The votes are being counted and preliminary results (based on half the votes) are disturbing as there is a real risk of having Morsi and Shafik in round two (i.e., the eternal struggle between the Army and Islamists continues). My thoughts:
- Over Performer: It seems Hamdeen is over-performing and beating all previous expectations. I imagine being youngish, handsomish, not debating, clean past, free from Mubarak ties, flying under the radar and populist all helped him. His rise definitely complicated matters to Abol Fotouh who is languishing in third or fourth place so far. Unfortunately I fear both, Hamdeen and Abol Fotouh fragmentation of the moderate and anti-Islamists vote could lead to both of them coming just out of the top two with Morsi and Shafik in round two (the nightmare scenario). By the way, based on Moussa and Abol Fotouh performance so far, is this the end of debates with no candidates in the future accepting to debate?
- Under Performer: Moussa is facing a horrible night with results so far showing him coming fourth or fifth. I imagine the debate hurt him and his ties to Mubarak alienated many undecided to Hamdeen or Shafik. Also he is the candidate with no clear base: Hamdeen has the youth and revolutionaries, Abol Fotouh has Salafists and many moderates, Shafik has the Army, Saudi Arabia, NDP's ex-officials and many Copts while Morsi has the Brotherhood (by the way, Morsi surprisingly lost Alexandria with Sabbahi and Abol Fotouh winning the Brotherhood's capital). Part of me always hoped Moussa and Shafik would hurt each other (a la Hamdeen / Abol Fotouh) but Moussa is on free fall and Shafik is rising (question: what if the court later decides Shafik was not eligible to run being felool? This would be a welcomed mess).
- The Copts: It seems many Copts, and as predicted, opted to vote for Shafik (rather than Moussa). This definitely helped Shafik rise. I understand the fear many Copts have of suddenly facing an Islamist President and Islamist Parliament, so the calculation was to have the army controlling the presidency to counter-balance the Islamists. Twitter is ripe with verbal attacks on the Copts (mostly by the youths and revolutionaries) for supporting Shafik but this is naive, emotional and not facts based (almost 25% of Shafik votes came from Menoufiya where NDP is extremely strong and hometown of Sadat and Mubarak. Actually 60% of his votes came from rural Delta and women!) The youths and revolutionaries only have themselves to blame for not consolidating behind one candidate.