Democrats fall in love, Republicans fall in line. Or so goes the saying. But just six weeks ago, it appeared that the Democrats were the ones falling in line while the Republicans were looking for love in all the wrong places.
What a difference a few weeks make. In what amounts to a national primary, today's Super Tuesday results could answer a lot of questions in the minds of pundits, voters and the candidates themselves.
Will we know who the nominees are? Not likely. The fact that no candidate will have enough delegates on either side to secure their party's nomination shouldn't keep the mainstream media from nudging the electorate a bit closer to what it has wanted all along: a two-candidate race. But which two candidates?
On the Republican side, don't expect today's results to narrow their gang of four. John McCain is the frontrunner, but his polling leads in California, Georgia, Tennessee and Alabama are all within the margin of error. Mitt Romney is favored in Massachusetts and could pull off a surprise win in California. Mike Huckabee may be viewed as a spoiler by some, but he just won the West Virginia caucus. Ron Paul seems to have more money than he knows how to spend and stands to lose nothing by staying in the race as long as he cares to.
On the Democratic side, things are a bit more clear since John Edwards suspended his campaign. Clinton and Obama are now in a virtual deadheat in national polls. Obama leads in California polls after trailing up until a week ago, while others states are close enough to be considered anyone's to win. Add to this that the Democrats award delegates proportionately and that the states after Super Tuesday seem to favor Obama and one might conclude that Obama has momentum.
Despite the media's relentless drive to eliminate all but a few candidates even after just a small number of delegates had been awarded -- Clinton leads with 241 and needs 2,025 to win; McCain leads with 111 and needs 1,191 to win -- voters are finally making up their own minds and defying expectations. Polls begin to close in the next ten minutes. I'm looking forward to seeing plenty of surprises in the results and how they are reported.
Perhaps the fact that Democrats are falling in love with Barack Obama and Republicans are falling in line behind John McCain are signs that some order is being restored to the universe. Or maybe not.
Remember when Hillary Clinton was all but inevitable? Remember when John McCain was firing staff, running out of money and had been all but written off? What a difference a few weeks make.