Monday, March 24, 2008

it ain't over til it's over

The Oba-maniacs calling for Clinton to quit should dial it down.

First of all, Rasmussen polling has Hillary leading Obama amongst Democats. Gallup has her up by a full 7 points. If it was presumptuous for Hillary to offer Obama the #2 position (veep) while he was running #1, it is even more presumptuous to call on Hillary to walk away with nothing when she is running #1.

Secondly, Rasmussen also has Hillary doing better against McCain than Obama amongst Americans in general. McCain is 7 points up on Hillary and 9 points up on Obama. CNN and Gallup polls also have Hillary doing better than Obama vs McCain. You additionally have to consider the Electoral College here. Remember how Al Gore won the popular vote but lost the 2000 election to GWB? The distribution of Obama's support is more problematic for Dems than Clinton's.

PENNSYLVANIA GOV. RENDELL [on Tim Russert's Meet the Press]: ... we decide the presidency not by a popular vote, we decide it by the electoral vote. And the traditional role of the superdelegates is to determine who's going to be our strongest candidate. Tim, you and I have been doing this for a long time, as Tom has, and we know the big four in any presidential election recently are Pennsylvania, Ohio, Florida and Michigan. ... Look, it's great that Barack Obama is doing wonderfully well in Wyoming and Utah and, and places like that, but there's no chance we're going to carry those states. ... We've got to win three of the big four [and] Hillary Clinton's the strongest candidate to do that.

Rasmussen currently has McCain leading in all four, albeit by a statistically insignificant margin in Pennsylvania and Michigan.

To really make the point here, I could cite the Clinton campaign's statistics, but I would instead ask you to check this out. If the source's methodology is sound, as of late last week, Clinton is running AHEAD of John McCain on the College 294 to 231. Barack Obama is running BEHIND John McCain 238 to 288. These are not small numbers. In Pennsylvania, SurveyUSA has McCain leading Obama 47% to 42% while trailing Clinton 47% to 46%. Earlier this month Rasmussen said "In New Jersey, Hillary Clinton holds a double-digit advantage over John McCain... However, if Barack Obama is the Democratic nominee, the race in New Jersey will begin as a toss-up." On March 20 SurveyUSA released a poll showing Obama merely TIED with McCain in Massachusetts of all places. Rasmussen essentially agrees that with Obama as the nominee, Massachusetts could come into play for McCain ("Massachusetts: Clinton Leads McCain by 19, Obama Leads by 7"). 7 points would probably still be too much, but McCain could nominate Romney as his running mate. SurveyUSA's March 19 Ohio poll has Clinton over McCain 50% to 44% and McCain over Obama 50% to 43%. As Michael Barone notes:

In southeast Ohio, settled originally by Virginians and still Southern-accented today, [in the March 4 primary] Clinton carried all-white counties with 70% to 80% of the vote—more than she was carrying nearly all-white counties in central Texas. That raises doubts that Obama could run well in these counties, which provided critical votes in Bill Clinton's wins in Ohio in the 1990s and Jimmy Carter's narrow win there in 1976.

I don't doubt that Obama does better in the (non-Florida) South (today Rasmussen's polling said Obama would shrink a 16 point McCain lead over Clinton in North Carolina to 9 points over Obama), but a closer loss is still a loss. The African American voters who are breaking 90%+ for Obama are not the swing voters who will decide the general election.

Thirdly, why do the superdelegates get a vote if they are supposed to simply cast for whoever has more elected delegates? Presumably these superdelegates exist because they bring something of value to the table. If so, they should use that something. As of March 22, has it at a perfect tie, 1688 delegates each, when Michigan and Florida are included. While the February votes might have been a valid expression of sentiment when they were cast, they lose their authority as an expression of the popular will as they age. It is more than 200 days between between Super Tuesday and the Convention. If I were an undeclared superdelegate, I would continue to keep my power dry.

Obama could potentially be "swiftboated". Hillary cannot; she's simply been in the public eye for too long. Today's Charlotte Observer calls North Carolina "unexpectedly tight": the most recent poll in NC has Obama leading Clinton by a single percentage point. Older polls have Hillary within 4 to 8 points. A John Edwards endorsement would presumably vault Hillary into the lead in that state. If Obama should lose in NC on May 6 after getting blasted in Pennsylvania on April 22, expect to start hearing calls for Obama to quit!

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