Sunday, January 06, 2008

The Democratic Race: The Shape of Things to Come

It sounds like the Clinton campaign is already writing off New Hampshire and South Carolina (January 26).  Since the major candidates aren't really contesting the disputed primaries in Michigan (January 15) and Florida (January 29), that means that the Nevada caucuses (January 19) are shaping up as Clinton's only chance to score a victory before "Super Duper Tuesday" on February 5.  She has the support of the state's Democratic organization--her state campaign is headed by Rory Reid, Clark County Commissioner and son of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.  Recent polls, albeit all pre-Iowa, have her leading Obama by margins of 8 to 27 points. Plus,the caucus is sure to get plenty of attention.  After slogging through the ice and snow of Iowa and New Hampshire, there isn't a political reporter alive who would willingly miss the opportunity of Vegas on an expense account.   A Clinton win in Nevada would allow her say that she has finally stopped Obama and give her crucial momentum before February 5.

On "Super Duper Tuesday" 22 states, plus American Samoa and Democrats abroad, will select 1608 delegates.  That's nearly half of the total number of unpledged delegates at the Democratic convention.  The three biggest states voting that day are California, New York, and Illinois.  Since Clinton is likely to win New York and Obama Illinois, my guess is that the race comes down to California.  Whoever wins California will likely win the bulk of the delegates and be declared the day's winner.  If it's Obama, game over; the nomination is his.  If it's Clinton, it will be one of the biggest political comebacks ever.  She'll still have to keep winning in the remaining contests, but her chances at the nomination will be significantly improved.

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