I think three posts in an entire month is a new low for me… partly you can blame Twitter, where I post more frequently (albeit in shorter bursts), but mostly it’s Google’s fault.
Some quick thoughts on how Tuesday is going to play out: Texas has an insanely complex system, where they hold a primary during the day and a caucus at night. Delegates are allocated at both – meaning that for either candidate to do well coming out of Texas, they need to have both a significant (+5 or more percentage points) gap in the popular vote as well as a strong field operation to turn out the bodies for the caucus.
The fact that Barack has closed a 25 point gap in Texas in the last 8 weeks and now is either tied or slightly ahead means, to me anyway, that Hillary’s campaign is over. Even if she pulls out a slim lead in Texas (which I don’t think is likely), she’d have to somehow overcome an incredibly coordinated ground operation in Texas to get delegates at the caucus. In short: it’s not going to happen.
Let’s say Barack wins Texas by 5-8 points. (Caveat: the popular vote is far less important than the delegate results; I think his strength in caucuses and his group operation give him a huge advantage that is worth a couple extra delegates.) That means he leaves Texas with a net pickup of 15; for Hillary to erase that gap and keep Barack’s lead the same as it is today she would need to win in Ohio by almost 20 points. The three most recent polls have her up 2-8 points, but 20 points? I just don’t see it.
For the sake of argument, let’s assume that she wins Ohio by a blowout and gets 15 more delegates than Barack. Sure, there’d be some press talking about a comeback (muted, perhaps, by Texas, but let’s play this out) – but the net result would be that she’d be no closer to the nomination Tuesday night than she is today. (Slate has a great delegate calculator that lets you model out how the remaining contests might allocate delegates… very helpful if you want to play the ‘what if’ game.)
Here’s how the next 48 hours play out: I’m betting Barack’s campaign leaks their February fundraising haul tomorrow. It’s rumored to be a big number. Big as in $50m, $60m or even (gasp) $70m. Keep in mind that in 2004, Howard Dean raised $59m. For the entire primary season.
If Barack outraises Hillary 2-1 in February that’ll be a big deal. (Yes, that’s an understatement.) And it’ll be the last news cycle before the voting booths open in Texas and Ohio… leading to lots of obvious conclusions that he’s going to bury her in the upcoming contests. (He’s already on the air in a number of mid-March contests.)
I think Barack wins Texas, and I think Hillary narrowly beats him in Ohio. Barack will pick up more delegates than Hillary, giving him a little more breathing room. If Hillary does not drop out by Wednesday, then I think you’ll start seeing a number of undecided superdelegates come out and endorse Barack, furthering his lead. By the end of the week it will be clear that she cannot win the nomination, and it will just be a matter of time before she suspends her campaign. (And let’s not forget, both Bill and Carville said just a couple weeks ago that Hillary must win Texas and Ohio or she’s done.)
I’ll check back in on Tuesday.