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Edwards Out….

NOOOOO!!!!! This means no brokered convention. One way or another, either Obama or Clinton will be the nominee coming into the convention.

I guess there is still the odd chance that the winner will be determined by Florida and Michigan being in or out, or by superdelegates changing their minds at the last minute…

But for the most part, this means either Clinton or Obama will be over 50%, and that will be that.

And then there was Florida…

The big news is of course that McCain pulled out a narrow victory… but Florida is a winner take all state, so it made a HUGE difference in delegates. Winner take all is a whole different ballgame than when the states allocate proportionately.

McCain now takes the delegate lead by a decent margin, now having 47% of the delegates awarded so far compared to Romney’s 36%. Before today it was Romney 49% to McCain 26%. Big difference. Despite the media narrative that changed several times, Romney had been ahead in delegates this whole time except for a couple of days between Iowa and Wyoming when Huckabee was ahead. Now McCain has the lead and the momentum.

Of course, once again, Super Tuesday will allocate far more delegates than have been allocated so far. Everything could change once again. But the national polls are showing McCain with a substantial lead… and with 20 states in play, the national polls are actually instructive for once. Pollster now has results up for 12 Super Tuesday states. Most of them don’t have enough polls for trend lines, but by my reckoning McCain is ahead in at least 7 of those 12 states. If he gets some additional momentum out of Florida, and Guiliani dropping out and endorsing him as is now expected… and captures a bunch of winner takes all states… he could come out of Super Tuesday with a commanding and perhaps insurmountable lead… Romney has some serious work to do in the next week to keep this competitive. If he does so, there are also a few states where Huckabee is ahead. If he manages to capture several of those… and enough delegates to keep either McCain or Romney from reaching 50%… then we may still be in for a nice fight all the way to the convention… Having said that, I think we’re going to come out of next Tuesday with a huge McCain lead and it may effectively be over. We shall see.

Oh yeah, the Dems. Despite what Hillary might wish, there were no delegates awarded in Florida tonight. CNN did adjust the superdelegate count slightly though, so the updated graph is above. The gap between Clinton and Obama narrows further. The trend over the last few months has been clear, with Obama slowly catching up. The question is if there is enough time for him to actually catch up. In terms of delagates left to be allocated, there is certainly enough, but is there TIME. Super Tuesday is only a week away. Looking at Pollster again now that they have all these new states… of the 12 states with polls… Clinton is ahead in 9… now, this is based on VERY limited polling, and there are still 8 states with no polls represented here… this may not reflect movements after Obama’s South Carolina win. But never the less, Obama has a LOT of ground to make up here… now, unlike the Republican side there isn’t a winner take all nonsense happening here… and with proportional delegate selection, Obama can get lots of delegates even in states he does not win. So chances are even if Clinton wins most states, things will still be competitive… but if she comes out of next Tuesday with a substantial delegate lead, the momentum could make it just the beginning of the end for Obama. A lot depends on how much ground Obama can gain in all of these states over the next week.

On both sides, the debates this week will be quite important. This will be an intense week for all involved.

And once again, the whole world will change after Super Tuesday, and we’ll have to reevaluate everything. There is the potential on both sides for one candidate to open a huge lead and even if things aren’t mathematically wrapped up, become “inevitable”. There is also the potential to come out of next Tuesday with both sides in the situation with two leaders not that far apart in delegates, with a third candidate with enough delegates to play kingmaker.

And wouldn’t that be fun.