Where Do We Go From Here
Like the rest of the world (slight exaggeration), I was shocked by the results in NH on Tuesday night (at least on the Democratic side). And like many others, I too am trying to figure out what the heck happened. Before anyone else on TV mentioned it, I had thrown out the idea of the Bradley Effect and still think that it played some role in what occurred. (Mrs. Bartender was very impressed after I did a short discourse on the subject to hear someone on TV make the same point.) Regardless, for better or worse, the Democrats have a two person fight for the nomination. (I have never been a fan of John Edwards, but if he doesn't quit after what is almost certain to be a 3d place finish in SC (a state he won in 2004), I give up.) Btw, I have not made an endorsement (phone lines are open), but will do so before the Beltway Primary (DC, VA, and MD) on 2/12.
For the Democrats, the run up to Super Tuesday (2/5) sees a primary in Michigan next Tuesday, caucuses in Nevada next Saturday, a primary in SC on 1/26, and a primary in Florida on 1/29. However, the Michigan and Florida primaries are bizarre; because they are occurring before Super Tuesday, the DNC has stripped the states of their delegates and only Clinton (and Kucinich) are on the MI ballot, and none of the candidates are campaigning in Florida. Thus, the real races are in NV and SC. Obama should certainly win the latter, and he is favored, I would think, in the former particularly after he was endorsed by the Culinary Workers Union. If he wins both, he is in very good position for Super Tuesday, but, as we saw in NH, never count a Clinton out. I just hope that the battle for the nomination does not create either racial or gender polarization. Both candidates have significant strengths although a sense seems to exist that Obama would be stronger in the fall (if for no other reason that he won't drive the GOP crazies/Clinton haters out in droves) although one could argue to the contrary.
The GOP side is even more muddled although I still think McCain will ultimately prevail. Thompson, who I hear did very well in last night's GOP debate, has wisely said he will drop out if he doesn't win in SC. (Note, to make it more confusing the GOP's SC primary is 1/19, a week before the Democrats.) And if Romney loses (once again) in MI, his native state, any remaining hope he had likely vanishes. Similarly, if Giuliani fails to win in FL (and he is losing support there), he too is finished. That leaves Huckabee (and running mate Colbert) and McCain, and if it is clear by Super Tuesday that that is the choice, McCain will be very strong outside of the Bible Belt. Huckabee's support is neglible outside of the religious right (6% in NH), and as much as McCain ticks of a lot of Republicans, the GOP (1) tends to go with the person who has waited in line for the nomination (Bush in '88, Dole in '96) and (2) they realize that nominating Huckabee would give the Democrats their biggest electoral victory since 1964.
Of course, after what happened on Tuesday, don't believe a word of this.