The tsunami has hereby been downgraded.
The wave of voting that will take place on Tuesday will be super, maybe even super-duper, and (if this primary season -- or this NFL postseason -- is any guide) it will crash through our assumptions and expectations.
But there's a flag on the play: Tuesday will not, in all likelihood, produce a Democratic nominee for president. (The Republicans are another story -- and it may not be a good story for former governor Mitt Romney; at least his heirs may feel differently, and he can fondly remember Maine.)
Those everybody-counts Democrats get exactly what they bargained for: Like a team that controls the ball but not the scoreboard, proportional delegate allocation means even a decisive win in overall voting (and in number of states won) doesn't guarantee any advantage at all in the delegate count.
Not that anyone looks like they're cruising toward anything (and keep that in mind, Patriots fans, as you settle into your easy chairs Sunday afternoon). That's just one of the reasons that Bobby Kennedy is getting more attention than the Lombardi Trophy, as the battle for California and for Latino voters begins to define the Democratic race.
The latest ABC News/Washington Post poll has a virtual tie heading into the single biggest voting day of the primary season: It's Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton 47, Sen. Barack Obama 43, "with supporters of the now-withdrawn John Edwards seemingly dividing about evenly between them," ABC polling director Gary Langer writes.
As for the Republicans, Sen. John McCain "has vaulted to a 2-1 advantage in the Republican race in this ABC News/Washington Post poll, continuing a remarkable surge that began with his New Hampshire and South Carolina victories," Langer writes.
It's McCain 48, Romney 24, yet McCain's "support is comparatively soft, especially in some core GOP groups," per Langer's write-up.
"McCain's big lead in this new national poll matches a wave of increasing support seen in state polls, which, coupled with the GOP's winner-take-all rules, gives him the opportunity to effectively wrap up the nomination with a strong showing Tuesday," Dan Balz and Jon Cohen write in The Washington Post.
"The Democratic contest is likely to keep going. . . . Clinton's four-percentage-point edge in the survey is about the same as it was three weeks ago and does not constitute a significant lead, given the poll's margin of sampling error."
The candidates and their surrogates are out in force; Los Angeles alone on Sunday features events headlined by former President Bill Clinton (maybe apologizing, maybe not) and Obama backers Oprah Winfrey and Caroline Kennedy, while Chelsea Clinton and Sen. John Kerry held dueling events Saturday in the Bay Area.
And the former president has an intriguing Super Bowl date on Sunday with Gov. Bill Richardson, D-N.M., the still-uncommitted former candidate whose support could provide a boost among Latinos.
The race is tighter than a Wes Welker timing pattern in the biggest state that votes on Tuesday: California. It's Clinton 36, Obama 34 in a new Field Poll.
"A startling surge of support for Barack Obama has catapulted the Illinois senator into a virtual tie with Hillary Rodham Clinton in California's Democratic presidential primary," John Wildermuth and Carla Marinucci write in the San Francisco Chronicle.