Super Tuesday Questions Outnumber Answers

From the blizzard of voting on Super Tuesday emerged a pair of very different races for the presidential nomination — one seeming to gain in clarity, another far from settled.

On the Republican side, John McCain now looks like a solid front-runner. McCain hauled in victories from California, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Missouri, Delaware, Arizona, Oklahoma and Illinois. His delegate total of 557 delegates is more than double the amount held by rivals Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee. And yet McCain failed to lock up the GOP nomination.

"There's an old saying that you can't beat somebody with nobody," says blogger Dan McLaughlin of the conservative RedState.com. "It looks like Mitt Romney, who was the last somebody who really had a realistic possibility of knocking off McCain, is probably out of the race — or at least effectively out of the race."

McLaughlin notes that the Midwestern Romney won heartland states like North Dakota and the Southern Huckabee won in the Bible Belt. McCain took everything else. The remaining states play to McCain's strength, McLaughlin says.

In the Democratic race, Hillary Clinton captured the vote total in large states like New York and California, but rival Barack Obama garnered enough delegates to keep the race competitive. Clinton now leads in the delegate count, with 803 to Obama's 742.

Blogger Bill Scher of the liberal Campaign for America's Future says that Clinton's victories in large states like California were important, but not enough to end the upstart Obama's campaign. Instead, Obama did well enough in a collection of smaller states to stay competitive.

"Now you have an effective tie, almost a dead heat in the popular vote," Scher says. "I think the delegate count is almost a dead heat. Both candidates have full justification for plowing ahead and have the resources to do so."

Scher says the next round of states favors Obama, giving him a chance to regain momentum ahead of the crucial March 4 balloting in Ohio and Texas.

On our blog, an open thread: Why does Obama do so well in caucuses? and the BPP tries a new sound for election coverage.

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