The battle for both the Republican and Democratic nominations in the race to the White House moves today to Wisconsin, a state which holds an open primary allowing voters to have their say in either race.
On the Democratic side, the Obama camp is confident of victory. Last week, an internal memo predicting a 7% win to their man was sent accidentally to journalists. The campaign has been complicated for Clinton by the delegate rich contests in Texas and Ohio, which follow soon after Wisconsin. The former first lady has not forsaken Wisconsin, spending a full three days there, but her campaign has kept half an eye on all important primaries which follow it. The Obama-Clinton contest is all about momentum: Obama can’t afford to lose it, while Clinton needs to avoid a resounding loss and build a head of steam heading into the 4 March ballots.
On the Republican side, regardless of the result, the race between John McCain and Mike Huckabee will continue to look hopelessly one-sided, but that hasn’t stopped Mike Huckabee pleading for votes:
If you’re going to vote for me, I don’t care if it snows another three feet, please go vote,” he said. “If you’re not going to vote for me, please stay home,” he added, drawing laughter.
Meanwhile, the Washington Post reports:
Democrats in Hawaii as well as Republicans in Washington State are also holding votes today — although neither the Hawaiian caucuses or the Washington primary is expected to be seriously contested. Obama is expected to romp to victory in Hawaii, where he spent his formative years. The GOP race in Washington state is likely to be very close.
Bowling for votes in Wisconsin: Obama is favored to win the Wisconsin primary on Tuesday, but when it came to embracing the state’s blue-collar Ya Hey culture, he finished dead last. John McCain spoke at a Friday night fish fry. Hillary Clinton held a town hall meeting in a bratwurst-and-beer joint. Mike Huckabee went bowling. Obama — who is trying to attract Milwaukee professionals and Madison progressives who find those images hokey — rallied his supporters at the Midwest Airlines Center, a convention hall that also hosted an auto parts trade show that morning. — Edward McClelland, Salon
Chasing the Big Mo: If Hillary Clinton wins tonight (defying most of the polls, as in New Hampshire), she would slow Barack Obama’s momentum ahead of the Texas and Ohio showdowns on March 4, and calm the nerves of fans who have been laboring to come up with rationales for why she should be awarded the nomination in the absence of voter approval. If she loses narrowly and essentially splits the 74 Wisconsin delegates with Obama, she can always try to spin it as a comeback and insist that she always knew Wisconsin would be a tough state, that she nearly won even though Obama vastly outspent her, and that she is pleased with where she is in the race. – Dick Polman
Obama capturing Clinton’s black supporters: You can see the confusion on some of their faces, hear the concern in their voices. How in the world do we deal with this? Hillary Clinton‘s black supporters — especially the most prominent ones — hadn’t expected their candidate to be in a dogfight right now. They thought Barack Obama was an election cycle or two away from being serious presidential timber. They thought Bill Clinton‘s presidency and the close relationships the Clintons had forged with African Americans would translate into goo-gobs of votes in ’08. They were wrong. Remember all the commentator chatter last summer: Is Barack Obama black enough? Well, he’s black enough now. — Kevin Merida, Washington Post
Is McCain’s comeback the greatest ever? Few can question the Arizona senator’s perseverance and toughness. For those who love politics, the better question is whether McCain’s return from the ashes to Republican frontrunner qualifies as the greatest comeback in American presidential campaign history. A good case can be made that is does, especially if he succeeds in November. — Bruce Mehlman and Alex Vogel, Real Clear Politics
What’s a superdelegate to do? Imagine for a moment you’re a member of what’s becoming the most scrutinized group of political players in years: the 796 superdelegates to the Democratic National Convention. You are unbound by any rule or custom in choosing whether to vote for either Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama. It’s increasingly likely that you and your fellow supers—senators, House members, governors, state party chairs, national committee members, and other worthies—will hold the key to the nomination. So, how do you decide whom to support? — Jeff Greenfield, Slate
Will Obama appeal to centrists? Obama has one of the more liberal records in the Senate. In some cases, that’s not a big deal. McCain is far more conservative than people assume. What is different is that McCain has reached out to the other side at the risk of offending the GOP base. He was part of the “Gang of 14.” He reached out to Sen. Ted Kennedy, liberal icon/archenemy to craft an immigration deal that brought the wrath of many on the hard right. Many in the base don’t like him because time and time again he has gone his own way. — The Moderate Voice