ELECTION '08: Super Tuesday Smackdown

First off, I wouldn’t be doing my job as a New Yorker if I didn’t give a big shout out to Blue Magic, the NY Giants, for giving what could possibly be the greatest Super Bowl upset of all time. Perhaps it was destiny as this football season has turned out to be a premonition of the 2008 Presidential election. As perennial underdogs, the Giants have been the giant killers serving the inevitable Patriots their sole and most important L, and this is no more different or surprising as the rise of Barack Obama and John McCain. At this time last year both were trailing their respective opposition by double digits, but as we turn the corner to Super Tuesday, McCain now holds huge leads against Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee, while Obama has just now (as of 11:02 Monday) pulled slightly ahead of Hillary Clinton. Is this the year of the underdog, or will the favorites pull an Eli, get out of the pocket, and find Tyree 32 yards out for a miracle first down? That’s what we’re going to look at today.

The Democrats

The week started out with Edwards exiting, and Obama and Hillary facing off at their only debate before Super Tuesday. My full write up is here, but long story short, both did very, very well. Clinton’s debating style is much more refined and smoother than Obama, but what he lacked in finesse he made up for in preparation and strategy. The debate was broken into three major parts: health care, immigration, and Iraq, and while it was a split in the first part, and Hillary took the second, Obama made huge gains at the end successfully testing out his new slogan, “You have to be right on day one,” which is a clear reaction to Hillary’s “Ready from day one.” This is was a very important hit for the Obama camp who was already using the term in their campaign materials and by effectively using it they took away Hillary’s experience: the greatest weapon in her arsenal. Of course I think it’s successful, but ultimately it will depend on the voters. As I mentioned before Obama is currently beating Hillary in the national polls, but as we saw in New Hampshire, the polls can be wrong. Obama’s success, especially in the big states of California and New York will depend on Latino voters, and gaining their vote will be very tricky. Already Obama’s doing Spanish language ads with his new BFF Ted Kennedy, but he’s got to be concerned with what happened in Nevada and how polarized the line became between blacks and Latinos (Latinos went roughly 2-1 for Hillary there). Not only that but Latinos also happen to be more conservative then African-Americans, and don’t share blacks’ traditionally stalwart Democratic loyalty. Put all this together and that is a negative sum for Barack both in the primaries and, should he make it that far, the general election. What might counteract it, and could be Hillary’s biggest problem? White males, especially former Edwards’ supporters. Yeah, give the irony a moment to settle in.

The Republicans

He calls himself older than dirt, with more scars then Frankenstein, but one thing no one has called John McCain in a while is a winner. That changed this week, as John McCain rose to take both the GOP primary delegate lead and, more importantly, the psychological lead in the mainstream media. Somewhere Mittmentum turned to MCmentum as the Republicans debated in the Regan Library and McCain went after Romney with a vengeance. Acting like he had nothing to lose McCain continually berated Romney about setting a timetable for withdrawal from Iraq even though Romney never proposed such a thing. And far from letting it go, Romney fell into the trap again and again, defending himself against a bold face lie.

But Romney’s biggest problem isn’t Iraq; it’s Mike Huckabee, who continues to remain in the race for no other reason but to drain votes from Romney. As I mentioned before, Huckabee’s running hard for VP or a cabinet post and he’s adamant about staying regardless of Romney’s protests. (An implicit endorsement of McCain?) Unless Huckabee retires in the next twenty-four hours Romney will have no shot of taking Super Tuesday, and if he can’t take that then he’s done.

Oh and Ron Paul’s in the race too. He’s chilling and relaxing. He’s chilaxing.

Things to look for in the coming days:

Super Tuesday, Super Tuesday, and Super Tuesday, which will define the rest of the election season. On the Democratic side expect to see some more pandering to Latinos, and the war will become a greater issue, as things aren’t quitegoingAmerica’sway.

The Wolf runs a blog on political matters at www.wordofthepeople.blogspot.com. His first novel, The Intellectual Prostitute, will be dropping this Fall