February 06, 2008

State of Play
12:00 AM

WASHINGTON--The Super Tuesday primaries were a test of strength that demonstrated weaknesses in both parties and pointed to problems each could confront in the fall.John McCain is now the clear Republican front-runner, but he leads a party torn by ideology and has survived only because his conservative opponents have fractured their movement.Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama fought to a near draw in a series of Democratic primaries that revealed a sharp gender gap, a generation gap at least as deep as the age divide that was so widely advertised in the 1960s, and differences across lines of eth

February 05, 2008

The Preacher vs. The Campaigner
12:00 AM

WILMINGTON, Del.--Democrats are divided this year not by the issues but by a feeling and a theory. This helps explain why the preferences of voters in the Democratic presidential primaries so far have gyrated so wildly. In the absence of deep divisions on policy, Democrats have been cut loose from their ideological moorings.


Setting up their February 5 caucus, Montana Republicans took one look at Wyoming’s closed, convoluted (pro-Romney) caucus system--which provides little opportunity for public participation--and decided it was too democratic. As Montana GOP director Chris Wilcox explained to me, the party streamlined the system so only precinct representatives and elected or appointed officials can caucus (thus eliminating the unwieldy process of voter involvement). If this libertarian state ran an open primary, McCain might have a chance.

North Dakota
12:00 AM

This winter, the plains of North Dakota are so quiet that you can hear a pin drop. And that’s just the election coverage. Nary a poll--straw or otherwise--has been conducted since October. Delegates: Democrats: 21, (7 of which are superdelegates); Republicans: 26.Format: Both state parties use a proportional caucus system. Democratic Fundraising: Obama: $14,504; Clinton: $4,000.Republican Fundraising: Paul: $17,246; McCain: 11,936; Huckabee: $6,473; Romney: $5,570.Get a rundown of other states at play at TNR's Super Tuesday Primer, updated with new states every day leading up to February 5.

Correspondence: Chavez Hasn't Neglected the Poor
12:00 AM

To the Editor: Alvaro Vargas Llosa may have visited Venezuela, but his unfounded dismissals of its efforts to combat poverty and social exclusion ("Slum Lord," January 22, 2008) are short-sighted and dismissive of the many successes the country has had. Since President Hugo Chavez was elected in 1998, he has made the fight against poverty his government's primary and most pressing priority. Starting in 2003, the government instituted a number of innovative social missions--targeted programs that brought vital social services into Venezuela's poorest neighborhoods.

12:00 AM

Alaska is big, far, and sparsely populated. It is difficult to get to and even harder to navigate. For these reasons, no candidate has visited the state. Mitt Romney sent a son. Mike Huckabee dispatched his wife. Barack Obama is the only major candidate with a state headquarters.

Not So Super
12:00 AM

This election season, "superdelegate" endorsements have been presented by the press as a critical metric in the race for the Democratic nomination for president. The 796 superdelegates--party insiders who will make up 20 percent of the 4,049 votes at the Denver convention--have been called "an obscure but powerful group," a "unique political force," and flatly "anti-democratic." Delegate-tracking scorecards such as CNN's are already counting them as part of each candidates' tallies.


Missouri is “a relentlessly average state”--according to University of Missouri professor David Robertson--with an economy that mimics the national economy, and demographics similar to the nation as a whole. “Missouri is a natural laboratory” of American politics, Robertson says--if it’s happening there, there’s a good bet it’s happening countrywide. The primaries also echo national trends: Obama and Clinton are tied, pitting the Democratic establishment against the party's “mavericks” and Obama’s strong local organization (which benefits from volunteers out of nearby Illinois).