Don’t bother with the Dems. 22 primaries + proportional allocation + bonus delegates for winning the state + superdelegates + fluid polls = too many moving parts to make any coherent guesses, although if you want to torture yourself with delegate math, have at it. At the end of the day they’ll split the pot roughly 50/50; the open questions are (a) who carries California and (b) just how rough is “roughly.” Today was supposed to be the day Hillary broke Obama’s back but after South Carolina and the coveted Chappaquiddick endorsement, the Messiah stands a (very slim) chance of beating her straight up. Conventional wisdom has it that if she doesn’t take the coast and finish with a 200 delegate cushion, the inevitability shield is well and truly shattered and she’s in trouble. In this, our hour of need, conservatives have two options. Either cross over in states where the primaries are open and the conclusion is foregone (ahem) and vote for Hillary, for the love of god. Or cross them fingers and hope that the new most important minority bloc in America delivers. Can they do it? Si se puede!
The GOP numbers are more crunchable. Assuming Maverick cleans up in all the winner-take-all states he’s supposed to win and pulls 33% in the rest, he’s halfway to the nomination with (ballpark) 600 delegates banked by day’s end. Romney needs a moral victory in California and probably an upset somewhere else — ideally Missouri, the one hotly contested WTA state — to have a reason to get out of bed tomorrow morning. Minor problem: He’s actually third there at the moment, around six points behind McCain. If he craters, both he and Huck may fall on their swords — and then cometh the reckoning.
Predictions: The irresistible force of Obamania fails upon contact with the immovable object of Hillary’s wickedly sweet ground game in California. Mitt takes California too, but that’s his only big win and come midnight he’s on the brink. Say it ain’t so, AP! I’m afraid it is, kid.
Figure we’re about nine hours away from any remotely interesting news. Just keep scrolling…
Update: Rasmussen counts heads.
If Tuesday is good to McCain, he will end up with over 700 delegates. That’s not enough to formally wrap up the nomination, but it might be enough to cause the other contenders to throw in the towel.
For Mitt Romney, the bad news is that the winner-take-all states likely to go his way can’t match up in delegate count (Utah has 36 delegates). Going through the same state-by-state exercise shows Romney shows the former Massachusetts Governor ending the day with not more than 350 to 400 delegates.
After Super Tuesday, there are 980 remaining delegates available through primaries and caucuses. Even if you assume that Romney gets to 400 delegates tomorrow, he would need to win roughly two-out-of-every-three remaining delegates to catch the frontrunner. It’s even more difficult if Mike Huckabee stays in the race and earns some of those delegates for himself.
Update: As I say, don’t bother with the Dems. You’ll hurt yourself.
Update: The first polls close at 7 p.m. in Georgia, where the spread is about five points between all three candidates. If Mitt pulls it out, the bellwether buzz will give blog readers something to smile about for, er, an hour.
California votes until 11 p.m ET. Buy some Red Bull this afternoon.