Super Tuesday Not So Super?

Super Tuesday Not So Super? While nearly two dozen states moved their primaries to February 5th in order to have a say in choosing the party nominees for president, the so-called Super Duper Tuesday will likely not be decisive, an AP analysis suggests.

The race for delegates is so close in both parties that it is mathematically impossible for any candidate to lock up the nomination on Feb. 5, according to an Associated Press analysis of the states in play that day.

“A lot of people were predicting that this presidential election on both sides was going to be this massive sprint that ended on Feb. 5,” said Jenny Backus, a Democratic consultant who is not affiliated with any candidate. Now it’s looking as if the primaries after Super Tuesday — including such big, delegate-rich states as Texas, Ohio and Pennsylvania — could grow in importance. “Maybe some states were better off waiting,” said Backus.

[…]

There will be nearly 1,700 Democratic delegates at stake on Feb. 5, enough to put a candidate well on his or her way to the 2,025 needed to secure the nomination. But even if somehow either Clinton or Obama won every one of those delegates, it wouldn’t be enough. And with two strong candidates, the delegates could be divided fairly evenly because the Democrats award their delegates proportionally — not winner-take- all.

[…]

The Republicans have a better chance to produce a clear front-runner because several states, including New York, New Jersey, Missouri and Arizona, award all their GOP delegates to the candidate who wins the popular statewide vote. But a Republican candidate would have to attract support across the country to build a formidable lead.

[…]

There will be more than 1,000 Republican delegates at stake on Feb. 5, enough to give a candidate a substantial boost toward the 1,191 needed to win the nomination — but only if one man emerges victorious in numerous states.

Well, yeah. The only way it was going to be over with on Super Tuesday is if voters coalesced around a single candidate early.

On the other hand, we’ll have a pretty good idea of how the race will go by the end of Super Tuesday.

On the Democratic side, John Edwards will surely be forced to pull out and either Clinton or Obama will likely be rather close to wrapping up the nomination in all but technical terms. Clinton could well take California, New York, and New Jersey with Obama taking their mutual home state of Illinois. The Super Delegates in those states will almost surely follow.

For the Republicans, Mike Huckabee and Rudy Giuliani would be forced to quit unless they do radically better than expected; they simply won’t have the money to continue. If John McCain takes California, New York, and New Jersey — which looks quite possible, especially if Giuliani does poorly in Florida three days earlier — Romney could be all but toast.

That’s a lot of Ifs, Ands, and Maybes. The voters have a way of confounding our expectations. But we’ll be much closer to knowing who the general election candidates are ten days from now.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Triumph says:

    with Obama taking their mutual home state of Illinois.

    If Illinois is Hillary’s “home state” because she was born there, using that criteria wouldn’t Obama’s home state be Hawaii?

  2. B. Minich says:

    This is a good thing for me. This means that I’ll have a shot at impacting the race on Feb. 12th, when Maryland votes. And remember, the point that these states had by moving their races forward wasn’t to DECIDE the race, but to be a part of it, and in that aim, they have succeeded.

  3. James Joyner says:

    If Illinois is Hillary’s “home state” because she was born there, using that criteria wouldn’t Obama’s home state be Hawaii?

    She was born and raised in Illinois and her family still lives there. Obama’s been living there the last 25 years. It seems reasonable enough to consider it both of their “home” states, even if Obama has an obvious favorite son advantage since he’s still there and representing Illinois in the Senate.

  4. Dave Schuler says:

    From what I’m hearing around here in Chicago, Obama is pretty likely to carry Illinois.

  5. Patrick T. McGuire says:

    What, you mean this whole campaign could drag on for months after Super Tuesday? Now, where did I hear that before?

  6. Michael says:

    James,
    You forgot your customary “Ron Paul will not win a single state and his supporters will declare it a victory. Ron Paul will still not get the nomination”

  7. James Joyner says:

    You forgot your customary “Ron Paul will not win a single state and his supporters will declare it a victory. Ron Paul will still not get the nomination”

    True. The Paul supporters have, mostly, moved on from “Paul’s gonna win! The polls are wrong!” to conspiracy theories about the evil media shutting him out.

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