Oval Office Thunderdome: Super Tuesday

8:17 PM

Return home from the gym. Things have already been happening. Russell has arrived with a bottle, and Carlo is bringing food. Heroes. Meatballs and cheesesteaks. Fuel for the evening.

Mike Huckabee has taken West Virginia. Little surprise there, but it is interesting to see he remains a factor in the Republican race at all.

While I was climbing the stairs to nowhere at the gym, Barack Obama took Georgia. Fascinating, as the polls had only been closed for about fifteen minutes. No matter. What do I care how CNN calls the shots, as long as the people counting the votes don’t get any funny ideas.

A couple of more states have been called, but Charlie’s in commercials, no other network has coverage, and back here at home, I have no cable.

8:26 PM

John McCain takes New Jersey, Mitt Romney takes Massachusetts. McCain is going to have a good night. He’s going to take the bulk of the states on the coasts. Reliably Democratic in November, these states, and their moderate residents, should be able to play hell with the GOP orthodoxy tonight. Of course, McCain is more conservative than Rush Limbaugh, and the rest of his ilk, would like to admit.

8:30 PM

Polls closed in Arkansas. Hillary Clinton takes it, and brings Tennessee along for the ride. Connecticut still too close to call for the Democrats. More importantly, Carlo has arrived, bearing gifts.

8:36 PM

McCain takes Delaware. Count on the coasts, Johnny. Kate Snow just reported that Hillary is barely holding on to her health after a coughing fit during one of 37 television interviews today. Ridiculous, but it does raise questions about grace under pressure. Crying? Coughing? We haven’t seen such unstable behavior out of a Commander in Chief since the sushi didn’t agree with Herbert Walker.

8:47 PM

Let’s catch up a little bit. Belly full and I missed these calls earlier. McCain takes Connecticut and Illinois. Hillary adds Oklahoma, and Obama takes his home state of Illinois. Right now Obama is getting ruined in Massachusetts. My friends, dear readers, that is shocking. The great Democratic patriarch of the Senate, Ted Kennedy, along with his partner in crime, John Kerry, threw their weight behind Obama in their home state, and he’s down 17 points. Guess Leo was right when he told Anthony Anderson, “You’re a black guy in Boston. You don’t need any help from me to be completely fucked.”

I don’t want to disparage Beantown, but maybe we were all fooling ourselves that a black man could make headway in Red Sox Nation. We’ll see.

8:59 PM

Alfonse D’Amato failed to show for a scheduled appearance among McCain supporters at their local campaign headquarters in Manhattan tonight. Why? His wife just gave birth. The man is in his seventies. Impressive, Al, really. Be sure to send a couple of cigars to the boys at Pfizer.

9:00 PM

Polls close in New York, and Hillary emerges victorious.

Carlo’s cheesesteaks are hit or miss. Tonight, he was on. A real grade ‘B’ beef artist. With such fine fare, the only disappointments tonight will be at the polls.

I voted here in New York this morning. I am not surprised Hillary won the state. She’s been a senator here for seven years, and has handled the job superbly, despite the occasional vote for unjust wars. But if that were a disqualifier for higher office...ahem.

Huckabee takes Alabama. What the hell is going on in the south? The evangelicals are sinking Romney faster than the Bismarck versus the Hood.

Obama takes Delaware. It’s a shame Delaware’s own Joe Biden is not still in it, but unless he backs the wrong horse, he should be the next Secretary of State if a Democrat wins in November.

Anyway, I voted this morning. The first time I’ve voted in a presidential primary. Every other time I had a chance, the nomination was locked up by the time primary day came around.

First thing I noticed was, one doesn’t just vote for a candidate, but also for pledged delegates. I immediately saw a problem with this. This system, which in my district asks a voter to cast a total of six votes among the candidates, is ripe for undervoting. Indeed, I talked to friend of mine who didn’t notice that the names underneath the candidates were for delegates that he had to turn a switch for. He cast his vote for a candidate he feels strongly about, but inadvertently denied that candidate support in the form of delegates.

This is a problem of design, one that could be fixed with little trouble. Of course, nothing is easy where election law is concerned.

9:19 PM

Hillary takes New Jersey, and a cold shudder goes through the crowd in Chicago. Russell’s into the whiskey. Lord help us. He’s an Obama man through and through. Crossed over from the GOP, no less. To have his heart broken on his first jaunt to the left may be enough to send the poor fellow back to Kentucky, into the waiting arms of the right-wing Cossacks. Carlo is mocking him mercilessly. I don’t know why. He didn’t vote today, nor could he.

9:29 PM

Carlo just saw footage of Obama voting and flew into a rage. Obama marked his ballot with his left hand, and Carlo flashed back to gruesome memories of his youth at St. Dymphna’s, where the nuns used yardsticks and sandpaper to convince the young, left-handed boys to write with the other hand. Left hand demonism is still surprisingly common in ecclesiastical schooling, and the trauma of his own past has left poor Carlo close to tears. He looked up at me, raising his face from his hands, and said to me and Russell, “If I could vote, I would pull that fucking lever with my left hand.” Then he left for a smoke. Powerful stuff, that.

9:33 PM

McCain takes New York, along with all its 101 delegates. Huckabee is widening his leads in Georgia and Missouri. Romney will drop out before the week is over, I have no doubt.

Democrats under the age of thirty are supporting Obama two to one. Ah, but they don’t vote, and therefore get the leaders they deserve. There has been talk for weeks now about Obama’s youth support. There have been stories and features in every single election of my life about the youth vote, how ‘this will be the year’ when the young will make their voices heard at the polls. Never. Even during the Vietnam War, 1968, the last time our youth was truly threatened by leadership in Washington, they stayed home when it came time to cast ballots. Why? Think back to when you were twenty-one. Think about your state of mind, your responsibilities, your priorities, and you will find all the answers you need. Going after the youth vote is like training a turtle to fly.

9:46 PM

I missed the call while I was writing, but Hillary took Massachusetts. Incredible.

9:59 PM

Carlo hasn’t returned yet. There were some shouts from outside that receded into the distance. A few minutes later my front windows lit up red and blue right to left as a police cruiser passed by, sirens off. I have Carlo’s keys.

Montana, Idaho, and Utah have now closed. McCain takes Oklahoma. Romney takes Utah. Huckabee’s up by six points in Missouri, one point in Tennessee.

10:07 PM

If the Democratic primaries were winner-take-all, Obama might be sunk tonight. Hillary has been having a strong showing.

Huckabee is about to address the crowd at his campaign headquarters. He starts, and I’m reminded that his voice is like silk. A siren song, were it not for the oppressive social morality. A quiet Berzelius Windrip, Huckabee would be a disaster in the Oval Office. But his role tonight has nothing to do with securing the nomination, and everything with crushing Romney’s dreams.

Obama wins the North Dakota caucus. Russell pours another drink and salutes the sky. The first good news for his man in some time. Carlo still AWOL.

10:21 PM

Hillary, at this point, has picked up only four more delegates than Obama, giving her an overall lead of 64, according to ABC. Democratic apportionment rules are Obama’s best friend right now. He hasn’t peaked yet, and if he stays close, within a hundred, he could start peeling off victories starting this Saturday. However, people love a winner, and if Clinton is perceived as having won substantially tonight, that type of momentum could be hard for Obama to overcome.

Huckabee is systematically removing all obstacles to McCain’s nomination. Ironic, as Huckabee voters are probably vehemently against McCain.

10:26 PM

One thing that pisses me off about New York television. The local news has an inflated sense of its importance, and will cut into the national broadcast regularly with local reactions. Sorry, Liz Cho, but during a national news night, Charles Gibson has the gear.

The most blatant example of local cut-ins was on 9/11, when the only local channel that had a surviving broadcast tower was CBS 2. But New Yorkers without cable didn’t see Dan Rather until 6:30 PM. Instead, we got Dana Tyler and Ernie Anastos all day. Go ahead, google them. I dare you.

Point is, just because a story is happening in the area, does not mean it is a local story. When the foreign/national staff is on the case, they have the resources and the staff to do a better job.

10:31 PM

Obama takes Kansas. He and Hillary are now tied for the night, as far as states go.

Romney’s at the podium. He looks like he just tasted wasabi for the first time. Brave words. He reminds me of every CEO or executive I’ve ever seen who just refuses to admit the company is failing. In this wayward economy, that type of selfish, dishonest denial does no one any good. I have a feeling, just an odd notion, that not a single person who worked for Enron, MCI, or Tyco voted for Romney.

Obama is eating into Hillary’s lead in Missouri, and now has a seven delegate lead on Clinton for the night.

10:38 PM

Obama takes Connecticut. And all of a sudden March is looking damned busy for Democrats.

McCain is up about 190 delegates on the night.

Russell is out of the doldrums. His mood has been victim to the worst acrobatics of primary mathematics. I sympathize. Behind my stony gaze lies a heart that beats just as strongly as Russell’s. While I choose to keep my preference from him, the night’s vicious rollercoaster has been playing hell with my nerves. Just watch my eyes.

Received a text from Carlo. Mysterious.

“WK! left-hndd bstrd! home now. brk wndw”

10:46 PM

Bill Richardson is on ABC. He’s playing it close. Like Tom Daschle from South Dakota and Biden, he’s got a cabinet post at stake in November. Maybe even a spot on the ticket.

10:51 PM

Hillary ascends the podium. She’s smiling, but things could be going better. Bill Clinton is nowhere in sight (note: he walked up on the stage with Hillary, but ABC did not begin broadcasting from her headquarters until she began speaking, and Bill had taken a place out of camera range). At home in Chappaqua, he must be fully aware by now of the damage he did to his wife in South Carolina. I doubt we will see a performance like that again. If he is to be the co-president, he needs to use Cheney as his guide. Savage, immoral, silent; and don’t think these devilish thoughts haven’t crossed his mind.

Just a thought, but how far ahead would Hillary be if she had divorced Bill in ’99?

She’s giving a solid speech. No nervousness, far less rigidness than she normally shows. She may not be unelectable.

11:00 PM

The polls are now closed in California.

Here come the locals. Time for Russell and I to switch to the internet. Obama takes Minnesota. New Mexico polls close. Romney takes North Dakota. Big air, small solace. McCain takes Arizona. Winner-take-all. He’s a lock.

11:14 PM

There’s only one chair at my desk. Russell is sitting on my bed, spilling whiskey and fouling the sheets. We have three different live feeds on the monitor, switching volume between them so fast nothing is making sense, and the television is still on in the living room. There’s still plenty of whiskey. Those wheels fell off for the two of us years ago. Getting sleepy already. I feel like such a fucking soccer mom. Only bad news would jolt my nerves to wakefulness at this point.

Hillary is off to a big lead in California. According to the AP, her overall lead in delegates is 410 to 331.

Meanwhile, on the Republican side, McCain is running away with the evening.

11:20 PM

Olberman reports that people are trying to cast fraudulent votes tonight...in Florida, which voted last week. Ha. Ha.

Obama is doing well in the caucus states (Kansas, Minnesota, North Dakota, so far), adding Idaho to the total.

Huckabee wins Georgia, Romney wins Montana. Okay, that’s Big Sky, and Badlands.

11:29 PM

Bill comes out of the shadows and hits the podium alongside Hillary in New York. He’s feeling too comfortable for his wife’s good.

11:33 PM

Romney takes Minnesota. The night is not as bad as first apparent for Romney, but Minnesota is hardly a hotbed of delegates, and McCain has a big lead in California.

In exit polling, Hillary is ahead two to one among Hispanics in California. ABC has the delegate count at 466 to 411, Hillary.

One thing about election night. It’s about the only time this country can discuss racial preferences. It’s the only time we breakdown the demographics of race, and talk about the reasons white men do or do not support Obama, or how Hispanic men are defying expectations by voting for a woman. The most important thing, though, is that all groups are changing their voting habits this year, reflecting the introduction into the system of a generation that grew up in a country where race is not marginalized, but certainly pushed to the periphery as a prejudicial element, while at the same time being embraced as a source of identity.

McCain speaks. All the frontrunners are smooth as ice tonight.

11:40 PM

Charlie’s back on the air. I’m holding fort in the living room, while Russell makes an agonizing choice at the computer: porn or election. I’ll have to check on him every couple minutes to make sure he’s making the right choice.

Obama is speaking, and while still composed and assured, the desperate straights of his situation are making a breakthrough here and there in his apparent stiffness. Hillary was loose. Obama is not, and he’s repeating himself. I saw this speech as sound bites in his campaign commercials this week. He needs some new material.

12:01 AM

Obama takes Utah. The reddest of the red states hates Hillary, but she’s extending her lead in California.

Obama has narrowed the gap in Missouri to 4,000 votes, one percentage point.

The popular vote for the Democrats is about 100,000 votes apart tonight, countrywide. We have a photo finish.

Huckabee takes Tennessee. The southern evangelical voters are making their presence felt. If they still had a stranglehold on the GOP, Huckabee would have a shot, but W soured the country on that brand.

I have to give kudos to ABC. They are the only network that is offering coverage tonight. Maybe the story would be different if there were no writer’s strike, but still...

Hillary takes Arizona. McCain takes Missouri.

...coverage like this is why we lease the airwaves to the networks. This is one of the most important nights of the year for the country, and ABC is monopolizing coverage on the public spectrum. While the coverage on cable is nothing to scoff at, it’s embarrassing that a network like NBC would rather show ‘The Biggest Loser’ than any coverage of the primaries and caucuses outside of their regularly scheduled news programs. But, at least they have MSNBC to fall back on. CBS has nothing.

12:14 AM

Clinton takes California, with only 15% reporting. Hillary Clinton emerges from Super Tuesday as the frontrunner for the Democratic nomination.

Russell has passed out, feet dangling off the edge of my bed. Bastard. I have half a mind to wake him and tell him Obama is fucked.

McCain takes California, and Romney is done.

California was the last big state I was waiting for. And while it will be some time before the delegates are apportioned, I don’t feel any need to stay glued to the reports any longer. A swift kick will send Russell to the floor, and I’ll be free to drift off on my own.

Aftermath — The final tally for the night is as follows:


  • Huckabee – Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Tennessee, West Virginia
  • McCain – Arizona, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, Oklahoma
  • Romney – Alaska, Colorado, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota, Utah


  • Clinton – Arizona, Arkansas, California, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oklahoma, Tennesee
  • Obama – Alabama, Alaska, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, North Dakota, Utah

The GOP race is all-but finished. McCain got a huge amount of help from Huckabee supporters on Super Tuesday. Huckabee is too far to the right to get the nomination of the party, and Romney came in third in many of the conservative strongholds of the south. That race is over. McCain will be the nominee. Look for him to begin running a national campaign as soon as possible.

On the Democratic side, the race remains tight. Obama won more states last night, but Hillary Clinton won more delegates. Not all the delegates have been apportioned yet, but it looks like her lead will be within 100 delegates, still close enough for Obama to close the gap. Both candidates can claim victory after their showings last night.

There are 475 delegates up for grabs through next Tuesday in eight contests (Louisiana, Nebraska, Washington, Virgin Islands, Maine, District of Columbia, Maryland, Viginia). Three of those are caucuses (Nebraska, Washington, Maine), where Obama’s campaign has shown a proficiency in organization. With Obama’s momentum, he should be able to win a majority of those contests. If I had to predict winners, I would say Obama will win all but the Virgin Islands and Maine.