Predictions for Tuesday
Some discussion over at Matt’s place about Super Tuesday. On the subject of California Matt writes:
The latest polling has things very close in California with some even showing a lead for Barack Obama. Exciting stuff. It is worth noting that given the vagaries of the delegate allocation process, the odds overwhelmingly favor the February 5 outcome being fairly indecisive.
I really doubt Tuesday will fail to be decisive. Half the fucking country is voting. I reckon the media really will begin to focus on the delegate total, since that’s what ultimately wins you the nomination (not the popular vote) and since, finally, truly meaningful numbers of delegates are up for grabs. That said, I think if Obama comes in behind Clinton in the delegate tally from Tuesday’s haul, but it really is close (say, 47-44, especially with a win for him in California), he’s probably got the momentum — as well as a slim overall lead in pledged (but not super) delegates, headed into an Obama-friendly schedule in February. Remember, Clinton already has a delegate deficit she needs to make up (if you don’t count superdelegates). Obviously if Obama wins outright on Tuesday, the scenario is set for him to begin to pull away and rapidly consolidate toward the nomination. Democrats, after all, will at some point want to coalesce around a strong candidate, so as not to give John McCain too much of a head start in defining the race. And the rest of February indeed looks quite favorable for Obama.
On the other hand, if Clinton pulls out a win on Tuesday, and it’s at least arguably a strongish victory (better than, say, five points or so in front of Obama in popular vote and/or delegate haul), the momentum probably shifts back toward her. One problem with running on momentum is that it’s not as solid or as consistent or as dependable as a long track record or high name recognition. Momentum is an incredibly powerful force in politics, but it can be fickle. I don’t see how Obama maintains it if his opponent manages a reasonably convincing victory on Tuesday.
For these reasons I suspect the winner in popular vote and delegate count (I realize the two don’t necessarily have to be the same, but they almost certainly will be) from Tuesday’s contests will go on to become the nominee. How’s that for going out on a limb?
UPDATE: I realize I didn’t offer much of a prediction with my words above, so, here goes: Clinton wins California, New York, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and seventeen states total to Obama’s five, and manages a solid, if not overwhelming victory in the popular vote, gaining 50% to Obama’s 44%, with, six percent of the vote going to dropouts. She’ll get slightly more than 50% of the delegates.