Poor Hillary. She sheds another tear — again on the eve of a crucial election, notes The Times — but this time, it won’t help her.

It’s thought that a break in the veneer helped her take New Hampshire last month. Ahead of Super Tuesday, she’ll need to exercise more than lachrymal ducts to register a win in the one-day brawl for 22 states. Barack Obama is now pulling up alongside the former frontrunner in his campaign bus as the Clintons’ divisiveness comes home to roost, women turn towards him (and away from Hillary) and the LA Times gives him their blessing. But Hillary is placing hope in a turbo boost from the Hispanic vote and daughter Chelsea. Meanwhile, it’s worth keeping in mind what they’re both fighting for: not an outright win — neither can win the nomination today — but that most crucial and indefinable of things, momentum. 

Over in the GOP camp, it’s less cliffhanger, more whitewash. A question hangs over the Republican contest, writes Tom Brune at Newsday: “Is it all over but for the voting?” After all, “two major national opinion polls released yesterday found McCain now has twice as much support among GOP voters as Romney, with Mike Huckabee coming in third and Ron Paul trailing behind.” Still, Romney and Huckabee are taking it to the wire, both contending that they’re McCain’s real competition.

We have the stories below, as well as a mini-guide to Super Tuesday resources.

Hillary holds steady; Obama speeds up. …Barack Obama has gained millions of supporters across the country since Iowa, while Hillary Clinton has largely kept her support base in tact. CBS News and CNN released new surveys showing what amounts to a tied race. CBS has the race tied at 41; CNN, which seemed to push its undecideds to express a preference, has Obama leading 49 to 46, at the edge of the margin of error. Obama is doing better among men and has narrowed Hillary Clinton’s edge among women. Though Clinton still leads identified Democrats, the lead is small, and Obama beats her among independents. — Marc Ambinder, TheAtlantic.com

Hillary losing the women. As Super Tuesday approaches, Barack Obama has been closing the gap with Hillary Clinton. More, it seems his gains over the last 10 days have come disproportionately from women. But why would Clinton be seeing any erosion of her base support at a time when it should be solidified? One irony of this race is that the male candidate has co-opted, and embodies, the lexicon of the feminist movement: change, hope, optimism. –Kirsten Powers, NY Post

Bizarre bedfellows help Obama steam ahead. On the eve of Super Tuesday, the Hillary Clinton–Barack Obama race resembles the closing minutes of a football game: Team Clinton has a small lead, but Team Obama has the ball—and the momentum. Some of that momentum derives from an extraordinary, if unspoken, mésalliance that has emerged in recent months between conservative Republicans and liberal Democrats. Their hostility to the Clintons brings them together. — Fred Siegel, City Journal

Latino hope for Clinton. Hillary Rodham Clinton is banking on her longtime ties to the Hispanic community to give her an edge as she heads into the Super Tuesday primaries that include a slew of Latino-rich states. Experts say Hispanics, especially older ones, favor Clinton over Barack Obama because of their familiarity with both Bill and Hillary Clinton, who as a Yale Law student in 1972 came to South Texas to help register voters. Obama has been making inroads among younger Hispanics with his message of change. But experts in the Hispanic community have raised the delicate issue that some in their community may not back Obama, whose father was black, because of tensions with blacks. — Bennett Roth, Houston Chronicle

On both sides, for once it’s about electability. Mitt Romney is not finished yet – and he has bottomless pockets – but after Tuesday’s voting he might be. The Democrats face a greater chance than the Republicans of failing to settle on their nominee soon, and of watching their intra-party battle drag on damagingly for months. Who would have bet on that? These weirdly contrasting battles do have one thing in common, though … In both cases, the loudest, most insistent and least compromising voices – of the activists, the netroots, the talk-radio ranters, the militant “progressives”, the “movement conservatives” – have been, if not ignored, then at least subordinated to an off-stage cacophony. — Clive Crook, Financial Times

Romney v Huckabee: the battle for second place. Romney told [CNN host Wolf] Blitzer that Huckabee’s continued presence in the race, after a string of losses since his breakthrough victory in Iowa‘s caucuses, has cost him votes. He said Huckabee has every right to keep campaigning but added that “I think most people around the country have said, ‘Okay, it’s been narrowed to a two-person race.'” In an earlier conversation with Blitzer, Huckabee took the opposite view, saying that the two-man race was between himself and McCain. “I think it’s time for Mitt Romney to step aside,” Huckabee told Blitzer. “You know, I’m leading in the states that are going to be real critical on Super Tuesday, throughout the South, substantially ahead of Mitt Romney in these states, and I think it’s ludicrous for him to suggest that with only 8 percent of the delegates counted and us being very close to the same delegate count, that somehow that makes me irrelevant.” — Washington Post

Huckabee isn’t why Romney’s failing. To explain the startling success of Senator John McCain in the fight for the GOP presidential nomination, talk radio hosts and columnists who loathe the Arizona Senator cite an alleged split on the conservative side between Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee. According to this reasoning (explicitly advanced by Laura Ingraham, Hugh Hewitt and many others) if only Huckabee withdrew as a candidate, Mitt Romney could unite conservative cadres and pull out an upset victory on Super-Duper Tuesday. Of course, Huckabee won’t leave the race (in at least six of Tuesday’s state contests he’s running well ahead of Romney) and the argument that he should rests on distorted history and illogical assumptions… — Michael Medved, Townhall

Vote McCain for the sake of the Supreme Court. We believe that the nomination of John McCain is the best option to preserve the ongoing restoration of constitutional government. He is by far the most electable Republican candidate remaining in the race, and based on his record is as likely to appoint judges committed to constitutionalism as Mitt Romney, a candidate for whom we also have great respect. — The Wall Street Journal

SUPER TUESDAY resources:

Super Tuesday poll averages at Real Clear Politics

Candidate rundown. Newsday reviews each candidate according to three categories: The Pitch, The Stops and The Ads.

Super Tuesday delegate breakdown. As the candidates head into Super Tuesday, one of the main factors is how delegates are awarded in each state. There are hundreds of places for candidates to pick up delegates, since in many states delegates are awarded based not on the statewide vote, but rather on the result in each Congressional district. NYT has the Republican and Democratic Previews.

Where have the candidates been? No longer courting one state at a time, the candidates have burned carbon and cash in record quantities, sometimes touching down in as many as three states in one day. So, where have they visited and why? Here’s a quick rundown of their travels, with links to maps of their paths, powered by Slate’s Map the Candidates. Click on a candidate’s name to see where he or she has visited nationwide; click on a state to see the candidate’s visits within that state. — Trailhead, Slate

Watch out for liveblogging at CNN, where they’ve compiled important info for every Super Tuesday state.

Peter Fray

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