Conventional wisdom turned on its head

Updated on Feb 07, 2008 02:45 AM IST
The conventional wisdom was that Super Tuesday would finalise the Democratic presidential nomination race and be indecisive for the Republican contest, reports Pramit Pal Chaudhuri.
HT Image
HT Image
Hindustan Times | ByPramit Pal Chaudhuri, Washington

The conventional wisdom was that Super Tuesday would finalise the Democratic presidential nomination race and be indecisive for the Republican contest. After some two dozen states representing nearly half the US population have cast their votes, the Democratic race is still too close to call while the Republicans now have a clear frontrunner in John McCain.

Hillary Clinton did well in the race, but her lead is fragile. Black Americans and white male Democrats are leaning heavily towards Barack Obama. Her most loyal support base is proving to be Latinos. Even in his own home state of Illinois, Obama got only half the Latino vote.

McCain now has 47 per cent of the delegates he needs to secure his party's nomination for the White House. Clinton is not far behind: she has 41 per cent of the votes she needs. The difference lies in the competition. McCain has a commanding lead over his rivals Mitt Romney (19 per cent of the necessary delegates) and Mike Huckabee (13 per cent). Obama has 37 per cent, only four percentage points behind Clinton.

And then there is the issue of momentum. Romney's star is in the descendant, largely thanks to Huckabee. Romney's biggest failure was to not win a single state in the South, the stronghold of the Christian right. In fact, in most Southern states he trailed even McCain. Huckabee and Romney are basically fighting for the same ultraconservative base. Romney's hopes depended on knocking Huckabee out of the race early and consolidating the latter's support. Their battle is now set to continue, leaving McCain to march forward.

On the Democratic side, Obama's ability to mobilise the young and disaffected shows no signs of flagging. He was able to raise a record $ 30 million in the month before Super Tuesday and may now have a fatter wallet than Clinton.'s average of eight national US polls of the two partisan races gives McCain an 18.3 per cent lead over the next highest Republican candidate. Clinton's lead is only 3.2 per cent.

Another measure of Obama's popular support among Democratic voters is to look at the "superdelegate" vote. Superdelegates are votes granted to local political satraps like governors, mayors and the like. They represent the Democratic Party institutional leadership. Clinton won 213 superdelegates versus Obama's 127. Take away these votes and Obama actually has more delegates than Clinton.

If Clinton wins, and she is likely to scrape through, it will be hard to escape the charge she did so thanks to the backroom boys rather than the grassroots voter. This is unlikely to endear her to independent US voters, a group who have been crucial to turning around McCain's fortunes and are likely to be the decisive factor in the final vote in November.

Close Story

Less time to read?

Try Quickreads

  • File photo of cracked and dry earth on the banks of Le Broc lake, as a historical drought hits France, August 5, 2022.

    France in midst of 4th heat wave amid historic drought

    France was in the midst of its fourth heat wave of the year Monday as the country faces what the government warned is its worst drought on record. Read US Senate poised to pass Biden's cornerstone climate and health bill The high temperatures aren't helping firefighters battling a wildfire in the Chartreuse Mountains, near the Alps in eastern France, where authorities have evacuated around 140 people.

  • Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak before taking part in the BBC Conservative Party leadership debate in Stoke-on-Trent, England, Monday July 25, 2022.

    Rishi Sunak v Liz Truss: UK PM race finalists clash over this policy

    The race to elect a new Conservative Party leader, who will take charge as British Prime Minister early next month, heated up on Monday as the two finalists – Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss – clashed over their proposals to tackle the soaring cost-of-living crisis across the country. While Truss has pledged immediate tax cuts if elected, Sunak has promised more targeted support for the most vulnerable households and tax cuts further down the line.

  • China’s Yuan Wang 5 is seen docked on October 2, 2016 in Auckland, New Zealand. The ship is described as a naval vessel used for tracking and supporting satellites. (Getty Images)

    ‘Senseless’: Beijing unhappy as India opposes docking of Chinese ship at Sri Lankan port

    China on Monday described as “senseless” India's opposition to the docking of a Chinese ship at a Sri Lankan port, saying “relevant” countries should stop disturbing normal exchanges between Beijing and Colombo. China's Yuan Wang 5, a space and satellite tracking vessel, was allowed by Colombo last month to dock at the southern Sri Lankan port of Hambantota between August 11 and 17, raising security concerns in New Delhi.

  • (Representational Image) 

    Balochistan Assembly holds anti-child marriage bill pending from last 8 years

    The draft for an anti-child marriage bill has been pending before the Balochistan Assembly for the last eight years, a legislator briefed the consultation meeting on the issue of child marriage. A politician from the National Party, Shama Ishaq, said that the delay was due to hurdles created by certain quarters. The session was presided over by Balochistan's Parliamentary Secretary on Law and Parliamentary Affairs, Science and Technology, Rubaba Khan Buledi.

  • Children cool off in a water fountain during a heatwave, in London, Britain. (File)

    Europe's scorching heat to escalate pressure on power infrastructure

    Another scorching heat wave is set to hit northwest and central Europe this week, putting further pressure on the continent's strained power infrastructure. Sizzling temperatures are expected to hit the UK, Germany and France -- reaching almost 36 degrees Celsius (96.8 Fahrenheit) on Friday -- according to Maxar Technologies LLC. The heat will boost demand for cooling, aggravating already dry conditions that hurt crops and force limits on water use.

Story Saved
Saved Articles
My Reads
Sign out
New Delhi 0C
Monday, August 08, 2022
Start 15 Days Free Trial Subscribe Now