Saturday, February 9, 2008

Super Tuesday Meet Super Weekend (...and, oh yeah, Romney's Out)

With Super Tuesday this past week, the presidential nomination race(s) waved goodbye to the contest by contest progression and ushered in multiple contest delegate selection days (or weekends). On tap this weekend are Saturday caucuses in Washington, Nebraska (Democrats only), Kansas (Republicans only) and the Louisiana primary. Maine Democrats caucus on Sunday. The Caucus has some of the lowdown on the contests.

Here's the line up for today:
Kansas GOP: Things get under way there at 11am(ET). Kansas should give us the first glimpse at the race post-Romney. The big question is how competitive Huckabee will be now that McCain is transitioning into party unifying mode.

Nebraska Dems: Nebraska Democrats abandoned the longstanding, late May primary in favor of this February 9 caucus for this cycle. The county meetings have staggered start times but the state party's web site claims that results will start coming in around 8:15pm(ET) this evening. As I've made clear over the course of this week's posts, Obama has done well in caucuses, so it will be interesting to see if that streak continues. Turnout is high in at least one precinct.

Washington: Both the Democrats and Republicans begin caucusing at 4pm(ET). The questions in the Evergreen state on both sides are similar to the questions posed above. Is Huckabee in this thing or is he out of his element outside the southeast? For the Democrats, can Clinton reverse the Obama caucus streak. It may be late on the east coast before we have an answer to either question.

Louisiana: The sole primary on the day's calendar closes its polls at 6pm(ET) on the Democratic side and at 9pm(ET) for the GOP. Louisiana is different than the rest of the South demographically, but Huckabee should gain a boost from whatever evangelical presence there is in the state. Likewise, Obama should do well among African Americans and in the state despite the way that Hurricane Katrina disproportionately ravaged that segment of the Pelican state's population. Thirty-two percent of the population was African American during the 2000 census before Katrina hit.

Tomorrow's slate is Maine, Maine and Maine. The Pine Tree state's Democrats have the spotlight all to themselves on Sunday as caucusing goes on across the state throughout the afternoon. And hey, it's a caucus, so Obama should have the advantage, right? Clinton does have the support of the governor (from The Fix):
Maine (Feb. 10 caucus): Although Maine holds a caucus, this is a state where Clinton is putting on a serious effort to win. Former president Bill Clinton will be in Portland tonight and Sen. Clinton will hold a rally in Orono on Saturday. She has the support of Gov. John Baldacci (D) and sees Maine as a chance to break up a potential string of Obama victories on Saturday as well as demonstrate the strength of her support in the Northeast. Women are expected to be a significant portion of the electorate as well, which should work to Clinton's benefit. Obama isn't handing the state over, having sent Rob Hill, who handled the campaign's field efforts in New Hampshire's primary, to Maine just after that state's vote on Jan. 8.
Here's more on the candidates' efforts in Maine from The Caucus.

I'll be back later today to look at the results as they begin coming in and discussing the ramifications of the outcomes (...if it isn't too late).

Meanwhile, I'm coming in a couple of days after the fact here, but still find this worth bringing up. Mitt Romney suspended the operations of his campaign on Thursday; ending what looked like the last, best challenge to McCain in the Republican race. And that's no knock on Huckabee. Romney was situated in a similar ideological area as the former Arkansas governor, but had plenty of his own money at his disposal. And money is what will be needed if a serious challenge to McCain were to be made. In the end though the math was just too difficult for Romney to overcome. Without winner-take-all contests dominating the landscape of contests in the next month, the task of catching up with the delegate total McCain has post to this point was a nearly insurmountable task. So now the focus shifts to McCain and Huckabee. McCain seemed as if he were opening a general election campaign with his speech a the CPAC conference. Huckabee meanwhile will continue to have to operate on a shoestring budget in the coming days and begin to wonder if the national party will start putting pressure on him to drop out of the race himself. It will be interesting to see how the media plays the seemingly decided GOP race in the face of the competitive Democratic battle as these contests continue.

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