Monday, February 04, 2008

A Real Super Tuesday

Sports metaphors, common in politics, seem inadequate to the immensity of what's happening in the campaign for the Democratic nomination. Usually campaigns for a party's nomination resemble a bout that's decided in the second round or a game that's over by halftime. This is more like Alpe d'Huez in the last week of the Tour de France, with the rest of the peleton being dropped and two top riders fighting it out for the yellow jersey far above the tree line.
Polls are tightening, nationally, and even in states like California and New Jersey where Hillary led by double digits not long ago. (TPM Election Central is a good place to keep up to tabs on the national and statewide polling.)
Usually Super Tuesday has been relegated to mop-up operations, with the front runner consolidating an already formidable lead. In previous years, Delaware has been dumped in the categories of overlooked or foregone conclusion. Not this year. Delaware is in play, and voters feel that candidates actually care about what we have to say. I expect turnout to be much higher than previous years. As Celia Cohen points out, more people saw Barack Obama yesterday than voted for John Kerry in the Delaware primary four years ago. I would be surprised if Obama were not rewarded with a decisive win here tomorrow.
Both the Obama and Clinton campaigns are saying they expect the campaign to last through all of the primaries, and Pennsylvania may not be the afterthought category it usually occupies. As TPM reports, the Obama camp is already managing expectations in this memo from David Plouffe:
"As the `inevitable' national frontrunner, tomorrow should be the day when she sews up the nomination or builds a formidable delegate lead. But because of Obama’s growing momentum across the country, the Clinton campaign is now unlikely to reach their stated goals of wrapping up the nomination tomorrow."
I think that's right; given the Obama surge of recent weeks, he could come out of tomorrow in strong shape, even if the two candidates split the 22 states and the delegate count.
Stay tuned.

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