My Final (?) Primary Picks

[ Posted Monday, March 3rd, 2008 – 16:26 UTC ]

This could well be the last installment of my primary picks series of articles -- because both parties may wrap things up tomorrow. My guiding principle since the beginning of this exercise has always been: if some ex-jock two-bit hack can publicly predict on the local television news who will win all the football games each weekend, then political commentators should be willing to take the same risk.

So far, I think my percentages of getting it right are pretty decent. But then it's hard to really compare, because so few others have established any benchmarks for the political prediction game. With today's picks, I will come close to having called 100 races this season. After calling all three races accurately two weeks ago, I have now called 66% of the Democratic races correctly, and 72% of the Republican contests. If I get a few more right tomorrow, I could hit a total of just over two-thirds right for Democrats, and about three-fourths right for Republicans.

But enough resting on my laurels. Onward to tomorrow's races! [The mainstream media, once again, has failed to agree on a cutesy name for tomorrow, with "Super Tuesday II" being about the best of what's out there. So I apologize for the saccharine-free nature of this discussion in advance.] Although everyone's focused on the two big states, there are actually four contests tomorrow in both parties. Texas and Ohio are dominating the coverage, but Vermont will also be voting tomorrow, as will Rhode Island And Providence Plantations (trivia: the smallest state has the longest name!).

Let's start with the Republicans, because it's so easy you can fit it on a telegram: McCain sweeps all four states. Depending on who is counting (and depending on whether you count Romney's delegates), this may well push McCain over the "magic number" of delegates he needs to secure his party's nomination. Whether he does actually hit the magic number or just gets very, very close, this will be the last time I bother to call any Republican races. It's just too easy at this point, since (unless lightning strikes him) John McCain is going to be the Republican nominee this year.

On the Democratic side, the two smaller states are going to split. Vermont will go for Obama in a big way, and Rhode Island And Providence Plantations will go for Clinton in a somewhat-less big way. Both may win by double-digits, and Barack may well win Vermont by over twenty points.

Ohio is a close one to call, but here is where Hillary Clinton's party organization is going to pay off for her. Hillary will win Ohio, by at least five points, possibly even ten. This will be a triumph for her, and I'm assuming we'll have Ohio's results earlier in the evening than Texas, so this will dominate the early election news -- a win for Hillary!

But the really close race is going to be Texas. The polls are all over the map on this one. Hillary had a big lead a few weeks ago, then Barack closed the gap and actually passed her in the polls by a few points. But Hillary has managed an uptick in the past few days, and now the polls are about even (within the margin of error of most polls), so it is truly anybody's guess who is going to win.

Texas also has a system seemingly designed by Rube Goldberg. First, they hold a primary. Then, on the same day, they hold a caucus. Ay-yi-yi! I don't have a clue what all of this means, in terms of what hour of the evening (or morning) we will know Texas' results. Especially in such a close contest. The rules are so Byzantine that whoever wins the popular vote could even wind up with fewer delegates at the end of the night as the second-place finisher (this has already happened in states such as Nevada).

But my yardstick has always been who wins the popular vote, and not the delegate count. And I'm predicting that Obama will edge Clinton out in Texas. I've heard more than one report that Obama has just waged a better campaign on the ground in Texas, and his strong districts are the ones that have more people in them. Also, polls tend to undercount his supporters (although, to be fair, blocs of Clinton supporters have also been undercounted). But I'm predicting a victory for Barack in the Lone Star State.

While this will split the evening in half (two states for each, one large and one small), I don't think it's going to be good enough for Hillary Clinton to stay in the race. I don't know if she'll drop out within the first twenty-four hours after the Texas results are in, or whether she'll wait until the weekend to make her announcement (my guess: late Friday), but in my estimate, by this time next week, Barack Obama will be the all-but-official Democratic nominee.

Now, I know that Hillary, of late, has been saying positive things about how she's going to stay in the race, but such talk should be discounted -- every politician says these things, even hours before they drop out. And I know the Clinton camp has been furiously spinning "Barack has to win all four states tomorrow," but not too many in the media are buying that line of goods. I do think Bill Clinton stuck his foot in his mouth by going against this grain, when he said last week that if Hillary didn't win both Texas and Ohio, that she probably wouldn't be the nominee. But Bill was right. She needs two big wins tomorrow, and if she doesn't get them, then it is likely over for her.

Because Ohio's not going to be enough on its own. The math is just too daunting for her. Only ten states will be left to vote, and Barack already has a few of those locked up. Pennsylvania may go for Hillary, but PA and OH just will not be enough to catch Obama, or even to get really close in the delegate count. And the Democratic superdelegates are not likely to overturn the decision of the voters at the convention.

Hillary Clinton is no fool -- she knows all this. And even if she drops out of this race, she'll have other races to look forward to in the future. She may start eyeing the Senate Majority Leader's post, a move I would applaud and strongly encourage her to consider. But if she sees that the race ahead is likely to be unwinnable for her, then she will heed the hordes of Democratic Party leaders who will be phoning her on Wednesday to urge her to "let the party unify behind a candidate" by dropping out of the race. Some may do so publicly (as Bill Richardson almost did yesterday on CBS' Face The Nation), and some may choose to do so privately -- but the steady drumbeat will be impossible for her to ignore for more than a few days.

So, in what could be my last prediction of this primary season: Hillary Clinton graciously quits the race by this time next week.


Total correct Democratic picks so far: 29 for 44.
Total correct Republican picks so far: 33 for 46.
Total overall correct picks: 62 for 90 -- 69%.

Those are my picks, what are yours?


[Previous states' picks:]

[AK] [AL] [AR] [AZ] [CA] [CO] [CT] [DE] [FL (R)] [GA] [HI (D)] [IA] [ID (D)] [IL] [KS (D)] [KS (R)] [LA] [MA] [MD] [ME (D)] [MI (R)] [MN] [MO] [MT (R)] [ND] [NE (D)] [NH] [NJ] [NM (D)] [NV] [NY] [OK] [SC (D)] [SC (R)] [TN] [UT] [VA] [WA] [WI] [WV (R)] [Washington, D.C.] [Virgin Islands (D)]


Cross-posted at The Huffington Post


-- Chris Weigant


4 Comments on “My Final (?) Primary Picks”

  1. [1] 
    fstanley wrote:

    I have to hope that once they are in the voting booth people will decide that Sen. Clinton is the right choice. Even if the Senator does not win, if it is close I think she may stay in the race. I would like to see it come down to the convention.


  2. [2] 
    Michale wrote:


    I gotta disagree with you on this one, Chris. If Hillary wins Ohio & Rhodie by any kind of decent margin I predict that she will continue to campaign, DNC be damned.. While she may be a shrewd political operator, she is also enamored with the possibility of the ultimate power, regardless of how faint a possibility it may be. I also think that she realizes that she will NEVER have another shot at the presidency. She ran a piss-poor campaign and we all saw what happens to people who run piss-poor campaigns and then think about trying it again. Gore in 2000 and Kerry in 2004...

    No, I honestly believe that Clinton is thinking of this as a DO OR DIE measure.. She will be desperate and you know what happens when people get desperate. Especially when people get desperate over power.


    Having this go down to the wire (or in this case, the convention) would be the WORST possible outcome for the Democrats. The Dems will spend the next 4 months going after each other tooth and nail in an increasingly "scorched earth" policy. And then, in June when the smoke clears, and one Dem is left standing, do you honestly think that all open wounds will immediately heal and ALL Dems will coalesce around the one Dem left standing?? And all in just 4 more months!???

    It is simply not possible. The type of acrimony we are seeing between the Clinton and Obama camps needs to start healing NOW, if the Dems hope to have a snowball's chance in hell of making ANY kinds of gains in the Nov election.. If it goes down to the convention, then it will take YEARS for the blood-letting to heal..

    This is about as much of a WIN-WIN situation for me that is possible... :D

    If Obama wins the Nomination and the Presidency, then the US is going to enter a whole new era of government. It's going to be a heady time to be an American..

    If Clinton destroys the Democratic Party from within and guarantees a McCain presidency and total domination of Congress by the GOP, it will be "same ol, same ol" politically, but at least the US will kick some major ass in the world. Ass that REALLY needs kicking...

    Stay tuned. After today, the political fireworks are REALLY gonna start blazing...


  3. [3] 
    fstanley wrote:


    While I would like to see an exciting convention I do agree that if the negative tone continues it will be bad for the Democratic Party. I have noticed some restraint between Clinton and Obama because they do realize that it could be used against them later by McCain.

    I guess we will just have to watch the returns and see how it goes.


  4. [4] 
    Michale wrote:


    Yea, I see where you are coming from. An exciting convention is always more fun. :D

    As we can see from the returns, I don't think we're going to see Hillary's exit anytime soon. This is bad news for the Democratic Party.

    Obama & Clinton are going to spend valuable time fighting each other, instead of Mac and I think that's going to cost the Dems the election in November.


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