A Few Super Tuesday Thoughts on Wednesday
- - Who knew the first black man with a real shot at the White House would find strengths in white male voters, rich voters and states such as Utah, North Dakota, Idaho, Alaska, Connecticut and Minnesota?
-- As fun as it was to see Mike Huckabee soaking up the conservative votes which might have gone to Mitt Romney, my attention last night was focused largely on the Democratic race. Close as Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama have been throughout this compaign, the individual results brought out some interesting fissures.
--Obama continuews to resist the various pigeonholes pundits would love to stick him in. He's a black candidate who earned 45 percent of the white vote, doing particularly well with white men. Indeed,his biggest problem may be other specialized groups: Latinos (2/3 for Clinton), Asian Americans and women.
--That said, Clinton's resilience was also impressive. As I said after New Hampshire, you never count her out, as proven by her wins in California and Massachusetts -- despite high profile Obama politicking there by Oprah, Maria Shriver and the most famous parts of the Kennedy clan. Indeed, that result brought my favorite quote of the night, from old CBS election hand Bob Schieffer: “If the Kennedy endorsement doesn’t work in Massachusetts, where does it work?”
In addition to confounding the pundits -- check this Howard Kurtz column to see how differently the press viewed McCain just last year -- McCain is the first Republican presidential candidate in a long while to ascend without the approval of either the Religious Right or the conservative media echo chamber which fills talk radio and cable TV. And while many expect the troops to fall in line when the nominnation fight is over -- especially if McCain chooses a reliably conservative running mate and Clinton wins the Democratic side -- the fracturing of that powerful coalition now may also be a harbinger of things to come.
--While some critics have complained that the TV networks haven't featured much primary coverage, the kind of continuous reporting required by Super Tuesday seemed a natural fit for cable TV. In the modern media landscape, such coverage seems to migrate to platforms which feature it best. And considering that polls didn't even close in California until 11 p.m. EST, the networks couldn't really speak much on the impact of Super Tuesday because they left the air before the so-called "big enchilada" was decided.
--Much as some critics like to grouse about this endless primary season, it seems to be producing the desired result. States such as Florida, South Carolina and California have had a major influence over the race and gotten maor candidate attention, blunting the impact of early, less diverse states such as Iowa and New Hampshire.
--Despite all the hype about CNN's touch screen -- which I've seen on TV before in other contexts -- what worked best Tuesday was clear-eyed analysis and numbers. I didn't see much of a difference between the various channels' performance -- save, perhaps, Fox News Channel's obvious focus on conservatives. Even National Public Radio's continuous coverage was compelling to a political wonk like me.
Especially with the Hollywood writers still on strike, this is the most exciting drama on TV. Bring it on!