10:23 pm PST — The Winners So Far
Obama: Georgia, Illinois, Alabama, North Dakota, Utah, Kansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Minnesota, Idaho, Colorado, Missouri, Alaska
Clinton: California, New York, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Arizona
McCain: California, Illinois, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Delaware, Oklahoma, Missouri
Romney: Massachusetts, Utah, North Dakota, Minnesota, Montana, Colorado
Huckabee: Alabama, West Virginia, Arkansas, Georgia and Tennessee
8:50 pm PST — Actually, They are Still Voting in One Part of California
A judge in one of the most populous counties in the San Francisco Bay Area, Alameda County – on the other side of the Bay Bridge from San Francisco – is keeping some precincts there open until 9:30 PM. So many voters showed up that they ran out of ballots.
8:16 pm PST — Spin from the Democratic Campaign Chiefs
To review. As of now, Barack Obama has won Alabama, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Kansas, Minnesota, North Dakota, and Utah.
Hillary Clinton has won Arkansas, Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Oklahoma, and Tennessee.
The Hillary high command, in the form of chief strategist Mark Penn, communications director Howard Wolfson, and political director Guy Cecil held a second conference call of the day to explain what’s happening so far.
And immediately after, Obama campaign manager David Plouffe weighed in with his own conference call.
First to the Hillaristas.
Said chief strategist and pollster Mark Penn: “The evening is still young, there are many twists and turns to come, but there are some signs of encouragement. We have had real success in the Northeast and some red states. We feel especially good about Massachusetts. The people who decided in the last day supported Hillary in many states.”
Penn denied the narrative that this is a race between change and experience. “It is not a choice between change and experience,” a frame that does not work to Hillary’s advantage. “It is a race about how to make change happen.”
“This is a people-oriented campaign,” he declared, noting that her virtual town hall, also featured on the Hallmark Channel, was “the largest town hall in history.”
Penn and Wolfson noted what they call an “emerging difference on health care” with Obama, who does not want to mandate the purchase of health insurance. Something which helped doom Arnold Schwarzenegger’s California plan.
He also cited Hillary for having “a concrete plan to deal with housing crisis, freeze foreclosures and control interest rates.”
Noting that Hillary is seen by a plurality in tonight’s exit polls as the best choice for commander in chief, he noted that would be key in a race against John McCain.
“The contest is still up for grabs,” he said, coming out of tonight.
“We did well,” he said, fighting in the face of “an enormous media wave and the unprecedented bankroll of Senator Obama.”
Asked about specific results, he and Wolfson said that Clinton’s defeat in Connecticut, where she once held a huge lead, “is not a surprise.”
“The biggest upset so far is Massachusetts,” Penn said, citing the support of the Kennedys for Obama. Clinton has long been popular there and held a large lead until very recently.
“There are a number of states where he will be successful in the next few weeks. We have a plan for the long term.”
Wolfson acknowledged that Obama has not accepted their morning challenge to a debate a week.
For his part, Obama campaign manager David Plouffe was in a more expansive mood.
“We’re having an outstanding night,” he said.
“We’re ahead so far in delegates won tonight, 606-534.”
“Senator Obama has won more states than Senator Clinton.
Plouffe noted that Obama won his home state by a larger margin than Hillary won hers. As a result, he said, “We get more delegates” in the home state exchange, “even though New York is much bigger than Illinois.”
Plouffe said the campaign is exceeding projections in caucus states, with big wins in Kansas and Minnesota, and said he expects to win Colorado.
“We’ve won in every region of the country,” he noted, citing the Northeast, South, Atlantic, Midwest, and West. “We’ll come out of this in much better shape than we originally imagined.”
Asked if he saw areas of improvement from past performance, he cited victories in closed Democratic primaries in which independents can’t vote, in the Hillary country of Connecticut and Delaware, said Obama is improving with Latinos and women voters, and running better with white voters than in the last set of contests.
“We may come out of this night with a draw,” he said, “and maybe a little bit better.”
7:26 pm PST — And Now the Obama Leadership…
I’m still on the Hillary leadership conference call, and now the Obama campaign manager, David Plouffe, is about to “explain” the evening.
6:54 pm PST — Clinton High Command to Explain All, Again
The Clinton campaign’s political leadership (well, except for Bill) is about to hold its second media conference call of the day.
To explain how things are going.
You saw we had a similar session this morning.
5:56 pm PST — Who Should Drop Out?
Mike Huckabee has won Alabama, West Virginia, and Arkansas. He’s leading in Georgia and Tennessee. He’s getting big votes in other states. He’s doing better than Mitt Romney so far.
Who exactly should drop out?
4:24 pm PST — Some Republican Exit Poll Numbers
Again, with the big caveat discussed below.
I don’t see why Mike Huckabee is going to want to drop out.
California: McCain 40, Romney 36, Huckabee 10
Missouri: Romney 34, McCain 32, Huckabee 25
Georgia: Huckabee 34, Romney 31, McCain 30
New York: McCain 46, Romney 35, Huckabee 10
New Jersey: McCain 48, Romney 35, Huckabee 9
Connecticut: McCain 50, Romney 32, Huckabee 7
Alabama: Huckabee 42, McCain 33, Romney 20
Tennessee: Huckabee 34, McCain 28, Romney 23.
Arkansas: Huckabee 33, McCain 21, Romney 19.
Oklahoma: McCain 34, Huckabee 32, Romney 27.
4:13 pm PST — Tight Race on Republican Side
Obama sweeps Georgia. McCain, Huckabee, and Romney in relatively close race on the Republican side. No surprise, a big win for Obama. He got 86% of the black vote. And a large 43% of the white vote. That’s a much bigger share of the white vote than he received in South Carolina, which was 24%.
3:50 pm PST — A Caveat About Early Exit Polls
A caveat about early exit polls, now showing up on the Drudge Report. Funny that he and/or his sources don’t seem to get in trouble for busting an embargo. They contain a lot of good news for Barack Obama.
But they are small sample sizes. And early.
OBAMA: Alabama: Obama 60, Clinton 37… Arizona: Obama 51, Clinton 45… Connecticut: Obama 53, Clinton 45… Delaware: Obama 56, Clinton 42… Georgia: Obama 75, Clinton 26… Illinois: Obama 70, Clinton 30… Massachusetts: Obama 50, Clinton 48… Missouri: Obama 50, Clinton 46… New Jersey: Obama 53, Clinton 47…
CLINTON: Arkansas: Clinton 72, Obama 26… California: Clinton 50, Obama 47… New York: Clinton 56, Obama 43… Oklahoma: Clinton 61, Obama 31… Tennessee: Clinton 52, Obama 41…
3:19 pm PST — Tonight’s Timetable
Here is a guide to how the results will be coming in as this very long and complex day of voting unfolds.
The first state with results is West Virginia, which selected delegates in a Republican state convention (addressed by Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee). That came around mid-day in the Pacific time zone. Won by Huckabee.
At 4 PM Pacific time, the polls close in the Georgia primaries.
At 5 PM Pacific time, the polls close in the Alabama, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Massachusetts, Missouri, New Jersey, Oklahoma, and Tennessee primaries.
At 5:30 PM Pacific time, the polls close in the Arkansas primaries.
At 6 PM Pacific time, the polls close in the Kansas Democratic caucuses and the New Mexico Democratic primary, as well as the Colorado caucuses for both parties and the primaries for both parties in Arizona, Minnesota, and New York.
At 7 PM Pacific time, the polls close in the Idaho Democratic caucuses, the Montana Republican caucuses, the North Dakota caucuses for both parties, and the Utah primaries for both parties.
At 8 PM Pacific time, the polls close for the California primaries.
And at 10:30 PM Pacific time, the polls close for the Alaska primaries.
It will be quite an unprecedented political spectacle.
2:52 pm PST — Double Bubble Trouble
Well, there’s always something. The rumor of widespread missing voting machines in Los Angeles County was wrong. But as I mentioned earlier, there is a real problem in LA, where more than a quarter of the votes in the California primaries are likely to be cast.
Ballots in LA County, unlike those in other parts of California, require independent voters to fill in a bubble designating their vote in the Democratic primary — the Republicans don’t allow independents to vote in their primary — as well as the bubble designating their choice for president. And some poll workers are incorrectly telling independents that they can’t vote in the Democratic primary.
This is a problem particularly for Barack Obama, surging in the California polls, especially among independents.
L.A. City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo just put out this statement: “I have heard numerous reports from voters throughout the City of Los Angeles which point to wide-spread voter confusion over Los Angeles County’s so-called ‘double-bubble’ Decline-to-State non-partisan voter ballot. We understand this ballot is unique to the County of Los Angeles.
“In light of these reports, I am calling upon Secretary of State Debra Bowen and L.A. County Registrar Dean Logan to review the county’s unique and potentially confusing ballot design. It would be unfortunate if non-partisan voters, confused by the county’s unique “double bubble” ballot design, did not have their vote counted.
“I urge the Secretary of State and County Registrar to do everything within their power to ensure that every vote is counted, and to carefully weigh voter intent against this confusing Los Angeles County ballot design. Los Angeles’ non-partisan voters must not be disenfranchised because of a confusing ballot design.”
Bottom line is there could be a serious legal issue, around the question of obvious voter intent by the selection of a candidate on the ballot.
1:24 pm PST — McCain Winging His Way to San Diego
Running a little behind schedule, John McCain is about to land in San Diego after a cross-country flight from New York. He’s joining Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders in a get out the vote rally in an airport hangar.
Mitt Romney has come on in California, which has a closed Republican primary allowing no independents to vote. In fact Romney led in last night’s Zogby tracking poll for Reuters.
So McCain and Schwarzenegger are whipping some election day enthusiasm.
The waiting crowd, I’m told, is about 500 people, many of them, like McCain, Navy vets. San Diego is one of the biggest Navy towns in the country.
When Schwarzenegger endorsed McCain last week, he delivered a general election-style message that emphasized the environment and McCain’s ability to work across partisan lines.
Today he will emphasize McCain’s bona fides on national security and the economy, in particular his Senate record of going after wasteful government spending.
1:15 pm PST — A Voting Problem in California? And First Honors to Huckabee
Gigantic disaster in Los Angeles? Or not. It’s on the top of the Drudge Report now. “The board of elections failed to deliver voting equipment to polling places ALL OVER LOS ANGELES… Developing…”
Actually, I’m told that this happened in isolated instances only.
What is a real problem is that many polling places in LA are staffed by folks who don’t seem to know how to properly instruct independent voters. Who have to fill in a little module on their ballot designating it as a ballot in the Democratic primary. Barack Obama is running well ahead of Hillary Clinton among independent voters, who are technically called “decline to state.”
Meanwhile, Mike Huckabee, somewhat surprisingly, won the first contest of the day. Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee both spoke today before the West Virginia Republican convention, the delegate-selecting body, in Charleston. And Huckabee won, in a second round run-off after the absent John McCain was eliminated, 52% to 48% over Romney in this winner take all state (18 delegates). Which, needless to say, keeps the Huckabee campaign going. He has strength in other states today, notably in the South.
Romney led on the first ballot, but was short of a majority. Romney led with 41% to Huckabee at 33%, McCain at 16%, and Ron Paul at 10%. The candidates outside the top two were then eliminated from the ballot.
Then the McCain forces joined hands with Huckabee to give him his first victory since Iowa, where the former Arkansas governor and Baptist minister first frustrated Romney’s plans.
11:48 am PST — Team Clinton: Not Very Confident Sounding
I was just on a very interesting conference call with Hillary Clinton’s chief strategist Mark Penn and communications director Howard Wolfson. The top Clinton advisors came out strongly on two fronts, demanding a debate a week with Barack Obama and insisting that the Michigan and Florida delegates be certified and seated at the Democratic national convention, notwithstanding the fact that all the candidates agreed not to campaign in those states because the primaries violated national party rules. “It’s a matter of democratization,” said Wolfson.
Hillary has accepted debate invitations from MSNBC in Ohio (which would be moderated by Chris Mathews), CNN in Texas, The ABC show This Week hosted by former top Clinton advisor George Stephanopoulos, and, gasp, Fox News in Washington, DC.
The Fox debate would actually come up first, on February 11th, before the so-called Chesapeake Primary of Virginia, Maryland, and Washington, D.C.
It’s worth noting that frontrunners don’t demand debates with their challengers. But Penn and Wolfson did not sound anywhere near as confident as in past conference calls. And they know that the post-Super Tuesday contests in February appear to favor Obama. In fact, Penn said just that: “The contests later in February favor Obama.”
in addition to being in uncertain political territory after today, Clinton may also be struggling a bit to get her message out. Her campaign raised a little over $13 million in January. Obama raised over $32 million in January. An astounding $28 million of that was raised over the Internet.
How do they expect it to go tonight? “We’ll win our share of states,” said Penn. “We expect to maintain our overall delegate lead,” said Wolfson. But that lead is based on unelected super-delegates. Obama actually leads among the so-called pledged delegates, i.e., delegates won as a result of the contests to date. They are required to vote for Obama. Super-delegates are under no legal obligation to vote for anyone, and are likely to flow with the political winds.
Back to tonight’s contests, Penn said “The outcome today will be largely inconclusive.” Which prompted NBC’s Andrea Mitchell to remind him that the campaign had long said that she would wrap up the Democratic presidential nomination today.
For us, said Wolfson, today is “just another step on the road to Denver.”
Said Wolfson: “Obama may win more delegates today; we may win more.” But he insisted that with the effort that the Obama campaign has placed in California and Massachusetts, it would be a “disappointment if Obama does not win these states. Clinton, of course, has had huge leads in those states until recently. And California, where former President Bill Clinton desperately campaigned the past two days to try to hold off an Obama surge, has been repeatedly cited by the Clintons as one of their greatest redoubts of political strength.
Wolfson also attacked Obama on health care policy, saying that their view is that Iraq has faded as an issue and the economy and health care have come to the fore. Obama today on one of the morning shows said that mandating the purchase of insurance in Hillary’s universal health care plan is like “telling homeless to buy a house.”
Taking umbrage at this, Wolfson said: “I don’t think even Harry and Louise would say that, referring to the mythical couple used in TV ads to shoot down Hillary’s health care plan in 1994. Senator Obama is using Republican talking points.”