FiveThirtyEight: Politics Done Right: 6/1/08 - 6/8/08

## 6.07.2008

### How the Electoral College Hurts the GOP

There's been some discussion recently about the possibility that Barack Obama wins the popular vote and loses the electoral college; see Mark Ambinder for a pretty good articulation thereof. However, our simulation model thinks that this is actually a bigger worry for John McCain. It assigns McCain about a 5 percent chance to win the popular vote and lose the election, to Obama's 3 percent chance. So what gives?

There are a lot of different ways to approach this problem -- but there is one fundamental that should not be ignored. Namely, the allocation of electoral votes lags behind changes in the distribution of the population. Presently, the composition of the electoral college is based on the 2000 census -- what if it were based on the population in 2008 instead?

The Census Bureau does not yet have its current population estimate out for 2008. What we can do, however, is take its 2007 estimate, and then add to it the population gain between 2006 and 2007 to come up with a reasonable estimate for 2008. For example, Texas had 23.5 million people in 2006 and 23.9 million in 2007 -- a gain of about 400,000 persons. We add another 400,000 to account for population growth between 2007 and 2008, which gives us an estimate of 24.3 million for its current population.

If we do this for each state, and then reassign electoral votes based on the new population estimates, I show the following electoral votes changing hands:
- Texas gains three electoral votes.
- Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Nevada, South Carolina and Utah each gain one electoral vote.

- Iowa, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania each lose one electoral vote.
- Ohio loses two electoral votes.
As you can see, the gains tend to come in Republican-leaning states, and the losses in Democratic-leaning ones. We can be a little bit more specific about this by apportioning the electoral vote changes based on McCain and Obama's win percentages in each state. For example, we estimate that McCain has a 95 percent chance of winning Texas, so we assign McCain 95 percent of Texas' three new electoral votes (+2.85), giving Obama the small remainder of 0.15 electoral votes.

Overall, this results in a swing of slightly fewer than five electoral votes from McCain to Obama (actually 4.68), or a net change of 9-10. If electoral votes were assigned based on the current population, rather than the population in 2000, we would show Obama with tiny a 269.7-268.3 advantage, rather than the 274.4-263.6 advantage that we do now.

These new voters places like Texas and Arizona will show up in McCain's popular vote column -- but not in his electoral vote column until new allocations are made after the 2010 census. While there might be other reasons that the electoral math tends to be favorable to McCain, this starts him off with about a 10-EV handicap, which is pretty significant as far as these things go.

### Clinton-McCain archive

Below the jump is a listing of all our Clinton-McCain graphics from Thursday 6/5, the last day that we ran her numbers. That is the entire purpose of this thread.

### Rehabilitation for Herself: What Could Clinton Say?

Most of you realize that two of us post here now - Nate (the guy who built everything and all around super-star, formerly known as Poblano), and Sean (PocketNines). Some haven't quite caught that, probably because our names are not bolded at the bottom of posts.

I point this out because the subject of the following piece is me speaking for me only. Nate is much more Josh Marshall-objective in his public writings; I always have to keep my inner Rude Pundit in check.

Nate and I both have biases toward Barack Obama - he openly notes his in the FAQ, and although mine isn't noted there yet, if it weren't already clear I'm openly saying so now.

With Hillary Clinton's highly anticipated speech endorsing Barack Obama hours away, I wanted to try a thought experiment at this landmark moment about what kind of approach she could take to reach someone like me. I know that in my feelings toward her I belong to a real, significant percentage of Democrats. Not a majority, but a problematic number if her goal is to ever run for president again. Previously, I haven't believed Hillary Clinton could say anything to bring me back from the alienation toward her I feel. But, what if that's wrong?

In the commentary on this subject, some of which you are sure to see today on television, I haven't seen this subject approached or explained in this manner. Which is why I decided there was value in writing this.

Again, what follow are my opinions, not Nate's. And if you don't want to read a lengthy piece, stop now. It winds up being much longer than I intended, but so be it.

And, yes, this is not a polling piece or a numbers piece, or "the reason you originally came to this site." All of those elements will still be here adding value, but there will also be some other types of pieces here. Like Nate's epic Lanny Davis takedown, or my perspective on Brian Schweitzer the other night. Both of us will still write about the numbers and the data, but that's not all we think about. This post won't help you learn whether Obama or McCain is likeliest to win Nevada, so don't bother pointing that out in comments.

As a Democrat and Obama supporter who has been horrified by some of what I have seen this year, I want to explain how I got to where I've gotten with Hillary Clinton, and explain what I think I need to hear to ever change my mind about her as a national candidate in my party. That matters in terms of strategy for what she says if she's thinking of 2012, because she has a lot of work cut out for her if that's an actual realistic intention. I may even be atypical in the force and depth of my thoughts on Hillary Clinton, but I suspect that atypicality has more to do with following the race more closely than it does the natural reactions to what I've witnessed. Even before the things that disturbed and offended me, she was only getting 29% and 3d place in Iowa. She has a LOT of obstacles to future viability.

My first impression of Hillary Clinton was I liked her. I shook her hand and came away impressed by her speech in 1992 when she came to Hanover to stump for Bill before the New Hampshire primary. She reminded me of my mom - an energetic, highly intelligent, unashamedly accomplished woman. That she didn't play the traditional window dressing role many women had played to male politician counterparts was a big plus for me. She was a role model for a new generation of working women. I admired her. And when she drew an absurdly over-the-top reaction from Bill's political enemies, it only gave me more resilience in liking and admiring her. If awful people hated her and expressed their hatred in irrational terms, I concluded, she could only be an even better person than I thought. So I dug in and defended her, countless times.

Richard Mellon Scaife, godfather of the "vast right-wing conspiracy," spent hundreds of millions of dollars to attack this woman, to produce writings and videos and fund the rise of individually groomed attack pundits whose #1 task was to aim at Hillary Rodham Clinton. Richard Mellon Scaife formed an entire cottage industry around smears, lies and hatred toward this woman. It was sick, it was out of proportion, it was offensive in the extreme.

During this campaign, Hillary Rodham Clinton went to Richard Mellon Scaife's little shitburg newspaper board and made friends with him in order to slam a fellow Democrat.

I will not be able to wrap my mind around that, for the rest of my life. It's the most breathtakingly cynical moment in this campaign season.

Now, the arrogance and entitlement annoyed me, but those aren't dealbreakers. Surrounding herself with sleazeballs like Mark Penn and Lanny Davis was unfortunate and spoke to her character also, but that was not a dealbreaker. Brazenly lying about Tuzla and all that was annoying and revelatory of character but still not a reason to be unwilling to forgive at a later date. The gas tax pander was a Vegas-class neon sign of non-leadership (even the shamefully shilling Krugman had to concede that one) but it was not a dealbreaker.

By time of the Scaife appearance, I had already had one dealbreaker: Hillary's responsibility, as her campaign's leader, to forcefully stamp out the race-baiting patterns of her surrogates, the carefully-phrased, plausible deniability moments of "I take him at his word," etc. The hard-working white people comment aimed at stressing racial divisions. Tepid, slow reaction to Geraldine Ferrarro. Pushing Wright. The failure to take a strong stand on Bill's comments in South Carolina, when the most apt example of winning South Carolina but losing the nomination so it's no big deal was John Edwards, the candidate who won SC in 2004 and did not get the nomination. Taking Bob Johnson "at his word" that he meant "community organizing" as the unmentionable youthful behavior. And so on and so forth with a parade of disgraces. It is insulting to pretend that she was - alack! - just the victim of an unbelievably unfortunate series of strokes of bad luck with all these moments. She's a smart cookie. You can't believe she's both a brilliant woman capable of leading the country and yet one too dull-edged to understand the patterns here and what they mean in context.

Let me be clear. I did not become a Democrat in a vacuum. Core values got me to this party. Speaking as a white man belonging to virtually every majority demographic this country has, I am a Democrat above all other reasons for the most fundamental principles and values of fairness and equality. That civil rights and equal rights have had to be fought and died for, that the notion that all people are created equal is even controversial... is mind-blowing. I knew those values by the time I was 4 years old. (The things you learn by kindergarten, indeed.)

I came to the Democratic Party at the most basic level because after 1964 and during my entire lifetime the Democrats were the party of civil rights and the Republicans were the Southern Strategy party, the one turning hatred and mistrust of Americans against each other into electoral advantage. Conservatives blocked women's rights. They backed their beloved Reagan as he went out of his way to refuse funding for AIDS research and prevention when the disease was in its incipiency when an aggressive education policy could have saved many lives of my fellow human beings. I don't need to be a gay man to know that is morally corrupt at the deepest level. Just a human being.

These values represent a moral bright line that make me a Democrat and not a Republican. They matter to me. One reason it was so easy to pour the personal energy of grueling hours and negligible pay into defeating Conrad Burns in 2006 was his racist tendencies. This value is no light thing for me.

I believe Hillary Clinton unacceptably violated that line with the way she ran her campaign. You have every right not to see it the same way, but I am telling you this because people like me are real, we exist, we feel fundamentally offended by the campaign she chose to run. We may not even be the majority of Obama supporters who hold Hillary Clinton liable, but we are at least a strong minority. We are very clear-minded on why we feel offended, and we are not overreacting.

So I was already done with her when the Richard Mellon Scaife thing happened. But when that happened, I came to see her as purely amoral. Not immoral, as when George Bush and gang set out to do harm and then go do it, for reasons that are internally logical for them and bring about results they fully intend. Amoral, as in: not attached to any moral principle that isn't completely negotiable if there is an obstacle in the way of what is wanted.

Richard. Mellon. Scaife.

And in this case what was wanted was the Presidency of the United States. Obama became the obstacle. In that context, the Scaife appearance and dogwhistling make perfect sense. It's not that Clinton is a racist or likes Scaife. It's that those behaviors are calculated to serve the ultimate purpose of The Getting of What is Wanted. It's a gamble that everything can be rehabilitated later with time healing wounds, but right now is when action has to be taken. It's not that she's a bad person. It's that she seems to have something missing that most people have that makes them attached to morality and values. You're born with what you're born with.

That's why the open discussion of one way of removing the obstacles in her path to the presidency included things like June assassinations, which have happened in the past. Had she dropped out earlier than the latest possible moment, she wouldn't be taking full advantage of every possible scenario that could still get her what she wanted. It made me feel a cold, sick horror and dread toward her, but it has a perfect internal logic if Obama is not a person, the feelings of his family and little girls are not real (or even publicly apologized for as of this very moment and counting), they are all objects. In the way.

You may be full of desire to tell me how terrible I am for observing all these things. That's ok. What matters only is that I reached my opinion honestly and that I'm not alone, and I am part of the Democratic Party, for those Clinton supporters who actually want to understand how someone like me could go from A to B in a thoughtful, values-based way. (Without the pathetic and self-demeaning charge of sexism, of course.) I used to feel empathy for this woman, and wanted to see her succeed even if at times only to spite her opponents. Now, I truly feel that she is a danger. To the extent I would feel motivated to work against her winning any future elections for any office anywhere in America, it is not a feeling of revenge, but rather a grim necessity out of fear of her having any power. It's a defense of integrity and love of country. And no way in a hundred million years could Obama ever feel comfortable with her on the ticket. That's insane risk-taking.

So, given that I am very clear on these things and am not alone (many, many Democrats have expressed similar reactions to her jawdroppingly amoral campaign), what could this woman say when she speaks today to ever begin changing my mind? It seems like an impossible task. But it's important, because I obviously moved a long, long way in my opinion on her, and when she launched her presidential bid in 2007, I was not in the 50% of the country who would never, ever consider voting for her. It's important because she has problems for a future bid if that number has swelled to include mainline Dems like me.

How could this person rehabilitate herself with the Democrats she's alienated?

I'll confess up front I don't think it's possible, at least with me. I believe that all the king's horses... well, you know. But there is a spectrum of disgust, and if I am too far to one end of that spectrum, there may be a point X along that spectrum of alienated folks she needs to reach.

This high-profile moment is important. All eyes are on her this morning. She needs to start the reconciliation now. She completely blew it on Tuesday, when she could have really done something. Not that I expected her to diverge from the soul-crushing path of denial and widely noticed non-generosity of spirit toward the presumptive nominee in her speech on Tuesday night (and said so in the liveblog here). And I don't expect her to say any of these things today. I have, shall we say, low expectations of what comes out of her mouth. And if she doesn't want to preserve future national ambitions, she needs to say none of it.

What could she say? Fundamentally, she would have to show she understands exactly why there's real, legitimate anger and apologize for her behavior. She could say that the political wars she has been through had convinced her that playing big time hardball was going to cost her with some Democrats in the short term but could be repaired in the long term. That becoming President was so important, when Obama's campaign out-strategized hers and she fell behind, she decided going for broke first and repairing any hurt feelings afterward was what she had to do.

She definitely needs to say that Obama ran a clean campaign while hers was down and dirty. She must stand her supporters down from their disappointment and anger by acknowledging this truth. She must cease stoking that emotion and giving her supporters implicit permission to toxically aim it at Obama and/or his supporters. It's ok if she says she learned in her experience that Americans don't mind dirt in their politics, it's ok if as a safe face-saving stance she still targets the media as not treating her campaign fairly, but she needs to tell her supporters that Obama took the high road, that his stances on Florida and Michigan were merely playing by the rules everyone agreed to.

And she must go into detail about why Obama is not an elitist, and why his rising from a very modest upbringing on his own merit makes "elitism" a sham of a charge that she deliberately fueled because she hoped it would help her win. The reason she needs to do this is she knows it to be true (just as she knows it to be true Obama is not a Muslim, not "as far as she knows"), and unless she openly talks about some of the things she said about him as products of an all-out genuine desire to win rather than because they're true, those things get left open for the coming general election.

She must treat us like adults and give us credit for knowing how the surrogate game works, and deeply apologize for the race-baiting dogwhistle comments. This is non-negotiable for mending the damage she's created between herself and Democrats like me. She should say any leader is responsible for the tenor of her campaign, and that there were many comments that she wishes she'd quashed, immediately stomped on, and that she apologizes even for putting out surrogates like the despicably craptastic Sean Wilentz blaming Obama for playing the race card.

For all these things, she should beg forgiveness. She needs to sound regretful. She should explain that words do matter, that words hold amazing power in the service of both good and ill, that they can divide people and call upon their worst fears and prejudices, and that this is the one thing she wishes she could go back and do over because that's not how she's lived her life before now. She can say this is not who she is in her heart, and that she has shed tears knowing so many people she formerly called friends have been hurt by her campaign's actions.

And absolutely, she must openly and publicly apologize to Obama and his family and his supporters for the assassination comments, and say that while she made those comments repeatedly and in no way wants harm to come to Barack Obama, that she wishes she could take the words back (that she used with aforethought multiple times) and apologize directly to Obama's children. That political assassination has hurt this country so grievously and that openly making those comments were the worst public comments of her lifetime. And just simply ask for forgiveness, even if it only comes in time. It is absolutely unacceptable that she not take responsibility for this, if she wants to speak to people like me.

Then she should say, as for the Richard Mellon Scaife thing, that was... well that was unacceptable. And that she knows nothing she could ever do or say can excuse that after all he did to force good faith Democrats to defend her against him. Again, she can ask directly for forgiveness, noting that she wanted something so bad she lost sight of her values and that she is determined to show us by her future deeds and leadership that this was out of character.

If she covers those bases, if she shows she understands why there has been such depth of adverse reaction to her campaign by many true Democrats, that it goes deeper than mere heat of the moment, those are the things that might make a successful future run realistic. She then has to go back to the Senate and dispense immediately with the violent video game, flag burning ban giant pandering don't-offend-anyone nothingness of non-leadership that has characterized her entire Senate career. Freed from fear of being in any way controversial, she can finally behave like she has nothing to lose and go for broke in pushing all the "Solutions for America" she has been talking about for months. It's a terrible burden to feel like the risk of losing even 1 vote means she's cooked for a general election nailbiter, always the best-case scenario. She's free now. As a friend pointed out to me, she could be the new post-1980 Kennedy if only she had it in her. Let her be a flagship leader on health care reform. Let her sponsor bills left and right that don't change the name of some building somewhere in the state of New York, but actually affect people.

What's my prediction about what will happen? Do I expect her to come anywhere close to any of this?

No. I expect she'll praise Obama, she'll acknowledge the passion and sincerity of his supporters. She'll thank her own supporters at length, recollect wistfully on her attempt, maybe try and gain sympathy with an "I tried so hard" awww moment. If she alludes to regret over hard feelings, it'll be brief and incomplete and not in any way go into showing she understands why real people came to real feelings by good faith. I don't think she's ready to come to grips with what-all went down here. I think she thinks the hard feelings are heat of the moment and will be forgotten by August. That would be terrible judgment.

Tragically, she doesn't seem to have caught on to the transformation I've described, or maybe just doesn't take it seriously and thinks four years is a lifetime in politics and everyone will forget, the only memory residue that she's "gritty." If she were to realize the truth of the matter, she knows that she already has her own base of support, and she could win so many of us back with an open confessional. Maybe she doesn't have to say all of these things, immediately, but in such a high-profile moment she needs to say many of them, particularly the apology to Obama's young girls and the emphasis on his clean campaigning as a way of standing her stoked-up base of voters down.

Of course, some of you in the comments are going to throw out the random Samantha Power comment (immediately fired, btw), or various this or that mailer you think was unfair. Obama openly acknowledges there were times when he felt he had to throw a punch back, and said so explicitly Tuesday night in St. Paul. But there can be no arguing who ran the kitchen sink, smear-by-association, dogwhistling, open assassination-ruminating campaign and who ran the high road campaign.

As I wrap up, I want to emphasize that from my perspective, it's been difficult watching many of the dealbreaker things go down and seeing her supporters stick with her. That's been bewildering and hurtful, just as I'm sure you feel hurt by what feels like Hillary Clinton being unappreciatedly forsaken by her party. We don't understand how your loyalty trumps the breaching of non-negotiable values, and you don't understand why we don't just remain loyal to someone whose character has seemingly long been established and about whom we shouldn't need to further question. Because it seems so irrational that many of us would opt for someone else, shamefully self-demeaning explanations like "it's a cult" (thanks for that hacktastic nugget, Krugman) or "it's sexism" are offered. For my part, I see an uncommon authenticity and wisdom in Barack Obama, and I see gifts no Democrat in my lifetime has brought to the table. That feeling he inspires in millions of my fellow Americans of wanting to engage in the bettering of America and in the lives of our communities is visceral and no joke. He'll be the Tipping Point President.

But I came to my opinions about Hillary Clinton in good faith, and I am capable of believing that most Clinton supporters have stuck with her in good faith as well. Once upon a time, I appreciated Hillary Clinton the way many of you still do appreciate her. I and the vast majority of my fellow Obama supporters went in with no agenda to dislike her, despite what you may be tempted to believe. Please understand that while at times we have felt outrage at your silence over things we perceived as unacceptable, we don't want to fight with you. I mourn the division. I mourn that one candidate began lobbing grenade after grenade in a kitchen sink strategy that hardened both sides. That isn't your fault. But that behavior was wrong, and it needs to be owned by the adult who chose to engage in it. The longer she waits to speak directly to harshly alienated, good faith Dems like me, the more distant her future nomination possibilities become.

Re-reading what I've written, if she did say most or all of those things I proposed for her, I'd openly post that I was wrong in my expectations of her, and I will guarantee you that you'd see a massive outpouring of appreciation from all corners. With such a speech admitting to such failures and deficiencies of behavior, she might think it was painful to have such a raw and open confessional. She might think she would be accused of weakness or attacked for openly admitting to hypocrisy, etc. But it would be human, and principled. Ironically, I think she would become beloved with such a speech. It is a natural human stance to want to forgive. But what happened here went deep, deeper than I suspect she realizes, and half-measures will absolutely not cut it.

I just don't think she has it in her. I'd love to be proved wrong.

## 6.06.2008

### Hillary Clinton: Czarina of Recounts?

This thoughtful article from The American Prospect attempts to turn the innumerable Clinton postmortems on their head by talking about some of the more favorable ways that Clinton's campaign might changed the American political scene. But none of the writers invoke what I think I'll remember the most about the Hillary Clinton campaign, which is her no-holds-barred, street-brawling style.

This was by no means uniformly a positive. Clearly, the campaign's fighting spirit appeared to get the better of it in the last week of the campaign, first when Harold Ickes looked ridiculous by arguing Carl Levin at the RBC meeting, and then on Tuesday night, when Clinton's speech not only failed to strike the right tone but missed the entire octave. More broadly, I think you can argue that Clinton's lack of restraint at various points in the campaign might have cost her the nomination.

In other contexts, however, a no-holds-barred approach could be quite helpful. For example, what if there were another recount in Florida? (Our simulation model thinks there's a 6-7 percent chance that the outcome of the election could hinge on a recount in Florida or somewhere else). As the HBO movie makes clear, a recount is a dirty, dirty affair, where the first side to blink tends to get run over. In a game with those rules, are there any politicians you'd rather have in your corner than the Clintons?

So one potential post-primary role for the Clintons would be for them to serve as Czar and Czarina of Vote Counting and Voter Suppression. This would segue into leading the Democrats' recount team if and when one became necessary. I can think of several potential synergies here. Firstly, it might transform some of the angst that Clinton supporters had about both the popular vote count and the seating of the Florida and Michigan delegations and give it a constructive outlet. Secondly, because voter suppression problems tend to be more concentrated among minority groups, it could give the Clintons a bridge to start repairing their image with the African-American community.

And thirdly, they'd probably be pretty good at it. By no means would they be doing most of the dirty work on voter suppression -- that falls mainly to unions and activists and state and local politicians. But to give these activities more of a public face, and to increase their bandwidth share in the American political consciousness, is another part of the strategy. If the Clintons were able to raise the profile of voter suppression questions ahead of time, that would provide for an optical advantage if there actually were a recount later.

### Some signs of a unity bounce

It's very early, but both of the national tracking polls are showing results that are consistent with the notion of a "unity bounce" for Barack Obama.

Rasmussen:
The Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll for Friday shows what may be the beginning of a bounce for Barack Obama. Obama now attracts 45% of the vote while John McCain earns 40%. That five-point lead for Obama is up from a two-point advantage over the past couple of days. Before that, for much of last week, McCain had enjoyed a slight edge.
Gallup:
The latest results include two nights of interviewing since Obama declared victory over Hillary Clinton on Tuesday night in the Democratic delegate contest. Although Wednesday night's interviewing showed no immediate bounce in national support for Obama versus McCain, Thursday night's results were quite favorable to Obama. It will be important to see if Obama can maintain this support over the coming days.
We don't know that this is triggered by Clinton-supporting Democrats coming back into the fold. It could just have easily be independent voters who are caught up in the excitement of the past couple days, or were turned off by John McCain's awful speech. Both of those phenomena are likely to be more transient than a true unity bounce. Naturally, it could also just be statistical noise.

But as someone who has been pitching the notion of a unity bounce for a long time, my expectation is that some of this is going to stick in the near-to-medium terms.

There's also a chance -- I wouldn't call it probable, but it's distinctly possible -- that Obama is going to gain several points over the next couple of weeks and essentially never give them back. When I saw Mitt Romney on Morning Joe the other day and he was really lowballing expectations for McCain (e.g. "it's amazing that we're tied"), I got the impression that this is something the Republicans stay up late worrying about.

### Today's Polls, 6/6

I was disappointed when the Democratic Primary Magical Mystery Tour rolled through West Virginia, and there was no general election polling of the state. Whether or not West Virginia turns out to be competitive, it is an idiosyncratic state, and one that helps us to understand public opinion in other states a little better. But Rasmussen has remedied the situation today, showing John McCain with a 45-37 lead in the Mountaineer State.

This 8-point gap is not a complete disaster for Barack Obama. In fact, it's better than you might gather he'd do based on his awful performance in the West Virginia primary. It's also about as well as John Kerry did. And this poll was conducted on Monday, before any "unity bounce" might have come into effect. Could Obama put West Virginia into play after all?

I don't think so, because look at Obama's favorable/unfavorables; he loses that question by a 40/57 margin. So essentially everybody who has a favorable opinion of Obama is already voting for him. In other words, this looks like as much of a ceiling for Obama's support as a floor.

Now, I'm generally not a huge fan of favorable/unfavorable scores, because the response can vary so significantly based on question wording. Still, those are going to be eight relatively tough points for Obama to make up. The best chance might be if there were a significant Bob Barr vote -- West Virginians didn't seem to like John McCain especially well in this poll either (his favorables were 48/48). But West Virginia is not a state with a track record of voting for third party candidates, and there are better "reach" states for Obama elsewhere on the map.

### Pardon the Dust

We're cycling out the Clinton polls and giving the site a bit of a makeover over the weekend. If you see something that isn't quite right, assume that it's in the process of being fixed.

## 6.05.2008

### A New Map

The following is a map of the relative performance of Barack Obama to John Kerry. If a state is colored blue, that means Obama is outperforming Kerry in his current polling avarages. If it's red, John McCain is outperforming George W. Bush.

Note that these results are based on the polling numbers only -- they do not include the regression -based component of our state-by-state ratings.

EDIT: One way to characterize the states where McCain is performing materially better than Bush:

1. John McCain's home state (Arizona).
2. John Kerry's home state (Massachusetts), and its immediate neighbors.
3. Hillary Clinton's home states (Arkansas and New York).
4. The states where Obama didn't campaign (Florida and Michigan).
5. Appalachia.

### Today's Polls, 6/5

We've been in a little bit of a lull for polling, as pollsters, quite understandably, might have wanted to wait for the Democratic nomination to resolve itself before putting new surveys out in the field. But a couple of late-breaking polls this afternoon.

In Missouri, Rasmussen has Barack Obama with a trivial, 1-point lead over John McCain. In Rasmussen's previous survey, Obama had trailed by 6. SurveyUSA had also shown Missouri closing to toss-up status; our regression model is liable to remain a little bit skeptical until Obama can improve his numbers some in other Southern states. But this is a state that's going to be competed in from now through November.

Just across the border, a Research 2000 / Daily Kos poll has John McCain ahead by 11 points in Kansas. The poll also suggests that Kansans are fairly lukewarm about the prospect of Kathleen Sebelius as VP -- though importantly, a 36-24 plurality of independents say she'd make them more likely to vote for the ticket. We're going to have some research out over the next couple of days about the home-state effects triggered by a Vice Presidential nominee.

Finally, in Alabama, a Capital Survey Research Center poll has John McCain 24 points ahead of Obama.

### A Call for Pollster-Poblano Unity

Dick,

It has been a long and hard-fought primary campaign. We've both had our share of successes, and made our share of mistakes. Granted, you made a few more than I did. But at the end of the day, we're really after the same thing: to apply rigorous, bias-free, well-documented, and internally consistent methodology to the study of public opinion.

So let's put this all behind us. In the meantime, let me know if you want me to book this flight for you. Minimum \$1,000 per state.

### National Polls

With Hillary Clinton's imminent departure from the campaign, we have a little bit more time to incorporate some new features. One thing I'm thinking about doing is finding a way to include national polling in the averages. I have a relatively intuitive solution to the problem. But I'm not sure if I like it so I'm hoping to rely on the wisdom of crowds (e.g. you guys) to sort everything out.

Right now, our state-by-state polls show a Barack Obama ahead by a tenth of a percent (0.1 points) against John McCain, if you extrapolate them outward to a popular vote based on the relative turnout each state had in 2004.

However, if you apply our methodology to national polls, they show Obama leading McCain by a somewhat larger margin -- 3.1 points.

There's nothing sacred about national polls. In fact, we tend to pick up more information from the state-by-state polls -- we simply get more volume out of them. The total weight of all current national polls is 26.11; for state polling, it's 74.16.

However -- we are arguably throwing some information away when we ignore national polls, and particularly the perspective of pollsters who might not weigh in at the state level very often.

One workaround would be to combine the state-by-state and national numbers into one global average, and then adjust the state-by-state polls to match the combined average. Presently, for example, the joint average would look as follows:
`                  Weight   ResultState Polls       74.26    Obama +0.1National Polls    26.11    Obama +3.1======================================TOTAL            100.37    Obama +0.9`
If you combine the state and the national polls according to our weighting method, Obama "should" be ahead by 0.9 points in the popular vote. Instead, we actually have him up 0.1 points based on the state polls alone. So the solution would be to add 0.8 points to his polling in each state; this is what we'd call the "national polling adjustment". Of course, at other points his numbers might be adjusted downward. It all depends on what's happening with the national polls. We wouldn't give deference to the national polls, but we would give them some say on our model.

Do we like this approach? Or do we think it ruins the purity of what we've got going on now?

## 6.04.2008

### On Brian Schweitzer as VP

Last night, Senator Jon Tester impishly threw Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer's name into the ring as a potential VP choice. That set off a bunch of thoughts, because I have a closer perspective on Schweitzer than most bloggers. Without going into too much detail, I've worked a short while in Montana politics, enough to feel relatively confident in the following analysis.

The first time I heard Brian Schweitzer speak, I thought: "This guy is going to be President." That is not a common reaction on my part to politicians. I've listened to hundreds and hundreds of Democratic politicians speak, and I've only had that reaction twice in my lifetime. The first was Barack Obama, the second was Brian Schweitzer.

People have asked me what it was that made me feel so strongly in reaction, and the way I'd put it now is that Brian Schweitzer and Barack Obama are the two "new Democrat" styles that are extremely effective in the post-Clinton era. Both emphasize solutions over partisanship. Both are suspected by Republicans of talking a good game of bipartisanship and hewing to traditional Democratic Party ideology. Both are great communicators, but with different rhetorical strengths. Obama rose from an mainly urban and intellectual background; Schweitzer's breakthrough is probably the single best example of why the Democrats chose Denver as the convention site this year.

In addition to being a strong speech-giver, Schweitzer is a gifted quote-machine. He regularly delivers the glib, funny ways of both explaining his position on policy and mocking his opponents for their unreasonableness. It's hard to think of a more effective way of developing popularity among voters who think of themselves as uncomplicated common sense types. His most notable one-liner is actually a counterpose to the legacy of national Clinton branding of the Democratic Party: "Gun control is you control your gun and I'll control mine." It's glib, it's memorable, it communicates exactly where he stands, it's populist.

It matters when you can give voters lines like that, because the real sell-job is one regular voter to another. When one guy in the barber shop says, what do you think about this guy Schweitzer, is he one of those Democrats who want to take away everyone's guns? The other regular guy remembers that line and repeats it, and now the first guy just learned Schweitzer's position even if he's a low info voter. Low info voters are the voters with whom Obama has the most trouble. None of the names bandied about in the VP talk are in Schweitzer's league when it comes to this ability.

This way of speaking is not accidental. Schweitzer has made an amateur study of right wing radio, to understand how to turn the effective glibness those toxic hosts use for their own benefit into his advantage. Schweitzer is a hell of a smart guy. A soil scientist and rancher, he spent 6 years in Saudi Arabia working on irrigation projects. He speaks fluent Arabic and has an intuitive grasp of the region based on real life experience. Certainly that would open him up to the sleazy email "Manchurian Candidate" stuff, especially as the radical Islamic Hussein Osama's running mate. But I have a feeling, knowing Schweitzer, he'd be asked about it and his response would have people slapping their foreheads in laughter with, "Yes! That's the perfect reply!"

As far as other stats, Schweitzer is one of Al Giordano's Catholic governors. He is known for energy policy, which aligns with Obama's comments about wanting to find a running mate with executive experience and energy policy expertise.

He's young (52), and if Obama were to somehow lose the presidency this year, I would immediately look into a futures bet on Schweitzer. In my mind, Schweitzer would be the clear front runner for 2012, regardless of whether he'd been on the ticket this time or not.

Now, here are a few halts on the idea. First, I've talked directly to family members who seem to honestly be saying Schweitzer doesn't have these national ambitions. I take those things seriously, but I also know that being asked to be VP would almost certainly be accepted, as Jon Tester said last night. Things change when it's real, when it's right there in your lap.

Second, Schweitzer, for all the attention and high profile he's gotten from Stewart, Colbert, 60 Minutes, the Candy Crowleys and Joe Kleins, as well as his hero status in the Democratic political blog world, Schweitzer actually doesn't have a big resume. He's only been governor of a small population state for 4 years. As a good friend who has extensive experience with both Schweitzer and Obama has pointed out, this would not necessarily be the best way to fend off the "inexperience" charge that will be leveled at Obama.

My reaction to that argument is that I take Obama's confidence at its face value - he is looking for quality people period, and willing to do battle on the attack ground of inexperience if necessary. If the truth is that this X is the right candidate, then Obama picks X and relies on his ability to meet that argument head-on and win. Moreover, I don't think the mood of the country really cares about length of resume right now. They want people with solutions, and incumbency starts out having to prove itself as a valuable quality rather than part of the problem.

Another argument against Schweitzer, the one I have long thought most persuasive, is that while most have tended to think Montana is undergoing a blue revolution, the Democrats in Montana have a much thinner bench than most realize and his departure to run on a national ticket would hurt Montana Dems badly. Take Schweitzer out of the governor's mansion, his Lieutenant Governor is a Republican. There's no obvious replacement. If Schweitzer chooses to accept a VP offer, he knows he's going to leave a mess and some unhappy allies who are negatively affected.

Now, if Tester says he'd probably take it, he'd probably take it. You notice he hesitated a bit, and I can assure you that the hesitation is all about what the ripples would be back home. Schweitzer is very popular in Montana, he came out of the 2007 Legislative Session debacle looking far better than his Republican counterparts did (in no small part because of his gift for producing quote after quote about the situation that made him look sane, reasonable and the bigger man). But a valid criticism is that Schweitzer's roster of drafted Dems to run for legislative seats in 2006 was weak at best. Montana had the only state legislative chamber that flipped blue to red in the 2006 wave. The 100-member House had been barely blue, and by 3 votes in Laurel, Republicans took back the chamber, leading to a nightmarishly confrontational Session. (Ironically, the field staffer assigned to Laurel was one who Schweitzer's brother had to be talked down from demanding his dismissal for a harmlessly-intended but poorly executed joke in a local meeting just weeks before the election.)

Montana Republicans have it in for Schweitzer. They want his head on a platter. They hate his popularity. They were willing to go nuclear in 2007's Session to undermine him. Ironically, while Schweitzer will win easy re-election against the painfully nasal Roy Brown, it's an uphill battle to hold the 26-24 Senate, much less take back the 51-49 House (one of those is a Constitution Party member who caucuses with Republicans). Particularly if Schweitzer's candidate drafting ability does not dramatically improve. If Republicans have both chambers in the 2009 Session, the #1 agenda will be to thwart Schweitzer from having any legacy after 8 years to go national.

The upshot of the Montana situation is that if Schweitzer grasps that (and I think he's savvy enough to see all the angles which are more numerous and complex than I've outlined), he might just take an offer from Obama if it comes. It's risky, because he might leave behind an ugly state situation in a vacuum and I do think he cares about that.

Will an offer from Obama come? I am probably the only poker player who has the mp3 of this year's Mansfield-Metcalfe Obama speech on his iPod shuffle. When I hear that speech, it's clear from Obama's reference to Schweitzer that he has great admiration for the governor's skill. "And how about this guy?" is how he starts out. It's obvious Obama has great appreciation for Schweitzer's talent. Obama clearly sees Schweitzer's gifts. You know Obama's thought about him as VP.

But from my reports, which well could be incomplete, is that Schweitzer had not exactly embraced Obama. I don't know why, and again I stress that this is from people I trust who have proven to have great feel for Montana politics in the past, but I cannot guarantee its accuracy. Without going into the personal, I know at least one person very close to Brian who had flirted with the Clinton camp from the early going. It adds up to there being something less than the enthusiastic support offered by Kaine, Sebelius, Richardson, Napolitano, etc.

One big advantage of adding Schweitzer to the ticket would be his ability to play the perfect VP role of constantly tweaking John McCain in the language that would reach the so called "working class white vote" that has the collective punditocracy up in "Oh Noesville!!1!!11!" Tweaking John McCain from two different rhetorical angles would resonate on a much wider platform. And tweaking thin-skinned John McCain drives John McCain out of his mind with rage. All you have to do is quote the guy accurately and he snaps. Brian Schweitzer would keep his cool. He's very hard to rattle. When Mike Lange memorably went on an end-of-session, profanity-laced diatribe against Schweitzer, Schweitzer played it masterfully by not taking the bait and emphasizing Mike Lange in a bad moment was not the Mike Lange he knew. Game, set, match.

The ultimate question: do I think Schweitzer will be offered the job? No. Barely. Gut sense. Perfectly content with being wrong.

Do I think Schweitzer would take it if offered? Yes. I was beginning to go that way, and Tester's hesitating yes pushed me there last night.

(By the way, Jon Tester is just a tremendous human being. He is also the only Senator who, if I ran into him tomorrow, my first instinct would be to give him shit. He's that real of a guy. I'm honored I got to help him. Quick story: A few days before the election, I asked him if he could do anything what would he want to do right after it was over. I believed him when he said he'd want to put on a fake beard for about three days and just go drink at a bar. I love that guy. I digress.)

Still, if I'm Obama, I'd look at Schweitzer long and hard. I do think the Clintons are determined for it not to be Richardson (I have been hearing all the zipper rumors too, and if those have any truth you can be sure that the Clintons know what they are and will have no remorse about submarining Judas with that info, unlinked to them of course).

Like a lot of you, I'd been thinking about a female choice but it does make Obama look like he had to pick "a woman" and not "the most qualified" even if Obama deems Sebelius to be the most qualified. He'd be open to that annoying, nagging charge regardless of its truth. I hadn't thought of how Clinton would react to Obama picking a woman that wasn't her, but it makes a certain kind of sense that Clinton would find it unacceptable. If she has any future chances to be the nominee, it's important to her that she still is the first. (Again, I think there is absolutely no chance of her ever being president. That's just my opinion, now that half her own party feels about her close to the way they feel about Joe Lieberman and Republicans still galvanizingly hate her. But I realize that she may be oblivious to this and will react badly if Obama picks a woman VP for this reason.)

Brian Schweitzer is a noted early morning devourer of political blogs; let's hope he's found his way over here to 538 and posts something in the comments to steer me back on course where I've erred in the analysis (ha ha). I'd also love to hear Sirota's take on the whole idea, because he knows Schweitzer's world far better than I do.

### Hillary's Future (at 538)

I've gotten a lot of questions about when we'll stop tracking Hillary Clinton's polling performance against John McCain. Some of these strike me as a little ... overeager.

Obama is going to be the nominee, guys. You can stop worrying. On the trading markets right now, he is trading at about 95 percent -- which is exactly where McCain's numbers are trading. There are always those asterisk, snowball's-chance-in-hell scenarios, but they are just as likely for McCain at this point as they are for Obama.

However, I am inclined to give deference to Clinton and continue listing her numbers until she formally ends or suspends her campaign. It isn't doing anyone any harm, and anything else strikes me as too much of an editorial judgment. If she doesn't suspend her campaign, then I don't know what we'll do -- it will probably depend on whether the pollsters continue to include her.

### Final Popular Vote Estimates: Obama wins 7 of 8 Michigan scenarios

With all ballots having been counted in Montana and South Dakota, we present our final version of the popular vote scenario tester.

With around 36 million votes having been cast between the two leading Democratic candidates, the voting totals wound up being remarkably close. They are within about a percentage point of one another, almost whichever scenario you pick.

However, we can probably narrow things down from the 972 scenarios that we described before to just a relative handful, all of which center around Michigan. At this point, there is very little argument not to include Florida at full weight. Nor is there any credible argument not to include all caucus states as best as we are able, even if our vote estimates have a margin of error around them. The more exotic scenarios like counting the Texas caucus vote or excluding Puerto Rico and other territories can probably also be discarded.

That leaves eight potential ways that we can handle Michigan.

1. Ignore Michigan entirely. That gives Obama a win by 155,782 votes.
2. Count Michigan at 100 percent and give no votes to Obama. That gives Clinton a win by 172,527 votes.
3. Count Michigan and give all uncommitted votes to Obama. Obama +65,641.
4. Count Michigan and give all uncommitted and write-in votes to Obama. (Note that we have included a new option to treat Michigan's 27,694 discarded write-in votes as uncommitted). Obama +93,335.
5. Count Michigan and allocate uncommitted votes based on the preferences of uncommitted voters in exit polls. We have that total at Obama +6,961, however it is so close that it can essentially be considered a tie.
6. Count Michigan and allocate uncommitted and write-in votes based on exit polls. That gives Obama a "safe" win by 28,008 votes.
7. Count Michigan and allocate all officially-recorded votes based on exit polls. This may be a truer reflection of voter preference because roughly 20 percent of Hillary Clinton's voters indicated in exit polls that they'd prefer to have voted for another candidate. Under this scenario, Obama wins by 90,398.
8. Same as above, but also include write-in votes in the total that we divide among the candidates. This is actually my preferred solution, because write-in voters were almost certainly included in exit polls even if they weren't included in Michigan's official tally. Counterintuitively, Obama's margin goes down slightly if we take this approach (because we are giving the majority share of a slightly larger pie to Clinton). But we still have Obama winning the national popular vote count by 87,351.

### McCain's strategy: force a gaffe?

The conventional wisdom is that when a candidate asks for more debates, said candidate is probably behind. We see now that McCain has invited Obama to a series of weekly town hall debates. So does the conventional wisdom hold here?

Actually, I think yes. Particularly so because John McCain is not an especially strong debater. The GOP had some very capable debaters in its primaries; Rudy Giuliani was one of the quicker candidates on his feet that I've ever seen, and Mike Huckabee's entire opportunity probably came as a result of his strong performance in the debates. But John McCain's performance in the debates was middling. Barack Obama, meanwhile, while not a terrificly strong debater, improved significantly as the primary season wore on. The aesthetics of having the two of them on the same state together -- where Obama's height and relative youth make him more telegenic -- also play well for him.

McCain may be hoping to score a cheap political point or two ("he's afraid to debate me"), assuming that Obama won't take him up on his offer. Nevertheless, this is a reminder that the underlying dynamics of the race favor Obama. The two candidates are essentially tied right now, with about 20 percent of Democrats defecting to John McCain. If Obama can get that number down to 15 percent -- still higher than the 10-12 percent rates that most nominees get, but lower than where it is now -- that's worth a couple of points for him depending on the state. The bounce is likely to be especially large in states like Ohio and Pennsylvania, which have been trending Democratic in party affilaition but that also have a lot of Clinton supporters. If Obama moves Pennsylvania from "lean Democrat" to "safe Democrat", and Ohio from "toss-up" to "lean Democrat", McCain will need to have a nearly-perfect Election Night to win the Presidency.

The Democrats are also likely to have a significantly more compelling convention than the Republicans. Obama himself is a better speaker than McCain by a couple of orders of magnitude, and the Democrats will also get speeches from Hillary Clinton, Al Gore, and (health willing) Teddy Kennedy. With the incumbent President and his family being more a liability than an asset, the Republicans simply won't have the star power to match that.

Obama is also likely to have a significant advantage in fundraising. He'll have the presence of an energized blogosphere to serve as a counterweight to right-leaning radio and television outlets like FOX News. The three official long-form debates scheduled by the networks, which are so structured as to resemble stump speeches as much as real debates, are also likely to favor Obama. The economy and the situation in Iraq aren't likely to have improved significantly by November.

So in order to win, McCain is going to need to capitalize on gaffes that Obama has already made -- the whole elitism/patriotism/liberalism/friends-of-Barack ball of wax remains a very significant vulnerability for Obama, especially if tinged with undercurrents of racial politics (as it invariably is). Or, better yet, McCain is going to have to induce some new gaffes from Obama. The more times that Obama speaks to a national audience, the more opportunity there is for him to do so. But this is not a strategy a candidate takes when his fundamentals look good.

### Two Mediocrities?

The National Review's John Hood:
With the supercharged 24-hour news cycle, the burgeoning blogosphere, and the legions of journalists furiously scribbling as much as they can before craigslist.com kills off their employers, it’s seems like the 2008 presidential contest has already been analyzed from every possible angle, by everyone with an angle. In fact, it feels as though we’ve already had several national elections since last summer. And yet we’ve only just begun the general-election campaign Tuesday night with Barack Obama weakly clinching the Democratic nomination while losing one of the final two primaries and John McCain blandly promising a respectful contest with his fresh-faced Senate colleague.

We’re stuck with these two mediocrities for the rest of the year. What’s more, we’re also going to be subjected to hundreds of mainstream-media mediocrities endlessly recycling the same trite observations, then revising the observations, then rediscovering the original observations, ad nauseatium.
It's easy to grow tired of the sheer volume of political coverage. This will wind up being the longest presidential campaign in the history of the Republic, dominating the news cycle for 15 months essentially unabated. Barack Obama and John McCain have taken their share of hits, and shown their share of warts, and will continue to do so.

Candidates never look good at this stage of the political cycle, any more than football players do after playing a game in the mud. But I tend to think that these are two of the objectively stronger candidates that have been nominated in some time, creating perhaps the best matchup since the Kennedy-Nixon race of 1960. Barack Obama and John McCain each have classic and proud American biographies. Obama is probably the best political athlete since Bill Clinton; John McCain has a brand so strong that even Democrats feel obligated to compliment him. How many Republicans would rather have George W. Bush running again? How many Democrats would rather have John Kerry than Obama?

## 6.03.2008

### Grand Finale Night Liveblog II: Montana and Obama's Speech

10:45 PM. To the less generous commenters: I don't really feel badly at all about our projection in South Dakota. There were versions of the model that had Obama winning by 10 or 11 points, and there were versions that had Clinton winning by 7 or 8 points. In the end, I went with a sort of compromise between the two, and caveated in the write-up that Clinton could outperform those numbers if you use a version of the model that gives more weight to the trends inherent in the race, rather than assuming that the demographics are stable from state to state. (It's also probably the case that your margin of error is going to be higher with this sort of thing when you look at a state that has one congressional district as opposed to 20).

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.

### Grand Finale Night Liveblog

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?

### Sean = PocketNines

Hello. Let's make this introduction official. Many of you may know me as PocketNines from posts over at DailyKos. I found myself on the front page a couple times for pointing out that the all-the-rage Slate delegate counter wasn't accurately capturing the Blowout Principle of pledged delegate wins, and later for pointing out that the popular vote "one person, one vote" principle that is true in the general election is farcically distorted in party primaries.

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.

Sucker!

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!

### Today's Polls, 6/3

SurveyUSA has released a whole bunch of data within the past 24 hours related to the series of Vice Presidential surveys they conducted last week:

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.

### Exit poll teasers (updated)

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   MarginMS         49       70      O +21         O +24     PA         58       67      O +9          C +9IN         54       67      O +13         C +1NC         49       71      O +22         O +15WV         64       43      C +21         C +41KY         64       47      C +17         C +36OR         51       77      O +26         O +18SD         68       70      O +2          ???MT         52       70      O +18         ???`
If 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.

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?State      Clinton  Obama   Satisfied Gap MarginOH         73       66      C +7          C +8TX         70       66      C +4          C +4VT         70       82      O +12         O +21RI         75       63      C +12         C +18MS         58       69      O +11         O +24PA         73       64      C +9          C +9IN         67       66      C +1          O +1NC         63       69      O +6          O +15WV         74       42      C +32         C +41KY         76       43      C +34         C +36OR         70       79      O +9          O +18SD         75       70      C +5          ???`
Performing the same regression analysis on this data works out to a Clinton lead of 3 points in South Dakota.

### Midday Notes

Sorry for the slow pace of things today. I've been dealing with both an internet outage and a construction crew that's basically living in my apartment, so conditions have not been ideal. We will have the polling thread up momentarily.

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.

### BREAKING: Hillary concedes that she conceded to concede...

I find the whole discussion about what Hillary Clinton will or will not do tonight to be a little bit hysterical (in both senses of the term).

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.

## 6.02.2008

### Montana Projection: Obama by 18

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.

Delegate Projection:
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

### After the Magic Number, the new Magic Number

This may cheer up Hillary Clinton supporters. Once Obama is proclaimed to have gone "over the top" of the number of delegates needed to win a majority at the Democratic Convention, there will technically be a new "Magic Number" prior to that vote becoming official at the Democratic National Convention in August.

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.

### South Dakota Projection: Obama by 5

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.