News from the Votemaster
Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama debated last night. The debate was more pointed and less polite than previous ones because the stakes were so high, especially for Clinton. Without big victories in both Texas and Ohio--and they have to be really big, like 25%--she will not be able to overtake him in delegates.
The two candidates sparred on whose health care plan is better and how much they would gut NAFTA, which was signed by Bill Clinton, and which has cost manufacturing jobs in Ohio, where the debate took place. But in reality (1) the two candidates don't differ that much on policy and (2) even if they do have minor differences on say, health care, the bill that finally emerges from Congress will not be a carbon copy of what the President sends to Congress in the first place. In fact, unless the Democrats pick up 9 seats in the Senate to get a fillibuster-proof majority, it is likely that any bill that the Senate passes will be a greatly watered down version of what went into the hopper at the start of the process. (As an aside, to see what is going on in the Senate races, click on "All Senate races" below the map. That page is updated regularly as new developments happen.)
The NY Times has a story on gas price increases. With oil over $100 a barrel now, gas prices could hit $4 a gallon, tipping the country into recession. Historically, recessions in election years are not good for the party in power and may be especially bad news for John McCain since he has repeatedly said he is not an expert on the economy. In truth, by the time the next President is inaugurated on Jan. 20, it will be too late to do much about the recession, but Presidential candidates are expected to claim they will magically fix the economy, even though whatever the new President does will be too little too late.
McCain is in a funny situation. If things remain quiet in Iraq, people tend to forget about it, which is bad for him because foreign policy and military affairs are his great strengths. He would much rather the election were about who will be the best commander-in-chief than who would be the best economist-in-chief. On the other hand, if Iraq flares up, it will remind a lot of people that he said he is willing to stay in Iraq 100 years if that was needed to achieve victory. Many voters do not want their sons and grandsons and great grandsons (and daughters) in Iraq for 100 years no matter what. The best scenario for McCain is that the Iraqis come to a political settlement, the war there ends, and the troops can come home because there is no more war. But there is little he can do to push things in that direction. It is doubtful that the Shiite and Sunni leaders will get together and say: "Look, we better end this war fast or McCain's gonna get clobbered." They have their own agendas.
Here are today's polls. Obama is sneaking up on Clinton in both Texas and Ohio. Currently he may be a little bit ahead in Texas and she may be a little bit ahead in Ohio, but in politics a week is a long time, especially during an election when one of the candidates is moving up. It will be a few days before the effect of yesterday's debate (if any) shows up.
Here are the delegate totals from various news sources. They differ because in most caucus states, no delegates to the national conventions have been chosen yet, just delegates to the district, county, or state convention. Also, some sources try to count the PLEOs (Party Leaders and Elected Officials) and unpledged delegates, who also get to vote at the convention. When different reporters call a PLEO and hear "Well, I like Hillary, but Barack has his charms too" they may score it differently. The totals for each candidate are rounded to the nearest integer (Clinton won 1.5 delegates in the Democrats Abroad Internet primary.)
Needed to win: Democrats 2025, Republicans 1191.
Here is another source for delegate totals.
-- The Votemaster