This is as close to a national election day as one gets during the primary season, and the media are all abuzz about the potential outcomes.
As it stands, it looks like, for the Democrats, neither Hillary Clinton nor Barack Obama will be able to garner enough of the delegates at stake to come out with a commanding lead. If the polls are correct, Democrats are more or less evenly split between the two candidates. And since Democratic delegates are awarded proportionally in most states, it seems unlikely that either Obama or Clinton will have a significant lead in the race for the 2,025 delegates required to lock up the party's nomination.
For the Republicans, it's a little different. Many of the Republican primaries are winner-take-all, so even a narrow victory in one state will result in the winner being awarded all of that state's delegates. The GOP nomination requires that the candidate accrue 1,191 delegates, so, while it is not possible for any of the 3 major Republican candidates to out-and-out win the nomination today, it is very possible, even likely, that one of them will end today with a commanding, insurmountable lead. And, once again referring to the polls, it seems that John McCain will be today's big winner.
So, what's it all mean? Let's take a look at it from both the Democratic and the Republican perspective.
If the voting goes as predicted, Obama and Clinton will end up splitting the available delegates more-or-less down the middle. Early on, Clinton was the prohibitive favorite, but since John Edwards dropped out of the race, Obama has been surging. My interpretation of this is that those Democrats who are angry, who are disaffected, who want the Bush administration held accountable, are flocking to Obama as their last hope. They know that Clinton is too invested in the existing structure to bring about any real accountability. And Clinton has voted with Bush too many times for them to trust her.
Clinton supporters, I imagine, are those Democrats who long for a return to the days of the (Bill) Clinton presidency, when we enjoyed peace and prosperity and the Republican wing-nuts were recognized as the buffoons they truly are. Say what you want about the Clinton administration, but we were much better off, as a nation, when he was having dalliances in the Oval Office than we are today, fighting wars, going broke, and being stripped of our Constitutional rights.
As an aside, regardless of which of the two candidates gets the nod, the Democrats are about to do something historical. The party's nominee is going to be either a woman or a black man. For purely symbolic value, that is worth something. Racism and sexism, although far from eradicated, are diminished in this country, and we can all take pride in that.
Again, relying on the polls, the Republicans may well resolve their nomination today, for all intents and purposes. John McCain seems to be leading Mitt Romney, and Mike Huckabee is just hanging around, probably hoping to get a 2 spot on McCain's ticket. (This is where right-wing nuts like Huckabee always end up: lurking in the shadows, hoping to get in on something that they neither deserve, nor know how to attain by themselves. Junior Bush is the case-in-point.)
By determining their nominee ahead of the Democrats, the Republicans would seem to be unified and, perhaps in a stronger position for the general election. But most analysts don't see it that way. Many of the freaks (and even some of the not-so-freaks) on the Republican right out-and-out hate McCain. A few choice quotations:
- "[Hillary]'s more conservative than [McCain] is. She lies less than John McCain. She's smarter than John McCain. I will campaign for her if it's McCain." --Ann Coulter
- "I'm here to tell you, if either of these two guys [McCain or Huckabee] gets the nomination, it's going to destroy the Republican Party, it's going to change it forever, be the end of it." --Rush Limbaugh
- "The thought of [McCain] being president sends a cold chill down my spine. He is erratic. He is hotheaded. He loses his temper and he worries me." Senator Thad Cochran, (R) Mississippi.
If that is their plan, well, maybe the Democrats can hope that McCain will choose Senator Joe Lieberman as his running mate, and take lyin' Joe down with him!
From here, whence?
Also-ran Mitt Romney will see the writing on the wall after tonight. He may stay in the race for a while longer, but he'll know it is futile. In a way, I pity him. By his way of thinking, he followed the rules and did what he thought he was supposed to do to get the Republican nomination: he tried to buy it. But, in that naive way that so many basically decent Republicans have, he didn't understand that it really isn't about money for the sake of being rich; it's about connections and power and being one of the elite. Perhaps the cruel realization will finally dawn on him. Even if it doesn't, he is going to come away from this disillusioned, but hopefully wiser.
As for the Democrats, I've already had to compromise most of my ideals. That's the way national elections always go, sadly. I don't have any animosity toward Obama, really. And the animosity I have for Hillary is tolerable. And the silver lining to an extended fight for the Democratic nomination is that both candidates will be compelled to further define their positions. And, hey, they may even have to come to Oregon to campaign...