Voting days are always interesting, in a hurry up and wait sort of way. There is such a flurry of activity in the days leading up and then on the actual day it's like that calm before the storm.
The candidates are not working voters at large rallies or delivering speeches or holding town halls. Election days are for satellite TV and radio interviews, conference calls and briefings with strategists to lay out expectations (and spin) before the first numbers come out.
The conventional wisdom (backed up by delegate math) is that the nominees will not be set by the time the morning papers hits newsstands on Wednesday. The Democratic race is too tight for a candidate to emerge as the nominee and there are not enough delegates on the Republican side for one candidate to walk away with the title.
Of course on both sides, momentum is up for grabs and Mitt Romney seems to have lost the first battle for that in West Virginia.
Romney's campaign had been hoping for the early win to build momentum leading into the later contests today, report ABC News' Teddy Davis and Matt Stuart.
Romney actually topped the initial vote, finishing with 41%, followed by Huckabee with 33 percent, McCain with 16 percent, and Ron Paul with 10 percent. However, because no candidate got a majority, the West Virginia rules dictate that the top three finishers move on to a second round of voting.
At that point, Huckabee came out on top with 52 percent, followed by Romney with 47 percent and McCain with just one percent. The move gave Huckabee the first 18 delegates of the very long day, but Romney's campaign manager Beth Myers released a statement soon after allegding that McCain "cut a backroom deal with the tax-and-spend candidate he thought could best stop Governor Romney's campaign."
As the CEO of the West Virginia Republican Presidential Convention told ABC News in response to Romney's statement, "Welcome to politics."
ABC News' Jake Tapper reports that the Huckabee campaign denies any deal and has this from Huckabee campaign manager Chip Saltsman:
"I'm sorry, I thought the Romney campaign sent out something (on Monday) saying there's no whining in politics," said Saltsman. "He got beat -- period. Once again showing that Gov. Romney's millions of dollars can't buy the election."
On the other side of the race, Clinton chief strategist Mark Penn told reporters on a conference call today that it is possible that Barack Obama will finish the day having won more delegates than Hillary Clinton but the campaign is confident they will maintain an overall delegate lead.
Beyond just expectations spin, Team Clinton showed they really do think this nomination fight carries on for several weeks by announcing that they have accepted invitations to participate in four debates: "This Week" on ABC this Sunday, Fox News debate in DC on Monday and two other debates in Ohio (Feb. 27) and Texas (Feb. 28)
ABC News will broadcast at least five hours of live primetime coverage of the Super Tuesday Presidential Primaries and Caucuses. Coverage will begin on Tuesday, February 5th at 8:00 p.m., ET and continue through at least1:00 a.m., ET to report results across all time zones including delegate-rich California where polls close at 11:00 p.m., ET.