoping that one of the candidates emerges as the winner at the conclusion of primary season.

Saturday's Results:
Kansas GOP

Washington: Washington Democrats are nearly two-thirds done with their vote tallying, and state Republicans have yet to report any results. The party's web page even turned up nothing; only the message that results would come to light starting at 6pm(PT) or fifteen minutes ago by my watch.

Nebraska Dems
from the New York Times
from the Nebraska Democratic Party

Louisiana: Very early on in the Pelican state (We're talking 0% reporting.), here's what we see:
Obama 59%
Clinton 28

McCain 58%
Huckabee 19

9:39pm: There are some tight races shaping up for the GOP in Washington (Huckabee 25.9% McCain 26.6--16% reporting) and the Dems in Louisiana (Obama 40.3% Clinton 40.7--still 0% reporting).

The morning after:
Not surprisingly, 0% reporting doesn't mean a whole lot. Once the rest of Louisiana start sending in their vote tallies, it was clear that Obama, as he had in Nebraska and Washington, had won a convincing victory. Louisiana also delivered something of a surprise on the Republican end. Though Mike Huckabee won in Louisiana, he didn't get any delegates out of the victory. The winner of the GOP primary in the state had to win a majority of the vote to be allocated the twenty delegates at stake. Those delegates will now go to the Republican national convention in Minneapolis/St. Paul unpledged. All but six of the remaining delegates on the line in Louisiana (21) will be awarded at next weekend's state convention.

In Washington, the Republican race was a tight, four-way affair. McCain and Huckabee were separated by about two percentage points (25.5 - 23.7) with 87% of caucus sites reporting. Ron Paul (20.6) and Mitt Romney (16.5) were just a handful of points behind though. To be clear, those latter two won't factor into the media discussions of the results today, but it is clear that they received a good bit of support in the state.

What does it all mean? Well, on the Republican side, McCain is in the same position he was in on Tuesday night. He is in great shape in the delegate count in relation to his main competitor. However, he doesn't have things completely wrapped up as candidates at the same point in past cycles (post-Super Tuesday) and it never looks good to lose any contest when you are the "presumptive" nominee. I'll be honest: I hadn't thought of this until yesterday when I saw some Huckabee supports talking about it. Is his candidacy now about winning or stopping McCain from winning? It may not be the Huckabee campaign's intention, but this sentiment is starting to rise up from within the anti-McCain faction of the party. The goal is not to have Huckabee necessarily become the nominee, but to keep McCain from gaining the 1191 delegates necessary to become the nominee. That could trigger a brokered convention with McCain as the clear frontrunner, but it would be a brokered convention nonetheless. Will this happen? I doubt it. These sorts of things just don't happen in a party like the Republican party that operates from the top-down.

And on the Democratic side? Well, Obama's run through yesterday's three states has put the pressure on the Clinton campaign to be sure. Maine is seen as hospitable territory for her. And as such, it becomes the closest thing to a must win since the race hit New Hampshire. And with the Potomac Primary coming up on Tuesday (three primaries with a sizable African American presence), it may be Clinton's last best shot before the race hits Texas on March 4. To be clear, Virginia is seen as a good opportunity for Clinton as well, but not as good as Maine is today. All wouldn't be lost with another Obama win (in another caucus), but it is incumbent upon the Clinton folks to stem the tide of the Obama momentum before it is too late.


Robert said...

It is beginning to look like the Clinton Plan A was to ignore the caucuses and win it all on Super Tuesday. I don't think they had a Plan B, but it appears now that they plan to stop him in Texas and Ohio. If they do, then it may go the distance. If they don't, Obama is looking mighty good. If everything is deadlocked in April, how is Howard Dean going to step in and prevent a brokered convention?

Also, I know that Maggie Williams has experience with Hillary, but does she have experience running a campaign?

Josh Putnam said...

That seems a fair assessment, Rob. Up until Iowa, Clinton was the frontrunner and could act as any other frontrunner has since 1996 (when the Super Tuesday model of nominations solidified). In other words, dominate in delegate-rich states and wrap the sucker up.

Then Iowa happened and things took off, causing the Clinton camp to revisit their strategy. The thing about caucuses though is that it is difficult to counter established grassroots efforts with grassroots efforts on the fly. That is a real problem for Clinton now, regardless of who is currently holding the title of campaign manager.

A quotation I saw yesterday from Dean had him acting as Pontius Pilate on conventions and the Florida/Michigan situation. He indicated he was washing his hands of the whole matter and passing the buck off to the next guy.

If Obama sweeps the next two weeks' contests (and Virginia and Wisconsin seem like the only possible stumbling points), then momentum may be entering the picture.

Robert said...

Pontius Pilate makes more sense than Solomon. What I heard on NPR Friday and yesterday was more along the lines of this brief I found on CNN

I don't think either one is about to give in to strong-arming by Dean or anyone else.

Josh said...

Here's that link that Rob posted in his comment. The spacing in these comments causes the web addresses to appear on several lines if they are too long. That's a bit bothersome, but I'll link them up.