PJ Media

PJM Special Coverage: Louisiana, Washington, Nebraska, Kansas, Virgin Islands

[Want more on the election? Read PJM’s Roundup here]

Obama swept the Louisiana primary, as well as the Washington state and Nebraska caucuses, and the Virgin Island caucuses. He beat Hillary Clinton 57% to 36% in Louisiana, actually a substantially higher margin of victory than his exit poll lead, which was itself a sizable 8 points. (Yet the exit poll did not trigger a quick projection of victory by the nets, as the race was quite racially polarized and there was concern that some of those polled lied. Recall that, as I’ve reported, Obama led Clinton in the New Hampshire exit poll by 5 points.) He beat Hillary in Nebraska, 68% to 31%, and in Washington, 68% to 32%, in the latter race surging to a much bigger than expected victory than the Friday night tracking polls I reported on this morning indicated. He beat Clinton in the Virgin Islands territory, 90% to 7%.

Obama, who eked out a tiny delegate lead in the Super Tuesday contests after coming back from a double digit deficits around the country, had a slight lead in pledged delegates going into today’s contests, according to media and private estimates. (Pledged delegates are those awarded as the result of success in primaries and caucuses.) Today’s results appear to give him another 35 to 40 delegate gain on Clinton. She retains a slight lead, however, when superdelegates are added in. Superdelegates are various politicians who are automatically delegates to the Democratic national convention. But they are not pledged to anyone, and can turn on a dime. Or a change in fortune.

The Clinton campaign put out an interpretation of the results within minutes of the polls’ closure in Louisiana, discounting Hillary’s defeats as “expected,” and chalking them up to Obama having more organization and money for advertising.

Intriguingly, and somewhat contradictorily, if one thinks about it, the Clinton campaign also announced late today that it has raised a whopping $10 million since Super Tuesday. Which is nearly as much as it raised in all of January, not counting the emergency $5 million from the Clintons’ joint account infused into the campaign to keep Hillary competitive on Super Tuesday. The Clinton campaign has never before shown anything approaching this sort of online fundraising prowess.

Now this gets interesting, because on Thursday morning, the estimate was about $3 million since Super Tuesday. Which quickly became $4 million. And by day’s end, was $6.4 million. And now is $10 million.

Meanwhile, Clinton was outspent in Louisiana, Nebraska, Washington, and tomorrow’s Maine caucuses. (Which Clinton has a decent chance to win.) And is outspent even now in the upcoming Chesapeake primaries — Virginia, Maryland, and Washington, D.C. — on Tuesday.


Meanwhile, Mike Huckabee won big in the Kansas Republican caucuses over presumptive presidential nominee John McCain, 60% to 24%. With 99% of the vote counted in Louisiana, Huckabee has a thin but real 43% to 42% over McCain. The maverick Western senator may end up winning only in the Washington state caucuses, where with 83% of the vote counted in an extraordinarily slow count, he leads Huckabee 24% to 22%, with 21% going to Ron Paul.

Huckabee’s apparent win in the Louisana primary — in a sense foreshadowed by Pat Buchanan’s win in the 1996 Lousiana caucuses — will not do him any good in his essentially hopeless quest to overtake McCain in the delegate sweepstakes. Under party rules in the winner take all Louisiana Republican primary, no candidate who gets under 50% gets delegates, so the Bayou State will send an officially uncommitted delegation to the Republican national convention in St. Paul, Minnesota. Which makes Louisiana essentially a draw, though Huck will apparently get the bragging rights of having narrowly won the popular vote.

A loss, a practical draw, and a potentially narrow win is not a good day for McCain. But if he’s going to lose to anyone, in contests dominated by evangelicals, it may as well be to Huckabee, with whom he’s on good terms. Especially with likely McCain wins in the Virginia and Maryland primaries coming up on Tuesday.

7:46 pm PST — Obama Romps in Virgin Islands

He wishes.

As Barack Obama speaks to the Jefferson-Jackson Dinner in Richmond, Virginia, comes word that he carried the Virgin Islands with 90% of the vote.

7:15 pm PST — Louisiana Finally Called for Obama

Okay, CNN finally called Barack Obama the winner in Louisiana. I explained the delay below. As you see, it’s not that close.

7:10 pm PST — Louisiana Exit Polls

According to the media exit polls, Barack Obama leads Hillary Clinton in the Louisiana Democratic primary, 52.6% to 44.8%.

Why are they not calling the state yet for Obama?

Because they are afraid that some people lied to them.

Turnout was relatively light, perhaps 15%, and that hurts Obama, who did not campaign heavily there. Hillary was there recently there, and former President Bill Clinton, who carried the state as president, spent Friday stumping across the Bayour State, as I reported early this morning.

The vote looks very racially polarized, more so than most other states.

Clinton led Obama among white voters, 70% to 26%.

Obama led Clinton among black voters, 82% to 18%.

6:20 pm PST — Hill Spins 3 States Tonight

The Hillary Clinton campaign is now, in a new press release, spinning away her losses in Washington, Nebraska, and Louisiana as “expected.”

Intriguingly, although Obama leads in Louisiana, no one has yet called it for Obama.

The other rationalization from the Clinton camp is that Obama outspent and out-organized them in those three states.

I’m not quite sure that is what I would want to say about today.

5:45 pm PST — Obama Wins Big in Washington

Barack Obama has broken what was a 5-point lead in the latest Washington tracking poll, as reported this morning, into a very big win in the Washington state caucuses.

Based on Obama’s 2 to 1 lead in returns from around the state, with almost 40% of the vote in, Fox News has projected an Obama victory in Washington.

As reported throughout the day, the turnout overwhelmed the state Democratic Party’s system, both online to direct voters to their proper caucus sites, and at the sites themselves, where ballots not infrequently ran out.

Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama had dueling rallies at nearly the same time late yesterday, as reported this morning, and Obama bested Hillary in turnout 20,000 to 6,000.

Obama’s big victory was built in major metropolitan areas, such as Seattle, where the mayor has long backed him. But also in rural Washington, as you see in the earlier report today from a caucus outside Olympia.

The late endorsement of Washington Governor Christine Gregoir, and subsequent employment of her political organization, helped push Obama to a huge win, much bigger than expected.

5:34 pm PST — Obama Wins Nebraska

To no one’s surprise who’s been following along here today, CNN has projected Barack Obama as the big winner in Nebraska. Obama 69%, Clinton 31%.

You don’t draw 10,000 people to a rally in Omaha, Nebraska, with overflow turnouts around the state — and a banner Friday headline in the Omaha World-Herald dubbing the city “Obamaha” — without a big win.

4:57 pm PST — Super Huck Day?

Incidentally, folks, it should not come as a complete surprise if Mike Huckabee wins today in not only the Kansas caucuses, but also the Washington caucuses and the Louisiana primary.

With an overwhelming delegate lead, John McCain’s campaign has turned its attentions to getting the campaign, and the Republican Party, ready for the general election against either Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton.

This means that there is not a major caucus effort underway.

And Louisiana, as I reported in the kick-off column early this morning, is a place where very socially conservative candidates such as Pat Buchanan have done quite well.

4:50 pm PST — Looking To March, And Virgin Islands Ignorance

Looking forward to a key March 4th battleground state, Ohio, the Cleveland Plain Dealer will tomorrow endorse Barack Obama.

Incidentally, I confess to total ignorance as to what is going on in the Virgin Islands Democratic caucuses today. No one campaigned there, sadly, and there are three delegates at stakes.

From tomorrow’s Cleveland Plain Dealer endorsement: “Obama’s frequent talk of hope strikes some people as naive. It leads others to question his toughness. But Obama understands something his critics do not: Change requires vision and optimism, shared sacrifice and mutual trust. Hope can sustain those elements; a presidency defined by political tactics cannot.

“Hillary Clinton is an exceptionally bright and accomplished woman. Only a fool could dispute that. It would be nice if Obama’s policy proposals were as meaty as those she has put forward. It’s no wonder she wants Democrats to see this race as a choice between resumes.

“But in a campaign where history matters, she carries an inordinate amount of baggage. Who wants to relive the soap operas of the 1990s?”

3:21 pm PST — A Report from a More Rural Washington Caucus

The Washington Democratic presidential caucuses have been overwhelmed by a turnout the state party was unprepared for. Here’s a report from one of the more rural parts of the state, away from the mania in cosmopolitan Seattle.

Says correspondent Larry Maxcy: “My precinct caucus was held in a school gymnasium, with four other precincts. It was scheduled to start at 1 PM, finally got going at 1:45, because there were far more people there than expected, chairs had to be brought from the cafeteria, parking was an ordeal, and because we’re Democrats.

“In 2004 nine precinct caucuses were held in the nearby Grange hall. This year more people were expected, so five were sent to the school. We drove past the Grange on our way home, and people were standing outside trying to hear. In 2004 the precinct had 33 people show up for the caucus. This time, more than double that. Another precinct had to move up to the bleachers since they ran out of chairs.

“Our precinct selected 7 delegates to attend the county convention April 19. The 74 people split out 4 for Obama, 2 for Clinton, and 1 uncommitted.

“The crowd is older than I would have expected–an average age in the late 50s, I guess. Mostly white, but that’s a function of a semi-rural neighborhood. Very pale, but some of these people have rarely seen the sun. The Hillary people were mostly female, and mostly grandmotherly. The Obama supporters were more mixed. We did elect one first-time voter to go to the cconvention as an Obama delegate.

“Brown bags were passed for donations. One dollar was suggested. The cost of the caucuses for the county is $6,000. The day was over by 2:40 or so.

“Overall the mood was upbeat. If I wrote in cliches I’d say there was some electricity there. Some Obama shirts and buttons, but nothing visible for Hillary. This year there has been a complete absence of lawn signs so far.

“The Washington state convention, when delegates for Denver will be picked, is in June. On to Denver.”

2:35 pm PST — Some Chaos in Washington

Lots of problems with the Washington Democratic caucuses, which are seeing record turnouts.

They’re still going, and will clearly go longer than planned. Results, which might have been available mid-afternoon, now may come early evening.

Problem 1. The online Democratic caucus-finder — needed for folks not directed, or not remembering the direction — by one of the campaigns to get to the appropriate caucus location, ran very slow, and at times stalled out.

Problem 2. Some locations are running out of ballots.

The Republican caucuses, drawing substantially fewer people, don’t seem to be having these problems.

1:41 pm PST — Looking Ahead While They Vote

They’re caucusing in the state of Washington now, till at least 2 PM. The Nebraska caucuses take place at different times in different locales throughout Saturday. And the primary in Louisiana, after the fashion of all primaries, has polling places open till tonight.

So let’s look ahead for a moment.

The reason why Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are both holding rallies in Maine today before appearing at the Jefferson-Jackson Dinner in Richmond, Virginia tonight is because the Maine Democratic caucuses are tomorrow.

Maine’s governor is backing Clinton, as is local labor, and some expect Hillary to do best in the state. On the other hand, this is a state won by such candidates as Gary Hart and Jerry Brown, powered by college grads and environmentalists.

Former President Bill Clinton has barnstormed Maine for his wife, while Senator Ted Kennedy toured the state for Obama.

But the big prizes coming up are on Tuesday, with primaries in Virginia, Maryland, and Washington, D.C.

It’s Chesapeake Tuesday, referring to locales surrounding the Chesapeake Bay.

I reported yesterday on a few polls of Virginia and Maryland, all showing Barack Obama and John McCain with comfortable leads in the Democratic and Republican primaries, respectively.

There are new Rasmussen polls out today on Virginia and Maryland. McCain has big leads over Mike Huckabee in both states.

On the Democratic side, Obama leads Hillary in Virginia, 55% to 37%, and in Maryland, 57% to 31%.

In both states, Obama wins big among African-American voters and runs even with Hillary among white voters.

Intriguingly, the gender split may be more telling than the racial split, as Hillary wins with white women, but Obama wins with white men.

There are no public polls in Washington, D.C., where the electorate is overwhelmingly African-American and Obama is expected to romp to another victory.

1:04 pm PST — Nebraska Update

Correspondent Nancy Dolan reports near-chaos at her Lincoln, Nebraska caucus location.

“They expected 500 people,” she says, “and there have been maybe 1000. Bigger lines for Obama than Clinton. So big I saw some Obama supporters give up and leave.

“The party wasn’t ready enough for this. They asked people to wait in a parking lot. It’s not warm out there.”

It seems that traditional caucusing has been abandoned, not only at this site, but also at other sites around Nebraska. Rather than gather in groups, as in a normal caucus, participants are herded into lines to drop “ballot” slips into bowls.

12:56 pm PST — A Pre-Caucus Washington Report

Sources in both the Clinton and Obama camps express some uncertainty about Washington state.

The Clinton campaign thinks it has a shot here, but worries about Obama-mania spilling over amongst young voters and new voters. The state’s two female U.S. senators, Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray, have been pushing Hillary with their organizations.

The Obama campaign, on the other hand, says a high-ranking source, was pleasantly surprised by the endorsement of Washington’s female governor, Christine Gregoire, who has set her organization to work on Obama’s behalf.

Says correspondent Larry Maxcy: “We have had several robo calls the past few days from Hillary people. Nothing from Obama. Yet he drew a huge and unruly crowd in Seattle yesterday, 17,000 at Key Arena downtown, with thousands more trying to get in, after the fire marshall closed the doors. Hillary had 5,000 at a more sedate gathering in Tacoma.

“Caucuses begin at 1 PM. The day is a five on a murk scale of 1-10, so the weather in western Washington is seasonable.”

And reasonable.

12:27 pm PST — Where They Are Today

As the contests take place in Louisiana, Nebraska, Washington, Kansas, and, ah, the Virgin Islands, the candidates are elsewhere, mostly looking forward, as they must, to big contests on Chesapeake Tuesday.

Today on the trail, Mike Huckabee spoke to the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Washington, D.C. Then held a press availability in Washington and a small rally in College Park, Maryland. This afternoon he visits patients at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington.

John McCain is off the trail today.

Barack Obama has a rally in Bangor, Maine. Tonight he speaks at the Jefferson-Jackson Dinner in Richmond, Virginia.

Hillary Clinton had a town hall discussion on the economy in Orono, Maine and another in Lewiston, Maine. Tonight, she, like Obama, speaks to the Jefferson-Jackson Dinner in Richmond, Virginia.

Former President Bill Clinton rallied this morning in Chesapeake, Virginia. This afternoon, he has a rally in Abindon, Virginia, and tonight, while his wife is at the JJ dinner in Richmond, Virginia, has his own rally for her in Blacksburg, Virginia.

Incidentally, a Jefferson-Jackson Dinner is a staple of Democratic politics in most states outside of the Californias and New Yorks, i.e., more heartland type states. They are big party banquets, usually once a year. They are held in honor of the two principal founders of the Democratic Party, Thomas Jefferson and Andrew Jackson.

Why don’t the Democrats in California and New York hold Jefferson-Jackson Dinners?

Because Andrew Jackson is a politically incorrect figure.

12:16 pm PST — Kansas projection: It’s Huck!

Fox News has just projected Mike Huckabee as the winner of the Kansas Republican caucuses, winning at least two-thirds of the 36 delegates on offer.

Huckabee barnstormed across Kansas yesterday and got the backing of state right-to-life activists.

McCain didn’t campaign there, but did have the backing of Kansas Senator Sam Brownback, a former presidential candidate.

11:24 am PST — Louisiana Update

Louisiana, which holds the only primary of the day, looks like an impending victory for Barack Obama.

Correspondent Harold Jones in New Orleans says the weather is good but he doesn’t expect much of a turnout. Nevertheless, Obama seems more popular than Hillary Clinton in the Bayou State. The candidates haven’t had much time to campaign in Louisiana — aside from early pilgrimages decrying the trouble federal effort around Hurricane Katrina — what with all the emphasis on the early state and then Super Tuesday.

Obama held a big rally with over 4000 people on Thursday at Tulane University, where he pledged to rebuild New Orleans and praised it as a special place where, as Jones paraphrased it, “all kinds of people and cultures come together and produce something new. The Creole, the cuisine, the jazz.”

Former President Bill Clinton barnstormed through Louisiana yesterday, seeking to transfer his popularity to his wife’s candidacy. He hit, Jones says, New Orleans, La Place, Lake Charles, Lafayette, Monroe, and Baton Rouge.

But Clinton did not draw big crowds. In New Orleans, he spoke to about 200 people in a small chapel with plenty of empty seats, reports Jones.

He, too, pledged the rebuilding of New Orleans, and promised universal health insurance and cheaper college educations.

This is the first time in years that Louisiana has been consequential in a presidential nominating contest.

In 1996, the Republicans held early caucuses there, in a move engineered by backers of then Texas Senator Phil Gramm. But conservative commentator Pat Buchanan foiled Gramm’s plans by winning, which helped send the heavily funded Gramm to a quick exit in the race won ultimately by then Kansas Senator Bob Dole.

The last real race on the Democratic side was in 1984, when then Colorado Senator Gary Hart and former Vice President Walter Mondale were battling for the nomination. In the event, Rev. Jesse Jackson won, with 40% of the vote, as Hart finished second and Mondale third.

10:56 am PST — Nebraska Update

Hillary Clinton has campaigned in Nebraska, but probably isn’t expecting a victory today in the Democratic caucuses. Her campaign has a TV ad running there featuring Bob Kerrey, the popular former governor and U.S. senator who won the Medal of Honor as a Navy Seal in Vietnam.

However, Nebraskans have memories.

Says correspondent Nancy Dolan: “I remember Bob Kerrey saying Bill Clinton is ‘an unusually good liar.’ Seems that he’s changed his mind since he’s moved to New York.”

Kerrey made that observation when he ran for president against Clinton in 1992. Since then, he’s retired from the Senate and become chancellor of the New School in Manhattan, recently demurring at a suggestion from national Democratic leaders that he move back to Nebraska to go after his old Senate seat.

While Clinton is backed by former Senator Kerry, Obama is backed by popular current Senator Ben Nelson.

Dolan, who lives in LIncoln, Nebraska — home of the famed University of Nebraska Cornhuskers — says she made the 60-mile drive over to Omaha on Thursday for the Obama rally there.

“We’ve never seen anything like it,” she says. “The Omaha paper had ‘Obamaha’ as the headline yesterday.”

10,000 Nebraskans turned out for the Obama rally in Omaha.

It’s snowing in only a few parts of Nebraska today, though it’s cold, of course, on the plains. It was, however, colder in Iowa when Obama won his break-through victory there.

The polls close on the Nebraska caucuses at 5 PM Pacific time.

10:31 am PST — Washington Update

The Washington Democratic caucuses haven’t been polled much, because it isn’t easy to say who will turn out. Hillary Clinton has had the backing of her husband’s old supporters, as well as the state’s two U.S. senators, Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell.

But Barack Obama, the former community organizer, has set up an extensive organization in the state. And, as evidenced by his drawing 20,000 people to his Washingtonrally yesterday while 6000 attended Hillary’s rally, it may be paying off. Washington’s Governor, Christine Gregoire, threw her support to Obama yesterday.

A Survey USA poll has Obama and Clinton running essentially even among all registered Democrats in the state. But among those who say they will attend the caucuses, Obama has a slight edge. But this is a robopoll, so it isn’t easy to know how perceptive the machines are at what may be shifty answers.

Weather is always a major factor this time of year in the Pacific Northwest, and Washington is one of the American states closest to Canada.

Eastern Washington has been having a very cold and snowy winter, with a key pass linking the interior of the state with the coast closed on and off.

Correspondent Larry Maxcy says: “I’m in Olympia, where there’s no snow, but lots of rain. We were honored by the presence of Mrs. Huckabee this morning, appearing at the IHOP. Reservations recommended, a phrase that never before has been used in connection with IHOP. No word about Mary Hartman.”

But right now in Seattle it’s merely cloudy, though there may be rain later.

The polls close on the Washington caucuses — in both parties, though the contest that matters is on the Democratic side — at 2 PM Pacific time.

08:17 am PST — Game Day: Semi-Super Saturday

Several significant contests today in the deadlocked Democratic presidential race between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. While on the Republican side, presumptive nominee John McCain does some mopping up while Mike Huckabee, coming off a strong Super Tuesday showing in the South, moves to roll up more delegates and finish as the clear Republican runner-up.

As this Semi-Super Saturday begins, there is a new national poll by Newsweek magazine. It shows that Obama, following a Super Tuesday showing in which he eked out a tiny edge in overall delegates won that day, has eliminated Hillary’s national lead. It’s Obama 42%, Clinton 41%.

On the Republican side, McCain dominates with 51% to Huckabee’s 32% and Ron Paul’s 6%. Of course, the Republican nomination is decided, with John McCain’s near sweep of the delegates in the California primary over Mitt Romney, who spent millions making a major stand in the Golden State and then dropped out Thursday, proving to be the decisive event.

The Democratic contests today are in Louisiana, Nebraska, Washington state, and the Virgin Islands, with Louisiana a primary and the latter three all caucuses. The Republican contests today are in Kansas, Washington state, and Louisiana, the latter a primary and the first two being caucuses.

The public polling operations seem more than a bit exhausted after the crush of early contests, and perhaps a bit abashed after some noteworthy miscues. I do know that Obama leads in private polling of the Lousiana primary. Caucuses are notoriously difficult to poll, especially in states other than Iowa — along with New Hampshire the most polled state in America, for obvious reasons — but I do know that Obama and Clinton held rallies late yesterday in Washington state. Obama, joined by his newest endorser, Washington Governor Christine Gregoire, drew a crowd of 20,000, who stood throughout his 50-minute speech. Hillary, joined by Washington Senator Maria Cantwell, drew a crowd of 6,000. And was heard earlier in the day complaining to a group of nurses that their colleagues would likely be more able to participate in a primary than a caucus.

Obama and both Hillary and Bill Clinton have campaigned across Louisiana (where the former president campaigned yesterday), Nebraska, and Washington. But, sadly, none of them have campaigned in the Virgin Islands.

Here is how the day will unfold.

Washington Republican Caucuses

Polls open at 1 PM Pacific and close at 2 PM Pacific.

18 delegates, proportional representation.

Washington Democratic Caucuses

Polls open at 1:30 PM Pacific and close at 2 PM Pacific.

78 delegates, proportional representation.

Kansas Republican Caucuses

Polls open at 8 AM Pacific and close at 2 PM Pacific.

36 delegates, winner take all by congressional district.

Virgin Islands Democratic Caucuses

Polls open at 5 AM Pacific and close at 3 PM Pacific.

3 delegates, proportional representation.

Nebraska Democratic Caucuses

Polls open at 8 AM Pacific and close at 5 PM Pacific.

24 delegates, proportional representation.

Louisiana Republican Primary (no independents allowed)

Polls open at 4 AM Pacific and close at 6 PM Pacific.

20 delegates, winner take all.

Louisiana Democratic Primary (no independents allowed)

Polls open at 4 AM Pacific and close at 6 PM Pacific.

56 delegates, proportional representation.