Thoughts on Super Tuesday

Feb 6, 2008 • Karen

I like how there was more GOTV on campus for the 2008 primary than the 2004 election. Posters on every lamp post, draped across Seal Court, a huge Obama logo made out of red, white, and blue flyers taped to the building across from the polling place... There were Hillary flyers finally, as of two days ago, but Obama was the clear Claremont choice.

Across the country, though, the choice was less clear. Obama won more states, but Clinton won the big ones (resulting a *one*-delegate Super Tuesday difference between the two!)

Pretty much everywhere had record turnout. It took my parents a half-hour to get to the middle school to participate in the primary; 62 was backed up in both directions. In a normal year, they combine two precincts in one building and *still* only have ten people show up. This year there were over 200 for the single precinct, not to mention those dissuaded by the traffic and insane lack of parking. There were similar stories all over Minnesota:

My wife left at 6:30, expecting to be five or ten minutes late, because the caucus site is about five miles from our house. It took her an hour to get there; traffic was just jammed. She got in at 7:30, got to vote at 8:00, just before it was supposed to close, but by then they had run out of ballots and were voting on torn strips of paper. They had filled the ballot boxes and were using the manila envelopes the convener kits came in as substitutes. Just as she placed her ballot in the envelope, it was announced that they were going to hold the vote open, as there were still two miles of cars waiting to get into the site. Biggest turnout in recent memory (Minnesota, Dakota County).

The enthusiasm was deafening. Hilariously enough, though, my precinct could send up to 30 state delegates, but out of those 200 people, only 20 people signed up to participate on the state level. Two of those are my parents. Still, that's double the usual *turnout*, so I can't complain too much.

I am hearing from multiple sources that the longer the race goes on, the more likely it is Obama wins. Not sure what all the reasons for this are. I guess as of January he has the fundraising advantage (wow, where did that come from?), so we should expect to see Hillary begging for more debates, both for the free advertising and because Obama, despite his oratory skills, desperately needs to hire a debate coach to rehearse responses. (Hey, now he's got plenty of donations to pay for it!)

I think the way Super Tuesday went down was interesting. Yes, Hillary won most of the Democratic strongholds, plus Arkansas, Oklahoma and Tennessee (AR is obvious, but given Obama's general strength in the South, why the other two?). But you'd have to run a hell of broken campaign if you were in serious danger of losing California and New York as a Democrat. If Clinton doesn't win the nomination, those states'll still vote for Obama. However, given Obama's overwhelming success (and turnout) in states like Colorado and South Carolina, it seems that he has the best chance of pulling off the 50 State Strategy that Howard Dean has been pushing. With Clinton, so far it looks like we're stuck with the "All we need is our base plus a couple swing states, f*** flyover country!" strategy of Gore and Kerry. And we all know how well that went. Even if we *can* win that way, it's not sustainable. One Florida, or one Ohio, and we're back where we started.

Still, my God! This deafening enthusiasm is heartening. Let's try and not kill it.

Also, more hilarity from the conservative pundit front: It's not just Ann Coulter who's endorsed Clinton. Glenn Beck has too, and Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham have "vowed to destroy McCain." Man, if the Republican party doesn't get its act together, it's gonna be the most fragmented election ever. You already have Ron Paul, who if he has any brains in his head will woo the Libertarian endorsement once the Republicans reject him since he's got the fanatical constituency to support a decent independent/third-party run. Meanwhile, you've got evangelicals and the 20% of America that still likes Bush jonesing for a candidate, probably Huckabee. Huckabee himself seems to be wrangling his way into becoming McCain's VP; we'll have to see if that soothes the far right. If he doesn't get the job, though, I think an evangelical-moderate party split would be hilarious.