At the same time, South Dakotans behaved in a somewhat unusual way, in that Obama's favorability scores (on questions like whether voters would be satisfied with him as the nominee) were as high as they were in many states that Obama *won*. This was a state in which voters got a positive message from both candidates, and the late deciders broke to Clinton because she spent more time on the ground there. It may be instructive about what Clinton might have been able to do had she a more positive message throughout her campaign. There's a pretty good argument that the beginning of the end for Clinton was way back in November with "now the fun part starts".
10:32 PM. re: the comments. Nope, no bragging vis-a-vis ARG. It looks like the South Dakota margin is going to come in at 10 points (it might close a tiny bit as most of the unreported vote is from Indian reservations), which almost exactly bisects their Clinton +26 and my Obama +5. This is the whole argument, I guess, for combining polling with demographic sanity checks, which is what we do for our general election numbers.
It does look like we'll beat ARG in Montana, though.
10:18 PM. More from Sean:
"I fervently agree that the extended campaign has made Obama a much better candidate. On the night of New Hampshire, he turned a shocked and depressed staff around immediately. On his conference call, he explicitly told them the loss would be a blessing in disguise. And after contesting 56 contests, there is no doubt Obama's ready for McCain. He's salivating for McCain.
This is a candidate who has been through the gauntlet and shook up the world.
I'll have to put some thoughts together as far as Brian Schweitzer as VP. Jon Tester just threw that out there with obvious impery live on MSNBC."
10:01 PM. I don't know if this means anything, but to the extent I've been able to watch two channels at once, CNN's coverage has actually been much more critical of Clinton than MSNBC's.
9:49 PM. The Obama website has yet to update it to include Montana, but this little graphic deserves more credit that it's gotten for building a sense of momentum throughout the ultimately decisive month of February:
9:30 PM. The largest remaining scheduled moments in the campaign between now and November are the conventions and the debates. Is there any doubt that Obama is going to deliver a better convention night speech? Is there any doubt that, the first time he and McCain appear on a stage together, the contrast in age, height, and tone is liable to be pretty striking? McCain needs to figure out some way to wage a sort of guerrilla warfare campaign. If everything sticks to the script, Obama is going to win.
9:17 PM. Sean is somewhat less equivocal on Clinton's speech than I am:
"'We have won enough swing states to get to 270 electoral votes.'
I am very much looking forward to the end of the relentlessly cynicism. She knows most Americans won't know enough to immediately call out the deception underlying those kinds of effortlessly and endlessly repeated comments. The Clintons and their surrogates have peppered the land with outright contempt for the intelligence of Americans when it comes to building arguments. Yeah, there's a 1-to-1 map with winning a state in a primary and winning it in the general. Sure. The disdain for facts, the Lanny Davisication of political spin is something I am looking forward to putting behind us. After 8 loooong years, my tolerance for that kind of drearily self-serving cynicism is nonexistent.
As far as the content of Clinton's speech, while I am emotionally closed to her for her behavior this campaign cycle, that speech was not aimed at me. There were some very nicely worded turns of phrases that surely connected with many of her supporters, particularly that each vote was like a small prayer (though I think she stole that from Newman's closing in The Verdict). I understand that her supporters need to hear some of those things. Even chant Den-ver, Den-ver one last time for good old comfort. She isn't deciding anything tonight, it got decided on her. That was always the way out.
2012 is not an option. It's something to talk about for people who have to speculate, but I think if she really believed it were an option should Obama lose, she needed to speak to the people like me, to begin to try to open to her. And she made no attempt in that regard, nor did I expect her to."
9:11 PM. Back to South Dakota for a moment: the exits have Barack Obama having won the "other" vote (a.k.a. Native Americans) by about 12 points. Relatively little of that vote has been tallied yet, so the margin is probably going to tighten by a couple of points.
9:03 PM. The exits imply a 14-point win for Obama in Montana. The strongly divergent results in two relatively similar states are a good reminder of how much time spent on the ground can matter.
9:00 PM. Networks call Montana for Obama. Ultimately, it's pretty fitting that the candidates split the last two states.
8:54 PM. Obviously, this is a speech that can be read in a lot of different ways. I've had separate friends e-mail me to say that it was the best speech she's ever delivered, and the worst thing she's ever done. But -- I don't know -- I think it's possible to read too much into this and that in the heat of the moment. From a party unity perspective, it might even be healthy for Clinton (and by proxy her supporters) to press their case one last time.
8:39 PM. If anyone's wondering why we've been getting mixed messages out of the Clinton campaign, just look at the candidate herself.
8:35 PM. From Sean:
"How much fun do you think that was for Olbermann to break into McCain's painfully pat speech to announce Obama is the presumptive nominee? On a scale of 1 to 10... an 82?
I second Nate's thought about McCain coming off far better in one-on-one interviews, especially chummy ones. In interviews (Jon Stewart springs to mind), McCain actually comes off as likeable. These speeches are grueling and they don't hold the attention. He makes Bob Dole look downright riveting. For some reason, he's chosen "condescension" as his orientation toward Obama. Five months of condescension, once the public is actually playing attention? Smirkingly self-aware chuckles at his own "clever" turns of painfully canned phrases like "that's not change we can believe in!" Yeah, that's not gonna work. Ask Ms. Xerox.
It's really hard to think of a worse match for the country's furious mood at its government in a major change election year than condescendingly cynical smirkery at someone who is offering big change. Of course, Harold Ford. Jr. found McCain's speech "powerful and compelling." That's a direct quote. (On Morning Joe, Joe Scarborough loves Harold Ford, Jr. Loves him.)"
8:25 PM. CNN and MSNBC call South Dakota for Senator Clinton and ... nobody cares. American Research Group and Matt Drudge might have really done a favor to Obama tonight.
8:15 PM. I'm ripping this off from a commenter, but I was also struck by the extent to which every time McCain said "That's not change you can believe in!", I had a Pavlovian response of "That's change you can Xerox". We're going to notice little echoes like that throughout this campaign.
8:04 PM. The exit polls show only about a 2-point advantage for Clinton in South Dakota. (EDIT: This was wrong; the margin was ~8 points in the exits and I apparently forgot how to do math). On the very early returns that are coming in: I haven't really parsed the state on a county-by-county basis, but I'd guess that Obama's strongest areas will be in Sioux Falls (Minnehana County) and on the Indian Reservations. (Shannon County, which went more heavily for John Kerry than any other county in the country, looks to be the big one). We don't have data in from those areas yet.
8:01 PM. MSNBC and CNN call the nomination for Obama. We can finally say that it's over. His media people planned and staged this day masterfully and he's going to get some slobbering media narrative out of it.
7:41 PM. We'll be here until ... I don't know when. Two relatively worthless thoughts about McCain's speech before the narrative shifts back to the Democrats: (1) If Barack Obama and Ronald Reagan could keep people's attention with a stump speech for about 15 minutes, and Hillary Clinton for about 10 minutes, McCain's time frame is probably more like 5 minutes. I think he'll find that his strength is more in quick-hit, quick-reaction stuff rather than these sorts of set pieces. Fewer speeches, more interviews. (2) Clearly, McCain's primary campaign color appears to be a handsome shade of blue, but the green background got me to thinking: when was the last time a nominee from one of the two major parties used a color other than blue or red on their yard signs?
A few weeks ago, anticipating the end of the primary season and the end to this delegate math madness, I decided I wanted to find some way to keep writing about the election season. This is clearly an election cycle for the ages.
As a delegate math writer at Kos, I couldn't help but notice Poblano's eye-popping work. Being no dummy (thanks, Mom!) I got a hold of Nate and basically said, hey you're going to be super busy, a victim of your own success. Want some help? He seems to have said yes.
Now that he's out in the open, I'll give you a quick few details about me. I'm a JD, but I've worked for the Democratic Party as a campaign field staffer, worked briefly in state politics. I was once a salaried smartass writer, and that's inevitably going to occasionally seep through my posts. I once taught the LSAT for Kaplan, and for me, a little slice of heaven is a day full of logic games. I also spend much of my time playing poker in Los Angeles, so if I post at odd hours, you'll know why.
What I'm not - a statistician by trade, one of Nate's baseball folks, or someone with a public profile outside of blogging. I'm definitely aware I'm a poor man's Nate, and that's no false modesty. Of course, he'd have a hard time finding someone on that level, so what's the poor guy to do?
I'm honored to be helping out here, and it's nice to be saying hello on this historic night. Thanks to Nate for inviting me over, and thanks for your kind words. If there are subjects you think need covering that would fit well on this site, don't be shy!
The result that has gotten the most buzz is Obama's +2 in Missouri. What's a little bit unusual is that SurveyUSA appears to have conducted a second Missouri poll over the same period, which included Senator Clinton's numbers rather than the VP matchups. So far as I can tell, these are completely separate polls (they have different sample sizes, for instance) and so we will continue to list both of them. And really, they're close enough to one another that it probably isn't worth sweating the difference; both point toward Missouri being competitive in November. With that said, those who argue that Obama performs better when Hillary Clinton's name isn't mentioned in the survey could point to this as evidence.
Obama's numbers out on the Pacific Coast look very good, as they have been in almost all polling recently. On the other hand, McCain is a bit closer than expected in Minnesota and Massachusetts, but that has been a consistent facet of SurveyUSA polling in those states. SurveyUSA polls appear to be less hewed to party identification than those of most other agencies, so just as they tend to show Obama polling a bit closer in red states like Nebraska, they also tend to show McCain more competitive in certain blue states.
About seven in 10 in both states called Obama honest and trustworthy. Nearly as many said that about Clinton in South Dakota but barely half in Montana called her honest and trustworthy.
The exit polls have been asking this question since Mississippi. Here's what those numbers looked like in the other states:
State Clinton Obama Honesty Gap MarginIf we regress the final margin on the "honesty gap" -- the difference in the number of voters who think each candidate is honest and trustworthy -- we come up with a nearly linear relationship. That is, this question is a pretty reasonable predictor of the final margin.
MS 49 70 O +21 O +24
PA 58 67 O +9 C +9
IN 54 67 O +13 C +1
NC 49 71 O +22 O +15
WV 64 43 C +21 C +41
KY 64 47 C +17 C +36
OR 51 77 O +26 O +18
SD 68 70 O +2 ???
MT 52 70 O +18 ???
In this case, I have it predicting a 12-point win for Clinton in South Dakota and a 10-point win for Obama in Montana. However, the South Dakota result is a bit unusual in that it's the first state where substantial majorities think both candidates are honest and trustworthy. South Dakotans like both their Dems; if they wind up picking Clinton tonight, it should not really be read as some kind of indictment of Obama.
We can perform the same calculation on the "satisfied if ____ wins the nomination" question, which the exit polls have been tracking for a little longer:
Satisfied if [Clinton/Obama] wins nomination?Performing the same regression analysis on this data works out to a Clinton lead of 3 points in South Dakota.
State Clinton Obama Satisfied Gap Margin
OH 73 66 C +7 C +8
TX 70 66 C +4 C +4
VT 70 82 O +12 O +21
RI 75 63 C +12 C +18
MS 58 69 O +11 O +24
PA 73 64 C +9 C +9
IN 67 66 C +1 O +1
NC 63 69 O +6 O +15
WV 74 42 C +32 C +41
KY 76 43 C +34 C +36
OR 70 79 O +9 O +18
SD 75 70 C +5 ???
In the meantime, I wanted to think about the following headline on Drudge:
HILLARY CAMPAIGN EXPECTS 25-POINT WIN IN S DAKOTA, TOP SOURCES TELL DRUDGE... DEVELOPING...
When I see something like this on Drudge, I assume that it's somebody's attempt at spin, not "OMG HILLARY'S TOP SECRET INTERNALZ!". Yesterday's American Research Group poll, whether or not it turns out to have any bearing in reality, provides cover for such a claim.
So ... who benefits from this number receiving additional currency? Ordinarily, you'd say Obama because it significantly lowers expectations. In fact, because of this poll being out there (echoed by CNN and Drudge), a small loss by Obama in South Dakota might appear to be far more tolerable.
However, it could also be in Clinton's interest to throw enough of a roadblock in front of superdelegates that they might think twice about endorsing Obama immediately. If all of the networks declare the nomination in a big, climactic moment for Barack Obama tonight -- and that's looking quite likely at this point -- it will be completely impossible to walk that result back without Hillary looking like she's ripping the party to shreds. On the other hand, if Obama's clinch comes 24 or 48 hours from now on the endorsement of some random superdelegate, the outcome appears to be a tiny bit more technical and less written in stone.
The facts of the matter are as follows:
* After tonight, there will be no more delegate selection events.
* At some point within the next 48 hours (possibly tonight), Barack Obama will have secured commitments from at least 2,118 delegates required to form a majority of all available. By the end of the week, he will probably have substantially more than the number required.
* Both superdelegates and pledged delegates can switch their commitments. So Obama's nomination will not become final until the convention in August.
* Hillary Clinton will not have a political future if she mounts an active, public campaign to flip delegates.
* However, if some mission-critical event intercedes between now and then, she will of course have an opportunity to argue that conditions have changed and that she deserves to be the nominee. She does not need to be running an active campaign to do so.
* Things like Clinton's tone, rhetoric and behavior could matter in the extent to which Barack Obama is eventually able to consolidate Democratic support. But semantics of a formal "concession" are just one dimension of this, and perhaps not the most important one.
* It is certainly not Clinton's job to announce she is conceding before the final primaries and any sentient press shop would move to quash rumors thereof until the voting is actually concluded.
As compared with the night of May 20th, when the combination Obama's embarrassing margin of defeat in Kentucky and the long break separating its poll closing from the one in Oregon led to a sort of anticlimactic night, the optics work out relatively well for Obama tomorrow. Tactically, his objective is round up enough superdelegates to hit 2,118 before Chris Matthews goes to sleep. But aesthetically, his goal is probably the following: be the first one to have a state called for him. That could be accomplished either by winning South Dakota outright, or by keeping it close enough that the networks are ready to call Montana first, where polls close an hour later. The general rule of thumb is that for the networks to call a state immediately, they need to see about a 15-point margin in the exit polls. Although it is by no means a completely safe bet for Obama, we expect him to achieve that threshold.
What Barack has going for him: At a surface level, Montana and South Dakota are pretty similar. They are both exceptionally white states, with the principal minority group being Native Americans. To the extent there are differences, however, they tend to favor Obama.
Montana's Democratic electorate is somewhat more progressive than the one in South Dakota, but also more independent-minded and libertarian. Its signature issues are probably being pro-environment and pro-gun; Obama tends to do well on the former issue, whereas Montanans see Hillary as too much of a big government power broker to have much credibility on the latter. Montana has fairly high levels of education, and though its incomes are below average, Obama tends to do well in "bohemian" areas where education runs ahead of income.
While these are not exceptionally large differences, they are compounded by the fact that Obama has spent more time on the ground in Montana than Clinton, and that Montana has an open primary, with no apparent sign of interference from Operation Chaos. Obama has also fundraised reasonably well in Montana, whereas Clinton's numbers are marginal. Also, Montana is a pretty state, and Obama has won every pretty state except California (OK, we made that last part up).
What Hillary has going for her: By any standard definition, Montana is white and working class. Neither of the Democrats' two All-Stars in the state, Brian Schewitzer and Jon Tester, have yet endorsed Obama, so Clinton does not have to contend with the institutional support that Obama has in Tom Daschle's South Dakota. Bill Clinton carried Montana in 1992.
Apart from these superficial markers, however, Clinton isn't a great fit for the state's political culture, which in some ways resembles the Pacific Northwest as much as it does the Prairies. It might be thought that Hillary performs well in rural areas and Montana is quite rural. But she really only performs well in some types of rural areas, generally those associated with cultural conservatism, which are more likely to be found in the Southeastern quadrant of the country (Obama, by contrast, performed well in OR-2, one of Montana's closer comparables). Although Bill has worked Montana aggressively, Hillary has largely abandoned the state for South Dakota, and her campaign's body language reads as a probable double-digit loss.
Projection: Our numbers work out to Obama 59.1, Clinton 40.9, or a victory margin of about 18 points. We expect a heavy turnout of about 166,000 in Montana, which does not have quite the voting culture that you find in the North Central portion of the country, but does have an open primary and a somewhat larger population. As measured in votes, our projection is Obama 98,373, Clinton 68,079.
Montana's delegate allocations are a little funky, with the state divided up into two pseudo-CDs based on Montana's old congressional districts from the 1980s (it has just one now). Each district has five delegates; any margin of victory would give Obama (or Clinton) three of those five, whereas they'd have to hit 70 percent to get a fourth. So in practice, the district-level delegate allocations will very probably be 3-2 Obama and 3-2 Obama. On an extremely good night, Clinton might win the Eastern district, and Obama might hit 70 percent in the Western district, but those outcomes are unlikely.
Obama has a better chance to win a fourth at-large delegate, which would require 62.5 percent of the vote, but we have him falling a bit short. The 2 PLEOs will definitely be split 1-1.
Eastern: Obama 3, Clinton 2 (~10% chance of Obama 4, Clinton 1)
Western: Obama 3, Clinton 2 (~20% chance of Clinton 3, Obama 2)
At-Large: Obama 2, Clinton 2 (~25% chance of Obama 3, Clinton 1)
PLEO: Obama 1, Clinton 1
Total: Obama 9, Clinton 7
That magic number will be the total number of Obama delegates and superdelegates needed to defect in order for Hillary Clinton to win. Now, in reality, with the exception of one recidivist flip-flopper Kevin Rodriquez of the Virgin Islands, no Obama superdelegates are flipping to Clinton. But, the last hope of Clinton supporters is that superdelegates will finally see the light as to how flawed a candidate Obama is, and based on that epiphany will reverse their announced decision to support Obama. In fact, this is what Hillary Clinton and her surrogates are directly pleading on an ongoing basis. Superdelegates can make up their minds independently, we have to win in the fall, the map we had in the past two elections is the only map possible, nobody who loses those states in a primary could win them in a general, etc. "He cannot win, Bill." And so forth. Arguments that deserve contempt from people with a rudimentary grasp of observable fact and history, of course, but arguments nonetheless.
Let's assume for the moment that Obama will win 8 pledged delegates in South Dakota and 9 pledged delegates in Montana tomorrow night. Obama will then have 1743.5 pledged delegates earned on his own, 16.5 Edwards declared switches (including Chuck Todd's reporting of 4.5 Edwards-to-Obama votes in Florida), and 2 potential switches of Clinton pledged delegates to Obama in the Chesapeake region. That's 1762 pledged delegates in Obama's column, with 1743.5 of those vetted by his own campaign.
Since at the convention, 2117.5 will be the number of delegates needed to win (barring any deaths or resignations in the meantime), Obama must maintain 355.5 superdelegate votes to keep the nomination clinched. The 18.5 pledged delegates not vetted by Obama's campaign as pledged supporters could also be considered more swayable (for example, if John Edwards changed his mind). So by the time of the convention, individuals totaling 374 votes must stay in Obama's column in order for him to retain the clinch.
In other words, the new Magic Number for Clinton after tomorrow night will be the difference between the number of supers + pledged switcher votes Obama is sitting on and 374, plus 100% of the undeclared votes. For example, if Obama has 480 or so of those votes at some point in July, Clinton's Magic Number will be 106 plus all the votes of anyone still undeclared.
Individuals totaling 354.5 votes sit in Obama's column as of Jim Clyburn's addition to the DCW list. [DCW has not added Obama endorser Donna Edwards and has not counted on the 2 Michigan add-ons granted by the RBC deal who total 1 vote and presumably will be vetted and approved by Obama's campaign in advance. By June 17, those votes will be in his column.] Reportedly, tomorrow will be a big superdelegate endorsement day on Capitol Hill so that the pledged delegates from South Dakota and Montana can allow Obama to claim the majority needed for the nomination.
In a real sense, this is an exercise in trivia, since after tomorrow nobody besides the last Japanese soldiers in 1953 will seriously be disputing the reality that Barack Obama will be the nominee. But to those who demand objectivity in the analysis, there will still be a technical Clinton Magic Number prior to the "I Have a Dream" night of August 28, 2008. (And we all know that assassins like to have their say in June!) I'll keep an eye on that Magic Number, and perhaps whenever one of the Japanese soldiers pops up to mouth off something especially confrontational about the notion of Obama really winning the nomination in Denver, I'll provide an update.
I thought that South Dakota was going to be a fairly simple little state to project. But it's actually rather idiosyncratic, in ways that tend to perplex the model.
What Barack has going for him: For the most part, South Dakota is as white as a fresh snowfall over Sioux Falls. If we treat it as a congressional district (which is exactly what South Dakota is), it ranks 426th out of 435 in terms of the percentage of African-Americans. But it's also a certain kind of white -- the whites that we call "WASP"s and which represent people of German, English and Scandinavian descent. Barack Obama has tended to do well with those kinds of white people, who are also fairly prevalent in (for example) Oregon and Wisconsin.
What distinguishes South Dakota, however, is its extremely large Native American population. Nearly 10 percent of its population is in whole or in part Native American. Although Native Americans have fairly low turnout rates -- they tend to vote Democratic when they do turn out. So we can probably expect a similar share in tomorrow's electorate.
Which candidate tends to do well with Native Americans? So far as I can tell, there is no polling data on this issue. Frustratingly, in the other states with sizable Native American populations like New Mexico and Oklahoma, Edison-Mitofsky just lumped them into the "other" cateogry in its exit polling and did not break out their data.
But the regression model is fairly well convinced that this is a good group for Barack Obama. The case of New Mexico in particular might be instructive. New Mexico is a relatively poor and heavily Hispanic state, but Obama, somewhat unexpectedly, nearly tied Hillary Clinton there. He also performed much better in AZ-1, which has a huge Navajo population, than you'd anticipate from the underlying demographics. And he did exceptionally well in Alaska's caucus, another substantially Native American state.
There are, naturally, some counterexamples; Barack Obama didn't perform well in Oklahoma for instance (although he barely fielded an organization there). But the relationship is fairly substantially statistically significant, and it dovetails with anecdotal evidence that suggests that Obama's Native American outreach has been unprecedented in its breadth. Native Americans could save Obama in South Dakota -- either bringing him a victory that he might not have earned otherwise, or keeping the margin close in the event of a loss.
As an aside, Native Americans are also a reason why South Dakota might be difficult to poll. I have no idea about the mechanics of reaching someone by telephone on an Indian Reservation (reservations occupy perhaps 20 percent of South Dakota's territory). And if you're not used to polling the state, you might not know enough to recognize their absence.
What Hillary has going for her: Although South Dakota might quite be Clinton's kind of white, it still is very white. It's a fairly old state, and rather uniformly middle class. Unlike some other Western states, where the Democratic half of the electorate can actually be quite liberal, South Dakota's Democrats gravitate toward the political center. And it has a closed primary, which our model is (finally) getting around to recognize as a slight advantage for Clinton.
But Hillary probably would not be especially likely to win South Dakota if she hadn't spent quite a bit of time there. The New York Times records her as having made 10 campaign appearances in the state, an exceptionally high ratio relative to the number of delegates available. Obama (quite wisely I think) returned to South Dakota over the weekend, and so this is not a case of Obama blowing off a state like he did in West Virginia and Kentucky. Still, the advantage in time spent on the ground is worth several points to Hillary.
Although South Dakotans aren't very much like Kentuckians, there may also be some truth to the notion that these are the types of voters that Clinton is doing better with than she had been earlier in the nomination process. I played around with a whole bunch of different interaction variables related to the timing of different primaries, leading to some versions of the model that showed Clinton a few points ahead in South Dakota. However, this led to a messy model with all sorts of multicollinearity issues, so what I eventually did was to compromise by removing the interaction variables, but giving more weight to recent primaries in determining the regression coefficients.
That brought Clinton a couple of points closer to Obama, and if I'm wrong about something like Obama's performance among Native Americans, she could very easily win South Dakota (it should probably be thought of as a "toss-up"). Even a win of some magnitude (high single digits or very low double digits) would not completely stock me; I'm not saying that this is the most likely scenario, just that it's a difficult enough state to pin down that we shouldn't rule it out.
Still, this is not a state with an especial amount of affection for Clinton -- witness, for instance, her exceptionally poor fundraising numbers. Something like the ARG scenario seems completely batshit crazy to me.
Prediction: Our model's official prediction is Obama 52.5 percent, Clinton 47.5 percent, for a margin of 5 points exactly. We're also projecting distinctly heavy turnout of 130,915 voters out of South Dakota's roughly 200,000 registered Democrats, for voting tallies of Obama 68,701, Clinton 62,213, a net gain of about 6500 votes for Mr. Obama.
Delegate wise, with just one congressional district, South Dakota is completely boring. The final split will almost certainly wind up being 8-7 for one or the other candidate. A candidate would need to win by 22.2 points to get a 9th delegate, and would earn a 10th delegate if they won by 25 points. So our delegate projection is Obama 8, Clinton 7.
In my debut feature at the Guardian, I present a series of objections that the Obama campaign might raise about these dynamics. Can the Clinton numbers be taken at face value? I think there is at least one reason why they probably cannot:
Please see the article for the other objections, which I think are significantly more debatable.
Increasingly, while the Obama-McCain polls are measuring an actual election matchup, the Clinton-McCain polls are measuring a hypothetical one. The polls presume an instance in which Clinton spontaneously replaces Obama as the nominee - the "Obama is struck by lightning" scenario. But in order for Clinton to actually get from here to there, a lot of blood would be shed in the process. Her nomination (1) would require her to take her case to the convention in August, and (2) would be actuated by an overwhelming number of superdelegates siding with Clinton and contradicting Obama's advantages in pledged delegates, the current Obama-Clinton national polling and some or most versions of the popular vote count.
Were this to occur, what fraction of Obama's supporters would feel as though the nomination had been stolen from him? And how many of them would turn out for Clinton in November? There is no way to know for certain. But at the very least, Clinton would need to tie down a lot Democratic votes that aren't usually in play, and would have only three months between the convention and the election to do so.
Meanwhile, in North Carolina, Public Policy Polling has Barack Obama within 3 points of John McCain; Hillary Clinton trails McCain by 5. There are several states where Obama is in the 15-30 percent win probability range right now: North Carolina, Missouri, Florida, and a handful of Western states like Montana and North Dakota. If we think about the Western states as a group, Obama might need to pick and choose two or perhaps three of those states in which he wants to make a serious effort to compete (Missouri will almost certainly be one of them).
Also a correction: yesterday, we listed John McCain's margin over Obama in SurveyUSA's Nebraska poll as 12 points. In fact, the margin is 9 points. It looks like we had caught an earlier, unweighted version of that poll.
This much for certain: Clinton's South Dakota stock is a ridiculous bargain on Intrade right now. But South Dakota isn't all that idiosyncratic a state, and 26-point win just doesn't make any sense in the context of what we know about the demographics of this race. The national tracking polls are fairly stable, and the campaigns aren't behaving like South Dakota is a 20-30 point Clinton win.
As far as methodological nitpicks go, I don't really have any, because ARG does not disclose all that much about their methodology. It's considered less than ideal to poll entirely over a weekend, but that's something that happens fairly routinely (by ARG and most everyone else).
It's either a genius call or ... something the opposite of genius. You know on which side my bread is buttered.
But you reduce the risk -- or at least the resonance -- of someone else saying something stupid at just the wrong time. You can clearly make out the two points in the Gallup daily tracking poll where the Reverend Wright stuff was dominating the news. Obama recovery from those moments was fairly rapid and fairly robust.* But the general election, unlike the primaries, is a one-and-done. If you have one of those 10-day slumps in your polling numbers and it coincides with Election Day ... hello, President McCain.
My sense, by the way, is that if this election breaks, it'll tend to break early for Obama or late for McCain.
* Which is not to say that there wasn't any permanent damage. Clearly in my opinion he lost some general election votes for good, though I suspect those are the sorts of votes that he might have eventually lost anyway.
Dist 1: 2; Need 25.001% for 2 of 6, Obama's got 28.09% with 98% reporting
Dist 2: 2; Need 30.001% for 2 of 5, Obama's got 30.88% with 100% reporting
Dist 3: 1; Need 37.501% for 2 of 4, Obama's got 30.38% with 100% reporting
Dist 4: 1; Need 37.501% for 2 of 4, Obama's got 31.23% with 100% reporting
Dist 5: 1; Need 37.501% for 2 of 4, Obama's got 29.10% with 100% reporting
Dist 6: 1; Need 37.501% for 2 of 4, Obama's got 33.74% with 100% reporting
Dist 7: 1; Need 37.501% for 2 of 4, Obama's got 35.29% with 98% reporting
Dist 8: 2; Need 30.001% for 2 of 5, Obama's got 34.73% with 100% reporting
PLEO: 2; Need between 21.43% and 35.71% for 2 delegates, Obama's got 31.59% with 99% reporting
At-large: 4; Need between 29.17% and 37.50% for 4 delegates, Obama's got 31.59% with 99% reporting
Obama Pledged Delegates Before Today: 1709.5
Edwards Pledged Delegates for Obama: 16.5 (includes 4.5 Edwards per Chuck Todd)
Guaranteed Michigan add-ons per yesterday's deal: 1 (2 people, half votes each)
Pre-Puerto Rico Total: 2057.5
Puerto Rico pledged for Obama: 17
Donna Edwards is running to replace Al Wynn in Maryland-04 a majority-minority, heavily gerrymandered Democratic district, and with her election the needed to win number goes up by .5, but Obama gets a full delegate, thereby making this number essentially 42.
A one-vote win in South Dakota gives Obama 8 delegates.
A one-vote win in each half of Montana gives Obama 9 delegates.
Needed superdelegates before Tuesday night so that the primaries put Obama over the top: 25
In the next 48 hours, will Obama get 25 superdelegates to declare publicly?
Here's what we know about 10 specific supers:
Jim Clyburn intends to announce on June 3.
Deb Kozikowski intends to announce by June 4.
Jimmy Carter will endorse after the primaries conclude.
Margie Campbell, who had one false start and had to retract on technical grounds, will become official after Montana ends.
Maria Cantwell has endorsed Clinton, but says she will endorse whoever gets 1705 pledged delegates.
Denise Johnson says she will endorse whoever gets 1705 pledged delegates.
Chris Van Hollen says he will endorse whoever gets 1705 pledged delegates.
Christine Pelosi says she will endorse whoever gets 1705 pledged delegates.
Nancy Pelosi says she will endorse whoever gets 1705 pledged delegates.
Donna Brazile says the RFK remark made her "numb," that she will quit the Democratic Party if the superdelegates decide the party's nomination, and there is only one way they can do that.
Finally, here's a shout out to Michael Barone, Mr. Almanac of American Politics, who predicted turnout of 1 million in Puerto Rico, as well as ardently writing that all 55 plus all 8 superdelegates in Puerto Rico would go to one candidate.
As Stephen Colbert would say, "Nailed it!"
Note: I had originally used 200,000 as my estimate for Washington caucus turnout, which is a fairly widely reported figure. However, the Washington State Democrats estimate that "more than 250,000" persons participated in their caucus, so I am now using 250,000 instead.
The spreadsheet lets you make seven different choices about how to count the popular vote:
1. Count Florida fully, at 50 percent, or not at all.
2. Count Michigan fully, at 50 percent, or not at all.
3. Don't count the Michigan uncommitteds, or count them for Obama, or allocate the Michigan uncommitteds based on the exit poll results, or allocate ALL Michigan votes based on the exit poll results (this distinction is important because roughly 20 percent of Clinton voters said they actually preferred another candidate).
4. Count Puerto Rico and other territories, or just the 50 states and the District of Columbia.
5. Count the Texas caucuses, or don't count them, or count both the Texas caucus and the Texas primary at 50 percent.
6. Count the advisory primaries in Nebraska, Washington and Idaho or not.
7. Count the estimated caucus votes in Washington, Maine, Iowa and Nevada, or only count caucuses with "hard" voting totals, or don't count caucuses at all.
EDIT: If you want to use the original, hard-copy XLS version, that link can be found here.
Clinton played the statehood card in Puerto Rico in a couple of ways: firstly, by tending to associate herself with pro-statehood politicians, and secondly, by suggesting that Puerto Rico (and Guam!) should get a vote in the general election.
As we described before, it's a little unclear what percentage of the Puerto Rican population favors statehood; those numbers have fluctuated a lot from survey to survey. However, among the types of Puerto Ricans that are interested enough in stateside politics to have voted in the primary, support for statehood was evidently quite high.
2:01 PM. Called immediately for Clinton. CNN's exit polling shows an overwhelming 70-30 victory margin. For a variety of reasons, I suspect that exit polling in Puerto Rico might be less reliable than it is elsewhere, but this is definitely going to be a very large margin for Clinton.
1:57 PM. I'm not expecting to have a whole lot to say about Puerto Rico, but we'll leave this thread up for discussion.
Olbermann says to expect a low turnout, perhaps as low as 400,000.
But what about the other 80 percent of Clinton's supporters? I have long held the opinion that the length of the Democratic primary campaign alone was not damaging to the Democrats. In fact, I think it has probably been helpful. Obama's campaign team will have gone through the equivalent of eight or nine fire drills for the general election, corresponding to the big dates of voting on the Democratic calendar. That's highly useful experience, particularly against an opponent in John McCain who had an extremely abbreviated primary season, essentially going from underdog to presumptive nominee in the span of about three weeks.
But I do think that the way that the Democratic campaign ends matters. Obama is going to have a rough go of things if a perception sets in amongst the silent majority of Clinton supporters that he stole the nomination from their girl. Clinton is categorically not going to win the Democratic nomination. It is too late for her campaign to do or say anything that might change that equation. But the tone of her campaign from this point forward could have a significant impact on Obama's chances in November. In particular, argumentation that Obama is an illegitimate nominee could be hard to walk back later.
It is interesting to consider this in light of yesterday's decision on Michigan. Chuck Todd writes that Obama actually had the votes on the Rules & Bylaws Committee to earn an even delegate split out of Michigan. But instead, he deferred to Carl Levin's 69-59 plan. How come? Because the delegate margin isn't close enough to matter, and giving Clinton some kind of a "win" in Michigan will help to undercut the perception that delegate shenanigans caused the nomination to be stolen from her.
It might be asked: why not instead sign off Clinton the 73-55 delegate split that her campaign desired? It's only a difference of a few delegates.
Well, if you did that, you'd be reflecting the Clinton/uncommitted preference from the unsanctioned primary. Which means that you'd be tending to legitimate the results of that primary. Which means that Clinton would have had a stronger claim for including Michigan in her popular vote count. And the popular vote count is different way that Clinton has tended to imply that Obama's nomination is not legitimate. If Clinton hadn't pushed the popular vote meme so noisily, in other words, Obama would probably have given her those four extra delegates.
A Nuevo Dia poll conducted earlier this month suggested that 57 percent of Puerto Ricans favor statehood and 34 percent commonwealth status. If those numbers accurately reflect the preferences of the electorate in today's primary, we can plug those numbers into a simultaneous equations solver to get an estimate of each candidate's vote. That happens to work out to Clinton 63, Obama 34, a 29-point victory for Hillary.
However, these numbers are extremely sensitive to the relative preferences for statehood and commonwealth status. For example, if we plug in the results of the November 2007 Nuevo Dia poll, which showed commonwealth status leading statehood 45-43, the equation solver instead works out to a big Obama win.
So, I don't know quite what to make out of all of this -- but we could be looking at a big Clinton win in Puerto Rico.
It's going to be a busy day, so let's get some housekeeping out of the way first.
Firstly, I was invited to write a guest column today in the New York Post, which you can find here:
It was a Sunday evening, two days before the 2004 presidential election, and Vice President Dick Cheney was aboard Air Force Two, on his way to Hawaii.Secondly, you're going to be seeing contributions from a new, very talented blogger, and I've also got a guest feature to roll out from one of my colleagues at Baseball Prospectus -- more on this in the coming days.
What was Cheney doing 30,000 feet above the Pacific Ocean instead of attending to some swing state like Ohio or Florida? Days before, a poll had come out in the Honolulu Advertiser showing Bush-Cheney tied with Kerry-Edwards in the state, at 43 percent of the vote each. This was considered a surprise; Al Gore had carried Hawaii by 18 points. But it was the first Hawaii poll to come out in months, and Cheney decided to gamble some of his limited time on the state's four electoral votes.
It proved not to be worth the jet fuel - Kerry won Hawaii by a 9-point margin. But it was nevertheless a watershed moment in the history of polling. Instead of the campaign dictating polling, the polls were now dictating campaign strategy.
But now, onto the polls. Three of them out today, and they all tend to confirm our existing impressions of their respective states. Rasmussen has John McCain 9 points ahead of Barack Obama (and 7 points ahead of Hillary Clinton) in Louisiana. That's just slightly stronger than Obama has performed in other Louisiana polls, but probably outside the range where it can be considered competitive in any way, shape or form.
Meanwhile, in Massachusetts, Rasmussen has Obama ahead by 13 and Clinton ahead by 30. Massachusetts has at times been a frustrating state for Obama, first when he lost it badly in the primaries and then when some earlier polling had come out showing it to be potentially competitive. But at the end of the day the Democrats' party ID advantage is too overwhelming in Massachusetts to give McCain much of a chance.
Finally, in Nebraska, SurveyUSA has McCain 12 points ahead. However, the poll also shows the race tied in NE-1, meaning that Obama could potentially pick up an electoral vote from that district. We had initially thought that NE-2, which consists mostly of Omaha, might be Obama's better opportunity to pick up an electoral vote in Nebraska. But NE-1 includes the college town of Lincoln, and also shares a long border with Iowa, where Obama is very well liked. Both NE-1 and NE-2 are worth keeping an eye on.
How many delegates are in play? Florida had 185 pledged delegates and 26 superdelegates, now halved. Michigan had 128 pledged delegates and 29 superdelegates, now halved. 368 people get 184 votes. What about the other 4051 delegates?
The confusion may have started with the DNC itself. According to Todd, NBC is using that number because the DNC is using it.
But if you go to the DNC's site, they have posted a pdf as of May 15 listing every non add-on superdelegate. This was after the last special election in Mississippi, and Travis Childers is on the list.
After double and triple checking, these names add up to 721. The single, sole discrepancy with DCW's list of names is that Al Wynn is still listed in Maryland's delegation in the DNC pdf, while DCW has removed him. As we know, Wynn has resigned and a special election is being held June 17. Donna Edwards, an Obama endorser, is overwhelmingly favored to win this heavily gerrymandered Democratic district. When she takes Wynn's spot, the DCW list and the DNC pdf will match up.
4051 minus 721 is 3330, needing to account for the add-ons and pledged delegates. The DNC seems to agree with everyone else that there are 3253 pledged delegates outside of Michigan and Florida, and that there are 76 add-ons outside of Michigan and Florida. It's a little tedious, but you can go to DNC's interactive map and do the counting if you want to double check. That adds up to 3329.
Where is the missing delegate? Someone at the DNC needs to check the numbers they are reporting to the news organizations, because the news organizations are using the number the DNC gives them. There is a very good chance there are only 4233 delegates in play right now (magic number 2117, as DCW shows), with Donna Edwards making it 4234 on June 17.
Note: this comment suggests what may be the problem, which is unclarity between the DNC and the news orgs. If the DNC had been using "2026 (rounded up)" then there is a sloppiness factor between the DNC and the news orgs that still needs clarifying.
Pending DNC clarification, the magic number may really be 2117 as of Al Wynn's official resignation Sunday, and 2117.5 on June 17. With Obama sitting on 2050 or 2052 delegates, depending on if you count 2 of Clinton's pledged delegates in Maryland and DC who have declared they are switching to Obama, he would need 67 or 65 more delegates to reach 2117. If you put Donna Edwards in his column, he would need 66.5 or 64.5 delegates to reach 2117.5.
NBC's First Read reports that 9 of the 13 Edwards pledged delegates are supporting Obama, so that's 4.5 votes. Obama would need 62 or 60 delegates to reach 2117.5.
Florida was a little bit more normal. Turnout was equal to 48 percent of John Kerry's vote; the average in other closed primary states was 59 percent.
- Florida will be seated based on the primary results and treated as half-delegates.
- Michigan will be seated 69-59 (the state's compromise plan) and treated as half-delegates, meaning a split of 34.5-29.5 for accounting purposes. Since the 69-59 would represent a departure from the primary results, that would imply that uncommitted delegates would explicitly be designated as Obama delegates. Obama will also receive Michigan's two add-on superdelegates.
If I'm doing the math correctly, this would give Obama 2,054 delegates, with
This assumes, by the way, that Michigan and Florida *super*delegates are also treated as half-votes, which is something I'm not certain about. Also, Todd seems to think that a bunch more of the Florida Edwards delegates are for Obama than I'd seen reported elsewhere.
There are two possibilities that I find interesting to contemplate. First, if Florida and Michigan were on the calendar, might the Clinton campaign have skipped Iowa, as it was thinking about doing last summer? And secondly, with another state (Michigan) with a relatively large African-American population on the calendar, might the Clinton campaign have been a little more delicate in the way that it handled the race issue? If Clinton had held on to one-third of the black vote, the nomination would very probably have been hers.
Four polls today, and they all look like pretty good news for Barack Obama. In California, the highly respected Field Poll has both Obama and Clinton leading John McCain by 17 points. The poll also shows that Obama is now preferred over Clinton among California democrats by a margin of 51-38, a reversal from the state's primary result (a similar finding had previously been reported by SurveyUSA). As much as I tend to convey the impression that demographics have been destiny in the primaries, this is some of the strongest evidence that the race has in fact been dynamic.
Another deep blue state also looks safe for the Democrats: Clinton leads by 30 points and Obama by 19 in Rasmussen's poll of New York. The poll also suggests that about half of New Yorkers want Hillary Clinton to drop her Presidential bid. While home-state advantage is an electoral blessing, it should also be remembered that a candidate's home constituency has conflicting incentives. New Yorkers would love to see Hillary as President, but they'd also like to see her get back to representing them in the Senate.
SurveyUSA shows Obama 6 points ahead in Wisconsin; no poll for Clinton. SurveyUSA's results have consistently shown Obama ahead in Wisconsin, while other polls like Rasmussen see the state as more of a toss-up.
Finally, in Wyoming, Research 2000/Daily Kos has Obama trailing McCain by a relatively modest 13 points. While Obama is not going to win Wyoming, this improves our regression model's impression of his prospects in somewhat more moderate states like North Dakota.
I've also noticed that the regression model seems to be giving progressively less and less weight to the fundraising numbers, which is causing some weird things like Obama not having quite the home-state advantage in Illinois and Hawaii that he probably should. It may be the case that the fundraising numbers are somewhat out of date, and that we should be focusing more specifically on how a candidate has fundraised over his past couple of months. Something else to explore when we can find a little bit of time.
My real name is Nate Silver and my principal occupation has been as a writer, analyst and partner at a sports media company called Baseball Prospectus. What we do over there and what I'm doing over here are really quite similar. Both baseball and politics are data-driven industries. But a lot of the time, that data might be used badly. In baseball, that may mean looking at a statistic like batting average when things like on-base percentage and slugging percentage are far more correlated with winning ballgames. In politics, that might mean cherry-picking a certain polling result or weaving together a narrative that isn't supported by the demographic evidence.
So if you catch me overusing baseball metaphors in my political writing or political metaphors in my baseball writing -- this is my excuse.
In the survey, Puerto Rican adults were asked to rate their likelihood of voting in Sunday's primary on a scale of 1 to 10. 46 percent rated themselves as at least a 6 out of 10. How many voters is this?
Puerto Rico had a July 2007 population estimate of 3.94 million. However, Puerto Rico is a young country; roughly 30 percent of Puerto Ricans are under age 18. That leaves 2.76 million Puerto Ricans who are old enough to vote; 46 percent of that total would be 1.27 million.
But saying you are going to vote is different than actually doing so -- particularly when the primaries are held on a Sunday afternoon and the polls are only open until 3 PM. What percentage of voters who say they're going to vote actually do?
We can get some clues about this from SurveyUSA polling in recent primaries. Characteristically, SurveyUSA discloses a lot of information about the way that they conduct their surveys, including the proportion of adults who wind up getting classified as "likely voters". In Pennsylvania, for example, SurveyUSA classified 39.4 percent of Pennsylvanian adults as likely voters in the Democratic primary, whereas in practice, 23.9 percent of Pennsylvanian adults actually voted. The ratio between these two numbers (23.9/39.4) is 60.7 percent, which is what we'll call the follow-through rate.
The follow-through rates have ranged from 34.7 percent in New York to 64.0 percent in Indiana (they have tended to be higher in recent primaries). Does this mean, by the way, that SurveyUSA is identifying too many likely voters? Not necessarily, because unless you know which voters to screen out, you might throw the wrong voters out of your sample and wind up doing more harm than good.
In any event, the fact that SurveyUSA uses a relatively lax likely voter screen is helpful because that's also what GQR is using; there are no questions, for example, about prior voting behavior. In fact, GQR did not even ask voters whether they were registered, so their screen was probably too lax. But this is more or less an apples to apples comparison.
And as such, taking the high and low end of the range, we'd estimate that somewhere between 34.7 percent and 64.0 percent of Puerto Rico's 1.27 million "likely voters" will actually turn out to vote. That would represent a turnout of between 441,000 and 813,000.
Intuitively, this seems like a pretty reasonable range. Puerto Rican officials expect a turnout of about 500,000. Joe Sestak, who might be echoing the expectations of the Clinton camp, says 450,000 to 500,000. Puerto Rican elections expert Manuel Alvarez-Rivera guesses 600,000. The record for turnout in a Democratic primary is 870,000, when Ted Kennedy made a visit to the island in his challenge to Jimmy Carter. So there are a lot of numbers coming up in that mid-to-high six figures range.
Unfortunately for Clinton, this is probably not the margin she would need to win the +Florida version of the popular vote count. Presently, Obama holds a lead of 273,877 votes if Florida (but not Michigan) is counted for Senator Clinton. Obama is likely to net about 25 or 30 thousand votes between Montana and South Dakota, so we'll round that number up to 300,000. That's how many votes Clinton will need to win in Puerto Rico to lay a claim on this version of the popular vote.
The problem is that if turnout is only 500,000, Clinton would need to win by 60 points (e.g. 80-20) in order to secure that margin. And that just ain't going to happen. 20 points? 25 points? Possible, considering how little anyone knows about this primary. 30 points? Who knows. But 60 points isn't going to happen.
Even if turnout got up to the 870,000 number from the Kennedy-Carter election, Clinton would still need to win by about 34 points to net 300,000 votes out of her effort. That seems like a stretch.
Moreover, there may be something of an inverse relationship between turnout and Clinton's performance. The GQR poll says that Clinton's margin is 19 points among likely voters, but only 13 points among all voters. She's also outfundraised Obama in Puerto Rico about 2:1, which suggests that she has more support among the island's mainland-connected elites. So if Clinton wants to maximize her percentage of the vote, she might hope for a lowish turnout. However, Clinton not only needs to maximize her percentage of the vote; she also needs to maximize turnout. And that could be a problem for her because it looks like the percentage of Obama voters goes up as you drill down deeper into the population.
As for the actual meeting itself, there's one more angle you ought to be aware of: a 50% cut and a halving of the delegates is not the same thing. For instance, if Florida delegates are seated in their entirety, but only have their vote counted as a .5, then Clinton will net approximately 19 delegates out of the state. But if the delegation is cut in half, that's done in every congressional district as well as statewide, then suddenly Clinton's advantage is only a net of six. That's right, the complicated nature of the DNC delegate selection process will be a good reminder to math majors everywhere that a 50% cut is not the same as a halving of an individual number. Go figure...The distinction is in the way that the delegates are divided up in individual congressional districts. Take for example a district that Clinton won 70-30, and that originally had 4 delegates. If you do the multiplication, you get 2.8 fractional delegates for Clinton and 1.2 for Obama, which rounds up to a 3-1 delegate take for Clinton.
But now suppose that this district only has 2 delegates because Florida's delegation has been cut in half. With her 70 percent of the vote, Clinton wins 1.4 fractional delegates, and Obama 0.6. However, Clinton's number now rounds down to 1 delegate, whereas Obama's rounds up to 1 delegate. So the same district that went 3-1 for Clinton with four delegates (+2) instead is split 1-1 if it has 2 delegates. On the other hand, if the district had four half-delegates, Clinton would win it 1.5-0.5, for a one-delegate advantage.
To be clear, there's nothing intrinsic about halving the number of delegates that works to one or another candidate's advantage. But I tried to re-create Todd's math in Florida, and it indeed appears to be the case that the delegate thresholds just so happen to fall such that Clinton loses a few extra delegates due to what amounts to rounding error. This does not appear to be the case in Michigan; in fact, it looks like Clinton might make out a delegate or two better in that state if this method is applied.
The most significant result is probably the EPIC-MRA poll in Michigan, which shows the same four-point margin for McCain that SurveyUSA showed yesterday. Also like the SurveyUSA poll, this one had a conspicuously high number of undecideds. My sense is that this probably has something to do with Obama not having campaigned in Michigan during the primary cycle and that the state will probably lean his way in the long run. At the same time, Michigan is a state that has a significant amount of affection for John McCain, and his fundraising has been strong there.
I'm quite honestly at a loss as to how to explain the couple of Rasmussen results in Alabama and Mississippi. Demographically, the states are nearly identical. The Obama campaign has made some overtures about wanting to compete in Mississippi specifically, and it rarely hurts a candidate to call out the importance of a particular state. There might also be some lingering bitterness among Mississippians directed at the Republican Party over Trent Lott. But in the long-run, I don't see how you're going to get a 6-point margin in one state and a 28-point margin in the other.
Finally, for those of you wondering what in the hell that Texas poll is, that survey (from Baselice & Associates, Inc.) can be found here.
2. In the credit-where-credit's-due department, that was a clever little boxout the McCain campaigned performed on Barack Obama's visits to Iraq.
[UPDATED] 3. If you have the time and the tolerance for legalese, the DNC lawyer memo prepared for the Rules & Bylaws Committee is worth a read. The particular section to pay attention to is "Issue 3", which is covered on pages 5-6. The memo hints that the preferred solution to Michigan's "uncommitted" delegate problem would be to give the four candidates whose names did not appear on the ballot (Obama, Edwards, Richardson, Biden) the collective right to vet and approve the uncommitted delegate slate, through a means they "could work out among themselves". Since Edwards and Richardson have endorsed Obama, this would very amount to the equivalent of giving Obama control over the uncommitted delegate slate.
One thing the RBC won't do is to apportion the uncommitted delegates based on extrapolated exit polling results -- based on my reading of this document, there is no legal authority to do something like that. They will either effectively hand those delegates to Obama (through the means described above) or they will let the selection of the individuals to fill those delegate slots fall to the state of Michigan, which has already selected its district-level delegates, all but a couple of whom are officially or unofficially committed to Obama.
I looked at the press releases from five sources: the Clinton campaign, the Obama campaign, the McCain campaign, the RNC, and the DNC, and counted the number of times that McCain, Clinton or Obama was mentioned in the headline of the press release. (For Obama press releases, which tend to have vague headlines like "Barack Obama Statement on Iran", I also counted hits in the press release abstract). Then I sorted the hits by the month of the campaign from September onward.
These figures were tallied by hand and so may be slightly imprecise, but you should certainly get the general idea. Also, this should be obvious, but the idea was to account for attacks only, so I didn't count instances in which say a DNC press release mentioned Clinton, or a McCain release mentioned McCain himself.
Let me also give you that data in tabular form, and then a few observations.
1. It's manifest that the big break in the Democratic campaign came in February. Obama took just 10 incoming hits in January, but 51 in February, as both the RNC and the Clinton campaign significantly ramped up their efforts against him.
2. Clinton's incoming hits peaked in January, and have since dwindled basically to nothing. She hasn't been the subject of either an RNC or a McCain press release since March. Overall, since March 1st, Obama has taken 151 incoming hits, McCain has taken 144, and Clinton has taken 9.
3. The Obama campaign does very, very little attacking (quite possibly too little), at least in the form of press releases. That doesn't mean that they won't go negative, but they prefer to wait for an opportunity to counter-punch and/or to do so somewhat surreptitiously. But what they won't usually do is to try and dictate the course of a news cycle with an attack.
4. In contrast, the Clinton press shop is always operating at a fever pitch, and much of that involves attacking their opponents. During March and April, the Clinton press shop was hitting Obama nearly once a day. But the Clinton campaign has also delivered considerably more hits on McCain than the Obama campaign has (at least through its press releases). Also, note that Clinton has considerably cut down on her hits on Obama for the past several weeks.
The increase in participation in the primaries has been driven by core groups favoring Hillary, led by women, Latinos and older voters.There is no doubt that the share of Latino voters increased dramatically in the primaries, nor that the share of women voters increased somewhat. But older voters?
Overall, more than 22 million Democratic primary voters were over the age of 45 this year, as compared to less than 10 million who voted in the 2004 Democratic primaries.
At the end of this article is a comparison of the composition of the Democratic electorate in the 23 states in which exit polling data was available in both 2004 and 2008. The key findings are as follows:
* The share of the electorate aged 65 and older decreased in 21 states, increased in one state (Wisconsin), and was unchanged in one state (New Hampshire).
* The share of the electorate aged 45 and older, likewise, decreased in 21 states, increased in one state (Delaware), and was unchanged in one state (New Hampshire).
* The share of the electorate aged 18-29 increased in all 23 states.
* Weighted by the turnout in each state, voters aged 65+ made up 18.0 percent of the electorate in 2008 as compared with 23.3 percent of the electorate in 2004; a 22 percent decrease.
* Weighted by the turnout in each state, voters aged 45+ made up 60.9 percent of the electorate in 2008 as compared with 67.9 percent of the electorate in 2004; a 10 percent decrease.
* Weighted by the turnout in each state, voters aged 18-29 made up 14.5 percent of the electorate in 2008 as compared with 9.4 percent of the electorate in 2004; a 53 percent increase.
Did the number of older voters increase in absolute terms? Of course -- since something like three times as many Democrats cast ballots in the primaries this year. The turnout of midgets of mixed French Creole/Albanian ancestry also increased in absolute terms. But the average age of a Democratic voter decreased from about 52 in 2004 to 49 in 2008.
I don't know who runs the Clinton communications shop these days, but there is a certain amount of bottom-feeding in their argumentation that tends to impeach their credibility on other issues. Why not make the argument about women and Latinos -- which ain't a bad argument at all -- and leave it at that?
While Michigan cannot quite be described as a "must-win" for Obama, it's safe to say that unless he wins two out of the three big rust belt states -- Pennsylvania, Michigan and Ohio -- he will have a tough electoral row to hoe.
It is interesting to contemplate whether Obama is hurt in Michigan by the dispute over its primary. Our regression model thinks that Michigan ought to be a fairly decent state for Obama, favoring him by about 4 points. Perhaps noteworthy in the SurveyUSA poll was the relatively high number of undecideds (21 percent) among Democrats; Obama also lost 18 percent of Democrats to John McCain.
Moving up: Zogby (who did much better than the consensus in Indiana and North Carolina) and Public Policy Polling (who made up for their poor result in Pennsylvania with a spot-on call in Oregon).
Most of the hit appears to have been absorbed by SurveyUSA, which by no means performed badly in this cycle, but had been so far ahead of the curve that even an average performance drags their numbers downward somewhat. The mathematics of the ratings calculation are also such that the ratings tend to be especially sensitive for those pollsters toward the top of the chart.
Even the pollsters who did not poll in this cycle may have seen their ratings affected slightly, as everything is taken relative to the performance of other pollsters. For example, since our opinion of Zogby improved in this version of the ratings, a pollster now gets more credit for beating Zogby in a particular state than it had gotten before.
The new version of the ratings will be incorporated beginning with our refresh of the polling data tomorrow morning. As I doubt that we'll get much polling data in Montana and South Dakota, this may well be the final version of the ratings until the general election takes place.
In Iowa, SurveyUSA has Obama 9 points ahead of John McCain; Hillary Clinton was not surveyed. Obama has held a lead over McCain in all 12 Iowa polls released since the first of the year, and the state would appear to be about as safe as can be for a state that went for George W. Bush in 2004.
But in Nebraska, a Research 2000/Daily Kos poll has McCain up by huge margins: he leads Obama by 28 points and Clinton by 30. Nebraska awards some of its electors by Congressional District, but this poll doesn't have Obama particularly close in any of Nebraska's three CDs. In NE-2, the Omaha-based district that we thought might be relatively competitive for Obama, he trails McCain by 30 (small sample size caveats apply).
Other Nebraska polling has shown that state closer -- sometimes a lot closer -- so it's too early to discard the possibility that Obama can pick off an electoral vote or two. Nevertheless, the Obama-McCain map continues to consolidate itself, and look more like the one that most people were expecting from the outset. While Obama's polling situation has improved recently in states like Missouri and Virginia, more exotic plays like Montana and Nebraska appear to be less likely for him.
To prepare for that eventuality, the Obama campaign has, for the first time, really, begun to bank delegates. Sources close to the campaign estimate that as many as three dozen Democratic superdelegates have privately pledged to announce their support for Obama on June 4 or 5. The campaign is determined that Obama not end the first week in June without securing the support of delegates numbering 2026 -- or 2210, as the case may be.We had noted last week that Obama wasn't all that many superdelegates away from a scenario where he could clinch on the night of the South Dakota and Montana primaries on June 3rd. Although the mathematics depend greatly on what happens with Michigan and Florida on Saturday, under the most likely scenario -- that Florida and Michigan's delegations are cut in half, and that Obama gets all of Michigan's uncommitted delegates -- he will in fact be about three dozen superdelegates away following next week's primaries, exactly the number that Ambinder cites. (I presently show Obama's magic number under this scenario at 31, accounting for his projected totals in Puerto Rico, South Dakota and Montana).
So why hold back on unfurling these endorsements until after South Dakota and Montana? Wouldn't it look better to have the voters put you over the top?
Maybe -- if your opponent weren't someone as popular (and uncompromising) as Hillary Clinton. If these endorsements came in before all states had voted, Obama would risk looking as though he'd shoved Clinton aside. But that's not really a problem after Montana and South Dakota are finished voting.
Moreover, holding back gives Clinton perhaps a 48-hour window to withdraw from the race on her own terms -- particularly if she knows that the flood is coming. In this respect, I'd expect Obama's avalanche of endorsers to become one of the worst-kept secrets in Washington, and to see more "leaks" to well-placed sources like Ambinder.