Saturday, January 12, 2008

January 9 (out of sequence)

If you like politics, New Hampshire's primary was about as good as it gets.

There was Barack Obama, the Democratic winner in Iowa, finishing second behind Hillary Clinton, who was third in Iowa. There was Mike Huckabee, the Republican winner in Iowa, finishing third in New Hampshire behind John McCain, who was fourth in Iowa. There was Mitt Romney, who spent millions in these early states, finishing second again. Who's a frontrunner now? I have no idea.

And even the calendar has gotten complicated. The next test for Republicans is Michigan on the 15th. The Democrats punished Michigan for moving its primary to such an early date by voting to strip the state of all its delegates to the party convention. They did the same thing to Florida, which moved its primary up to January 29th. It's hard to imagine those two big states won't eventually have delegates at the convention. The eventual nominee will probably demand it, but for now Republicans will be campaigning hard in them. Democrats won't.

January 19th? Nevada caucuses; it's the first time the state has tried caucuses. Stay tuned. We're used to the South Carolina primary, but this year it's on two different dates--the Republicans on Jan. 19th, the Dems on the 26th. The Democratic race may be the more interesting. About half the state's voters in that contest will be black. The Clintons have always done well with African-American voters; Maya Angelou called Bill Clinton the first black president. But how will his wife do against Obama who, of course, is black?

Florida votes on the 29th--again, only Republican delegates are at stake. It's where former New York mayor Rudolf Giuliani--7th in Iowa, 4th in New Hampshire--has spent a lot of time, but so many others will have won so many other events by then it may not do him any good.

And then Super Tuesday, twenty-four states including the heavy hitters--New York, California and so on. That may decide it. But look at the wonderful, confusing weeks we'll have between now and then. This really is about as good as it gets.

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