Yesterday was Super Duper Tuesday in America, with voters in 22 states choosing the Republican or Democratic candidates they want to run for president. In the Republican race, projections suggest John McCain was the big winner, but things are considerably less clear cut in the Democratic race. Contenders Clinton and Obama both claim plenty of victories from yesterday, but neither is close to a mandate.
The funny thing about all of this is the results were predicted in the final season of a TV drama, The West Wing. A large part of its sixth season was devoted to the primary season that precedes a US presidential election. In the fictional version, the Republicans locked up their candidate far earlier than the Democrats, choosing moderate Arnold Vinich [as played by the wonderful Alan Alda].
But the Democrats could not choose between their candidates, with the decision going all the way to the party convention. In the fictional version, the choice was between the establishment figure of Vice President Bob Russell [Gary Cole, a man seemingly destined to play creepy characters] and minority outsider candidate Matt Santos [NYPD Blue alumnis Jimmy Smits]. Santos won the nomination.
If anything, truth is more outrageous than fiction this year. Hillary Clinton may be getting painted as an establishment figure, but she's the first woman to have a realistic shot at running for president, making her a breakthrough candidate. On The West Wing, Santos was a Latino candidate - Obama is the first credible black candidate. The parallels are kind of freaky, to be honest.
Right now, projections show no clear winner from the Democratic candidates as a result of Super Duper Tuesday's voting. The race for the candidature continues, and could yet go all the way to the Deocratic convention. But McCain looks likely to lock up the Republican nomination, just as Arnold Vinick did. If life keeps imitating art, Obama should squeeze home at Democratic convention.
Then what happens? On the TV version, Vinick was a clear front-runner, reaching out beyond the Republican base to embrace independents and even some Democratic voters - just as McCain is likely to do. Santos gained some ground, but it took a deus ex machina to even out the race for the White House. It remains to be seen if life will keep imitating art.