Super Tuesday Is a Super Stalemate

Several months ago, the political world put a big, red-ink circle around Feb. 5, 2008, on their calendars. It wouldn't just be Super Tuesday, it would be the biggest day in the history of the presidential primary process. This de facto national primary would answer lingering questions, establish a clear frontrunner, and let the party shift its focus away from the primaries and onto the general election.

Or not. In order for Super Tuesday to resolve anything, there had to be a clear winner. Instead, we have two powerful, well-funded candidates who can both claim, credibly, that they had very good days. As Walter Shapiro put it, "Never before in the long history of presidential politics have so many voters in so many states gone to the polls and their caucus sites on the same day -- and decided so little."

Looking at the landscape the morning after, who won what? As of right now:

Obama won Alabama, Alaska, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, North Dakota, and Utah.

Clinton won Arizona, Arkansas, California, Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Oklahoma, and Tennessee.

New Mexico, for reasons that I don't quite understand, is still too close to call, and with 92% of the precincts reporting, Obama leads Clinton by a few hundred votes.

Any way you slice it, Super Tuesday was effectively a tie. Obama won more states (13 to 8), but Clinton won bigger states (four of the five biggest contests). Clinton narrowly won the day's popular vote (49% to 48%), but Obama narrowly won total state populations (49% to 48%).

As for the metric that really matters -- the delegate count -- it couldn't have been much closer. According to NBC News' Chuck Todd, Obama apparently edged Clinton in Super Tuesday delegates, 841 to 837. That number may swing within 10 delegates in either direction, depending on final results in California, but either way, it's a split decision.

With this in mind, it comes down to bragging rights, and Clinton and Obama each have compelling pitches, bolstered by the results.


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