Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Patomac Primary Prognosication

Say that three times fast. Anyway, having lived in this region for a year (and last fall) I feel somewhat more qualified to quess at what will happen than I have in most other primaries (save Utah, Rhode Island, and Massacusetts, where I feel I have a sense).

For the Democrats, I predict Obama will get about 55 percent in Maryland and Virginia, and something like 70 percent in the District. Hillary briefly tried to contest Virginia, but then quickly saw some polls or something and gave up. She is already in Texas, trying to build up a lead in the Lone Star state (as well as Ohio and Rhode Island) so that she can withstand a probable last minute surge by Obama...in three weeks. Meanwhile, she is essentially skipping next week's contest Wisconsin, a big state that on paper would seems favorable to her (and Hawaii, but everyone knows Obama will get Virgin Island-like numbers out in the Aloha State).

I know part of this strategy is by necessity, but I still believe it to be a mistake. She can't keep writing off states claiming that she can't win caucuses, or states with large black populations, or states where Obama used to live, or Red States... Eventually, she starts to look like a loser by losing so many; the fact that she never seriously contested them doesn't make the loss any better. While the punditry always saw this month as the most favorable to him...assuming he survived Super Tuesday, it wasn't a forgone conclusion that he would sweep February's contests.

Both Obama's and Clinton's camps had initial strategies that never panned out, and are on plan B or C or D by now. Obama's was to win the first 4 early states and then sweep Kerry style...if that didn't work, it was to win South Carolina big (along with Nevada) and then survive Super Tuesday. Clinton's was to try to win Iowa, and if that didn't work, she had New Hampshire as a firewall...and Nevada...and then she was supposed to knock out Obama on Super Tuesday. Still, I think pinning your hopes on Super Delegates and Texas and Ohio is pretty scary.

Obama's path to the nomination is much simpler to understand. He keeps on winning. Assuming he wins today big and then also Hawaii, he goes 9-1 at worst in February. He could also gets Wisconsin, which seems to be more and more likely given that a) southern Wisconsin is drivable from Chicago, b) Madison and Milwaukee proper are prime Obama territory, c) unlike other states, Obama has more state elected by his side here. If that were to happen, it would 10-0 in February and he could hope that a last minute surge will take him over the top in either Ohio or Texas. Texas' system is more like a caucus than a primary, so maybe he can do well. Winning that state would once and for all put to rest the "Black-Brown divide" questions and winning Ohio would put to rest the working class questions. If he won both of those states, Clinton would drop out. If she won one of them, they fight on, if she wins both, we are back to even Steven. Then Pennslyvania gets very interesting. There will be a long period between March 4th and the April contest, meaning Obama and Clinton will treat the Keystone state like New Hampshire or Iowa (and camp out there).

On the Republican side, I am going to pick my upset special--Virginia goes for Huckabee. McCain is sleepwalking through this set of primaries and as far as I can tell lost every contest last week (WA's results look very fishy). Southern VA is one of the centers of the theocons--home to the late Jerry Fallwell and still kicking Pat Robertson--and that region is swinging rapidly towards the Huckster, who went to Jerry's son's (they inherited their Dad's megachurch) service on Sunday and got standing O's.

What an amazing year. It seems that nearly every state and protectorate will get a voice in deciding who the nominees will be. Democratic voters, of course, will have more say because of the parity between Obama and Clinton, but Republican voters also get to tell us what they think about McCain. It is facinating to watch and I can tell you for sure that the world is watching very closely.

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