Potomac primary day, Snow in the tri-state

Behind The News
February 12, 2008 1:04:03 PM PST
There's a big-deal feel to this day -- a feeling that the stories we're covering have consequences that are greater than normal. We should know the results of the Potomac Primaries -- Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia -- tonight by 11. And we might know by then if the Obama Express is continuing to gain momentum and, conversely, if the once-seemingly unbeatable Hillary Clinton juggernaut is, in fact, quite mortal. The polls show Obama doing well in all three primaries, and indeed Sen. Clinton is already spinning that she's looking ahead to the next big round of primaries on March 4 - Ohio and Texas.

On the Republican side, John McCain is expected to sweep the Potomac elections tonight.

We have talked here before about the excitement this race has generated, what with the first wide open election for President since 1952, with neither a sitting President or Vice President running for office. Tonight will not wrap up the nomination for the Democrats or the Republicans. But it could be a huge night for Obama and McCain. Obama could go ahead in delegate count -- which would change the tenor of the campaigns dramatically.

We'll have the latest on the primaries, tonight at 11.

We're also covering the big vote tonight of the Writers' Guild, whose members are voting on whether to end their three-month strike. Getting back to work will be a good thing for everyone involved-- including all those who work here at ABC.

We're also covering the economy tonight - and there is big news on that front. Will "Project Lifeline" indeed be a lifeline for an estimated million homeowners who now face foreclosure? Six of the nation's biggest financial institutions -- which have nearly 50% of the nation's mortgages -- are offering this program to put on hold, for 30 days, foreclosure proceedings so homeowners can work out affordable payback schedules.

That this is a big deal, rather than just a nod to common sense, is troubling in and of itself. But I'm not one to criticize when action is taken -- no matter how meager.

Keeping people in their homes, rather than having them walk away from them, is not just the right thing for government and banks to do -- it's also good business. What happens when someone's home is foreclosed? It's sold at a fire sale, for a fraction of its one-time value, usually to speculators who are bottom feeding and taking advantage of other people's woes. It also depresses the market, because that foreclosure price becomes the latest comparable sale for the neighborhood, and that drives down the price of everyone else's homes.

Just a bassackward way to run things.

This new enlightenment comes at a time when consumer confidence, measured in a weekly ABC News survey, is in the midst of the second-steepest fall on record. The biggest confidence fall was in the 1990-91 recession.

The consumer confidence index is now the lowest since Nov., 1993. Welcome to 2008.

We're also getting our first real snow of the season here in New York City. It's not a large amount -- one to three inches - and more north and west. But Lee Goldberg says the snow's not the problem -- the aftermath is. Rain follows the snow -- rain that will last a long time, and then freezing temperatures will turn it all to ice, making for a nasty commute tomorrow. Lee's tracking it all in his AccuWeather forecast, tonight at 11.

We're also in Washington, D.C. tonight, where Jim Dolan is covering Roger Clemens' testimony tomorrow to Congress, which is investigating baseball's steroid scandal.

We'll also have any breaking news of the night, plus Marvell Scott (in for Scott Clark, who's heading to Florida for the beginning of -- are you ready for this? -- spring training!) with the night's sports. I hope you can join join Liz Cho and me, tonight at 11.