First of all, I’d like to apologize to the legions of SomeDisagree readers who have bemoaned by absence over the past…oh, I don’t know how long. As some of you know, I’m in my first year at an Ivy League law school (hint: it’s not Cornell) and this shit cray. So, this post, along with the vast majority of subsequent ones from me for the foreseeable future, is gonna have to be fairly short and sweet. Here’s what I’m looking for in tonight’s Super Tuesday results:
(1) Turnout. I neglected to make a Turnout Watch post after the Feb. 28 states, but I’ll note here that though Arizona held true (turnout was down 15%), Michigan bucked the trend I had been tracking from the beginning of the primary in rather dramatic fashion. There, turnout was up almost 15% compared with 2008. That’s a South Carolina-like jump in turnout, and it happened in Michigan, which has been as reliably blue as states get for the past several Presidential contests. I won’t get into a deep analysis of why that might have been, but it will be very curious to me if the Blue and swing states in play tonight (Massachusetts, Vermont, Virginia, and the big prize of the nigh, Ohio) revert to the previous turnout pattern or if excitement and engagement remains on the rise.
(2) The Tennessee Primary. It has been a foregone conclusion for a month or more that Newt Gingrich will win the primary in his home state of Georgia. However, in the post-Florida era of this primary season, the key question is whether or not he can actually come back to win any other state again. Recently, Newt has experienced a resurgence in Tennessee – a state I identified as a key opportunity for him in my post-Feb. 7 post. FiveThirtyEight is projecting Newt to finish in third place, 6 points behind the favorite Santorum, and gives him only a 5% chance to win, but as we all know, “momentum” can be a tricky thing. If Gingrich can come in a close second or even pull off a stunning victory (particularly if this is paired with a Romney win in Ohio), I think Gingrich’s campaign would be well-positioned to resume its former place as the alternative to Romney. Conversely, if Gingrich should fail to produce a strong result in Tennessee, I think his campaign is officially over. So in this way, I think Tennessee is highly important.
(3) Ohio. Obviously this is pretty important. I’m not sure I’m convinced by the narrative that if Romney wins Ohio its all over, but the situation is something close to that. The Romney campaign has been extremely unimpressive to me up to this point, but there’s no doubt they are headed for a “big” night tonight. Should Romney capture half the states available and capture Ohio on top of it, it will be hard for any of the other candidates to make a plausible argument that they are a strong alternative.
(4) The Caucus states. Ron Paul is poised to finish 2nd or 3rd in the popular votes in caucus states, but what really matters is that his rabid supporters are positioning themselves to take all of the acutal delegates for themselves, increasing his accumulation of real delegates that he’ll take into the Convention and
Just kidding. Ron Paul is done and has been for a long time.