Tuesday, February 12, 2008

No California, Yes Potomac.

I missed on the California primary outcome last Super Tuesday. I also missed on the importance of Super Tuesday, which I said last August would give us our two general election contenders. California and Super Tuesday worked for John McCain. By grabbing 152 of California’s 158 Republican delegates, McCain forced chief rival Romney out of the race.

But on the Democratic side, Clinton beat Obama by 10% in the California popular vote, and won 207 delegates to Obama’s 163. Her victory denied Obama front-runner status, though Obama fought her to a draw overall in the 22 Super Tuesday contests. For Obama in California, what went wrong? For one thing, early voting. George Will has noted Obama lost by 380,000 votes to Clinton in California. But 2 million Californians voted early, before Obama’s late, poll-captured surge. Surely had more waited before voting, Obama would have closed the gap. Obama also lost the California Hispanic vote to Clinton 69% to 29%. Early voting Chicanos missed La Opinion’s endorsement of Obama three days before the election. La Opinion, published in Los Angeles, is the nation’s #1 Spanish language newspaper.

So Obama lost California. So what? A week later, he has won eight straight contests, many by wide margins, today including all three Potomac contests. Those eight wins have given him 167 delegates to Clinton’s 82, a margin of 85 delegates that nearly doubles Clinton’s California margin over Obama of 44 delegates. For the first time since Iowa, Obama leads Clinton. He is the front-runner, as he hoped to be after California, just one long week ago.

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