The Road To Super Tuesday

03/28/2008 02:45 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011


The Washington Post has this on the Obama campaign's reaction to Hillary Clinton's announcement that she wants to participate in some more debates:

Obama campaign manager David Plouffe gave the brushoff to Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's challenge to four new debates.

"We've done 18 debates," Plouffe told reporters, as supporters and campaign staff waited for Super Tuesday results to trickle in. "We're obviously going to set our schedule to include debates, and there will be more debates, but our schedule is not going to be dictated by the Clinton campaign. We just haven't thought about it yet." Then he couldn't resist this kicker: "It is kind of a tactic out of the second-tier congressional campaign playbook, so we're a little surprised they spent so much time talking about it today."

The Washington Post is reporting on voter confusion in Arizona:

Confusion erupted at some Arizona polling places today when some voters arrived to cast ballots -- only to be told their vote wouldn't count, or to be turned away.

The glitch arose because Arizona's independent voters mistakenly believed that because they are allowed to vote for Democrats or Republicans in other elections, they could also do so in presidential primaries like the one today, according to state officials. But by state law, today's primaries are open only to registered party members

Here are the Clinton Campaign's talking points, emailed from the press office, shortly after the Georgia election was called for Obama:

We're excited by what we're seeing.

We have 21 states that are still outstanding where we expect to pick up a significant number of new delegates.

To be sure, both campaigns have a long night ahead of them - but we feel very good about the numbers that we're seeing.

It's very important that people in the states where the polls are still open get out and vote.

The AP is reporting that Barack Obama won the Georgia Primary:

Barack Obama won the Georgia primary Tuesday night, the leading edge of a coast-to-coast struggle with Hillary Rodham Clinton for delegates in the grueling Democratic presidential campaign. Arizona Sen. John McCain challenged his remaining rivals for control of the Republican race.

It was Obama's second straight Southern triumph, and like an earlier victory in South Carolina, was built on a wave of black votes.

Here's how the Obama camp was spinning the Georgia win, in an email from the press office:

Georgia: Obama's victory in Georgia was achieved through a broad coalition of voters. He not only increased his support among African American voters since South Carolina (78% in South Carolina to 86% in Georgia), but he dramatically improved his standing among white voters (from 24% in South Carolina to 43% in Georgia.)

Here is how the Clinton camp was spinning Georgia, in an email from the press office:

Unlike the Obama campaign, the Clinton campaign never dedicated significant resources to Georgia.

Sen. Obama spent over $500,000 dollars on ads on television and radio; we never went up on TV

The Obama campaign has 9 offices in Georgia. The Clinton campaign only has 2.

Sen. Obama has had staff and significant campaign operation across the state for 8 months. Sen. Clinton only deployed staff to the state in the last couple of weeks.

Polls have consistently showed Sen. Obama with wide lead over Sen Clinton. That lead has only widened over time.

Early exit poll highlights from the AP:

Highlights from preliminary results of exit polling in the Super Tuesday primary states for The Associated Press and television networks:


About one in 10 voters in each party said they decided whom to vote for on Tuesday. Slightly more said they decided in the last three days. About half of Democratic primary voters and a third of Republicans said they made up their minds more than a month ago.


Voters in both parties most frequently picked the economy as the most important issue facing the country. Given three choices, half of Democratic primary voters picked the economy, three in 10 said the war in Iraq and two in 10 said health care. Republican primary voters had four choices for that question and four in 10 picked the economy; two in 10 picked immigration and the war in Iraq and somewhat fewer said terrorism.

The Tribune Washington Bureau is reporting that voters might not have a clear picture of Super Tuesday results when the go to sleep tonight:

Today is the day we've been long waiting for (and we in the media hyping) Super Duper Tuesday. It's a historic day. Never have so many presidential nominating contests converged on a single day.

Twenty-four states are having some form of vote today to choose delegates to the national party conventions who will go on to formally select each party's presidential nominees.

The conventional wisdom is that by the end of the day the race on the Republican side should be settled. That's because under Republican rules, in most states the candidate who gets the majority of votes receives all the delegates in winner-take-all primaries.

Right now, Sen. John McCain appears to have the Big Mo, as in momentum, according to the polls. Real Clear Politics has averaged all the national polls and has McCain leading Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, by 18.3 percent.

The Memphis Business Journal reports that commuters in several major cities will be able to monitor real-time election results on electronic billboards:

Clear Channel Outdoor is joining with NBC News and to provide digital reporting of primary election results on Super Tuesday using its network of light-emitting diode (LED) billboards.

Digital displays owned by Clear Channel in Memphis, Albuquerque, Chicago, Las Vegas and Los Angeles will display real-time content throughout Super Tuesday, Feb. 5.

Mike Huckabee won the West Virginia primary, reports:

In the first Super Tuesday result, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee won an upset victory at the West Virginia Republican presidential convention, scoring all 18 of the state's delegates.

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who had worked hard to organize in the Mountaineer State, came in second.

His campaign cried foul, saying the McCain campaign sent its delegates to Huckabee in order to undermine Romney.

Huckabee and Romney both made appearances at the convention.

An afternoon update from's Chris Cillizza:

* The campaigns of Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.) and Barack Obama (Ill.) spent the day furiously lowering expectations. Howard Wolfson, communications director for Clinton, said Super Tuesday would produce a "close and inconclusive" result. He added: "We are confident we are going to win a diverse mix of states today."

Obama campaign spokesman Bill Burton accused Clinton of attempting to drive down expectations for today even while doing so himself. "We fully expect Senator Clinton to earn more delegates on February 5th and also to win more states," said Burton. "If we were to be within 100 delegates on that day and win a number of states, we will have met our threshold for success and will be best positioned to win the nomination in the coming months."

* Clinton's campaign announced this morning that it had agreed to three debates this month -- a Feb. 10 get-together on "This Week with George Stephanapoulos," an Ohio debate on Feb. 27, and one in Houston the following day.

Of the decision to sign on for three more debates before Super Tuesday had even concluded, Clinton pollster Mark Penn said: "The campaign believes it's critically important that we continue the debates between Senator Obama and Senator Clinton."

Pushing for more debates -- in traditional political terms -- is the strategy of the underdog. Clinton's campaign clearly believes their candidate can defeat Obama in these one-on-one affairs even though the first such event -- last week in California -- largely ended in a draw with both candidates content to make their points and avoid conflict.

Poll closing times from Time Magazine's Mark Halperin:

Last polls in state close at 7:00 pm ET:
Georgia primaries

Last polls in state close at 8 pm ET:
Alabama primaries
Connecticut primaries
Delaware primaries
Illinois primaries
Massachusetts primaries
Missouri primaries
New Jersey primaries
Oklahoma primaries
Tennessee primaries

Last polls in state close at 8:30 pm ET:
Arkansas primaries

Last polls in state close at 9:00 pm ET:
Kansas caucuses (Dems only)
Arizona primaries
Colorado caucuses
Minnesota primaries
New Mexico primary (Dems only)
New York primaries

Last polls in state close at 10:00 pm ET:
Idaho caucuses (Dems only)
Montana caucuses (GOP only)
North Dakota caucuses
Utah primaries

Last polls in state close at 11:00 pm ET:
California primaries

Last of the polls close at 1:30 am ET:
Alaska primaries

The Christian Science Monitor reports on how early voting might swing the Super Tuesday results:

Key Super Tuesday states allowing some form of no-excuse early voting include California, Illinois, Arizona, Georgia, New Jersey, New Mexico, and Utah. (In states with caucuses, early voting won't be a factor even if allowed.)

In California, some 2.3 million voters have already voted by mail, says Stephen Weir, president of the California Association of Clerks and Election Officials. Based on the turnout he anticipates, he predicts that just under half of all ballots will be cast early and believes that a quarter of the vote is already in. Mr. Weir says several candidates bought lists of those permanent absentee voters, and have been working to lock in early votes.

In general, people who vote early tend to be more decided, slightly older, and more partisan, says Robert Stein, a political science professor at Rice University. Because of that, he notes, some candidates will change their message in the weeks leading up to the actual primary.


On Super Tuesday (February 5th) voters across the country will head to the polls as primaries and caucuses get underway in over 20 states. Unlike in elections past, it is unclear whether a definitive winner will emerge from the pack at the end of the day.

Click here for Super Tuesday updates on Obama.

Click here for Super Tuesday updates on Clinton.

Click here for Super Tuesday updates on McCain.

Click here for Super Tuesday updates on Romney.

Keep reading for extensive Super Tuesday coverage.

The basic details of what's taking place:

In all, Democrats have primaries in 15 states and caucuses in seven states and American Samoa on Tuesday, with 1,681 delegates at stake.

Republicans hold 15 primaries, five caucuses and one state convention, and pick 1,023 delegates.

Ten of the Republican contests are winner-take-all.

CNN reports campaign spending could reach an unprecedented $20M in the rush to Tuesday:

Spending on political ads in the Super Tuesday states alone could reach an unprecedented $20 million, the Campaign Media Analysis Group estimates.... A vast majority of the spending -- nearly 90 percent -- is being done by the two remaining top-tier Democratic candidates: Sens. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton....Obama spent $4 million on television advertising the last week of January, much of it going to advertising in the biggest Super Tuesday prize: California....Clinton spent over $3.5 million on television advertising the last week of January, CMAG estimated.

Obama has been campaigning hard in California and recently won the endorsement of a major Spanish-language newspaper in the state.

CNN notes that following Ted Kennedy's endorsement of Obama, Bill Clinton has begun to criticize Kennedy over his role in "No Child Left Behind"

Twice in the past two days, former President Bill Clinton has implied Massachusetts Sen. Ted Kennedy bears responsibility for the "No Child Left Behind" school standards, which are deeply unpopular with the Democratic base.

The statements come just days after Kennedy endorsed Hillary Clinton's primary opponent, Barack Obama.

In Arkansas yesterday, the former president told voters at a campaign stop that President Bush had "made a deal with Sen. Kennedy, and neither one of them meant to mess it up."

Romney's Super Tuesday strategy, according to the AP:

Republican Mitt Romney is conceding the bulk of the Northeast to rival John McCain, counting instead on his home state of Massachusetts, a split in California and wins in a series of caucus states to extend his presidential campaign beyond Super Tuesday.

Missing from Romney's latest campaign schedule were winner-take-all states of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, which account for 180 of the 1,023 delegates at stake. The omissions were telling with voting in 21 GOP contests on Tuesday.

While popular with independents, McCain still has work to do to gain the support of the party's powerful conservative base:

As Super Tuesday looms -- and the possibility that McCain could all but wrap up the nomination -- the chattering conservative class is in an uproar. Talk show host Rush Limbaugh has warned that McCain as standard-bearer would destroy the Republican Party. Author and pundit Ann Coulter, in jaw-dropping heresy, said she would campaign for Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton if McCain wins the party nod.

Surrogates for Romney have claimed that McCain is outside the GOP mainstream.

"If you are a Republican in the broadest sense, there is only one place to go right now, and that's Mitt Romney," said former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum.

According to MSNBC Obama's making a play for New Mexico:

New Mexico might be a Feb. 5 state to watch for Obama. The candidate made two stops in the state on Friday, in Albuquerque and Santa Fe -- an unusual amount of time to spend in just one state when the sand slips ever faster through the hourglass to Super Tuesday.

But New Mexico appears to be a key pick-up opportunity for Obama, who has six offices spread across the state. The campaign has shifted their Iowa get-out-the-caucus model to the several Feb. 5 states -- like New Mexico -- that will hold caucuses rather than primaries. The hope is that organizational strength can overpower Clinton's name recognition in these states. (It's worth noting, however, that while New Mexico is a technically a caucus, it operates more like a primary than the caucuses we saw in Iowa and Nevada.)

An estimated 20,000 people turned out for an Obama rally in Delaware on Sunday. The Washington Post reports:

Illinois Sen. Barack Obama flew from St. Louis to Delaware for a rally in Wilmington before returning to Chicago to watch the Super Bowl in the comfort of home with his family (and maybe some of his Secret Service agents, whom he said he'd invite in if they wanted).

An estimated 20,000 turned out for the rally at a downtown square in Wilmington, according to the fire department, with thousands who couldn't fit inside the square squeezing up against the perimeter fence and spreading onto the steps of surrounding buildings. It was the largest Wilmington rally city officials could remember.