With the post-Super Bowl hangovers just starting to gell and the bookmakers assessing the damage from the handful of big Giants faithful who not only believed their boys would keep New England from covering the spread, but might actually come out and do the impossible, the hardened gamblers with a belt of money to spend on Super Tuesday are even less sure where to lay down their coin.
The 2007-08 season has been as maddeningly unpredictable in politics as it has been in sport. The safe–and smart–money has Mitt Romney coming home to the Bay State for an ignominious burial tomorrow night. He’s probably not too late to catch a ride into the afterworld with Gordon Humphries.
John McCain isn’t about to allow him a death with dignity, however. Sunday saw McCain stumping in Romney’s Massachusetts yesterday. It was a bold and probably unnecessarily cocky move on McCain’s part. He could argue that he was only there to accept the nomination of former Massachusetts Governor Paul Cellucci, but it was clearly a fighter wandering over to his wobbling opponent’s corner between rounds and spitting into his bucket, before retreating with a wink an a casual wipe of the mouth.
Everything portends doom for Mitt Romney on Tuesday night. Nearly every poll is showing McCain’s lead only widening, his endorsements are continuing to accumulate, there is almost no movement in Romney’s direction, and Mike Huckabee remains maddeningly, spoilingly in the race, continuing to siphon off votes from Mitt and trying to demonstrate to his friend McCain what a loyal, devoted toady he could be, just like a labrador–or even a Vice President. John McCain is talking and acting like a front-runner, and while it’s that kind of Patriotesque swagger that only makes people want to see you knocked off your pedestal, Mitt Romney is neither a plausible nor a lovable underdog.
The real fun is happening over in the Democrats’ camp. Both sides are managing expectations right now: Obama is surging, but if Hillary hangs on for a victory in California it will be a huge victory (even though 50% of California’s votes could have been cast before Obama’s momentum began, and the voter rolls are top-heavy with women and Hispanics, meaning Hillary could not only hold on but might actually win by 8% or 9% or more). Obama may have crested too early, and Hillary at least stanched the bleeding with their civil and dignified performance at last Thursday’s debate. Obama appreciates his surge, but he’s fighting a formidable and better-known candidate in Hillary Clinton, and the fact that they’re still in this fight is a victory in and of itself.
The Super Bowl was a much-easier bet to make, even if you took the Patriots. The Giants won in an upset, plain and simple. You take your licks, cost of doing business, any given Sunday, blah blah blah. There are so many factors in play for the Democrats on Super Tuesday that there won’t be any upsets or expected victories. There are 24 states and more than 2,000 delegates–and a maddening number of variables–in play tomorrow.
If you claim you know with near certainty how it’s going to play out, you know not of what you speak. The only responsible, professional, educated prognostication about what’s going to go down for the Democrats tomorrow is this: “I have no fucking clue.”
All the more reason why I’m going to step out on a ledge and take the only truly foolish bet open in this monster and monstrously-unpredictable contest: Never mind the absentee ballots, never mind the Hispanics and the women, with 38 hours before the polls close in the Golden State, on behalf of Veeps2008.com, I’m declaring Senator Barack Obama the winner in California by a margin of 47 to 41%.
I’ll take my earnings in praise and admiration tomorrow night at 8:01 PM when the news networks put that blue checkmark next to Obama’s name and nearly the identical numbers that I’ve written above. I’ve read the tea leaves, I’ve listened to my gut, and of this I’m certain.
I’m just not putting more than $20 on it.