Super Tuesday is Here!

Behind The News
February 5, 2008 11:40:53 AM PST
It's perhaps the second most important voting day of the year. The first will be November 4. But tonight, the closest thing we've ever had to a national primary. The tale of the tape: 24 states. 43 Presidential nominating contests. 3,156 total delegates. All of them - up for grabs in the first "open" Presidential election since 1952, meaning no sitting President or Vice President will be on the November ballot. And it's the first time since 1928 when a sitting President or Vice President isn't trying to get on the ballot. That's one reason this election has sparked so much excitement - it is indeed a wide open affair, with both parties not having an anointed standard bearer. It's one reason why the polls seemed busier than normal today. As an aside - there were technical problems at voting booths in Hoboken, not good news for Barack Obama, who considers the New Jersey city something of a stronghold of support. Those problems are now fixed, we're told.

And if there are any complaints within New York City during the voting this morning -- well, too bad. The Board of Elections was open this morning -- but with its office at 32 Broadway, it's right on the parade route that honored the Super Bowl Champion Giants today. The Board does not take phone complaints - and while it's open, it was virtually impossible to get in because of the parade.

Some experts have offered that having the parade will likely hurt the Obama campaign the most; the parade would give some young people, who might be inclined to vote for the Senator from Illinois, a reason not to vote because they spent so many hours at the celebrations downtown.

We'll see.

We'll be on the air throughout this night -- our coverage starts at 8 p.m., when the polls close in New Jersey and Connecticut.

And the numbers to keep in mind: For Democrats, 1,681 delegates are at stake tonight. 2,025 are needed to nominate. There is an exceptionally good chance that, because the Democratic Party votes are NOT winner-take-all, there will not be a Democratic nominee emerging after this Super Tuesday.

For the Republicans, 1,020 delegates are up for grabs tonight, with 1,191 needed for nomination. There is a good chance that there will be a Republican nominee tonight.

And if that nominee is John McCain (this assumes Mitt Romney doesn't take California, where he's been improving in the polls), we will see just how hard the far-right continues to pound on the Arizona Senator. McCain, known for his independent streak, is distrusted by many arch conservatives because of his moderate stances on immigration and campaign financing and tax cuts.

The far-right criticism might dissolve if Hillary Clinton gets the nomination; she is likely to be a lightning rod for conservatives to rally against. Not that Barack Obama would get a free ride from the right, either.

And you have to wonder what people were thinking when they went into the booth today. Consider this: one out of four Americans have lived only under a President named Bush or Clinton.

Nonetheless, this election figures to be about issues -- not about who you'd like to have a beer with. And won't that be refreshing?

We'll see you tonight, starting at 8 with Liz Cho and me, and with Charlie Gibson and the team at ABC News. And if you can't get to a TV -- Diana Williams will be anchoring our coverage on the web tonight -- 7Online.Com.

Oh, and one other note. How smart is that Roger Clemens, eh? He chose Super Tuesday as the day he appears behind closed doors on Capitol Hill to talk to lawmakers about steroids in baseball. Cy Young winner? He's an Einstein!

I hope you can join tonight, throughout the night.

BILL RITTER


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