Super Tuesday breaks voting record

Michael Szabo

People crowded around TV screens as record numbers of voters voiced their opinions.Results were slowly tallied and viewers were kept on edge. And it wasn’t even American Idol.Super Tuesday 2008 (Feb. 5) was the biggest day of voting in presidential primary history and the race on the Democratic side only got closer. With a record turnout from Democratic and Republican voters, prize states like California, New York and Illinois were up for grabs as Americans went to polls and made their voices heard as to who will represent their respective parties in the general election.The other state primaries on Super Tuesday included Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Utah and West Virginia, for a total of 24 states. With the record-making voter turnout seen across the nation over the last month, it seems that the American people are taking a greater interest in this history making contest. 14.6 million Democratic voters came out on Super Tuesday alone and made only one thing clear: the race between Illinois Sen. Barack Obama and New York Sen. Hillary Clinton is far from over.Obama secured the lead in the state race with 21 wins total, including the District of Columbia and the Virgin Islands. Clinton took eight states at the end of Super Tuesday and seemed to have the edge on delegates until results from Wisconsin came in.The major contest was followed closely by a weekend contest in Louisiana, followed by “Potomac Tuesday” (Feb 12.) that included Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia. Feb. 19 saw a primary in Wisconsin and a caucus in Hawaii.”I’m tested, I’m ready. Now let’s make it happen,” Clinton said to her supporters, making the argument that her experience makes her more qualified for the presidency than her competitor. Obama has countered her call of experience with the mantle of change; “Yes we can” has become his mantra and a popular line on the stump.On the Republican end of things, Arizona Sen. John McCain’s domination has been made clear through February, leading former Massachusetts Gov. Willard “Mitt” Romney to suspend his campaign for the Republican nomination. With that move, only former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee was left to contest McCain’s tidal wave of delegates for the lead.The Republicans, seeming already settled on their candidate of choice, have offered split opinions about Huckabee. His “liberal” views are being attacked by conservatives that include Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter, while other Republicans like Bob Dole and Arnold Schwarzenegger support him.”John McCain is not only bad for Republicanism, which he definitely is-he is bad for the country,” Coulter stated on Fox. She stressed she’d back Clinton over McCain because “Hillary is going to be our girl, because she’s more conservative than he is.”The contest continues as McCain looks to cement his victory, despite a New York Times story released Feb. 20 alleging McCain aides attempted to protect the senator “from himself.” The article made reference to allegations of an eight-year-old sexual relationship between McCain and a lobbyist whose company had business before the Senate.Meanwhile, Obama and Clinton seek to edge the other out. Next Tuesday will bare witness to major contests in delegate-rich Ohio and Texas, as well as Rhode Island and Vermont. Clinton faces an uphill climb as she fights against the tide of momentum building behind her competitor.These crucial primaries will be followed by the Democratic Wyoming caucus on March 8 and the general Mississippi caucus on March 11.With Obama’s sweep of Wisconsin and Hawaii on Feb. 19, he extended his lead over Sen. Clinton 1,319 to 1,250 according to CNN. This put Clinton at a devastating 10 consecutive losses and left the campaign clinging to hope for wins next Tuesday.Both campaigns have felt the reverberations from these two victories by Obama and have overhauled the front pages of their Web sites. Clinton made her page warmer by giving it personality it lacked previously, while Obama added a video of himself welcoming visitors to his Web site.Sen. McCain gained 37 delegates as of Feb. 20 for his victories in Wisconsin and Washington, leaving none for his competitor Gov. Huckabee. McCain now leads 918 to 217, essentially rendering Huckabee a nonviable candidate for the Republican nomination.There are 16 primaries remaining before the nomination process is over. After that, it’s off to Denver for the Democratic National Convention (DNC), where either candidate will mark a place in history as the first major woman or black candidate to face off against the Republican choice.With the all-important race for delegates closer than expected, so-called super delegates are being pushed into the spotlight. Super delegates are party elders who can support any candidate and still be free to change their mind at the DNC this August. The fat lady hasn’t sung quite yet.