Hey, after the craziness that was "Super Tuesday," what else could we call this but "Hangover Saturday?" Well, that's what I'm calling it anyway. As you might expect, I won't be blogging as much as I was on Tuesday night, but I'll chime in several times throughout the night.
The Republican races in WA and LA are still too close to call, and the rules for the LA primary are quite fascinating. Evidently if no candidate gets 50% of the vote, then it was as if nothing ever happened. It seems as though nobody is going to get to that 50% mark.
This was the first exit poll we've seen since Romney left the race. Here is how candidate preferences broke down along ideology:
Liberals (9% of Republican voters): McCain 61%, Huckabee 25%
Moderates (20%): McCain 54%, Huckabee 30%
Conservatives (71%): McCain 36%, Huckabee 51%
McCain still has not captured a significant share of Republican conservatives, something that also appeared evident from his big loss to Huckabee in Kansas.
Here is my running delegate tally, assuming all spreads stay about where they are:
Nebraska: Obama 16, Clinton 8
Washington: Obama 66, Clinton 31
Louisiana: Obama 39, Clinton 28
Total: Obama 121, Clinton 67
Depending on how the Louisiana vote turns out, Obama will likely take a net gain of betwee 50-55 delegates tonight. Although we are still counting Super Tuesday delegates, it is likely that the net gain today was bigger than either candidate's net gain on Super Tuesday.
My survey-based estimates are showing that he is likely to pick up at least another net 50 delegate gain with the Potomac Primary.
Can Clinton rebound in Maine tomorrow?
Ok, forget about the upset alert...Obama is the projected winner of LA. I'll have a rough delegate count for the night shortly.
With 99.7% of precincts in, it looks like Obama wins NE 68-32%. Based on my estimates from the congressional district vote, Obama would take 4 delegates in the 1st district, 5 delegates in the 2nd district, and 2 delegates in the 3rd district. He also gets 5 of the 8 statewide delegates for a total of 16 delegates (of the 24 available). Thus, NE gives him a pick-up of 8 delegates.
Upset alert? The exit polls posted on MSNBC are showing just a 53-45 spread for Obama. Of course, these are preliminary estimates and will change as they weight things according to the actual vote. But could Louisiana be a big upset for Clinton tonight? At the very least, she may have been able to keep the spread small enough there to keep Obama from having a huge night of delegate pickups.
Interesting breakdown from Nebraska. Obama is winning the 2nd district, which is Omaha, by about 77%-23%. He is winning the 1st district, which includes Lincoln (home of the University of Nebraska) 60-40%. And he is splitting the vote about 50-50 with Clinton in the 3rd district, which is the most rural part of the state. Unfortunately for Clinton, the 1st and 2nd districts each divide 6 delegates, while the 3rd district only divides 4.
Obama is up 67%-32% over Clinton in Washington with 42% of the precincts reporting. If that margin holds up, he would get about a 35 delegate gain from the state, which would be a significant pick-up.
Got this on-site update from Mike Wagner (University of Nebraska), who was at one of Nebraska's Democratic caucuses today.
We had a very nice turnout for the Democratic Caucus. In fact, we had to split the precincts into other rooms to accomodate everyone who wanted to vote. I received two totals: 5-2 in favor of Obama and 4-1 in favor of Obama. It takes about 30 caucus-goers to get a delegate, so the actual vote totals were highly in favor of Obama.
Of course, it is strange to think that this is how democracy works. 250 people get together in a school cafeteria, stand under signs, take 2 minutes to give a speech to uncommitteds, take 10 minutes to try and personally persuade uncommitteds (or those committed to the other candidate) and then count everyone twice and call it a night. This is how we are picking our president. The amount of inaccurate information I heard ("Isn't Obama a Muslim?" "I heard Hillary will make Bill her VP") was not overwhelming, but it certainly was present at my caucus site.
With 73% of the precincts in, Obama holds a 69%-31% lead over Clinton. If that margin holds up, he would gain 8 delegates on Clinton in that state alone. Even though these Great Plains states don't have a ton of delegates, Obama's big margins in them have really helped him pick up delegates.
While most of the NE caucuses were held earlier in the day, the results should start coming in at 8:15pm. The NE Democratic Party has a site set up for their results, though I don't know if it will be quicker or slower than the usual media sites.
So, what are the expectations for Obama and Clinton tonight? I would say that the expectations are low for Clinton. Obama is definitely expected to win all three events, so it really comes down to the margin of victory for him. His campaign would probably like to win 2-to-1 in NE, and by at least 10% in LA. The only poll out of WA showed it closer there. Ultimately, I think Obama would like to come out of today having picked up at least 20 more delegates than Clinton. Clinton would like to keep those margins much closer. Let's see what happens...
Early LA exit poll information from the AP. As expected, African Americans comprised nearly half of the Democratic electorate, which would seem to bode well from Obama.
In case you haven't seen it yet, the Omaha World-Herald is providing very interesting accounts of the Nebraska caucuses. Apparently the Democratic caucuses are are being overrun with many more people than expected, and it is causing chaos at many locations. It is an interesting read.