Well, today is — for political junkies — the equivalent of the Super Bowl. Today’s primary races amount to the biggest primary day in United States history. Even YouTube is getting into the act.
Let me speak first about the GOP side. It’s McCain Day. I think, within the next 24-48 hours, we will see Huckabee and Ron Paul drop from the race. Probably Romney, too. For all intents and purposes, the GOP race will be over.
The right is very divided over McCain, and at the center of the storm is that blowhard Rush Limbaugh. He’s been butchering McCain on his show for weeks, going so far as to say that he would prefer a Clinton in the White House over McCain. WaPo explains:
It may be the best sideshow in presidential politics: the nation’s top radio talker trying to take down the Republican front-runner in today’s Super Tuesday showdown.
Rush Limbaugh has been relentless in his criticism of John McCain, prompting suggestions that he may have to soften his stance if the Arizona senator wins the nomination and faces off against Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama. But if that happens, Limbaugh said in an interview over the weekend, he would rather see the Democrats win the White House.
"If I believe the country will suffer with either Hillary, Obama or McCain, I would just as soon the Democrats take the hit . . . rather than a Republican causing the debacle," he said. "And I would prefer not to have conservative Republicans in the Congress paralyzed by having to support, out of party loyalty, a Republican president who is not conservative."
Limbaugh’s anti-McCain rhetoric is joined by that of conservative talk show hows Laura Ingraham and Sean Hannity. Bob Dole has intervened, sending a letter to Rush essentially urging Rush to tone down the rhetoric (for the interests of the party, country, etc.)
[UPDATE: The Limbaugh/Dole/McCain flap continues today, according to the folks at The Corner:
Limbaugh is ripping McCain a new one on his show right now, explaining the Bob Dole letter controversy and (properly) accusing McCain of mischaracterizing both what Dole wrote and what Romney said about it. He said that McCain’s behavior — turning any criticism of himself or Dole into an attack on a military veteran’s "service" — was disgraceful and evidence of the campaign’s worry about how things have been going the past few days.
But McCain seems to be inevitable. And the conservative base will have to deal with it.
And while that’s the "sideshow", the main show is, of course, on the Democratic side. 1,681 Democratic delegates, in 22 states (including American Samoa for the Dems), are up for grabs. It’s Hillary v. Barack. The media will be tempted to declare "winners" in each state, but the discerning citizen would do well to keep in mind that these primaries are mostly "proportional" and not "winner take all" (although some are)
The Washington Post, by the way, has a great state-by-state breakdown of delegates and waht’s at stake. Lookie here.
Take California. There are 441 delegates at stake, broken down by congressional district. The number of delegates varies a bit by district. Some districts have a little more strength than others. So even if you win the state, you might not get the lion’s share of delegates (especially if it is close).
Second, the allocation of delegates among the candidates depends on their share of the vote, so you could lose a district, and yet if you run a close second, you’re gonna get some delegates out of that district.
And finally, in many congressional districts in California, a Democrat does not receive more than 62% of the vote, he or she will receive the same number of delegates from that district as the he or she who finishes second.
So, unlike the general election, it’s not the percentage of votes that count. It’s the delegates.
Anyway, don’t expect a final result in California tonight. Not even by tomorrow morning.
Okay. So what do the polls say?
Everything. Compare, for example, these two "final polls" taken by SurveyUSA and Zogby.
SurveyUSA: Clinton 52%, Obama 42%
Zogby: Obama 49%, Clinton 36%
SurveyUSA: Clinton 54%, Obama 43%
Zogby: Obama 45%, Clinton 42%
Another thing to consider is that a large number of ballots have already been cast by mail. SurveyUSA gives those to Hillary by a wide margin, while the widely respected Field Poll registered a one-point edge to … Obama. In short, there simply isn’t any real way to know right now if any of these polls are accurately predicting the outcome.
According to campaign sources, polling and stealing off other analysts, Hillary Clinton has an edge in New York, New Jersey, Tennessee, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Arkansas.
Obama has an edge in Idaho, Colorado, Minnesota, Kansas, Alabama, Georgia, North Dakota and Illinois.
Tossups: California, Connecticut, Democrats Abroad, Arizona, Missouri, Delaware, Utah, American Samoa, Alaska, Massachusetts
Anyway, you just never know how it’s going to play out. Obama, for example, is getting votes from the most unusual places.
Chris Bowers, in a rather heady piece, makes the argument that the Democratic nomination will eventually turn on the whims of superdelegates, who may not decide to go with the "rank-and-file".
No matter how you cut it, it’s close on the Dem side. Obama said he expects a “split decision.” I think that’s about right.
If I had to guess the delegate breakout when all is said, done, and counted, I would say 856 to Hillary, 823 to Obama, and 2 left to others (or uncommitted).
I don’t have anything to add to everybody else’s lack of perspective, so I’ll just defer to porn stars (yes, it’s safe for work, sorta kinda):
And finally, as someone else wrote: "If you live in one of the Super Awesome Tsunami Hurricane Megatron states that will decide it, you should probably get your fine self to a polling place."