05 February 2008

California holds the key

The results from California won't be in for a little while yet, but there's no way to wrap up this night without hearing from the Golden State.

California will decide two things.

On the Democratic side, the California results will confer bragging rights on the winner, but not much more, as this race looks to be weeks away from the finish line.

On the GOP side, California will determine whether Mitt Romney can credibly carry on beyond this Tsunami Tuesday.

Let's look at the Democrats first.

By morning, when the delegates are all counted, the two candidates won't be too far apart from one another and the race will rage on.

In my mind, the keys to tonight were the states where Hillary Clinton at one time had commanding leads which dwindled just before Election Day.

Those states were: Massachusetts, New Jersey, Connecticut, Missouri and California.

Clinton was able to hold on to three of those states, losing only Connecticut to Barack Obama's recent surge, with Missouri still up in the air but looking like it may go to Clinton and, or course, California still to come.

Obama also picked up wins in tossup states in Utah and Delaware.

On the other hand, Clinton was not able to pick off any "Obama" states.

If Obama can grab California - the largest prize of the night - along with Connecticut, I think he can legitimately claim that he conquered enough of Clinton's territory to grab the momentum as the race moves along.

If not, Clinton can claim she held the fort and is ready to go on the offensive.

On the Republican side, California is now a must win for Romney.

With Huckabee rolling through the South like Sherman - though I doubt he'd like the comparison - Romney was forced into third place in six races at the time of this writing, all in the Bible Belt.

Of those six, Huckabee finished first in five.

Missouri is still up in the air, with all three candidates a few points either side of 30%, but with Romney likely to come in third.

Romney's victories have been few and far between, aside from his home state of Massachusetts and his psuedo-home in Utah.

John McCain took most of the winner-take-all states, and is the big winner.

Without a win in California, it will be difficult to imagine Romney with a credible argument for his continued candidacy.

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