And here we are, five months after we started, at the conclusion of primary season. I would be remiss if I didn't mention that I have a tear in my eye at the thought. But hey, talk of states moving their delegate selection events for the 2012 cycle has already begun (Arkansas, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky and Minnesota). And the Republicans have nomination system reform on the agenda for their convention later this summer. So, I'll manage to keep busy (...between that and this general election thing, whatever that is. FHQ has always been of the mind that these presidential elections end once primary season ends anyway. But that's just a personal preference just like my affinity for the early rounds of the NCAA tournament. But I digress.).
Montana and South Dakota bring up the rear today in the final two contests of the nomination phase of the 2008 campaign. [Of course, there are Republican contests in New Mexico and South Dakota today as well. The GOP already held delegate selection in Montana during a February 5 caucus, but hold a beauty contest primary today. My guess is that McCain improves upon his third place showing there, though Romney still has all 25 delegates--until the convention that is.] For the Democrats, both states offer a combined 31 pledged delegates, not to mention some interesting rules quirks. Yeah, you knew I'd take notice of those.
In South Dakota the polls close on the closed primary at 9pm Eastern.
One hour later, the polls close in Montana (10pm Eastern). The primary format is more suitable to Obama in the Treasure state. Open primaries have been more favorable to Obama with independents allowed to participate. That Montana's primary is open and South Dakota's is closed may explain some of the differences between the expectations in the two states. South Dakota is expected to be the closer of the two races (...though, as Rob pointed out in the Maine post below, the latest poll out of South Dakota has Clinton up by 26 points. Fivethirtyeight discounts that finding though, pinning the race as a five point Obama win.). Montana has the added quirk that it treats its delegate allocation as if it were still 1980 and the state still had two congressional districts. The state is split into eastern and western halves with each getting 5 of the 16 pledged delegates.
I'll be back with some brief coverage tonight, but it will be interesting to chart the superdelegate endorsements throughout the day. Demconwatch is the place to track that, if you are so inclined.
Maine Final Tally: 59% of the Vote, 63% of the Delegates
Half and Half: The Florida and Michigan Story
Carl Levin's Statement to the Rules and Bylaws Committee