Who Are the Expected Winners Tonight?

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Let me devote one paragraph to the Republicans right here at the beginning, and then I’ll likely ignore them for most of the night.

Mike Huckabee won Kansas by a three-to-one margin earlier today, a sign that in deeply conservative parts of the country (particularly those parts with lots of evangelicals) Republicans are not completely on board with McCain. He’s got some work to do in winning these people over. That said, his delegate lead is so massive that it would take a miracle for Huckabee to win. Huckabee, knowing this, told the Conservative Political Action Conference today, “I didn’t major in math. I majored in miracles, and I still believe in them.” Maybe he thinks conservatives will coalesce around him as the alternative to McCain, but I doubt it. He is a social conservative, but isn’t really an economic conservative. And he has no foreign policy credentials.

Okay. Republican results will come in for the caucus in Washington and the election in Louisiana. But unless something spectacular happens, I’m going to spend most of this lonely Saturday night blogging about the Dems.

So who has the advantage in the Democratic primaries today?

First off, what’s the playing field for the Dems? There’s a caucus in Nebraska, a caucus in Washington, and an election in Louisiana.

Let’s start with Louisiana. Half of the Democratic electorate is expected to be black, meaning that the demographics will mirror South Carolina and other Southern states that Obama has won. There has been no polling, but Obama has spent a lot of time in the state and has said all the right things about hurricane recovery, which, according to local reports, is the only issue in the Bayou State. Obama has also outspent Clinton in advertising there. Expect Obama to win handily.

Next, Nebraska. It’s a caucus state, which have gone almost universally for Obama in this primary season (presumably because (1) Obama’s supporters are more committed, (2) Obama organizes better than Clinton, and (3) there’s no Bradley Effect at work). Obama has also won almost all of the Mountain/Prairie primaries — he took 74% in neighboring Kansas on Super Tuesday, for example. Obama also has endorsements from the state’s two biggest Dems, Senator Ben Nelson and Omaha Mayor Mike Fahey. Again, expect an Obama victory.

Washington is another caucus state. It is the bluest state of the day, meaning more core Democrats for Hillary Clinton, but it also the only open primary on the slate, meaning independents can vote for Obama. There’s only been one poll in the state according to pollster.com, and it shows a double digit lead for Barack Obama. (By the way, early turnout reports say it’s going to be huge huge huge.)

So a sweep is possible for Obama. The Obama campaign’s internal delegate memo that was accidentally released to the press recently shows that Obama’s people expect to win all of the states today, and the Clinton campaign shot an email to reporters downplaying expectations. We’ll keep you posted.


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