Super Tuesday was a night filled with close calls, predictable outcomes, and a few reminders to never say never as the Democratic and Republican presidential front-runners battled across the nation for the highest office in the land.
On the Democratic front, Sens. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama essentially split the race, and each had some significant showings. Two of the biggest surprises of the night were Clinton’s wins in California and Massachusetts–the latter despite several Kennedy family members’ endorsement of Obama.
According to CNN, Clinton has 783 delegates so far, with Obama at 709. These figures include super delegates, who don’t have to commit until the convention. “I think the Obama campaign made a tactical error by setting expectations so high, thinking they might win California and Massachusetts based on endorsements, and come in close in New Jersey. They have some work to do. He won more states at 13 to eight, but she’s leading by about 70 delegates. In a really close race, that’s significant,” says Michael Fauntroy, an assistant professor of public policy at George Mason University.
Obama continues to be more than competitive, however, and had impressive wins in Georgia, Alabama, and Connecticut. African Americans, who earlier in the race tended to support Clinton, lined up solidly behind the Illinois senator, as did young voters. He also did well with white men.
Peter Groff, senior lecturer and executive director of the Center for African American Policy at the University of Denver, believes things will only get better for Obama moving forward. “I think that the more often he has the chance to do the retail politics you can’t do on a Super Tuesday, with more time to press the flesh, the better he does,” says Groff, pointing out that Obama also raised more than $30 million in campaign contributions in the last month, compared to Clinton’s $13.5 million. “California won’t make up for what should have been a better night for her. Clearly this is a race that could go on for quite some time.”
The consensus seems to be that although it was definitely a “super” Tuesday for Republican Sen. John McCain, he’s still got some fences to mend with the right wing of his party. According to MSNBC, McCain has picked up 516 delegates, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney has 207, and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee has won 142.
Huckabee also racked up wins last night with the conservative base in the South and may very well win upcoming southern races, which many political observers say puts him in a strong bargaining position. “If you assume that Huckabee can’t get the nomination, which I do, and if he weren’t in the race, it would be a head-to-head contest between McCain and Mitt Romney, although I’m not sure Romney would pick up Huckabee’s support,” says San Francisco State professor of political science Robert Smith. “I think Huckabee says he’s in it for the long haul because he thinks he might be a viable vice presidential candidate for McCain.”
Political observers say