I stayed up too late last night watching the primary election returns roll in on the networks, and even after I pried myelf away from the television, I drifted to my laptop for another half-hour of electoral overload. I woke this morning to the sound of the campaign spin machines in action, with each candidate claiming victory.
Here, then, is my take on the ramifications of Super Tuesday, what the pundits are describing as the "first national primary":
Mike Huckabee: A surprisingly strong showing yesterday by the former Arkansas governor breathed life into what semed like a gasping campaign. Victories in five states means that Huckabee lives on to fight another day, though Huckabee's momentum must translate into upset wins in important states like Texas, Oho, and Wisconsin if he wants to battle McCain on the convention floor.
John McCain:While some question the McCain strategy of spending time and money in Romney's home state of Massachusetts, McCain clearly benefits from the Huckabee-Romney wooing of social conservatives. McCain will likely roll to the nomination unless he commits some unprecedented collapse, and I suspect that this veteran campaigner is too smart for that.
Ron Paul:The unlikely libertarian surge ran out of gas weeks ago. Paul still has a few million from the cash he raised in that fleeting moment of Web-mania, but he has racked up only 14 delegates to date, which is not enough to make convention noise if we spotted them a dozen bullhorns and a truckload of Papermate pens.
Mitt Romney: Cooked. Done. Even if Romney digs deep into his own pockets and finds another $30 million, there seems to be no way he can stop the momentum that McCain gained yesterday, especially with Huckabee splitting the conservative votes. He vowed today to fight on to the convention, but this rings hollow after McCain moved to more than a 2-1 lead over Romney in the delegate count.
Hillary Clinton: Yes, she won California, New Jersey, and Massachusetts, but Obama beat her in Missouri and Connecticut. Clinton victories in those states would have been deadly to Obama, but she failed to deliver the knockout blow she needed. And, for months now, Clinton campaign strategists have been touting Super Tuesday as the moment Hillary would gain a commanding lead. Instead...
Barack Obama: Obama won 13-8 in states, with New Mexico still being counted, and appears to have gained 10-15 delegates over Clinton after Super Tuesday. While Clinton has something like a 70-delegate lead at the moment, Obama raked in over $32 million in January, more than doubling the Clinton haul. Polls also show Obama performing quite well in the upcoming Louisiana, Nebraska, Washington, Maryland and Virginia primaries.
Some lingering questions:
1. Can Hillary Clinton milk her extensive PAC contributors to make up for the tens of millions of dollars that she is behind Barack Obama?
2. If Obama pulls a Chesapeake Sweep in Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia, is there any hope left for Clinton?
3. Is the Huckabee-McCain love fest just a run-up to an eventual presidential ticket designed to keep conservatives on board with McCain?
4. Is Romney, the astute businessman, willing to risk any more of his fortune on what appears to be a sinking campaign?