Super Tuesday has made John McCain the presumptive Republican nominee. Mike Huckabee and Mitt Romney did well enough to maintain a justification for staying the race. Unlike John Edwards, Rudy Giuliani, and Fred Thompson, Mitt and Huck have won in half a dozen states or more, and command plurality support within a significant wing of their party (evangelicals for Huckabee and non-evangelical conservatives for Romney). But McCain has a fairly clear path to the nomination.
On the Democratic side, super Tuesday was as close as could be. Patrick Ruffini estimates that Clinton and Obama were within 25,000 votes and 4 delegates of each other on the night.
This outcome strongly reinforces the conventional wisdom that “super-delegates” will determine whether the Dems nominate Clinton or Obama. This reality, coupled with the dominant role of identity politics among Democrats this year, creates a significant risk that core voting blocs will become alienated.
But the empowerment of the super-delegates may also present the Democrats with an opportunity. To the extent that the super-delegates wish (or feel constrained) to confer the nomination on Clinton, they could perhaps extract a promise that she will put Obama on the ticket. If Obama accepts, the Dems would have a powerful ticket and, presumably, no alienated elements within their base.
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