As of this evening, the top three candidates (by delegates) are:
- Kerry: 608
- Dean: 201
- Edwards: 190
Of Dean’s 201 delegates, I count at least 50 that are super delegates (who can change their vote at any time).
Moving forward to Super Tuesday, over 1100 delegates are up for grabs. It appears that Dean is mothballing the campaing — perhaps not pulling out completely, but at least not actively seeking the nomination, which means we’ll get the two man race Edwards has been asking for. Let’s assume that Kerry and Edwards continue at a 40/40 pace. If no other candidates hit the 15% threshold (at this point, a likely scenario), then Kerry and Edwards split the remaining delegates as well. In other words, Super Tuesday is a wash.
I’m also going to assume (without any grounds for doing so) that Dean’s super-delegates will go to Edwards in larger numbers than Kerry.
Where this leaves us? Without touching Dean’s 150 or so “earned” delegates, Kerry would be between 1100 and 1200, and Edwards would be at around 800.
But it gets more interesting when you realize that California and New York alone represent more than half of the Super Tuesday delegates up for grabs. If Edwards were able to tip the balance, say to 60/40 by focusing the majority of his energy in those states, then suddenly Kerry drops to around 1000 and Edwards is at 900. And then there are those 150 Dean delegates…
This is all hypothetical at this point. But the way I read tonight’s results:
- Edwards surge was beyond surprising, and will provide much of the fodder for tomorrow’s papers and pundits.
- Kerry’s momentum has hit a bump.
- It’s now a two man race, and if anything, Super Tuesday offers the very real possibility of making the race less clear.
Bottom line? There’s a reason John Edwards was smiling broadly during that interview with Chris Matthews on MSNBC. (And no, it wasn’t just Matthew’s hysterical “nut cutting” slip when talking to Edwards that had him smiling.)