Offering frequent news and analysis from the majestic Evergreen State and beyond, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Super Tuesday recap: Obama keeps pace with Clinton, Washington State is next

What a fun night!

After several hours of analyzing results, publishing updates, and crunching numbers, I have to admit I'm pretty weary of writing and editing graphics, though I'm certainly not tired of the presidential race, which is only becoming more exciting now that the action is moving to the Evergreen State.

I spent the evening with a significant contingent of our staff at NPI's impromptu elections nerve center in Bellevue, where we liveblogged, monitored the television networks' Super Tuesday coverage, and enjoyed refreshments together.

We were joined by Jesse Wendel of The Group News Blog and Joel Connelly of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, who mentions our party in his Wednesday column:
It's been a bad year for Washington, D.C., pundits.

They virtually nominated Hillary Clinton last fall, while writing John McCain's political obituary. They then put Obama on the road to victory, only to see Clinton come back in New Hampshire. McCain was put back onto a pedestal, only to fall short of expectations Tuesday night.

A Tuesday night Bellevue gathering of young bloggers from the Northwest Progressive Institute watched Chris Matthews pontificate on MSNBC, talking about "how female" the Democratic Party has become.

"You are a fool!" exclaimed Andrew Villeneuve, a leader of the group.

On some matters, people across the ideological spectrum can agree.
While the thirty, forty, and fifty year olds on our staff are flattered to be described as youthful, we're not all in the same age bracket, as Joel's column suggests. Yes, several of us are young, but not all of us are. Together, we're a very diverse team with different backgrounds and experiences - a fact I'm personally very proud of.

As for Chris Matthews...fool nicely sums him up as a host. I can't wait for the day MSNBC decides to show him the door. He doesn't add anything to their coverage - rather, he detracts from it by being obnoxious, silly, and annoying.

It was a relief to see Keith Olbermann paired with David Gregory for the South Carolina primary. Unfortunately, that change was only temporary because Matthews - or Tweety as he's known around the blogosphere - had a scheduling conflict. It's time for MSNBC to make him permanently unavailable by firing him.

Moving on to the actual results, there's one important conclusion we can make from last night's epic coast to coast showdown: enlarging the arena didn't change the closeness of the contest.

Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are emerging from Super Tuesday side by side, with Clinton carrying the Northeast and holding on to California, but losing the Rocky Mountain states and Midwest to Obama, who put together an impressive string of wins there. Obama also ably matched Clinton in the Southeast, capturing Alabama and Georgia (Clinton picked up Tennessee and Arkansas).

In a worrisome sign for Clinton, Obama's victories tended to be lopsided: eight states broke for Obama by sixty percent or more, with three of those above seventy percent (Alaska, Colorado, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Kansas, Minnesota, and North Dakota). Clinton could only manage sixty percent or better in one state - Arkansas, where her husband served as governor.

Clinton's campaign also embarrassed itself by declaring victory in Missouri, which the Associated Press erroneously called for her just after 8 PM Pacific:
Southwest to Midwest, Clinton Picks Up Two More Toss Up States
Two more closely contested toss-up states have gone for Hillary Clinton.

Barack Obama outspent Hillary by $300,000 in TV ads in Missouri. He also benefited from the endorsements of high-profile surrogates across the state such as Representatives Carnahan and Clay, and Senator McCaskill, all of whom actively campaigned for him and appeared in ads on his behalf.

Despite these challenges - and with the help of Kansas City Congressman Emanuel Cleaver and Former Majority Leader Dick Gephardt - Hillary Clinton won this important toss-up state.
Except she didn't. Barack Obama is the actual winner of the popular vote in the Show Me State, and his late support certainly validates the time, talent, and treasure he spent in Missouri in pursuit of victory.

Clinton retains the lead in superdelegates (most of whom are governors, senators, or representatives) but Obama has a lot going for him, as Markos notes:
California is looking like it might head SUSA's way, so that'll be good news for Hillary. But the rest of the night is bleak. She didn't exceed expectations anywhere. She lost states she led big in just a few weeks ago. She's hurting for money. The calendar up ahead is tailor made for Obama. The momentum is there.
What Barack Obama managed to do last night was make it through the biggest test of his candidacy in fighting form. He won more states than Clinton, claimed a roughly equal number of delegates, and netted the key battleground of Missouri in the night's defining moment.

Obama is now poised to win in Washington State, where there is powerful enthusiasm for his campaign. But Hillary Clinton is a tough competitor. She isn't about to concede the Evergreen State.

That means this Saturday's Democratic caucuses could see not just record shattering attendance, but gigantic, astronomical, unheard-of turnout.

The state Democratic Party has worked hard to prepare for the precinct caucuses, but when the interest is as tremendous as it has the potential to be this year, it's difficult to truly be ready.

Two other states will hold nominating events on February 9th: Louisiana is holding its primary, while Nebraska will hold caucuses. Neither state offers as many delegates to Obama and Clinton as Washington does. Obama has already planned a visit to Seattle this Friday, and Bill Clinton is scheduled to arrive tomorrow for events on Thursday and Friday. Hillary will likely follow him in short order.

The next few days are going to be some of the most memorable times in Washington State politics. Relish the next seventy two hours, because we're unlikely to see a competition this historic again anytime soon.


Blogger Steve Zemke said...

Comparing wins in primary states and caucus states is like comparing apples and oranges. Six states that held caucuses - Alaska, Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Minnesota, and North Dakota were Obama wins but the "vote percentages" are the number of delegates selected, not votes cast.

Wins in primary states more accurately reflect voting conditions that will exist in November, whereas caucus wins reflect turnout by more activist voters and results are distorted by the convoluted process to select delegates.

Also all that is being done here is noting Democratic vote preferences - Obama narrowly "winning" the Democratic vote in Missouri for example does not mean he is more likely to win the state in November when the race is against a Republican. Democrats will need to rally around the eventual nominee and claiming that Clinton should be or was "embarassed" after someone else calls the race for her is a stretch.

One concern here is that the Democratic race can turn divisive if Obama and Clinton supporters start twisting the knife in each other. The party needs to view the battle to be the Democratic nominee as a contest between two different but good candidates. The real fight is against the most likely Republican nominee - McCain and not between fellow Democrats.

February 6, 2008 8:59 PM  

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