Super Tuesday Pre-Game Analysis – Updated

Sure, Super Tuesday isn’t really a game but this being the day after Super Bowl weekend, it all fits.

First, we’ll begin with a couple videos I put together in a compilation. First, an Associated Press piece on the top candidates heading into Super Tuesday. That’s followed by a discussion on Hardball with Chris Matthews and MSNBC’s Chief Political correspondent, Chuck Todd, on the various states and the chances of each candidate.

Next, a story on Super Tuesday advertising from the New York Times:

Senators Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton have unleashed advertisements in nearly all the 22 states that have Democratic presidential nominating contests on Tuesday, a combined $19 million expenditure that is the most ambitious and geographically expansive television effort in a presidential primary.

On the Republican side, Senator John McCain and Mitt Romney have a far more restrained advertising effort that started just this weekend and is focusing on a handful of states and national cable television.

Faced with the challenge of getting their messages out to nearly half the country for a single day of voting, the candidates are taking to the airwaves in a concentrated burst of advertising that includes individual advertisements tailored to specific concerns of different parts of the country. The sweep of advertising has put their strategies out in the open and has highlighted the diverging financial fortunes of the two parties.

The complexity of the delegate allocation rules has prompted the campaigns to make decisions about advertising that are unlike what would be made in a general election. And the sheer number of contests has ruled out the retail politicking the candidates practiced in Iowa and New Hampshire. That has forced the candidates to choose between paying for advertising or relying on the kindness of free news coverage, as Mr. McCain has done.

As I’ve heard said a dozen times now, this is the closest thing to a national primary we have during this campaign. Statistically, no candidate will be able to emerge as the victor because most of the states are not winner-take-all meaning that even second place can yield a good number of delegates. For the Republicans, 1,081 delegates are at stake. On the Democratic side, Obama and Clinton will be competing for 2,075 delegates.

I captured these nifty maps from Fox News to illustrate the states that are in play for each side and whether they’re proportional or winner-take-all in the way they hand out delegates on Tuesday, February 5th:

Republican Contests:
Republican’s Super Tuesday States

Democratic Contests:
Democrat’s Super Tuesday States

As of now, the momentum is with Barack Obama for the Democrats. Zogby has the polls trending in his direction. He’s taken a lot of positive press lately and the endorsements keep coming. In the last Democratic debate, Hillary Clinton didn’t have many new answers nor did she seem persuasive in turning undecideds. Obama, on the other hand, did fairly well and had better answers than he’s had in previous debates.

On the Republican side, I’d say the momentum is with McCain as he is leading heavily in national polls. In fact, he’s a good 20 points ahead nationally. Romney is also on the upswing nationally but nowhere near McCain. I would say that Romney will take a fair number of delegates but McCain will probably come out higher in the overall count taking the big states like California and New York. Huckabee’s looking to take Arkansas and he might also squeak out a state like Georgia perhaps.

On Tuesday we’ll have full wall to wall coverage of the races as results come in and keep the delegate count updated. Also, we’ll be running a live chat later in the evening on Tuesday so we can all discuss results.


Maybe I spoke too soon in the McCain/Romney battles. Take a look at California from the RealClearPolitics poll averages:

Average of California Polls (1/30 – 2/3)

37.6 – McCain
35.4 – Romney
10.4 – Huckabee
5 – Paul

On average, McCain is leading there but some polls have shown Romney up by as much as 8 points. The recent Zogby poll shows just that. That’s just one poll but I think the point here is that Romney may be making a decent stand on Super Tuesday, perhaps taking some ground away from McCain.

Furthermore, on the Democratic side, Obama and Clinton are basically tied in California with some polls having Obama up a good 7 or 8 points. Like many of the races so far, there are many states which are just too close to even begin to call.