Obama And Clinton In Maryland

Posted on February 11, 2008


Can it be possible that Tuesday’s Potomac Primary (Maryland-D.C.-Virginia) could be the decisive turning point in the plot of this improbable reality show featuring the First Woman and the First Black Man?

A year ago, nobody could have predicted this. The primary schedule was so front-loaded that the nomination would be wrapped up and decorated with a bow after Super Tuesday.

But Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton split the four early, small-state contests. (Iowa and South Carolina to Obama, New Hampshire and Nevada to Clinton). Then they all but split Super Tuesday. Clinton held an insignificant lead in the delegate count, Obama had the edge in momentum. Go with the Mo.

Riding a wave of momentum, money and celebrity, Barack Obama swept four states over the weekend. Louisiana, Obama. Nebraska, Obama. Washington state, Obama. Maine, Obama. Clinton was not close in any of them.

Now here we are, in a place where Maryland has never been before. We’re not in Iowa or New Hampshire anymore. We’re definitely not in Kansas, Toto.

Maryland, D.C. and Virginia could break three ways on Tuesday for Obama and Clinton. Stipulate that D.C. goes to Barack Obama, but D.C. is small. That leaves Maryland and Virginia. The possibilities:

  1. Barack Obama sweeps Maryland, Virginia and D.C., following his Saturday sweep. Go with the Mo.
  2. Hillary Clinton sweeps Maryland and Virginia, effectively putting the brakes on Obama’s Mo, for the Mo-ment.
  3. Clinton and Obama split Maryland and Virginia, and the race continues, virtually tied.

I think the result will be either No. 1 or No. 3. I won’t speculate about Virginia, where independents can vote in the Democratic primary. I’ve lived my life in Maryland, but as soon as I cross the Potomac into Virginia, I am lost.

I will speculate about Maryland. Only registered Democrats can vote in the Democratic primary in Maryland. That gives Hillary Clinton a chance. She has the unwavering support of Gov. Martin O’Malley. Baltimore is Barack Obama territory, from what I hear. But the rest of the state is wide open for Clinton and Obama.

I would not underestimate Hillary Clinton’s strength in the heavily populated suburban counties: Montgomery, Prince Georges, Baltimore, Howard, Anne Arundel, Harford. Only registered Democrats can vote, and probably 60 percent of the voters will be women. I think it will be close, and I think Hillary Clinton has a good chance of winning, even if it’s 51 percent to 49 percent. Anything more than that would be a significant victory for Clinton.

Can it be possible that Maryland is the turning point? No.

But Maryland will adjust the heat for the primaries to come. The nomination will be decided, if it is decided before the convention, by the primaries in the big states: Ohio, Texas, and Pennsylvania. And by the Super Delegates.

But this is Maryland’s week. Vote, Maryland, vote. — Bernie Hayden