NEW YORK (CNN) - Super Tuesday’s here, and with it the mandatory – and competing - lowball predictions from the deadlocked Democratic field.
First came the memo from Barack Obama’s campaign manager David Plouffe, which highlighted the senator’s worst recent poll showing in every Super Tuesday state, and made conservative delegate projections that seemed to bear little relation to the last-minute poll numbers pouring in from February 5 states.
But that bid to lower expectations was dwarfed by the afternoon conference call with Hillary Clinton campaign advisers Howard Wolfson and Mark Penn, who tried to dismiss today’s results altogether - along with those of the contests to follow in March and April – hours before polls opened, pointing instead to relative readiness for convention fights.
Over to a race with a clear frontrunner: John McCain faced a negative radio spot from Republican rival Mitt Romney yesterday – and launched a last-minute TV attack ad in return.
Romney’s spot aired during Rush Limbaugh’s show, in a bid to reach listeners as disaffected with the Arizona senator as the talk show host himself. Limbaugh faced a hard sell of his own yesterday, in the form of a personal letter testifying to McCain’s conservative bona fides, from none other than former GOP presidential candidate Robert Dole.
At the start of the race, the Super Tuesday contests figured to be the likely finish line. Now, February 5 feels more like the half-way mark – and today a grueling marathon. West Virginia’s GOP convention will wrap up sometime this afternoon, but official results won’t start pouring in until American Samoa’s Democratic caucuses end at 6:30 p.m. ET, and keep coming until California’s polls close at 11 p.m. ET (although the outcome in that race may not be known until well after midnight).
- CNN Associate Political Editor Rebecca Sinderbrand