Both parties planned Super Tuesday as the coronation of a candidate, followed by six months of furious fund raising to finance the fall race for the presidency. Such hopes were deliciously dashed on Tuesday as chaos descended on both parties.




John McCain won his Republican primary contests largely in states which will probably vote Democratic in the fall &

New York, Delaware, Connecticut, New Jersey and California. In the "red states" likely to vote Republican in the fall, he had to split the vote with both Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee and, even when winning, rarely rose above 40 percent.




Across the last two weeks, conservatives have paraded incredulity and disappointment that their party should have selected a traitor like McCain. Indeed, it's becoming clear that as the economy tilts into recession, prominent conservatives are coming to the conclusion that it might be no bad thing to have a Democrat win the White House this year and get stuck with recession and the mess in Iraq for four years.




At the end of last week, Ann Coulter, the Saxon Klaxon, announced that if McCain gets the nomination, she would not only "vote for" Hillary, she would "campaign for her if it's McCain" because Clinton "is more conservative than he is."




On Monday, Richard Viguerie, one of the creators of the modern conservative movement, said McCain has only a short time to reach out to conservatives &

to "stop the bleeding before it's too late."




The same day saw the most ominous message from all, from the mouth the Rev. James Dobson, now the single most influential voice among evangelical Christians. He damned McCain conclusively. "I am deeply disappointed the Republican Party seems poised to select a nominee who did not support a Constitutional amendment to protect the institution of marriage, voted for embryonic stem-cell research to kill nascent human beings, opposed tax cuts that ended the marriage penalty, has little regard for freedom of speech, organized the Gang of 14 to preserve filibusters in judicial hearings, and has a legendary temper and often uses foul and obscene language."




On Super Tuesday, the dirigible of drivel himself, Rush Limbaugh, told his vast radio audience: "If I believe the country will suffer with either Hillary, Obama or McCain, I would just as soon the Democrats take the hit rather than a Republican causing the debacle.




And I would prefer not to have conservative Republicans in the Congress paralyzed by having to support, out of party loyalty, a Republican president who is not conservative."




The Democratic Party is also fractured. Super Tuesday's split of delegate votes between Hillary and Obama left the nomination hanging until the Convention, when the "super delegates" will tilt the balance in a blizzard of under-the-table pledges and bribes in the smoke-free caucus rooms. The fissures were glaringly exposed in yesterday's votes. Hillary won eight states &

Arkansas, Arizona, California, Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Oklahoma and Tennessee. Obama won 13 &

Alaska, Alabama, Connecticut, Colorado, Delaware, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, North Dakota and Utah where polygamists presumably rallied for Obama in honor of his father.




Hillary won the white south in Arkansas, Tennessee, Oklahoma and maybe Missouri. She won the support of women, a commanding slice of the Hispanic vote and (in California) the Asian vote. Above all, she maintained a decisive grip on the white over-60s. The youth vote, long predicted but only this year materializing at the polls, is supposedly Obama's, though Hillary got more of it on Tuesday than expected. Courtesy of Bill Clinton's outbursts in New Hampshire and South Carolina, the black vote has gone to Obama on a scale that dwarfs Jesse Jackson's historic triumphs in '84 and '88. So if it comes to the nomination of Hillary Clinton by super delegates, there will be a lot of alienated and angry black and middle-class youthful voters.




Presidential elections these days are really decided by swing voters, classed by the pollsters as "independent." Super Tuesday showed Obama as the Democratic candidate who is more capable of winning this vote. It was independents and first-time voters who gave the Illinois senator his victories in states like Idaho. On the other hand, women rallied to Hillary and gave her victory in states like Massachusetts. Women are the decisive voting bloc in the Democratic Party.




Brace yourself for the possibility of a funding scandal. The Clintons have to find money fast. Obama is outraising Hillary by $3 to $1 and can continue doing so since Hillary's big donors have reached their legal limits whereas Obama's legions of small contributors can go on giving him money.