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Post-Super Tuesday analysis

February 12, 2008 -- Graeme Boushey shares his thoughts on the political landscape following the 22 state primaries held Feb. 5. Boushey is an assistant professor of political science at SF State. His expertise includes California politics, American politics, public policy processes and political decision-making.

Photo of Assistant Professor of Political Science Graeme Boushey.

Assistant Professor of Political Science Graeme Boushey.

What surprised you about the results of Super Tuesday?
In California, the gap between Clinton and Obama closed overnight, but Obama didn't gain enough ground to win. I was surprised that Clinton won the state by such a large margin.

For the Republicans, Mike Huckabee's stronger than expected showing was interesting, and clearly shaped Mitt Romney's decision to drop out of the race.

Some Republican voters say McCain isn't conservative enough. Who will they turn to now that Romney is out of the race?
Many people will either support Huckabee or simply decline to participate in the elections. The latter is a real concern for the Republican Party, especially at a time when Democrats are turning out in droves to support their candidates. If the conservative Republican base isn't inspired by their candidate for president, they may simply stay home on election day, tipping the election in favor of the Democrats.

Given the close contest on the Democratic side, what role will superdelegates play in the Democratic convention this summer?
We might not see a front-runner until the convention, and, if that is the case, it will be up to the superdelegates to decide the future leader. Superdelegates are party insiders, members of Congress and national party leaders who are free to back any candidate at the convention. They make up 1/5 of all voters at a primary convention.

What will these superdelegates look for in a leader?
Before primaries were introduced in the early 1970s, party leaders decided on the leadership candidate, making a choice based on electability and who was a proven party member. On this basis, if the nomination comes down to the superdelegates' vote, I believe they would vote for Clinton. She fits the criteria: an insider, a party loyalist who knows how the machine works and who has the political clout of her husband, Bill Clinton.

Why is Missouri hailed as an important indicator of what's to come?
Historically, the state of Missouri has always correctly predicted who the president will be. The state straddles the South and the Midwest and includes voters of both political cultures. On Super Tuesday, the state swung at the last moment from Clinton to Obama with a close 49-48 result, which shows that in the 2008 primaries, Missouri is confused as the rest of us.

Which states will you watch closely in the coming weeks?
Obviously Texas and Ohio are key because of their number of delegates, but Virginia will also be interesting. Virginia voters have backed a Republican presidential candidate for the last 44 years or so, but there are signs of a shift in favor of the Democrats. For example, the last two governors of Virginia were Democrats. If this trend continues, it will indicate an important shift in votes away from Republicans and towards Democrats. For the primary election, Virginia is important because it has a fair number of delegates at stake for candidates from each party. Secondly, Virginia and Maryland hold their primaries on the same day, providing good measures of candidate viability in the South.

-- Elaine Bible


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