With the last major primaries before March 4th behind us, the race on both sides is looking clearer and clearer.
As James Joyner notes, this is the easy one. As expected, John McCain won handily in Wisconsin and Washington and, more importantly, he has cut significantly into Mike Huckabee’s core support areas.
As of now, according to RealClearPolitics, here’s how the delegates seem to pan out:
- John McCain — 960 delegates
- Mike Huckabee — 245 delegates
- Ron Paul — 14 delegates
This doesn’t include any of Mitt Romney’s 273 delegates, which are likely to go for McCain at the convention. But he’s not going to need them. Right now, McCain only needs 231 delegates to clinch the nomination and he’ll get those by the time we’re done talking about Texas and Ohio in March. The Republican race is for, all intents and purposes, over. Ron Paul is down in TX-14 concentrating on his Congressional re-election, and Mike Huckabee just needs to get the heck out of the race:
Huckabee should have graciously withdrawn one week ago, when he was unable to capitalize on his Super Tuesday wins. That he was still in the race last Monday is understandable, that he remained on Wednesday, questionable.
If he keeps on in the next round of primaries in Ohio, Texas, Rhode Island, and Vermont, he simply looks obdurate. More than that, collared with four more contested losses, he risks negating all the good he’s done himself as a national figure in this year’s election process. It takes only one loss too many for a candidate to become Stassenized, a candidate so obsessed with running that they become irrelevant, the worst fate that can befall a politician.
The funny thing is that, even if he drops out now, Mike Huckabee has damaged himself, perhaps fatally, for the future by not taking the high road like Mitt Romney did.
Things are murkier on the Democratic side, but it’s still pretty clear that Barack Obama is now perhaps two weeks away from being the inevitable Democratic nominee for President.
Here’s the RCP delegate count:
- Barack Obama — 1,354 total delegates (1,185 pledged delegates, 169 superdelegates)
- Hillary Clinton — 1,263 total delegates (1,024 pledged delegates, 239 superdelegates)
Clinton continues to lead in most polls in Texas and Ohio, but those leads are slipping and they’re likely to slip some more now that Obama has one ten primaries in a row and shown that he can win the votes of groups that Clinton counted on as hers.
As Mark Daniels notes, there’s really only one way this can play out:
[O]nly a collective decision on the part of the Democrats’ superdelegates to ignore the verdicts of primary and caucus voters this election season, the political equivalent of drinking Jonestown Cool-aid, would result in a Clinton nomination. In order for the superdelegates to go for Clinton in a big way and deny Obama the nomination he’s earning, she will have to roll up massive majorities here in Ohio and in Texas in two weeks. Unless Obama self-destructs, that won’t happen.
Obama has a decent chance of winning Ohio and, given how Texas allocates delegates, Hillary could win that state and still not walk away with a big margin of delegates. It’s starting to look inevitable, which tells me that the Clinton’s are going to get desperate, and we’re going to see them go negative in a way that makes South Carolina seem like a church social.
It won’t work. Hillary’s toast.