Just what exactly should we expect from Tsunami Tuesday, when voters from 23 states go to the polls to decide on the parties' respective nominees? Well, it could very well be a whole lot of nothing.
At least as far as the Democrats are concerned.
While the Republicans, with a preponderance of winner-take-all contests, have at least a possibility of finding a winner (John McCain), such a scenario does not exists for the Democrats. In fact, Tsunami Tuesday may very well yield a near dead heat between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.
While some of you know me as the BCS Guru, the number-cruncher extraordinaire (if you don't mind me saying so myself), I'm putting my skills to good use now for the purpose of projecting the all-important delegate count. And this is what I have to say:
By the end of Tsunami Tuesday, Clinton will lead Obama by one single delegate, 1,069-1,068.
Keep in mind that because of the complexity of the Democrats' system, there is no simple formula to come to this conclusion. And this score does not include super delegates, who are free to commit to any candidate at any time throughout the nominating process.
I divided the 21 primaries/caucuses into four categories: Obama wins, Obama routs, Clinton wins and Clinton routs. A win would be a contest where the winner gets a single-digit victory by percentage and a rout would be a double-digit victory. And this is how they shake out:
Obama wins (6): Idaho, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, North Dakota, Oklahoma.
Obama routs (6): Alabama, Alaska, Georgia, Illinois, Tennessee, Utah.
Clinton wins (6): Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Delaware, Massachusetts.
Clinton routs (3): Connecticut, New Jersey, New York.
These results, combined with delegates already claimed from contests in Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina, will give Clinton the one-delegate edge. As of now, Obama leads Clinton by 15 delegates, 63-48.
The key to achieving this outcome hinges on Obama's ability to keep it close in California and Massachusetts. Senator Ted Kennedy's recent endorsement of Obama gives him a shot to stay in the game in the Bay State. And in California, with the Republicans running a closed primary and driving independents to the Democratic side, combined with the notoriously unreliable Latino turnout, Obama has a fighting chance to keep his losses there to a minimum.
Should Tsunami Tuesday provide this type of stalemate, the Democrats would move a step closer to a brokered convention. If McCain emerges with a big victory on Tuesday, it's possible that the Republicans would have their nominee settled six months before the Democrats do.
That, would be the Democrats' worst nightmare. And it's very close to becoming a reality.