With John Kerry now the frontrunner for the Democratic nomination for President, attention turns to next Tuesday's when seven states have either primaries or caucuses - Arizona, Delaware, Missouri, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma and South Carolina. It should be another interesting night, as they're all quite different states. Looking at the figures here it looks like there are 234 delegates to be won next week, so even in the highly unlikely event of one candidate winning them all, it would still only be about 10% of the 2167 needed to secure the nomination. Of course, the primaries are much more about momentum and perception as they are about delegate counts.
Each candidate is going to have a different aim next week to either hold their position or show they're still a viable candidate. Kerry needs to win 2 or 3 and come high up in the others, with no other single candidate as a consistent rival, to show he's still the frontrunner. Dean has to win somewhere (and probably more than one state) to show he can win, after losing two states where he'd been the favourite, but he's in a difficult position where he's coming into states where he's not that strong. Clark and Edwards have to take at least one state, and hope Kerry doesn't have a big sweep of the others, to show they can win as they get to what should be a strong area for them. A poor result in South Carolina would be very bad news for Edwards
Here's a quick overview of the states from my perspective.
Arizona (48 delegates) is one of the big prizes of the night. It's an interesting state, with unique demographics - the large urban sprawl around Phoenix and the Valley of the Sun, with a large Hispanic and Native American population but also a large number of retirees in the West. Unsurprisingly, it has its primary early in the year - any later in the year and it might well get to hot for anyone to want to head out and vote. Current poll leaders there are Clark and Kerry.
Delaware (13 delegates) will be one of the states that gets overlooked next week, but Delaware's probably used to being overlooked. However, I wouldn't be surprised to see a candidate (probably Dean) taking some time out of campaigning in other states to campaign there and maybe give themselves a big win to crow about if everything else goes wrong. Dean is the current poll leader there, I believe.
Missouri (64 delegates) is probably going to be the state that gets the most attention. A couple of weeks ago, it would have been mostly ignored, as it's Dick Gephardt's home state and thus he was expected to win their easily, meaning none of the other candidates had really campaigned there. Now it's open and it'll be an interesting test to see which candidate or candidates can build an organisation there, and get the money in to campaign there. At the time of writing this, I'm not aware of Gephardt having endorsed any of the other candidates, but Josh Marshall
reported after Iowa that Clark had recruited a significant number of Gephardt's campaign staff. There's been no polling there yet that I'm aware of, but I suspect Dean and Clark may be in with the best chances here right now, though Kerry's campaign has shown in Iowa and New Hampshire that it can achieve a lot in a short time.
North Dakota (12 delegates), which is holding caucuses rather than primaries, is likely to be another state that gets ignored in the reporting because of the few delegates it selects and its location. I doubt if any of the candidates will even visit there, given that it would take significant time away from campaigning elsewhere. No polling from there that I've seen, and your guess is as good as mine as to who'll do well. Dean may do well as he's probably got a number of volunteers working for him here.
New Mexico (23 delegates) is also holding caucuses, so organisation will again be important. It's likely to be a key battleground state in the general election as Gore only won it by a few hundred votes in 2000, so electability may be a key concern which could boost Kerry. It'll probably get a significance above what you'd expect for just 23 delegates as its Governor, Bill Richardson, is a leading figure in the Democratic Party (he was Clinton's Energy Secretary) and will probably be frequently mentioned when the eventual nominee is looking for a running mate. His endorsement would be one worth having so candidates may be looking to curry favour with him as much as with the New Mexican voters. Again, I've not seen any polling from here, but I'd reckon Kerry has the advantage right now, though the strong liberal tendency in the state might be good for Dean.
Oklahoma (35 delegates) is an interesting contest as it's a strongly conservative state (sometimes referred to as 'the buckle of the bible belt') but has a Democrat Governor - Brad Henry, who won a squeaker in 2002. If Lieberman remains in the race next week, as he seems likely to do at this point, this is where he'd hope to make a breakthrough - though he's currently in fourth place there, but outpolling Dean - by emphasising his more centrist credentials. However, Clark has also targeted it, and is the current poll leader there - this is one state he may concentrate his resources and time on to get a first win.
South Carolina (39 delegates) is normally regarded as Edwards territory, given that he's a Senator for North Carolina. However, there is a deal of difference between the two, and Kerry has also looked at this as a potential victory for a long time - he officially declared his candidacy here in September. Edwards does lead in the polls here, but not by much, but he knows a win here is expected of him and losing here could cause fatal damage to his campaign.
So, seven contests, all with their own little dynamics, all hopefully adding up to give a much clearer picture next Tuesday evening. There'll probably be a big winnowing of the candidates after this, and I'd be surprised if more than three of them have active campaigns after them. Barring absolute disaster, Kerry will be one of them, but the fight for the other two places is going to be tense.
In the comments on the post below Ken
asked if anyone had ever come back to beat a candidate who'd won both Iowa and New Hampshire. Off the top of my head, I can't think of one, though I suspect Lyndon Johnson may have won both in 1968 before he withdrew. Since then, I'm not sure if any Democratic candidate has won both states - aside from Carter and Clinton in their re-election years, of course. I'll see if I can find out, or if anyone knows feel free to inform us!
Finally, I think it's time to have another sweepstake! Quite simple - guess the seven state winners, and for a tiebreak, should it be necessary, guess how many delegates (out of 234) the leading candidate will win on Tuesday. As for a prize, inspired by what's happened in previous sweepstakes (which came from Matt
's desire to rid his CD collection of Mick Hucknall) I'm offering a copy of the album Pornograffiti
by Extreme and should anyone else have CDs they wish to get rid of then please go ahead and add them to the prize fund. As is customary, the winner has the right to turn down the prize.