Political Debriefing

by Nathan Swire | 2/1/08 7:23am

The South Carolina and Florida primaries this past week led to a winnowing of the Presidential contests for both Democrats and Republicans.

In the South Carolina Democratic primary on Jan. 26, Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., won with 55 percent of the vote, followed by Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y,. with 27 percent and former Sen. John Edwards, D-S.C., with 18 percent.

The Florida primaries took place on Jan. 29. but the state has been penalized by both national parties for moving up the date of its contest: The Republicans stripped the state of half of its delegates while the Democratic party said that none of Florida's delegates would be seated at the party's convention. Following that move, Obama and Edwards opted not to campaign in the state.

Perhaps as a result, Clinton led the Florida tally with 50 percent of the vote compared to Obama's 33 percent and Edwards in third place with 14 percent.

On Jan. 30, Edwards, who had not finished above third since Iowa's caucuses, announced that he would suspend his campaign for the Democratic nomination. Edwards has not yet announced whether he will endorse one of his opponents. In a speech announcing his decision, Edwards emphasized his campaign's theme of fighting poverty and asked the other two Democratic candidates to carry on his cause.

On the Republican side, Florida's contest was of great importance to former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani, R-N.Y., whose campaign opted not to compete forcefully in the early Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina contests and instead staked its success on a strong showing in Florida.

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., won the state with 36 percent of the vote, while former Gov. Mitt Romney, R-Mass., followed with 31 percent and Giuliani finished in third with 15 percent. Guiliani subsequently dropped out of the presidential race on Tuesday night and endorsed McCain the following day. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, R-Calif., has also endorsed McCain.

Though former Gov. Mike Huckabee, R-Ark., and Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas., remain in the race, most pundits consider the Republican contest to be a two-man battle between McCain and Romney.

On Monday, Obama received the endorsement of two members of the Kennedy dynasty: Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., and Caroline Kennedy, who compared the candidate to her father, former President John F. Kennedy, in an op-ed article in The New York Times.

With Edwards' withdrawal from the campaign, the Democratic field has boiled down to a two-candidate contest between Clinton and Obama.