Drunkblogging Super Tuesday

9:30 pm PST:

Mitt Romney has some bitter medicine to swallow.

Almost half the states in the union voted today. Romney won six. Of those, three -- Utah, Montana, North Dakota -- are so Republican that they'd go for Siegfried & Roy if they won the nomination. One, Massachusetts, wouldn't vote Republican even if Siegfried & Roy won the nomination. And Colorado's Republican machine has had the fix in for Romney for months. Minnesota is the closest thing to a swing state Romney won tonight -- and not even Reagan could carry MN in his '84 landslide.

Huckabee can't win much outside the South, and Romney can't win there at all. And that means that, however distasteful it may seem, John McCain will almost certainly be the Republican nominee. Of course, McCain couldn't win in the South, either, despite my earlier claims that he'd take Georgia. So McCain might be the nominee, but in the general election he'll suffer many of Romney's same weaknesses. It's time for Romney to drop out, and for Huck to aim squarely at the Veep slot, if only to give McCain the regional balance he lacks. That's a ticket I don't think I could vote for, but it's the ticket that Republican voters seem to want. The only other option -- and it's a long shot -- is a brokered convention where none of the three current survivors come out on top of the ticket.

What do the Democrats want? Not even they seem to know for sure. Clinton won almost everywhere she needed to win, but not always by the margins she had expected to win. The question for the Democrats isn't so much "who will win?" but rather, "can the winner patch the party back together, after Bill Clinton's race-baiting nearly tore it apart?"

I don't know the answer to that question. But I do know this. During Obama's big speech tonight, he got the crowd chanting "USA! USA! USA!" I can't remember a Hillary Clinton audience ever doing that.

7:42 pm PST:

Romney is speaking in MA and says... that he's dropping out after a dismal showing.

Kidding, of course. "This campaign is going on," Romney says to wild cheers. "We're going all the way to the convention... and the White House!" All he was missing was Howard Dean's rebel yell at the end.

Minnesota goes to Barack, Arizona to McCain. Now we're waiting for polls to close in California, which is the only big mystery remaining tonight.

7:14 pm PST:

"The failure to penetrate the South could be devastating for Romney," says one of the Fox News guys, whose name escapes me for the moment. Hell, Romney might just come in third, overall, here on Super Tsunami Tuesday. With nearly half the states in the union voting tonight, that could (should?) kill his candidacy.

North Dakota goes for Obama, where the registered Democrat also happens to be a black guy.

Missouri is shaping up to be a showdown between the southwest part of the state, aka Arkansas North, and suburban St Louis County where I grew up. St Louis is having some lousy weather, but down around Springfield, the fuel pump in Jessup's Chevy pickup is on the fritz again. So turnout in Missouri is just too unpredictable to call.

7:01 pm PST:

David Gergen makes a smart point. Obama won his home state by 30 points. Clinton won hers by 15.

It's official: Massachusetts has gone for Clinton, and by a wide margin. If you think the delegate count is going to be a mess, just try analyzing the map of Big Ass Tuesday. Democratic voters say, by and large, that they're happy with either candidate -- but certainly not in any predictable manner.

Fox's Chris Wallace is talking to Karl Rove. Rove calls Clinton's MA win "astonishing."

Meanwhile, McCain takes Oklahoma and Romney gets Utah.

Clinton looks to take Missouri, where Huckabee leads on the Republican side. Huckabee.

6:37 pm PST:

Clinton's east coast firewall has held firm in New Jersey. Pizza arrived late and cold. Good news for Clinton fans, bad news for Domino's.

Fox calls Alabama for Obama. Also one of Fox's reporters say there's "excitement" at Obama HQ, because it took so long to call New York and New Jersey for Clinton. Apparently, they think that means Obama had stronger-than-expected showings.

CNN points out that, outside of a few major cities, Romney just can't win with Southerners. If the Democrats are smart enough to nominate Obama, I don't see how Romney can compete with him. Any Democrat who can put the South in play is going to be very, very tough to beat.

McCain is also projected to win New York. That's a big haul, and in a state where the voters know Romney pretty darn well.

6:10 pm PST:

Seven more states just closed their polls. Any calls to make?

Clinton should win New York -- no surprise. The question is, by how much? There are a lot of delegates on the line.

CNN says all the other states are too close to call. Let's switch to Fox...

Fox calls New Jersey for Clinton. Again, no surprises. However, Obama took Delaware, which isn't exactly filled with minority voters. Obama is also showing some surprising strength in Connecticut. Juan Williams claims that Obama was hoping to win Massachusetts, but I'm not sure even a Kennedy endorsement was enough to turn that state away from Clinton. However, Fred Barnes reports that Obama is winning among white male Democrats.

Did I say already that McCain will win Illinois? And where is that pizza?

5:44 pm PST:

Fox calls Arkansas for Clinton and Huckabee. Arkansas, if you'll recall, has a state motto which reads "Southern Gateway to Iowa!"

McCain leads Missouri, but not enough to call. So does Clinton. Missouri, by the way, is the ultimate bellwether state, having voted with the winner of the general election every time since 1492 or something.

McCain wins Delaware, according to Fox.

CNN calls Tennessee for Clinton, and by a pretty wide margin. Connecticut is still too close to call. Obama looks to own Alabama, even with just 6% reporting. New Jersey should sweep New Jersey, but it's too early too tell.

Romney is coming in third in Tennessee - where in the South can Mitt do well? Apparently not in Oklahoma, where early returns also show him in third place. Alabama is up for grabs between McCain and Huck -- again, with Romney in third. And Missouri? It's just too early. Huck is up in Georgia, but I still think McCain will pull it out there.

5:28 pm PST:

CNN picks New Jersey for McCain. Fox is sure to follow, but I have the TiVo paused while I order a pizza. What toppings go best with a citron martini? I'm not sure, but I'm going for double bacon anyway. (And Glenn Reynolds is worried only about my liver.)

Memo to self: Don't pause the TiVo when Karl Rove's big head is taking up the entire screen. Not right before dinner.

CNN's Dana Bash says her McCain insider thinks things are going "perfect so far."

Fox reminds us that Arkansas closes its polls at 8:30 Eastern. That's just minutes from now. Question: Is Arkansas Hillary's home state? She lived there with Bill, but was born in Illinois (where she was spanked badly by Barack), and now lives in New York.

5:14 pm PST:

Memo to CNN: Too many colors on your map. It looks like you're mapping an Italian parliamentary election. "And the lighter shade of hazel is the People's Party for the People, not to be confused with the fuschia of the People's Fusion People's Party."

Fox's Wendell Goler just said that Huckabee has won Alabama. I have the sick feeling that Huckabee is going to be somebody's Veep. Or at the very least, that the Republican party platform will be modified to include mandatory commutation of prison sentences for inmates who have "seen the image of Jesus in the mess hall creamed corn."

Obama is apparently also making a good showing in New Jersey. Clinton needs to be up 250-300 delegates after tonight, to have any hopes of sealing the nomination. These New Jersey numbers throw a lot of cold water on those hopes.

5:02 pm PST:

Georgia is leaning more McCain's way, leading me to go ahead and call the state for him. I can do that faster than the so-called "mainstream media." Mostly because I drink more and have a much smaller reputation to defend. "Fast, fair, accurate" -- pick two!

OK, maybe pick just one.

Nothing new to report for the Democrats -- numbers are coming in slower for them than molasses poured uphill in winter. Whoa, sorry. I was momentarily channeling the spirit of Dan Rather. The fact that he's still alive doesn't make my fake statement any less accurate.

At the top of the hour, CNN projects:

McCain wins Connecticut

Romney wins Massachusetts

McCain wins Illinois

Six other states too close to call.

Obama wins Illinois, no shock there

Clinton wins Oklahoma, winning with both Democrats in that state

No surprises yet.

4:53 pm PST:

A few random notes, before nine more states start reporting in, in just a few minutes.

Huckabee can't seem to break out of third place, even in socially conservative Georgia. If he doesn't drop out after tonight, I think the important question to ask is: What the heck is wrong with this man?

Google News also likes McCain in Georgia, but not enough precincts have reported to make any kind of call just yet. Although his 12 point lead over Romney looks -- at this early stage -- pretty formidable.

Clinton and McCain lead in Alabama, with less than 1% of precincts reporting. Those numbers are far too small to be trusted.

"There is a disconnect between the national media and many of the American people." Bill Bennett, stating the obvious to Lou Dobbs.

4:27 pm PST:

Google News has called Montana for Romney, with McCain in a reasonably close second -- and Paul outpolling Huckabee.

4:02 pm PST:

The folks at ABC News must have something a bit stronger - and possibly a lot less legal - than my vodka martinis. Today, they have proclaimed "Hucka-back!" That's right, Mike Huckabee is "back from the dead" after his negotiated victory over Romney in delegate-poor West Virginia. Say again? Wake me when Huck wins, say, an entire third primary, one where he doesn't have to trade votes (and maybe a VP slot) with John McCain to do it.

Slate magazine warns not to trust California's exit polls, and with good reason: they don't count absentee voters. Most of their ballots were cast before Obamania kicked into full gear, and older voters (read: Hillary supporters) are more likely to vote absentee than younger (Obama-loving) voters. Also, of California's three million absentee votes, perhaps nearly dozens went to Republican candidates.

Has Romney thrown in the towel already? Reid Wilson wonders:

After a delay in throwing more money at February 5 states to build a big lead in television advertising, Romney wrote a check, but given the size of his buys it seems the commitment was much smaller than previous ones. A big McCain win, including victories in California, Colorado and Georgia, would likely chase Romney from the race.

If Romney takes California and Georgia, he's still alive. If he loses either one, it's hard to see how he can keep going.

Meanwhile, Drudge got hold of exit poll numbers from the Democratic side:

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...

Those are poll numbers, not precincts reporting in. However, CNN has already called Georgia for Obama. The Republican side is too close to call.

2:55 pm PST:

Just last week, California looked like Clinton Country - again. Today? Maybe not so much.

The Los Angeles Times blogs:

This could all be just so much manipulation, an attempt by Hillary Clinton's brain trust to reduce expectations for today's results to give her a little more oomph should she sweep the big states, including California.

But it could be they're genuinely nervous. Clinton is calling for more one-on-one televised debates with Barack Obama, a rare move for a front-runner and one that could signal the campaign thinks she's in trouble.In a conference call a little while ago with reporters -- including our colleague Peter Nicholas -- Clinton strategists said Obama could win more delegates nationwide today than Clinton, a remarkable reversal of fortunes for a campaign that a few weeks ago was trying to paint Clinton as the inevitable nominee.

Just as recently as 2006, Fox looked like the Republican network. Now it's all Greta van Sustren and lots, and I mean lots, of Shep Smith shouting, smirking and generally chewing the scenery. I'm switching back to CNN for a while. A good, long while.

Just last year, Rudy Giuliani looked like a big Super Tuesday winner in several big states. And now? Jeff Greenfield opines:

Even before Giuliani dropped out of the race, John McCain had taken the lead from him in all three of these Northeast states. Now, barring a McCain appearance at a Black Mass (and given New York's approach to matters spiritual, maybe not even then), McCain appears certain to win New York-and its neighbors. Throw in two other winner-take-all states-Delaware, and his home state of Arizona-and McCain seems highly likely to pick up more than 250 delegates on Tuesday night, without breaking a sweat. This is more than 20 percent of the total he needs for the nomination. Romney, by contrast, can count on only Utah and its 36 delegates. That leaves one winner-take-all primary state where the outcome is uncertain ...

Ah, yes -- we're back where we started, in California.

1:10 pm PST:

CNN reports that James Dobson, of Focus on the Family, says:

Should Senator John McCain capture the nomination as many assume, I believe this general election will offer the worst choices for president in my lifetime."

Dobson also says in that case, he won't vote at all.

Suddenly, McCain is looking very, very good to me. Really, anything to keep Dobson out of a voting booth is a pretty good idea.

By studying motivated political blogs rather than the "disinterested" voters pollsters often talk to, CollectiveIntellect.com sees big wins for Obama and McCain. The five states they looked at included California, Colorado, Georgia, Massachusetts and Missouri. Their methodology is interesting, and well-documented on their site. Check it out.

12:01 am PST: Superdelegate Christine Pelosi (daughter of Speaker Nancy) tells Sean Hannity that she's "torn between my gender and my generation." Either she's a perfect example of the identity politics that plague the Democrats, or there's not one difference between Clinton and Obama important enough to sway Pelosi with substance.

My question is: Which is worse?

CNN and Fox both project that Huckabee has won West Virginia's 18 available delegates. Romney was winning there earlier. What happened? If Romney can't hold a state where he was up almost ten points earlier in the day, then what does that do to his chances in California? Nothing good, I'd wager.

What's interesting about the Republican race is that it doesn't seem to feature any actual conservatives. McCain is a first-amendment buster. Romney's position on abortion has, through the years, proven transparently expedient. Huckabee is Carter redux, but with double the false humility. Paul hangs out with the Blame America First crowd. And pundits wonder why no one has this race tied up yet?

It's going to be a long day -- time to start making the Bloody Marys.

11:14 am PST: CNN's Richard Quest is not a color that occurs in nature. And that accent is so phony, Kevin Costner never even used it in the outtakes from Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves.

quest.jpg

And was he really just talking about table cloths with some old lady in Fullerton, California? Well, I suppose there's a reason he's out in the Valley and not inside the Beltway. Maybe next time around he can give us live updates from the US Virgin Islands. Or whatever it is they do instead of vote at secret Air Force bases in Antarctica.

Bob Novak doesn't see any hope of a Clinton-Obama "reconciliation" ticket. In fact, he calls it a "suicide ticket." And what about turning that ticket upside-down? If Obama wins the nomination, says The Prince of Darkness, "there's no way" he'd pick Hillary as his running mate. And can you picture Clinton saying yes, even if he did?

Yeah, me neither.

10:00 am PST:

A few quick notes in this dispatch.

CNN reports high turnout pretty much everywhere.

Fox's Sean Hannity asks why so many prominent Democrats have abandoned Hillary for Obama. Having watched Clinton since 1991, I can only assume that the question was rhetorical.Fox is your best source for shouting. CNN has the smoothest election day operation -- the fact that they've been at this for 25-plus years really shows. And MSNBC is the one best place for Keith Olbermann's literally tens of fans across the nation.

West Virginia Republicans failed to pick a first-ballot winner. Romney came in first at 41% and Huckabee second with 33%. The fact that Fox didn't even bother to report McCain's showing tells you just how red this once-true blue state has gone. CNN says McCain pulled a slight 15%, which just reinforces the point.

For now I'll close with a random thought. One of CNN's analysts pointed out that the general election may hinge on illegal immigration. My gut tells me that if someone becomes president on that issue, they'll get four years in power -- and that their party will then spend 20 years in the wilderness.

Don't believe me? California governor Pete Wilson won reelection in 1994 on an anti-immigrant platform. California is now one of the most Democratic states in the nation. Wilson saved himself, but destroyed his party. Just something to think about.

9:11 am PST:

First, the snark.

Memo to Fox News: A country may be too rich, on the decadent slope to disaster, when it can afford frivolities like "body language experts." The same is doubly true for television news networks.

Earlier this morning, John Kerry made a good point, that red-state Democrats are endorsing Obama left and right. At that exact moment, the earth split open and pigs flew out of the gaping chasm.

Bad weather could effect turnout in Tennessee. What's that mean? Maybe that only the most motivated voters show up at the polls. Either that, or voters stupid enough to be out driving during a tornado warning. I think that calculus benefits Obama most.

Now, the serious stuff -- and I promise there won't be too much of that out of me today.

Then there's this, from Open Left:

...the largest possible pledged delegate margin Clinton can have after Super Tuesday is 937 to 862. (While it is possible Obama will lead in pledged delegates after Super Tuesday, it does not currently seem possible for Obama to have a larger lead than 75). That leaves Clinton 1,088 pledged delegates from clinching the nomination, with only 1,428 pledged delegates remaining. Thus, in order to win the nomination without the aid of super delegates, in her best-case scenario after Super Tuesday, Clinton would need to win 76.2% of all remaining pledged delegates. Given our proportional delegate system, there is simply no way that is going to happen unless Obama drops out.

In other words, Super Tuesday won't produce a winner for the Democrats. Which is especially ironic, given what Super Tuesday was originally designed to do -- give the Democrats a winner, quickly, and avoid prolonged and damaging infighting.

The Democrats live in fear of two things: 1968 and Mike Dukakis. Nobody wants a reply of either the mini-civil war of the '68 convention in Chicago, or ('nuff said) another Dukakis.

The first Super Tuesday, in 1988, was supposed to give a nice, electable southern Democrat a chance to win the nomination. Instead, it gave us Dukakis. Superdelegates were supposed to be the "safety valve" of the nomination process, party elders wise and farsighted enough to break a close primary in favor of the best candidate. As opposed to the candidate "the people" might like best.

What it comes down to is, the primary race is a very democratic process, and the people of the left have a lousy track record of picking winners. Back when there were just a handful of primaries, and the candidate was chosen by means most undemocratic, the Democrats nominated folks like FDR and JFK. Since the process was opened up to the people, the Democrats have saddled themselves with Jimmy Carter, Walter Mondale, Dukakis, and John Kerry. It's like a Hall of Fame for Second Raters. The only real winner chosen since 1972 was Bill Clinton. And most political observers agreed that choosing Clinton was a desperate gamble after having spent 12 years out of power. Just because the gamble paid off doesn't mean the process was by any means fixed.

"Fixes" like Super Tuesday and Super Delegates have done very little to improve the process. This year, for the first time, the superdelegates might just determine the winner. Will they pick another loser, start another civil war -- or can they do the job they were selected to do?

Oh, yes -- the Republicans are also selecting a candidate today. It'll probably be McCain, but it's too soon to tell, and nothing very exciting is going to happen today. And thus endeth that lesson. So let's get back to watching the Democrats tear each other apart.