Sunday, January 20, 2008

January 20, 2008

Nevadans and South Carolina Republicans have sounded off and the race in both parties is still wide open, though some candidates are limping a bit. One--California Congressman Duncan Hunter--has dropped out but that's okay because most folks probably never knew he was in.

Otherwise? Hillary Clinton won Nevada but not really. The New York Times reported that Barack Obama actually wound up with one more delegate than Mrs. Clinton, which only proves that caucuses are complicated things. A really meaningful test will come next Saturday, when South Carolina Democrats hold their primary. That may be something of a make or break state for Obama. Roughly half the primary voters, maybe more than half, are likely to be black and if he can't score well among them, he could be in real trouble down the road. Good news for Clinton in Nevada: she did well among Hispanics in the first state in which they were a sizeable chunk of the electorate.

The Republicans? Bad news for Mike Huckabee, who won in Iowa with the backing of evangelical Christians. There are plenty of those in South Carolina, too--about 60% of Republican voters, according to the exit polls. But while Huckabee got four in ten of them, about a quarter of them voted for McCain.

It must have felt good for McCain, winning in the state that wrecked his candidacy eight years ago. But there is a caution flag out for him, too. The states he's won--New Hampshire and South Carolina--held open primaries; independents could vote. They were a big plus for McCain, whose margin with them was sometimes better than with Republicans. The next big test is Florida on January 29th, and that's a closed primary; only registered party members can vote.

So, onward. The Democrats face South Carolina and then both parties will vote in Florida. Will anyone have a lock on the nomination before the Super Tuesday slugfest February 5th? Beats me.

No comments: