Written by William Thomas
Megaphone Staff Writer
The last couple of weeks have seen a tremendous amount of excitement in the presidential race. Barack Obama has won all of the Democratic primaries or caucuses that have been held since Super Tuesday, earning a total of 187 delegates.
While Mike Huckabee has won two of the six Republican primaries or caucuses, John McCain has held onto his strong lead. At this point, one might wonder if there is any reason left to keep an eye on the presidential primaries with two possible leaders emerging on each side. Rest assured – the race is far from over.
In the Democratic primaries, Barack Obama has taken a slight lead over Hillary Clinton. According to CNN, Clinton trails Obama by 69 delegates (Obama currently has 1,319 delegates and Clinton has 1,250 delegates).
Unfortunately for Clinton, the surge of support that Obama has recently received means that she must garner strong support on March 4 when Ohio, Rhode Island, Texas and Vermont hold their primaries.
In her response to the increasing roar of Obama supporters, Clinton says, “I am in the solutions business . . . [m]y opponent is in the promises business.”
After recognizing Obama’s victories in the Potomac Primaries (Maryland, Virginia and Washington D.C.), Clinton told Obama “to meet [her] in Texas.”
While neither candidate can win enough delegates on March 4 to take the Democratic nomination, the delegates that they do win are crucial. With enough delegates, Obama could stabilize his lead, leaving Clinton behind with a very dismal future. But if Clinton manages to grab the votes she needs, she would once again prove to be tough competition for Obama.
For the Republicans, John McCain still retains his hefty lead of 701 delegates over Mike Huckabee (McCain has 918 delegates and Huckabee has 217 delegates). Also, George H.W. Bush and son Jeb Bush endorsed McCain earlier this week. Although it does not seem likely that Huckabee can do much to stop McCain at this point, Huckabee hopes to at least slow McCain down.
Despite Huckabee’s best efforts, McCain still has a very real chance of reaching the total number of delegates needed to win the Republican nomination. As far as this writer is concerned, McCain has taken the lead out of Huckabee’s reach.
The only thing Huckabee can do now is focus on getting his policy issues out in public. Once Romney dropped out, Huckabee should have as well.
The Texas primary is the greatest source of delegates for both parties on March 4, offering 228 Democratic delegates and 140 Republican delegates.
Winning these delegates is less than simple, however. The Democratic delegates are divided up in a way that allows Texans to vote twice, first at the ballot box then at the precinct conventions. The results that really matter are those received from 31 state senatorial districts, where each candidate who receives at least 15 percent of the votes in a district is assured some delegates.
Clinton’s main support base continues to consist of women and older voters, while Obama is counting on Texas’s youth and black vote.
Clinton and Obama will also be focusing their campaigns on the Hispanic vote, which has proven it can lean toward either candidate. The debate between the two Democratic candidates on Feb. 21 should also yield some interesting results, at least in terms of what the candidates have to offer the Lone Star state.
After March 4, ten more states will hold their respective primaries or caucuses. Depending on how things turn out in Texas, the Democratic contest could remain tough right down to the wire.
Keep in mind that despite Clinton’s apparent lack of support lately, she still won Florida and Michigan earlier this year, two states that decided to move their primaries to earlier dates in an attempt to increase the importance of their delegates. These two states were punished for breaking campaign rules, however, and lost all of their Democratic delegates and half of their Republican delegates. If the Democratic contest stays close, these states could come into play after all other primaries and caucuses have come to a close.