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Super Tuesday Winners and Losers

Twenty-four states and the largest primary day ever -- now that's a SUPER Tuesday.

For Republicans, the clear winner was John McCain, claiming a number of big states -- New York, New Jersey, California -- to emerge with a strong delegate lead and a seeming stranglehold on the nomination.

The Democratic result was far more muddled, with a spirited debate already underway on The Fix over whether Barack Obama or Hillary Rodham Clinton won the better roster of states. No matter where you come down on that conversation, it's hard to see the Democratic race ending any time soon. (We'll have more on what's next in both races later this afternoon.)

Regular Fix readers know we like to find the story behind the story, however, and below you'll find our winners and losers from last night's action. This list is designed to start a conversation, not end one, so post your own winners/losers in the comments section below.

WINNERS

Mike Huckabee: We all expected a former Republican governor would win a series of states last night. But few people thought that former governor would be Huckabee. Huckabee's wins in Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, Arkansas and Arkansas hobbled Mitt Romney's attempt to coalesce conservatives behind his candidacy and made Huckabee the leading alternative to McCain. It's hard to see how Huckabee can build a coalition to take out McCain or, frankly, if he really wants to do that given the congeniality between the two men. But Huckabee proved last night that his win in Iowa was not a fluke. Imagine what he could have done if he had raised significant cash and put together even a semblance of the organizations his rivals built in the early states.

Hispanics: As they did in Nevada's caucuses, Hispanics gave Clinton her margin of victory in several must-win states yesterday. In California, which was an emerging battleground between the two candidates, Clinton won Hispanics by 40 points -- a massive boost for the New York senator considering that Hispanics accounted for roughly 30 percent of the Democratic vote in the Golden State. The results were similar in other states that Clinton had to have -- in New Jersey she won the Hispanic vote by 35 points, in Massachusetts by 20 points.

The Gender Gap: For nine states covered by exit polling data purchased by The Post, the gender gap on the Democratic side showed up in full force. Taking out the two candidates' home states, the exit polls reveal a vote split clearly down gender lines. Obama won the male vote in six of the seven non-native son/daughter states (he crushed Clinton by 39 points among men in Georgia) while she won men in Tennessee by three points. Among women, Clinton rolled to double-digit victories in five of the seven states; Obama won women in Georgia by a whopping 28 points thanks to his strength among black voters and beat Clinton by a single point among women in Missouri. The numbers in individual states were eye-popping -- Clinton did 27 points better among women than men in Massachusetts, 26 points better in California and 20 points better in New Jersey.

Arnold Schwarzenegger: The Governator's credibility was on the line after he decided to reverse course and endorse McCain in the lead-up to California's primary. As polling showed Romney closing the gap, questions about Schwarzenegger's reach within his own party were raised. But McCain pulled it out in the end. Outside of the presidential race, Schwarzenegger won another victory: He opposed Proposition 92, which would have changed the way community college funds in the state are doled out; the measure failed.

Obama's Caucus Organization: After Iowa, it became clear that caucuses -- smaller, more intimate affairs -- were Obama's strong suit. (Nevada was a slight hiccup, although Obama did end up with more delegates thanks to his strength in the rural parts of the state.) Knowing that, his campaign organized aggressively in the six states holding caucuses on Feb. 5, and in five of them he won convincingly. Those wins helped Obama pile up delegates as the two candidates prepare for an extended period of trench warfare in the fight for the nomination.

Tim Kaine: The Virginia Democratic governor was among the earliest endorsers of Obama and now has a week to prove the mettle of his political organization in a state that looks to be the most hotly contested among the Feb. 12 states. Vice presidential tryout, anyone?

Homebody Reporters: The next major fight on the Democratic side is next Tuesday, when voters in Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia cast ballots. The so-called Potomac Primary means that Washington-based reporters will get to sleep in their own beds even while covering the vote. And yes, The Fix is selfishly talking about himself.

Superdelegates: This select group of elected officials and party regulars ia going to be the new battleground between Obama and Clinton. Unlike delegates selected in caucuses and primaries, the supers are not bound to support any candidate, meaning that they can extract promises from the two candidates in exchange for their support. For the next few months, these superdelegates are going to the most popular kids in school.

LOSERS

President Bush: In the nine states for which The Post purchased exit polling data (Arizona, California, Georgia, Illinois, Massachusetts, Missouri, New Jersey, New York and Tennessee), the president's disapproval rating was above 40 percent in five. That includes a 52 percent disapproval score in New York, a 49 percent disapproval rating in New Jersey and a 42 percent disapproval in California. Did we mention these include Republican primary voters? The other bit of bad news for Bush is that among those who disapproved of the job he has done, McCain won overwhelmingly -- meaning that the likely 2008 nominee will, in the minds of many GOP-leaning voters, be a repudiation of the current president.

Janet Napolitano: The Arizona governor went out on a limb to back Obama and was featured in the Illinois senator's closing ads in the state. In the end, however, Napolitano wasn't able to deliver her state for Obama, a high-profile setback for a politician with clear aspirations for a spot on the national ticket.

Conservative Talk Radio: Rush Limbaugh went all out to rally support for Romney -- or at the very least suppress votes for McCain. It didn't work. While McCain won among self-identified conservatives in only three of the nine states covered by exit polls bought by The Post, he won the raw vote in six of the nine. (McCain won Arizona, California, Illinois, Missouri, New Jersey and New York; Huckabee took Tennessee and Georgia while Romney won Massachusetts.) McCain won huge margins among moderates.

Mark Warner: The former Virginia governor -- and odds-on favorite to be the next senator from the commonwealth -- has stayed out of the endorsement game ever since he dropped his own presidential aspirations in late 2006. But considerable pressure will be brought to bear on Warner over the next week to make his preference known. And at least one member of Clinton's inner circle has VERY close ties to Warner. What's a popular politician to do?

The Fix's Vacation Plans: The Democratic race ain't ending any time soon. In fact, it's hard to see a clear path to the nomination for either Obama or Clinton. When their campaigns said the fight could extend into April, we thought they were kidding. They weren't.

By Chris Cillizza  |  February 6, 2008; 12:05 PM ET
Categories:  Eye on 2008  
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Next: Spinning Super Tuesday

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