Super Tuesday for Dummies

Super Bowl? We’re over it. Besides, we here at the Freak know the truly “super” event this week is going on right now , as voters in 24 states (plus American Samoa—you know we love you guys) are casting their ballots in today’s historic “Super-Size Tuesday”. So get your popcorn ready, check out this new Super Tuesday-inspired track from the Mountain Goats, and read up as we let you know, hour-by-hour, what to watch for as tonight’s results roll in.

6:00: Georgia is the first state to close its polls. Tracking numbers show Barack Obama up big here, making the Peach State an absolute must-win for the junior Senator from Illinois. Anything less than a 10 point Obama win is a moral victory for Hillary, and could be an indication of a late momentum shift toward HRC. On the Republican side, it’s a tight 3-way race between John McCain, Mitt Romney, and Mike Huckabee. Romney needs to pick up multiple states in the South and West to counter McCain’s strength in larger states like New York and Illinois, so a McCain win here could be the beginning of the end for Mitt and Co.

7:00: Here’s where the fun begins. Expect the networks to call Illinois for Obama and McCain right on the hour—if there’s no call on the Republican side, that’s excellent news for the Romney camp. They’ll need it—McCain is leading in almost every state, meaning Romney is going to have to draw Southern conservatives away from Mike Huckabee in hopes of picking up states like Alabama, Tennessee, Oklahoma, and Missouri. Romney’s home state of Massachusetts should be in the bag…if it’s not, Mitt’s speechwriters better get crackin’ on that concession speech. On the Democratic side, Oklahoma and Tennessee look like Hillary strongholds, Delaware is trending toward Obama, and everything else is up in the air. Alabama seems like it should be trending toward Obama, but polls show a dead heat. Likewise, the three-headed monster that is Connecticut, New Jersey, and Massachusetts seemed like Hillary country until a week ago—but Obama’s post-South Carolina momentum, combined with the Ted & Caroline Kennedy endorsements, have put all three states in the “too close to call” category. If Obama wins one of the three, he’ll be happy. Two or three wins and it’s likely he’s heading for a very, very good night. Last, but certainly not least is Missouri, which is, as it tends to be during the general election, the true bellwether in this race. Obama has the endorsement of Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill (who’s been featured in Obama ads for the past few weeks), and should do well in the major cities (St. Louis, Kansas City) and affluent suburbs. However, Hillary has a strong base of support in the cities too (and an endorsement from powerful ex-KC mayor, Rep. Emmanuel Cleaver), and she does well with lower-income “blue-collar” Dems. California may have the most delegates, but mark my words: whoever wins the “Show Me State” will wake up tomorrow with the “Big Mo” on their side.

7:30: Arkansas goes for Hillary and Huckabee. No surprises here.

8:00: Polls close in New York and Arizona. That’s good news for Arizona native John McCain, who was leading in New York BEFORE Rudy Giuliani dropped out of the race to endorse him. Barring a meltdown of epic proportions, Hillary will win in her “home” state—the only question here is by how much. Obama’s campaign is hoping that a landslide in Illinois will cancel out Hillary’s extra delegates in New York. Polls show Hillary with a lead in Arizona, where her appeal to older voters is a major advantage.

8:30 or so: Caucus results should start trickling in around this point. Conventional wisdom (i.e. Iowa) suggests Obama should do well in these contests, but then again, maybe not (i.e. Nevada). Colorado, Kansas, North Dakota, Idaho, Montana, and Alaska are not Obama must-wins necessarily, but without them, all that rhetoric about being the candidate most able to attract new voters into the Democratic Party will begin to sound a bit flat. Minnesota is a another toss-up, while Hillary is likely to do well in New Mexico based on her strong support with Latino voters. In the GOP race, Romney HAS to win at least half of these states to stay competitive delegate-wise with McCain.

9:00: The highlight of Mitt Romney’s night: Utah, where anything less than a 30 point margin of victory won’t cut it. The Beehive State’s Democrats are few and far between, so its hard to tell which candidate has the edge here.

10:00: Ahh, California. The late closing time here means those of us east of the Rockies probably won’t know who the winner is until tomorrow morning. In the last 4 polls released from California, one has Obama up big, one has Clinton up big, and two have the Democrats essentially deadlocked. Early voting could play a big role-in other words, if John Edwards is getting anything more than 3% of the vote, that is very bad news for the Obama campaign. Romney & McCain are also pretty close, and a win for Mitt would be provide a much-needed shot in the arm to his campaign. Much like in Hollywood-the importance of California on the Democratic side is style over substance. The proportional system of delegate allotment will likely divide the Golden State’s delegates evenly between Hillary and Obama, so it’s the morning headlines that really matter in this case.

Sen. Hillary Clinton: 9 states (CT, MA, NJ, NY, AR, OK, TN, AZ, NM, plus American Samoa)
Sen. Barack Obama: 13 states (DE, AL, GA, IL, KS, MN, MO, ND, AK, CA, CO, ID, UT)

The Spin: Clinton comes out with more delegates, but Obama has more states, including the important contests in California and Missouri. Obama, who has been especially prolific in fundraising over the past few weeks, continues to gain momentum as the nomination fight moves on.


Sen. John McCain: 16 states (GA, AL, CT, DE, IL, MO, NJ, OK, TN, AZ, NY, CA, ND, MN, MT, AK)

Gov. Mitt Romney: 2 states (MA, UT)

Gov. Mike Huckabee: 2 states (WV, AR)

The Spin: Game, set, match, McCain.

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