Fresh 72-hour marathon faces Clinton and Obama
Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama will have no time to pause after yesterday’s Super Tuesday performances before they head off into a fresh 72-hour marathon of coast-to-coast contests.
Seven states are at stake, worth 467 delegates, almost a quarter of the 2 025 delegates needed for eventual victory.
Both candidates warned on Tuesday against expecting last night’s results to provide a clear resolution of the Democratic contest. “I think that we’re going to win some states.
And my suspicion is that the contest will continue,” Obama told MSNBC television.
“We’ll have a split decision coming out of this evening.”
The outcome could provide a candidate with momentum and a fresh influx of cash before the next round of contests this month and into March.
The two main Republican contenders are keeping their travel plans on hold—in case Tuesday night’s contests proved decisive—but could find themselves following a similar path to the Democrats.
High numbers of early voters in California, Arizona and other key states could delay a clear outcome for several days. State officials in California had received more than three million absentee ballots by late Monday night, which could account for as much as 40% of overall turnout.
Hand counting could go on for days.
But even with the result in California in the balance, the battle of the airwaves was already under way in the next round of primary states. The Obama campaign, flush with an additional $32-million in donations in January alone, began airing ads in Washington DC, Nebraska, Louisiana and other states set to vote in the coming week.
“We believe it is unlikely this contest will be decided on February 5, therefore we are organising for the rest of the February states,” Obama’s campaign manager, David Plouffe, said in a statement.
Independent strategists believe the next round could favour Obama because it includes a caucus vote in Washington state, which tends to reward grassroots organisation. Clinton, however, has a number of high profile endorsements.
Obama is also expected to do well in Louisiana, which like Nebraska votes on February 9, because of its large African-American population, and in Washington DC, Maryland and Virginia on February 12 for the same reason. He could make further gains on February 19, when Hawaii and Wisconsin vote. He was raised in Hawaii.
Clinton is expected to do better in Ohio, where her economic message resonates after job losses. In Texas she owes her edge to the large Latino population. Ohio, Texas, Vermont and Rhode Island hold their primaries on March 4. Texas has 228 delegates at stake and Ohio 161.
“Ohio is the ground zero of the US electoral process. That could be the day when this election is decided,” said Tad Devine, who was a chief political consultant for Al Gore and John Kerry in 2000 and 2004.
If it is not resolved then, there is the Pennsylvania primary on April 22, with 188 delegates at stake.
One of the assumptions of the campaign so far is that Clinton would win on super delegates, the members of Congress, governors and others who automatically receive a seat at the party convention and voting rights. She enjoys a significant lead over Obama among the third of the super delegates who have declared so far. But the undeclared two-thirds tend to be influenced by how their states voted.
If the Republican contest is not conclusive John McCain will have to decide whether to accept public finance or remain outside the system so he can raise funds without limit. Mitt Romney will have to decide whether to dip further into his fortune; he spent $36-million on the race in 2007.
The teams: Advisers and strategists
Apart from husband Bill, the main strategist is Mark Penn, head of an international PR firm, who coined the phrase “soccer moms”, one of the groups targeted for Bill Clinton’s election success. Others include adviser Patti Solis Doyle, and advertising head Mandy Grunwald, both veterans of Bill Clinton’s campaign team, and communications director Howard Wolfson, who has worked with Hillary Clinton since her senate run in 2000.
Communications director David Axelrod was a political consultant based in Chicago and a political journalist on the Chicago Tribune. Steve Hildebrand, another political consultant, was one of the main architects of Obama’s Iowa win, helping organise an impressive network of staff and volunteers. Robert Gibbs is communications director, and Dennis McDonough foreign affairs adviser.
Charlie Black, who worked for Ronald Reagan and both Bushes, helped engineer McCain’s wins in New Hampshire, South Carolina and Florida. Others in the team include Mark Salter, who has written books with McCain and writes most of his speeches, and Steve Schmidt, who helped get Arnold Schwarzenegger elected California governor.
Beth Myers, the campaign manager, was an adviser during most of Romney’s years as governor of Massachusetts. Carl Forti, political director, was formerly communications director for the National Republican Congressional Committee. Romney seldom takes a big decision, especially on funding, without first discussing it with his wife and children. Last month, in a heated exchange in Columbia, South Carolina, AP reporter Glen Johnson challenged Romney’s claim that he had no lobbyists on his team and named Ron Kaufman, chairperson of communications firm Dutko Worldwide. Romney said he was a friend and unpaid adviser. - Guardian Newspapers Limited 2008