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Now that the final speeches are over for the evening and the races are more or less decided, even if the eventual delegate splits may still be a bit murky, let's take stock of the results and try to make some sense of the numbers.
The big winner: John Kerry, no matter what the fools at MS-NBC think. In the past two weeks, John Kerry has won in every contested area of the country except the South, unless you count Missouri as part of Dixie. Edwards won one state in his own backyard and came close to winning another thanks to the "Little Dixie" area of Oklahoma, as one pundit on CNN put it tonight. He had a distant second-place finish in Missouri, the biggest prize of the night. Otherwise, Edwards failed to resonate anywhere other than the South, and while we all know that the Democrats need some star power below the Mason-Dixon line, Edwards isn't shining bright enough yet to be attractive anywhere else.
The big loser: Howard Dean. He gambled that the states and their delegates would be more evenly split, but all his absence did was to give more momentum to the normally sonorous Kerry. Instead of making inroads in delegates, Dean squandered what little enthusiasm his movement had left and saw most of his finishes fall out of the money. He only got delegates from New Mexico and possibly Arizona tonight and failed to get over 10% in most of the rest of the states. Two larger states, Washington and Michigan, hold primaries on Saturday, with Maine caucusing on Sunday. Dean has to win one of these or he is officially toast.
Second-biggest loser is Wes Clark. He was 1200 votes away from retiring from the race, but the razor-thin victory over Edwards keeps Clark on life support, probably through Tennessee and Virginia on February 10th. If he doesn't win one of these primaries -- and I mean win it, not fall into a virtual tie with Edwards or Kerry -- he's out, too.
Treading water is John Edwards. Although his speeches and his TV appearances are impressive, he's not translating into a national candidate yet. He's building an impressive resume for 2008, but unless he can win outside of his comfort zone, he's going nowhere in 2004 except to the bottom of the ticket. His lips say, "No, no," but the polls say, "Yes, yes!"
As I posted earlier, Joe Lieberman is the official martyr of the Democrats. While Dean whines about his media treatment, Kerry hides his Botox treatment, and Edwards gets the star treatment, Lieberman managed the unbelievable feat of having both sides of the Democratic party shaft him in its zeal to find the Next Big Thing in politics. First it was Dean and then Clark, and now neither of them is in the hunt; remember when people debated which one would be VP for the other? Their partisans (Gore and the DLC, respectively) made Lieberman the sacrificial lamb for absolutely no gain whatsoever. Too bad he was the most electable candidate they had for November.
My guess is that Dean and Clark both fail to win Saturday or next Tuesday, and Kerry takes everything except Tennessee, which goes for Edwards. Get ready to say goodbye to the two Mr. Nutbars.
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