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News: Updated Jan. 20

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News from the Votemaster

Inauguration day is one year from today. The election process is now down to its final year :-(

If yesterday's results are indicative, there will be a lot of nose holding in November. Hillary Clinton got the most votes in the hotly contested Nevada Democratic caucuses and John McCain won the equally hotly contested South Carolina primary. Mitt Romney won the Republican caucuses in Nevada but that was easy since none of the other top tier candidates were even trying. A race between Hillary Clinton and John McCain would cause a lot of Democrats to hold their noses and vote for her out of party loyalty. Similarly, a lot of Republicans would hold their noses and vote for McCain out of party loyalty. More below. First the scores. For the Democratic caucuses in Nevada:

      Hillary Clinton: 50.7%
      Barack Obama: 45.2%
      John Edwards: 3.8%
      Uncommitted: 0.3%
      Dennis Kucinich: 0.0%

Despite Clinton's victory in the popular vote, Obama may have gotten 13 delegates to her 12, with 8 PLEOs (unpledged Party Leaders and Elected Officials) yet to be decided. The difference between the popular vote and the delegates has to do with how the delegates are allocated among the counties. Clinton won in the southern part of the state and Obama won in the north.

On the Republican side, Mitt Romney won an easy victory. Here are the numbers:

      Mitt Romney: 51.1%
      Ron Paul: 13.7%
      John McCain: 12.7%
      Mike Huckabee: 8.2%
      Fred Thompson: 7.9%
      Rudy Giuliani: 4.3%
      Duncan Hunter: 2.0%

This is Ron Paul's best showing to date, He got only 6000 votes, but he did beat McCain and Huckabee, which is certainly something, even though none of them campaigned in the state.

In South Carolina, John McCain beat off a challenge from Mike Huckabee as follows:

      John McCain: 33.2%
      Mike Huckabee: 29.9%
      Fred Thompson: 15.7%
      Mitt Romney: 15.1%
      Ron Paul: 3.7%
      Rudy Giuliani: 2.1%
      Duncan Hunter: 0.2%
      Tom Tancredo: 0.0%

McCain won in the most populated areas in the south and center of the state, including the Charleston and Columbia metropolitan areas. Huckabee carried about two dozen counties in the northern, rural part of the state. The New York Times has a breakdown of the voters. Briefly, McCain ran well with voters who were over 60, college graduates, making more than $50,000 a year, liberal, and leadership oriented. Huckabee's strength lay among voters who were young, without a college degree, very conservative, and issue oriented. On the "shares my values" question on the exit polls, Huckabee won 3 to 1. On the "has the right experience" question, McCain won 67% to 2%.

South Carolina was an immensely important victory for McCain. He lost here in 2000 and that was the end of him. Now he will be propelled into Florida and superduper Tuesday with mucho publicity. If Rudy Giuliani manages to beat him in Florida, McCain's campaign may stall; otherwise he goes into Feb. 5 as the favorite. However, unlike South Carolina, many of the upcoming primaries are closed, meaning that only registered Republicans can vote in them and McCain is far more popular with independents than with Republicans. In fact, in South Carolina, the "conservative" candidates, Huckabee, Romney, and Thompson got 60% of the vote, double what McCain got. McCain's good luck here was (1) South Carolina is an open primary and (2) the conservative vote was fractured three ways. If Fred Thompson finally calls it a day and endorses McCain, it is doubtful that many of his voters will obey him since to them McCain's noxious political stands are likely to far outweigh Thompson's personal friendship with McCain. Then the conservative vote will be divided only two ways. If the Thompson vote in South Carolina were reallocated evenly between Huckabee and Romney, Huckabee would have won the primary

At this point, the mostly likely general election matchup is Clinton vs. McCain. However, we still have a long way to go and might end up with not one, but two brokered conventions. Brokered conventions are extremely bad for a party, with the eventual winner generally losing the general election, unless both sides have a brokered convention.

Both Hillary Clinton and John McCain have serious problems with their own bases. Clinton's problem is that many Democrats dislike her personally and have not forgiven her vote for the war in Iraq. If she had later said it was a mistake (as John Edwards did), she might have gotten some credit, but she continues to insist it was the right thing to do. Of course these Democrats like McCain even less, so they will reluctantly vote for her in November if she is the nominee.

McCain was a similar problem with his votes in the Senate. He voted against the Bush tax cuts twice, which causes many Republicans to regard him as squishy on taxes. He also co-authored the bill that would have granted amnesty to 12 million illegals, something that many Republicans despise. As an aside, McCain's coauthor on the immigration bill was Ted Kennedy, not exactly the most popular person in conservative circles. Many liberals were speculating why Kennedy, one of the most liberal voices in the Senate, was working with McCain and Bush on this. If McCain becomes the GOP nominee, Kennedy may come out of this as a sly old fox. By working with McCain, he has provided ample material for anti-immigrant groups to attack McCain later this year.

If the general election is Clinton vs. McCain, each one will be trying to convince the voters that he or she has more experience than the other one. Bad idea, as Nicolas Kristof points out today in the New York Times. Abraham Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, and Franklin D. Roosevelt had little experience whereas William McKinley, Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, Jerry Ford, and George Bush 41 had vast Washington experience, yet they are hardly counted among the all-time great presidents.

The forbidden race in Florida is next. Below are the Florida polls.

The polling results for all states are available as a Web page and in .csv format.

CNN is keeping track of the delegates for the Democrats and for the Republicans.

State Pollster End date Clinton Obama Edwards Giuliani McCain Romney Thompson Huckabee
Florida Insider Advantage Jan. 16 42% 34% 9% 21% 20% 20% 7% 13%
Florida Research 2000 Jan. 16 50% 28% 13% 22% 26% 16% 7% 17%
Florida Quinnipiac U. Jan. 13 52% 31% 9% 20% 22% 19% 7% 19%
Florida SurveyUSA Jan. 13 56% 23% 14% 23% 25% 18% 9% 18%
Florida Rasmussen Jan. 12 48% 24% 14% 18% 19% 18% 11% 17%
Florida SurveyUSA Jan. 10 51% 32% 11% 19% 27% 17% 8% 17%
Florida Insider Advantage Jan. 7 40% 32% 9% 24% 19% 13% 8% 19%
Florida Datamar Jan. 7 40% 28% 19% 16% 18% 20% 9% 24%

-- The Votemaster
WWW www.electoral-vote.com