Tuesday, February 12, 2008


Rout On The Potomac

Um, wow.

Getting the easy stuff out of the way: Whatever small chance Huckabee had to do a little damage in what remains of the GOP primary season is gone. He gave John McCain a bit of a scare in Virginia (networks had the race "too close to call" for more than an hour). But in the end, McCain won 50-41, despite a heavy evangelical turnout. That's over and done.

However, the big news -- again -- is on the Democratic side. Obama sweeping the so-called "Potomac Primary" was not a surprise. The breadth of the win though is absolutely stunning. 60-plus percent of the vote in Maryland and Virginia is amazing. I lived in the Maryland-DC area for 17 years. Maryland and Virginia may be right next to each other, but they are very different states. Maryland is more like Masschusetts South, while Virginia is more conservative -- even with the recent streak of Democratic statewide victories (Warner, Kaine, Webb). Even so, Obama clobbered Hillary Clinton by huge margins -- even greater than John McCain's wins over alleged also-ran Huckabee.

Chuck Todd said tonight on MSNBC that Obama now has a total lead in delegates (counting superdelegates) after Tuesday's results. Furthermore, the breadth of his wins wiped out the national popular vote lead Clinton had amassed because of her wins in the non-campaigned states of Michigan and Florida. It's also notable that Obama has won eight contests in a row.

More troubling for Republicans in November was another example of a pattern that has been seen throughout this season: Nearly a million Virginia Democrats voted in their primary; fewer than 500,000 voted in the Republican one. Now, admittedly, Virginia is an "open" state (like New Hampshire) where voters can declare on election day. Given that many Republicans may have considered "their" primary race over, several decided to vote in the Democratic primary (about 8 percent). Even so, a doubling of the other party's turnout is pretty remarkable.

I've always thought that Virginia was a good possible pick-up for the Democrats this fall, with former Gov. Mark Warner a prohibitie favorite to replace Sen. John Warner. I was, of course, anticipating Hillary being on the ticket. However, the Commonwealth of Virginia is also one of only three states since Reconstruction to elect a black person statewide (to a major office) -- Massachusetts and Illinois are the other two. The breadth of Obama's win tonight -- Obama won whites in Virginia 50-49 percent and carried white men by 14 percent -- suggests he can win that state in the fall.

Yeah, Virginia -- which hasn't voted Democrat in a presidential election since 1964.

Um, wow.

UPDATE: The numbers breakdown on Obama's delegate lead. Obama's campaign pushes the inevitability meme to put pressure on the superdelegates.

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