Mar 13 2008

Interesting Poll Movements

The RealClearPolitics polling averages are showing that Senator Obama has lost a lot of ground to McCain recently and now fares worse than Senator Clinton in a potential matchup with Senator McCain.  Respectively, Obama and Clinton have a 1.2 and 1.5% lead over McCain.  Furthermore, Obama’s once-noticeable lead over Clinton in head-to-head polling has dropped to a virtually nonexistent 1% in the RCP average.

Going into the convention… it is still virtually guaranteed that Senator Obama will have more pledged delegates.  However, I think that it is definitely plausible that superdelegates might put Clinton over the top anyway.

  1. Obama’s campaign has made a number of painful, unforced errors in the past few weeks (like Samantha Power’s British book-tour).  More importantly, the media has called him on some of them.
  2. In a lot of the key battleground states, Clinton has actually defeated Obama.  Furthermore, Obama will likely face some additional hurdle in Michigan and Florida for not only declining to campaign in those states but also being vocally opposed to seating the delegates in those primaries.  (Admittedly, the DNC set the rules and these primaries did not meet those rules, but it is entirely possible that voters will not appreciate the distinction between their state party being punished and them being punished).
  3. Clinton can argue that, to the extent Obama (once) performed better in polls against McCain, it was because Republican voters had only heard the media consensus that Obama was an independent uniter.  McCain will probably rip that support to shreds by citing, among other pieces of evidence, that the National Journal ranked Obama the most liberal member of the Senate in 2007.
  4. Clinton supporters will argue to superdelegates that Obama performed well in February, before anyone had really heard of him.
  5. Clinton supporters will also argue, probably more diplomatically, that 1) Senator Obama’s primary wins have frequently depended on nearly-unanimous black support BUT that 2) Obama has not increased the turnout of blacks as a proportion of the electorate.  Democrats, as a whole, already assume nearly-unanimous black support, so Senator Obama presumably does not bring an advantage to a prospective Democratic ticket there.
    • The reason that Obama’s model of victory looks less appealing than Clinton’s is that blacks generally make a much smaller portion of the general election electorate than the electorate for the Democratic primaries.  A Democrat requires significant blue-collar support to reduce the tilt of whites towards the Republican candidate.
  6. Clinton supporters will argue, perhaps, that Obama has performed fairly poorly among key swing groups like Hispanics and blue-collar whites.

B. Mac’s predictions:

  1. If Senator Obama runs against McCain, Obama will be annihilated in a 35-40 state wipeout reminiscent of Dukakis or Mondale.  I expect he receives slightly more than 40% of the popular vote.
  2. If Senator Clinton runs against McCain, I’d venture to say she wins between 15-20 states and 40% of the electoral votes.  It’s really hard to tell– her skills as a candidate have not exactly been impressive so far.  However, I think that there is some substance to her argument that the Republicans cannot force her negatives any lower than they are already.  (This is, at heart, an argument that Obama will wilt under the spotlight. That seems plausible to me).
  3. I think that a Democratic victory this year is only likely if Senator McCain suffers a medical crisis that either forces him to withdraw or causes the media to question his readiness to lead.  Arguably, a recession could also provide the Democrats a winning issue, but I don’t agree with the conventional wisdom that Senators Obama or Clinton necessarily have more economic credibility than Senator McCain, notwithstanding his self-effacing comments about his purported economic illiteracy.

Cadet Davis argues, more conventionally, that “there is no way Hillary can win the nomination.”

  1. She won’t have a majority of elected delegates at the convention.  Obama’s pledged delegate lead may survive even if you exclude the supposedly undemocratic caucus system.
  2. If you exclude the mostly uncontested Florida and Michigan primaries, she almost certainly will not have a popular majority.
  3. Even since her win in Ohio and Texas, she’s been losing unelected delegates.
  4. HRC will absolutely have to claim that she is more electable than Obama to steal the nomination.  There is very little evidence for that claim.
  5. The Clinton campaign has pretty much nothing on Obama whatsoever– or it would not have resorted to the laughably amateurish kindergarten “essay” attack.

C.D.’s predictions

  1. If Barack runs against McCain, Barack wins at least 35 states.  The electorate is feeling heavily Democratic right now and, whatever B. Mac is smoking, it isn’t good for his mind.
  2. McCain would smoke Hillary, but only because the only conceivable circumstances in which HRC could win the nomination would involve massive shady-dealing.  Let’s say 35 states for McCain.

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