Super Tuesday, Tsunami Tuesday, whatever you want to call it, the biggest day in the history of nominating US presidential candidates is in full swing. The Democratic candidates, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, are vying for over half of all available delegates, while the three remaining Republicans, led by John McCain, are competing for 40% of all Republican delegates. “Super” barely seems to cover it.
Early results in the Republican race in West Virginia show a win to Mike Huckabee, Barack looks like he’ll prevail in Georgia and Illinois, while elsewhere polling stations are closing and exit polls are starting to appear in the US press. It’s still a few hours before we see anything like final results, but in the meantime, here’s what the US commentariat is saying about Super Tuesday so far.
Wanted: Friends for Mitt Romney: Poor Mitt. Even when he does something right, he still screws it up. Today at the West Virginia GOP convention, Mitt Romney finished in a strong first place–on the first ballot. Romney racked up 40.9 percent to Huckabee’s 33.1 percent after the first round of voting. Because Romney didn’t clear 50 percent on the first round, the convention went to a second ballot, this time without Ron Paul on it. Realizing Romney might win, and there was no way McCain could win, McCain’s surrogate pulled McCain out of the race and told his supporters to support Huckabee, instead. It was like a politics-themed episode of Captain Planet. By your powers combined, I am Captain No-Mitt! – Slate
Huck’s West Virginia win: … [T]he Romney people are spinning the decision of McCain voters to throw their votes to Huckabee as “back-room deal.” It was really more of a front-porch deal, and the real damage it does isn’t putting West Virginia in the Huck column, it’s that it gives lie to the assertion (repeated like a mantra by Romney staffers) that Huckabee voters are really Romney voters who haven’t realized the reality of their situation. At the very least, it makes public the alliance that Huckabee and McCain have, as well as proves that this relationship isn’t merely one between the two guys at the top of the ticket. – Ana Marie Cox, Time
You’re watching history, folks: My “not since” sentence consists of three words: Not since never. I’m not usually given to hyperbole or (I hope) to purple prose, but I believe this to be absolutely true: There has never been a presidential race quite like this in the history of the United States. It has genuinely impressive candidates. It has a grand theme. It’s really, meaningfully, about something. It may result in a woman or, perhaps more incredibly still, a black person being the president of the United States. Or, if not one of them – this is footnote-ish by contrast, but still quite interesting – maybe, then, the oldest person ever elected president, a man who would, if he served two full terms, have 80 candles to blow out on his last White House birthday cake. – Michael Tomasky, The Guardian
Predictions: Here in DC, just about every conversation begins with a single word: “Predictions?” In about an hour that will change, to “Heard any exits?” You’re required to have a prognostication of some kind, or else face immediate social exile and/or public stoning. You can’t just say, “We’ll see what the voters decide,” as that’s the moral equivalent of giving up. If you can’t speculate recklessly, THEY WIN. — Joel Achenbach, Washington Post
Signposts for Super Tuesday: It will be a nutty night. What to look for: The story lines for America’s first seminational primary day extend, literally, from one end of the continent to the other. (Can Barack Obama catch Hillary Clinton in Connecticut? Can Ron Paul’s libertarian message actually produce a victory in the Alaska caucuses?) Here’s what’s to watch for, starting with the Republicans. — Jeff Greenfeld, Slate
Twisters make it tricky for MidWest voters: Storms drew a line down the middle of the nation Tuesday, dumping snow to the north, spawning tornadoes to the south and dropping heavy rain on parts of Ohio and Indiana still recovering from major floods months ago. The storm stretched across much of the nation’s midsection from Texas to the Great Lakes on a day when voters in many states headed to polls for Super Tuesday primaries. — MSNBC
The media loves McCain: It’s been a running joke that journalists compose Sen. John McCain’s real base, and a media exposure report released Tuesday helps confirm it. In a pivotal week leading up to Super Tuesday, McCain received significantly more media coverage than his Republican rival, Mitt Romney, with former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee “almost invisible,” according to the Project for Excellence in Journalism. – Michael Calderone, Politico
Going all the way: Today’s Super Tuesday primary contests are of historic proportions. It’s the biggest primary day ever, with 44 presidential nominating contests in 24 states … So why don’t we go all the way? There are plenty of arguments to be made for allowing all 50 states to cast their primary votes at once. The system as it stands now certainly has plenty of flaws: Candidates spend lots of time and money in the early states like Iowa, New Hampshire, even South Carolina. Many voters in those states get to meet the candidates up-close in their homes, churches, diners, schools. – The Cafferty File, CNN
Safety first: The only safe prediction about campaign 2008 is that no prediction is safe. Experts once assumed, for instance, that today’s “Tsunami Tuesday” primaries and caucuses would settle the nomination struggles in both parties. It’s now obvious, however, that hand-to-hand combat over delegates could continue for weeks, if not months, at least among the Democrats. The upset victory by Hillary Clinton in New Hampshire — confounding nearly unanimous pollster predictions — represented only the most celebrated among many shocks and twists on the road to the White House. – Michael Medved, USA Today