2008 - %3, February

Can Hillary Stop Obamamentum?

| Wed Feb. 6, 2008 3:02 AM EST

NEW YORK, NY—It wasn't supposed to happen like this. Not long ago Hillary Clinton seemed a shoo-in for the Democratic nomination. She led in all the early states and dominated the national polls. If you had to bet then, you might have assumed her Super Tuesday speech would have marked her victory over her Democratic rivals.

It didn't turn out that way. When Clinton arrived at the Grand Ballroom in the New Yorker hotel tonight, everyone in the room knew that the Democratic race would go on. Hillary might not have known it before she began her speech shortly before 11 p.m., but minutes later it became clear that another candidate would win the majority of the Super Tuesday nominating contests and take close to half of the delegates at stake.

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Democratic Ballot Shortages Throughout California Counties

| Wed Feb. 6, 2008 2:31 AM EST

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Turns out the ballot shortages that kept 14 polls open till 10pm in California's Alameda County, affected at least four of the state's largest counties. Election officials in Alameda, Contra Costa, San Mateo, and Santa Clara were all scrambling to accommodate crossover Independent voters who could vote in the Democratic contest. The "provisional measures" taken included printing new ballots and asking voters to hand in their sample ballots (their scratch paper, really). Still others had to fill out "blank paper ballots," whatever that means. In Santa Clara County the heavy turnout resulted in a mad rush to photocopy and distribute about 6,000 ballots. (Kinkos is loving the ill-prepared machine that is our voting system.)

Anyone miss Diebold?

Clinton, McCain Take California

| Wed Feb. 6, 2008 1:15 AM EST

CNN has called California for John McCain, with 44% of the vote, and Hillary Clinton, with 56%, though the polls are still open in my home county, and only 15% of precincts have reported. For what it's worth, the Times isn't calling this one yet. Regardless, the delegate race, which is what matters, is tight tight because the Democrats award delegates based on the proportion of the vote, not the winner-take-all Republican method.

McCain is now the official Republican overdog, winning all 173 delegates in California, without airing a single TV ad. Just a random side note. Ron Paul's got 5 delegates (he took 25% of the Republican vote in Montana). Spendy ones, given the $20 million his campaign spent. For you math types that's $4 million per delegate.

California Polling Places (Like Taco Bell) Open Late

| Wed Feb. 6, 2008 12:48 AM EST

Just announced: Because they've run out of ballots polling places in Alameda County are staying open until 10pm, two hours later than scheduled. Some of that time will no doubt be spent xeroxing or however the hell else they'll find more blank ballots. You'd think high voter turnout would be a good thing, or at least something to prepare for.

Update: A total of 14 polling places in Alameda County ran out of Democratic ballots, which led to the court order to keep the polls open late.

California Polls Are Closed. Let the Cheers and Nail Biting Begin

| Wed Feb. 6, 2008 12:20 AM EST

SAN JOSE, CA — At 7:55, a woman with a kid in her lap and a phone in her hand turned to her friend and said, "Let me get this last call in." She looked at the clock. "Well, it's too late. They can't go to the polls now." She set down her phone and picked up a granola bar. And with that, Campaign Obama began drawing to a close.

Neaby, two Latino guys stood talking. One wore a faux hawk, the other a suit. "In two minutes, Obama wins California," the guy with the faux hawk said. If Obama does, it will be in large because Spanish-speaking Obama supporters cut into Clinton's lead among Latinos. This morning no Latino campaign workers were here, and phone bank workers had to hang up on people who didn't speak English. But roughly ten percent of the people crowded into the HQ right now are Latino, and many have been working for weeks in their communities to support Obama.

Now, as people are gathered around giving end-of-the-trail speeches, I'm impressed by the crowd's diversity. I see old and young; black, brown and white; headscarves, neckties, and hoodies. People are having fun. It helps that Obama's name is infinitely cheerable. The latest innovation is a cheer that begins with everyone squatting while letting out a long, low "O" sound, slowly rising, and busting out with a "Bama!" A woman sitting next to me said to her friend: "The energy is just amazing."

Alright folks. I have to secure a place to sleep in San Jose. I'll be back in about an hour, and then here into the small of the night.

Up to the Minute Delegate Counts; Plus Late States

| Wed Feb. 6, 2008 12:17 AM EST

WASHINGTON D.C. — Here are some states that have been called late by the networks.

- Arizona for McCain and Clinton
- North Dakota for Romney
- Idaho for Obama
- Minnesota for Romney and Obama

According to NBC's Chuck Todd, the delegate totals from the states so far (which includes more or less everything important but California) look like this:

Obama: 594 delegates
Clinton: 546 delegates

McCain: 400-650 delegates
Romney: 170-428 delegates

On the Democratic side, Obama has won more states than Clinton (with particularly strong luck in small states and caucus states), but Clinton has won larger states. California is still the big kahuna.

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Romney, Huckabee Stay in Race; Democrats Rejoice

| Tue Feb. 5, 2008 11:35 PM EST

NEW YORK, NY — With the Democratic campaign likely to continue after tonight, some left-leaning commentators feared that the Republicans would unify around John McCain far before the Democrats picked their nominee. But in speeches tonight both Mike Huckabee and Mitt Romney vowed (using very strong language) to fight until the end. Romney actually said, "It's time for the politicians to leave Washington and for we the people to take over." Romney will continue to be that raging populist he has so recently become, apparently.

This is great news for whoever becomes the Democratic nominee for president. It indicates that many in the GOP still have their doubts about their choice. It also means that Romney will continues to air negative ads about McCain, forcing McCain to spend time, money, and energy defending himself. Barring a surprise withdrawal from the race, we'll have both a Democratic and a Republican race that will go on for a few more weeks.

California: More on Reports of Ballot Shortages and Confused Indies

| Tue Feb. 5, 2008 11:26 PM EST

SAN JOSE, CA — I just got off the phone with California Democratic Party spokesman Bob Mulholland, who confirmed that the party has experienced ballot shortages in some places. "The good news is people want to vote on the Democratic ballot," he said. "The bad news is some of these places are running out of ballots." Even so, the shortages have been isolated he said. Polls will stay open until people have the chance to vote, and they can cast ballots on blank sheets of paper if need be.

I also asked Mulholland about the reports of independent voters not being given Democratic ballots, which has been a major concern of Obama people here today. About 10 to 12 percent of Democratic ballots cast in California today are predicted to come from independents, who favor Obama by a significant margin. (The GOP does not allow indies to vote in its primary but the Democrats do). Mulholland said independents received emails and sample ballots informing them of their rights. "All of our poll workers have been instructed to give them a Democratic ballot if they ask," he said. "Has that happened every time? No. But the independent voter has to have some responsiblity (to ask for one) too."

Meanwhile, here in Obama HQ in San Jose, things are crazy. It's standing room only, it's cheers for each state (sometimes prematurely), it's hand wringing and genuflecting over Utah. "Come on everybody, send Utah your feelings," a girl in fatigues shouted. "Send Utah your love!"

New State Totals for Each Candidate

| Tue Feb. 5, 2008 10:58 PM EST

WASHINGTON D.C. — Here you go. Remember, state wins mean nothing on the Democratic side. We need to wait until Chuck Todd or some other politico's politico calculate the delegates on a district by district basis. Those delegates are listed in parenthesis.

Democrats

Hillary Clinton:
New Jersey (127)
New York (281)
Massachusetts (121)
Oklahoma (47)
Tennessee (85)
Arkansas (47)

Barack Obama:
Illinois (185)
Georgia (103)
Alabama (60)
Delaware (23)
North Dakota (21)
Utah (29)
Kansas (41)
Connecticut (60)
Minnesota (88)

Mike Gravel:
None, but he's still in the race!!

Republicans

John McCain:
New York (101)
Illinois (70)
New Jersey (52)
Connecticut (30)
Oklahoma (41)
Delaware (18)

Romney:
Massachusetts (43)
Utah (36)

Huckabee:
Alabama (48)
Arkansas (34)
West Virginia (30)
Georgia (72)

In his speech tonight, Huckabee claimed that this is a two-man race, and he's in it. Meaning that Romney's win in his home state of Massachusetts and in Mormon-heavy Utah aren't worth anything. That's a bit of spin that will probably be as effective as John Edwards' post-Iowa claim that he and Obama were the only real contenders left in the Democratic race.

Massachusetts: A Good Sign for Clinton?

| Tue Feb. 5, 2008 10:30 PM EST

CHICAGO, IL — Let's remember that the only thing--the only thing--that matters tonight is what the final delegate count is when all the votes are tallied. Still, I know, people cannot resist looking for signs. If you're one of those people, there's Massachusetts. Clinton is in the lead there. Her campaign has already sent out an email calling it the upset of the night. After all, both its senators--including that Teddy Kennedy fellow--and its governor had endorsed Obama. And the state is full of upscale liberals--the types of Democrats who go for Obama. If Clinton does win here, that might provide the Obama camp pause.

The exit polls in Massachusetts show that women made up 58 percent of the Democratic turn-out, and Clinton won 57 percent of this vote. That's the model for Clinton. If the gals come out, and the guys stay home, she wins.

UPDATE: CNN has called Massachusetts for Clinton. "A big, big win" for Clinton, says Wolf Blitzer. It sure is an interesting one.