- In all of the hub-bub over the voting on Tuesday, the poor Maine Republican caucuses have been left in the dust. They are not being held simultaneously but over the course of the weekend. I link to the CNN results page which I assume/hope will start showing some results today (virtually all of the caucuses were today but some were Thursday and Friday and some will be Sunday and later in the month).
- I compiled my estimates for delegates by state based on my predictions, you can find thim in this shared Google spreadsheet.
Here are some things to watch on Tuesday to see how the race is breaking...
Among Democrats there are no real winner-take-all states and most delegates are awarded proportionally by district, with a relatively smaller number awarded proportionally at the state-wide level. Each state and district has a 15% threshold to be eligble for delegates. Some districts have only 2 or 4 delegates and others have 6 or more. There is a huge disparity in terms of voting power in districts with an even number of delegates as opposed to an odd number. For instance, in a district with 3 delegates, a candidate getting 15% of the vote would get one delegate, even if another candidate got 85% of the vote - giving him or her 2 delegates (or twice as many for almost 6 times as many votes). Similarly, a district with four delegates could award 2 to a candidate getting 38% of the vote even if another candidate got 62%. The LA Times has a great piece explaining this (h/t Ben Smith). The moral of the story? There will be no run-away winner in the Democratic primary. If one of the two candidates were to get 60% of the delegates that would be a dramatic landslide, it is more likely that there will be no more than 10 points between Clinton and Obama (55%-45% or closer).
Two key states to watch are the big ones: New York and California. Clinton should do very well in both, if she wins New York by less than 10% she is probably in trouble. If Obama manages to win California, same story. If both happen then that is bad news. Other states to watch to see if Obama is faltering are those holding traditional caucuses: Alaska, Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Minnesota and Montana. Obama should win all or most of these, if he doesn't, he may be having a bad day.
Finally, another key state on the Democratic side to watch with be Oklahoma. This was Edwards' strongest state and Obama consistently ran third in polls here. If Obama manages to hold Clinton to 10 points or less or even wins here that means he is picking up more than his fair share of former Edwards supporters which could push him over the top in a lot of sates.
In terms of the Republicans, there are a number of pure winner-take-all states, but most are hybrids with about half of the delegates winner-take-all and then each district's delegates winner-take-all as well. A few states are done by proportional representation. Key states to watch are Missouri and Georgia. In Missouri, McCain may well place third, but Romney, who will face a challenge from Huckabee, needs to win here if he has any chance fo moving forward. In Georgia, McCain could win if Romney gets enough votes to split the conservatives with Huckabee and allow McCain up the middle, if this happens, then it could be a near sweep for McCain. Another state to watch is Massachusettes. Romney was elected governor of the state just over 5 years ago, it will be a tight race with McCain and if McCain wins it will damage Romney in terms of the media's eye even if he has an otherwise good night.