Tomorrow is... (drumroll, please)... Super Duper Tsunami Tuesday!
[OK, I'm already tired of typing that, so henceforth it will be referred to as SDTT, which makes it sound like something you could catch from a toilet seat. Ahem.]
This means we return to our "pick the primary winners" series, for what could be the last time. One program note: because of the tidal wave of primaries tomorrow, the rules for picking winners need a little revision. Because there are so many states voting tomorrow, because there are effectively only two candidates left on the Democratic side, and because most of the Republican contests are "winner take all" as far as delegates go; I will only be selecting the winner for each party and each state today. Sorry Mitt, but silver and gold just don't count for much anymore.
Speaking of Republicans, Tom Toles drew the best (and most hilarious) political obituary for Rudy Giuliani last week, which is worth a look if you need a chuckle.
For the second time in the election process, I am coming off a perfect 3-for-3 pick in the Republican race in Florida. I've been doing a lot better (61%) at picking Republican races than I have for the Democrats (25%), which disturbs me, but maybe I can improve my numbers a bit tomorrow.
Since this column is going to be long enough as it is, let's just post the running totals and get right to the SDTT states.
Total correct Democratic picks so far: 3 for 12.
Total correct Republican picks so far: 11 for 18.
Total overall correct picks: 14 for 30 -- 47%.
Republicans are voting in the following 21 states tomorrow:
Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Utah, West Virginia
Candidate-by-candidate, here's how I think they're going to do:
Mike Huckabee easily wins his home state of Arkansas. Arkansas has only sent one person to the White House before, and they'd love to make it two "from Hope, Arkansas." So he wins handily here.
Unfortunately, that's about where the good news stops for Huckabee. He's got a decent shot in four or five other states, mostly due to high populations of evangelical voters. I'm predicting they turn out for him in two of these -- Missouri and Tennessee.
But winning three states isn't going to be good enough for Huckabee to continue campaigning, so watch for him to drop out of the race soon after the results are in. Of course, he may be back later on the campaign trail, as a possible Vice President on McCain's ticket.
Mitt Romney is also going to have a disappointing night. He will prove that he commands support from states with heavy Mormon populations, but not so much elsewhere. Of course, he'll win his home state of Massachusetts with a healthy margin. I'm also predicting (on nothing more than McCain's resistance to ANWR drilling) that he'll pick up Alaska.
But other than those two, Mitt will only win in Colorado, Montana, and Utah. He's going to win BIG in Utah. Very big. But he's going to end the night with nothing more than five states to show for his SDTT efforts. The pressure on him to drop out and give McCain a clear field will be enormous from this point on, but my guess is that he may hang around a bit longer than Huckabee.
John McCain will emerge from SDTT as the Republican nominee-apparent. He will win a lucky 13 states, and his dominance of the race will be impossible to deny. This will cause Rush Limbaugh's head to explode, and Ann Coulter to run screaming for the lunatic asylum she belongs in.
McCain will win his home state of Arizona without problem. He will closely beat Romney in California and Delaware. He will edge out Huckabee in Alabama and Oklahoma. In the only true three-way close race of the night, he will barely win against Romney and Huckabee in Georgia. But there won't be much excitement from the GOP Tuesday night, as McCain will win large margins in Connecticut, Illinois, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, and West Virginia.
Democrats better get used to the idea of running against McCain in the fall, because although he probably won't have the "winning number" of delegates until some later primary, John McCain is going to be the Republican candidate this year.
Democrats are voting in the following 22 states tomorrow:
Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Kansas, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Utah
This is a two-way race between Clinton and Obama. And if my predictions are correct, absolutely nothing will be decided on SDTT. I looked at each of these races individually, called each one on its merits and my guesswork, and (without intending to) I came out with just about as even a tie as could be conceived. I'm calling for both candidates to win 11 states. Even counting delegates doesn't work -- the states Hillary wins in have 1,034 delegates, and the Barack states have 1,030. This isn't even a fair count, as most of these states award delegates proportionally anyway. So there's still going to be a tough fight Wednesday morning.
Here are my picks for both candidates:
Hillary Clinton wins "favorite daughter" states New York and Arkansas. She's really a daughter of Illinois, but Barack's got that state sewn up.
Hillary wins very close victories in Connecticut, Delaware, and Missouri. She wins a decent margin (around 5 points) in Arizona, Massachusetts, and Minnesota. And she wins big in New Jersey, Oklahoma, and Tennessee.
Barack Obama easily wins his home state of Illinois. And he'll edge out Hillary in Kansas as well, where his family has roots. But his big news of the night (the mainstream media will fixate on this one) is going to be an upset victory in California. He won't win big, but he'll carry the state, which will be a psychological boost for his campaign.
Going on absolutely no data, I'm going to call Alaska for Mike Gravel... no, wait!... Barack Obama [sorry, couldn't resist]. Also on nothing but a whim, I'm calling the state of North Dakota for Obama.
Going on more solid evidence, Barack will win a big margin in Georgia, and a much smaller one in Alabama. This is to be expected, given the demographics of the South. But Obama will do surprisingly well in the West as well, and I'm predicting he wraps up Colorado, New Mexico, Idaho, and Utah. All of these states are tough to call, since they're largely "red" states, but I'm betting on the youth vote and possibly the "macho vote" or "misogyny vote" to win him the mountain states.
But between the two candidates, it's going to be a virtual tie. Both campaigns will immediately release spin on why they are now the frontrunner, and why the other should politely drop out of the race and bow to the inevitable.
What it really means is that the race is nowhere near over, and we get to continue playing this game for weeks to come.
Of course, I could be wrong. One of these candidates could sweep a lot more states than the other tomorrow. If this comes to pass, my guess is that Obama will win more than I've called here. Across the board, it seems Obama is picking up a lot more of the Edwards voters than Hillary, and most of the last-minute movement has been in Obama's favor in state after state. This usually means he will carry more of the undecided vote on election day. But my call for now is that they're going to split the states right down the middle.
Whew! That was a lot of states to cover! As always, those are my picks... what are yours?
[Previous states' picks:]
Chris Weigant blogs at: ChrisWeigant.com