TNR Super Tuesday Primer

A few months ago, New York was all but a lock for its two hometown candidates--Rudy Giuliani and Hillary Clinton. But Giuliani didn’t even make it to Super Tuesday, and Clinton, while still holding on to a wide lead over Obama, is feeling the effects of a national swell of support for her opponent.

Delegates: Democrats: 281; Republicans: 101.

Format: The Democrats use a proportional primary system, in which 151 delegates are allotted proportionally by congressional district, 85 delegates selected at the state Democratic committee meeting held in May, and 45 are superdelegates reserved for Democratic leaders in the state. The Republicans are having a winner-take-all primary.

Democratic Fundraising: Clinton: $18,017,409; Obama: $7,838,404.

Republican Fundraising: McCain: $3,598,934; Romney: $2,010,685; Paul: $153,088; Huckabee: $9,568.

Polls: According to all recent polls, Clinton is holding strong in New York, maintaining a double-digit lead over Obama. Quinnipiac (2/3) has Clinton at 53 to Obama's 39; SurveyUSA (2/3) has the margin at 56 to 38; and Rasmussen (2/3) has it at 51 to 30. According to Quinnipiac, Clinton is outpolling Obama when it comes to men (51-42), women (55-37), and whites (58-34), but Obama is far more popular among blacks (68-27).

Even in the weeks prior to the Florida primary, McCain took the lead in the polls over hometown favorite Giuliani. Now, with Giuliani supporters at his back, McCain has the momentum and is ahead in most polls by over 30 points. The most recent Quinnipiac poll (2/3) has McCain at 54 and Romney at 22. Reuters/Zogby (2/3) has it 53 to 19, and SurveyUSA (2/3) 56 to 23.

Endorsements: Clinton can count on the support of the New York establishment, having already secured 37 of the 49 superdelegates (including herself and her husband). Also, she has the support of Governor Eliot Spitzer, Senator Charles Schumer, and several U.S. congressmen. She has also picked up the New York Times’ endorsement. Obama has not garnered much support from the party’s establishment, though he has received the New York Post’s endorsement as well as the backing of more than 30 New York City ministers.

The Republican Party in New York State--while still effective at fundraising--is fundamentally weak. Jeffery Stonecash, professor of political science at the Maxwell School of Syracuse University, attributes this to the fact that former Governor George Pataki did little during his tenure to strengthen the party. Moreover, the national party’s recent move to the right has dampened the support of New York’s more moderate conservative voters. That said, McCain has received the most important endorsement of all Republican candidates--that of Giuliani. He has also picked up the New York Times’ endorsement, although it is not clear that Republicans view this positively.

Analysis: Inverting the famous lyric, if Clinton can’t make it in New York, she can’t make it anywhere. Frank Newport, editor in chief of the Gallup Poll, does not see a scenario where Clinton will lose the state--although her support may noticeably drop. As such, Obama can pick up some delegates, and the fact that he has begun to spend expensive advertising dollars in the state demonstrates that his campaign feels that he can make gains here. Mickey Carroll, the director Quinnipiac’s Polling Institute, notes that black populations in New York City and in the arc that runs from Rochester to Buffalo may deliver some delegates to Obama. On the other side, with Giuliani out of the picture, McCain is almost guaranteed to pick up all 101 delegates.

Get a rundown of other states at play at TNR's Super Tuesday Primer, updated with new states every day leading up to February 5.

By Adam Blinick