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Feb 7, 2008 6:05 pm

SUPER TUESDAY SPECIAL: Historians' Comments

SUPER TUESDAY SPECIAL: Historians' Comments
    SUPER TUESDAY SPECIAL: Historians' Comments


  • Primary Season Election Results - NYT
  • Democrats # of Delegates

  • Hillary Clinton 845
  • Barack Obama 765
  • Republicans # of Delegates

  • John McCain 613
  • Mitt Romney 269
  • Mike Huckabee 190
  • Historians' Comments

  • Allan J. Lichtman on"Democrat battle continues as GOP leader emerges" (Video) - CTV, Canada AM, 2-6-08
  • Gil Troy on"Democrat battle continues as GOP leader emerges" (Video) - CTV, Canada AM, 2-6-08
  • Allan J. Lichtman:"McCain has won the nomination, but he has not yet won the love of conservatives," Allan J. Lichtman, a presidential historian at American University, told Canada AM on Wednesday."That was clearly indicated by Huckabee's surprising strength in the South ... and Romney's strength in the West. John McCain has a lot of work to do to knit this party together." Powerful conservative voices like talk radio host Rush Limbaugh and James Dobson of Focus on the Family"have been vitriolic in their denunciations of McCain," Lichtman said.
    "It just shows how little endorsements count for in American politics," Lichtman said."It shows a lot of working-class people in Massachusetts thought Hillary Clinton had a better plan for their future than Barack Obama." In Georgia, eight of 10 African-Americans supported Obama, he said.
    Lichtman said the battle among the Democratic heavyweights goes on -- and could continue for months."This is trench warfare," he declared."Remember, the Democrats don't have winner-take-all primaries, so it's going to be very difficult to break this logjam." Ultimately, the race could conceivably come down to who the approximately 800"super delegates" -- elected politicians and party officials -- decide to support, he said. There could also be a fight over whether to seat delegates from Michigan and Florida. Those delegates were disqualified when the states moved up their primaries without permission, Lichtman said."It's absolutely unpredictable, and both Obama and Clinton have their very enthusiastic supporters. Both have a very strong claim on being powerful candidates."
    Whatever happens, Lichtman said this election could be historic, and not just because a black man or white woman could become president."This is a turning-point election. This is the end of the Bush era, and it could be the end of the conservative era that began with Ronald Reagan," he said. - CTV, Canada AM, 2-6-08
  • Doug Wead: Huckabee Rises - News Max, 2-6-08
  • Julian Zelizer on"Romney's White House bid in doubt after losses":"He can't be the conservative candidate of the Republican Party and not win in any big states. It's hard to see why he would go on for too much longer." - Reuters, 2-6-08
  • Julian Zelizer:"Once again, Hillary Clinton has held her ground and scored important wins. This one will go down to the wire." - Bloomberg, 2-6-08
  • William Jelani Cobb on"Huckabee pulls off Georgia win; Obama trounces Clinton":"What we're seeing is a groundswell of support and a number of people willing to break with the old traditions," said , a history professor at Spelman College and an Obama supporter. - AP, 2-6-08
  • Brooks Simpson:"He will represent himself as a very powerful and informed person when it comes to foreign policy. I don't think that's any secret," said Brooks Simpson, an Arizona State University history professor, who has studied and written on the presidency. McCain will let voters know he is comfortable and determined to exercise American forces abroad, but in a manner starkly different from the current administration."He would make it very clear that the way the United States would conduct itself in international affairs, especially military operations, would reflect American values. That's one of the keys to his positions on torture, for example," Simpson said. - East Valley Tribune, AZ, 2-6-08
  • Allan Lichtman:"These Democratic contests were fought almost to a dead heat. Neither Obama nor Clinton emerged tonight with the sort of decisive lead that puts pressure on one another to withdraw or prompts the Democratic establishment to tell one of them to get out." - Red Orbit, TX, 2-6-08
  • Historians Reflect on Super Tuesday's Evolving Role The American presidential nomination process has taken many twists and turns in the nation's history, and this year's prominence of the Feb. 5 voting contests represents its latest turn. Historians discuss Super Tuesday's origins and its implications for the presidency. - NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, 2-5-08
  • MICHAEL BESCHLOSS, Presidential Historian: Well, by the 1980s, Democrats were worried that there weren't enough things that represented African-Americans in the process, so they thought one way of doing this is to have a Super Tuesday with a lot of southern states, black voters within the Democratic Party. But the other impulse was very different. The Democratic establishment worried that these Democratic nominations were going to insurgents like George McGovern, Jimmy Carter. So why not have a big Super Tuesday with a lot of states on one day that would favor someone who was well-financed, nationally known, well-organized? Of course, it hasn't always worked out that way....
    Absolutely, and so as a way of sort of getting some geographical balance in the process. But, you know, the irony is that things don't always turn out the way that you expect them to. And looking at it this year, this was something that was almost perfectly designed for a Hillary Clinton, assuming that no one could raise money or organize on the scale that she has been able to do. Of course, that was forgetting the possibility that you could have a Barack Obama. - NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, 2-5-08
  • RICHARD NORTON SMITH: If you look at 1988, which most people regard as the first Super Tuesday, he's absolutely right. The desire was to include not only African-Americans, but also white southerners at a time -- remember, Ronald Reagan's popularity was at its peak. The Democrats have lost two elections, so offset, dilute the sort of liberal leanings of the early states. So who did they nominate that year? Who won on Super Tuesday? Michael Dukakis. On the other hand, four years later, it worked perfectly. We forget today that Bill Clinton really didn't compete in Iowa, and he came in second in New Hampshire. And yet he really recovered on Super Tuesday. And that really was the making of his candidacy. So whatever you expect as a result of careful, calibrated reasoning, the odds are you may very well get the opposite....
    In '88, that's a good point, because Dole had come roaring out of Iowa. For about four days, he thought he was going to be president of the United States, lost in New Hampshire and then, of course, went on to Super Tuesday. And that's where the first George Bush nailed it down. - NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, 2-5-08
  • MICHAEL BESCHLOSS: Because they make money off the process. So, therefore, if you've got something like Super Tuesday, with 22, 24 states, that's basically TV, money spent on TV, organization, all sorts of other things. Consultants, professional politicians benefit from that. And the downside of this is that when you have essentially sort of a semi-national primary, you're screening out almost anyone who cannot raise $100 million before the election year. That may not be the best thing for choosing a president. - NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, 2-5-08
  • BEVERLY GAGE: Well, the thing about the primary system is that nobody actually set out and said,"OK, let's design a system that's going to be totally rational. And we're going to, you know, sit down, figure this all out ahead of time." It sort of gets cobbled together each time. And so what you've seen more and more is this race for influence, the push by different states, right? You have Iowa and New Hampshire. Southern states feel left out. They make their move, as they did in the 1980s, to have some more influence. Then you see,"OK, well, why should the big states be left out?" Big states make their move to come in, as well. And then what happens to our regional diversity? So western states and others come in, as well. And so I think you've got really a competitive process at work that is almost impossible to stop in its tracks unless, you know, there's a convention and the process itself is changed almost from the top down. - NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, 2-5-08
  • RICHARD NORTON SMITH: One prediction, and that is I don't know whether people will take a second look at Super Tuesday after this. One thing I suspect the Democrats may take a look at, though, is proportional representation, which is another reform they wrote into the books in the 1970s and, up until now, it's worked. It's never burned them. But because of the fact that you can get 40 percent of the vote, 41 percent, I guess, in most states, and get a significant number of delegates, that tends to prolong the campaign and with all the divisiveness and everything else that this whole system was set up to eliminate. - NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, 2-5-08
  • RICHARD NORTON SMITH: You go back to 1968, when they had this tumultuous convention on national television, and the party tore itself apart. And coming out of the '60s when the country tore itself apart, a whole lot of people were brought in from the margins, people who'd been left out of the political process. And so the McGovern Commission was created so that the rules were rewritten to make the Democratic process democratic, to make it more representative, more inclusive, and ultimately a certain element of chaos. - NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, 2-5-08
  • McGill University professor Gil Troy told Newsnet that the polls find Obama to be surging,"but the polls have been consistently wrong in this campaign, so you have to be careful about that." Today, Clinton has a bare lead in California and New Jersey, where she had double-digit leads only two weeks ago, he said. Troy said he'll be particularly interested in California's results and how the two candidates do with the important Hispanic community. - CTV, 2-5-08
  • Some"Super Tuesday" thoughts from a Gerald Gamm, Associate Professor of Political Science and History. - 13WHAM-TV, NY, 2-5-08
  • Stephen Wayne: Super Tuesday: Voters Head to Polls in Biggest-Ever One-Day White House Nominating Contest - Democracy Now, 2-5-08
  • Linda Gordon on"US voter faces race-gender dilemma":"It is terribly difficult still in the US and in most countries for a Woman to be a political leader. In the public eye she has to be strong and at the same time not unfeminine to the conservative. Hillary has done extremely well walking that tightrope." -, India, 2-5-08
  • Alan Epstein, a historian and the vice president of Democrats Abroad in Rome said he was expecting a high turnout (Democrats Outside U.S. Savor New Political Clout):"I'm seeing tremendous excitement. So far we've seen unprecedented primary participation in the U.S. and there's even more excitement here." He said the reaction was understandable:"Americans who live abroad feel the sting of U.S. policies that have been viewed unfavorably in the rest of the world." - RedOrbit, TX, 2-5-08
  • Historian Allan Lichtman says, Super Tuesday can make or break a candidate's campaign, as they're fighting battles from coast to coast of the country:"You need a lot of money to compete on Super Tuesday, you can't campaign personally in 22 states and you have a real strong on the ground operation all over the country. It makes it real challenging, particularly on the democratic side, where we have such a hard-fought, closely contested campaign." - Euro News, 2-5-08
  • Presidential historian Allan Lichtman said:"This is the most exciting Super Tuesday, certainly on the Democratic side. Rarely do you have two candidates, so strong, so different, so evenly matched, and with the outcome uncertain." - WWAY TV3, ABC, 2-4-08
  • Julian E. Zelizer: Sure, an ex-senator would take hard-won alliances and friendships with him or her to the White House, points out Julian E. Zelizer, congressional historian at Princeton. But so too would he or she take built-up animosities. McCain and Clinton in particular should not expect a honeymoon."The personal back-and-forth would start right away," Zelizer said."I think senators would be very comfortable testing these people in the White House." - Kasas City Star, 2-4-08
  • On Super Tuesday, Presidential Candidates Aim for a Huge Prize Twenty-four states will be awarding delegates toward the Democratic and Republican nominations. A look at the campaign, the candidates and the system - VOA, 2-3-08

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