When I departed my friend’s house endowed with cable at 3:30 am, I left knowing California was leaning towards Clinton with 53% to Obama’s 39% with 54% of precincts reporting. I had been watching a steady climb from a lowly 32% on Obama’s side while Clinton held steady at 53%. Interestingly enough my silly ole Contra Costa county did not go towards Obama thanks to the more populated conservative Eastern side. However, I know I can sleep well knowing the more urban, educated, and affluent Bay Area showed its true colors as a liberal bastion for Obama this evening. Marin, San Francisco, and Alameda (Berkeley & Oakland for those who don’t know) counties came out overwhelmingly for Obama. That is exciting. I can hold my head high when I go home to visit my old stomping grounds. For the most part, anyway.
I’m checking California’s results now at 4:10 am EST. The NYT is reporting 53-40 with 63% of precincts reporting. Now, unless we have an awesome finish like in Missouri – I think I can go to sleep knowing Obama made a significant showing in California. However, what’s especially disheartening about the California results is that around 50% of the ballots were sent by mail for various reasons, including mine. That means any recent momentum Obama has picked up is not accurately reflected. Moreover, most of Edwards’ voters are casting their ballots for Obama. With these two variables coupled together stacking themselves against Obama, I think California should vote again. Just kidding. No, it just proves there ought to be a national primary election day. More importantly, it shows California was decided long ago and not an upset for Obama. In fact, it was a triumph that he came as close as he did with 50% of the ballots having already been cast prior to February 5th.
New Mexico was tied up at 48% for each candidate for awhile until about 45 minutes ago when the split leaned in Clinton’s favor with 49-47. Oh Jesus! It’s 4:23 am and Obama is ahead in New Mexico 49 to 48 with 78% of precincts reporting. Oh man, it’s going to be another Missouri all over again!!!! Hold on Obama!!!
Missouri and Connecticut were awesome showings. Obama squeaked out wins in both of these states. Obama picked up a lot of ground in the former after being down by 9 percentage points at one time during the night. I’m still hoping something similar goes down in California. However, I think more significantly is that the Clinton campaign was banking on a CT win. Not tonight, m’lady, not tonight.
What do the Super Tuesday results mean?
Obama wins all the caucus states, except for New Mexico for which we’re still waiting. What does that mean? Are people still showing off their quote unquote progressiveness?
Obama wins far more Midwestern and Southern states than Clinton (she only pulled in TN, AK, and OK). What does that mean? I would say not too shabby; no, really I would say those are heavily working/middle class states who voted for Obama.
What do Hillary’s results mean?
Because she carried the big states but not many others, does that mean she’s a good general election candidate? New York, New Jersey, and California, unfortunately, do not a presidential candidate make. Those states would go blue if I were running. However, they do reveal a deep narrow support base. Why didn’t Clinton come out with a landslide victory tonight? Why didn’t she seem to have more appeal in the Midwest and South? Are Midwesterners and Southerners more misogynistic? Or do they like old fashioned statesmen? Is it even that simple?
Apart from Clinton’s big wins: If Obama becomes the nominee, he’ll pick up Clinton’s states anyway. For me, she didn’t prove she could accomplish anything she wouldn’t be able to in November. When was the last time New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts or California went red?!
What I took away from Super Tuesday’s results was breadth of appeal across the nation. Obama won that game. Clinton won in 1992 because he was able to pick up states along the Mississippi river. He picked up Louisiana, Arkansas, Iowa, Missouri, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Tennessee, and Kentucky. Obama has four of those states, and will likely pick up more. Clinton has two. I bring this up to demonstrate the need to cut into the Midwest and the South. It is important to break up that bloc so we don’t have a situation like 2000 where the South votes together swaying the country. As I had written earlier, most general election Democratic tickets either had a VP or Presidential candidate who hailed from the South. When that was not the case, they did not win. And even then in 2004, Edward’s southern boost was not enough. But, without at least that variable, you don’t have a chance in hell. More importantly, head to head with McCain in the fall – Obama can attract some of those independents and moderate republicans. Clinton has been consistently faring quite poorly among this demographic. Then, the question remains: Is she really the general election candidate everyone wants her to be?
Ultimately, the election results of Super Tuesday reflect the success of each candidate’s strategy. Obama wanted to reach out to Small Town America. He did that tonight. Clinton’s political machine worked the delegate-rich, population-saturated states, basically otherwise traditional democratic strongholds. She did that tonight. What remains to be seen is who has the best crossover appeal? Who will usurp Edwards’ votes for the remainder of this contest?
Folks, we can’t sign off quite yet. We can’t sit back comfortably knowing who the nominee is going to be. Nope, not yet. But, hey, that’s what makes democracy work. Active civic society.