Dems go up in Wisconsin and March 4th states, as all eyes turn towards John Edwards

Hillaryland is entering panic mode, for the third time of the campaign. It survived the first two (post-Iowa and post-New Hampshire), so there is no reason to start writing obituaries. In comparison, it is remarkable that Obama has escaped any comparable panic mode. He lost two important races in New Hampshire and in Nevada, but circumstances were different: Clinton merely balanced things out in NH and Obama's triumph in South Carolina already looked certain at the time of his NV loss, giving his campaign little to worry about.

With the Potomac primaries almost certainly going for Obama, the Illinois Senator looks set to sweep 7 contests in a row (8 if you count the Virgin Islands). Already all eyes are turning to Wisconsin and to March 4th. There has been one public poll each in the past two weeks from Texas and Wisconsin, with Clinton narrowly up in both.

(In today's roundup of the campaign's situation, the New York Times wrote that: "Polls show Mr. Obama gaining strength in Wisconsin and his native state of Hawaii." There have been no public polls of Hawaii released and only the one I just mentioned from Wisconsin, so it is very unclear what the New York Times is referring to here. It is unlikely that the statement is referring to internal campaign polls, as an indication of that is usually given. Furthermore, it is unlikely that Hawaii surveys have been taken, given how unreliable those would be since Hawaii is a caucus state, thus almost impossible to poll.)

The conventional wisdom holds that Obama is the favorite to win Wisconsin's primary, both because he has run strong in the Midwest and because the state has a strong anti-war, student population. This gives an opening to Clinton to beat expectations and get a boost on February 19th, alleviating the pressure in the run-up to Ohio and Texas. But if she loses Wisconsin by a big margin Obama's delegate lead will start looking insurmountable. Ohio and Texas voters are unlikely to be impacted too directly by an Obama February sweep, but Clinton would find it hard to campaign while constantly addressing negative stories and questions about how she thinks she could pull it off.

Wisconsin is therefore emerging as a major battleground, and both campaigns are going up with major ad buys. The Politico's Ben Smith puts up two ads that are running right now, both focused on health care. Obama starts his with a clip of his mother, while Clinton makes sure to get in a Krugman quote. However, it looks like Clinton is not going to spend most of the next week in Wisconsin, as she is already traveling to Texas. This implies that her campaign does not necessarily believe that she has a chance in Wisconsin, but they are focused on keeping the margin close (they wouldn't be able to say that it is a caucus this time). It is worth noting that Obama also started running ads in the March 4th states today, with Clinton scheduled to join her tomorrow.

And then there is the John Edwards. Edwards did not endorse in the lead-up to Super Tuesday, though his withdrawal came at a critical time, freeing up a batch of uncommitted supporters at the very moment Obama was making his move. Now, pressure is mounting on Edwards to make his preference known. Clinton met with him in Chapel Hill on Thursday (she managed to fly down there without anyone noticing for a few days) and Obama was supposed to meet the former senator yesterday. That meeting ended up being canceled, though it is reportedly being rescheduled.

TPM goes into potential reasons Edwards is postponing his decision: He clearly aligned himself with Obama through the primaries, but he could also be thinking that Clinton's policies have more potential to help the lower-classes. Edwards's health care plan, after all, is much closer to Clinton's than Obama's and it incorporates mandates, a provision Obama has repeatedly attacked. In fact, I would venture to guess that this is probably the main factor that has prevented Edwards from already jumping on the Obama wagon.

We will surely know in the coming days whether Edwards will continue staying out of the race or whether he will bring end up endorsing. Keep in mind that Edwards has a number of delegates in New Hampshire and South Carolina (I don't believe he can keep his Iowa delegates) that he could presumably bring on board with him.



  • You forgot about Obama's support of predatory lending that preys primarily on the poor. Although McCain has his S&L scandal, this thing is becoming top news with all the foreclosures. The Democratic party can't afford to have Obama on the wrong side representing them. If he wins, it means flipping his positions, big time. The republicans tend to get away with flipping, democrats get hell for it. Edwards only aligned himself with Obama to take Hillary down a notch. He turned on Obama far more harshly than Hillary. That Michelle interview last night was a bad idea. She confirmed that she was controlling and Barack was weak, both in character and intellect. Bad move.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At 12 February, 2008 08:27  

  • Good Lord, what a daft post from Anonymous. Michelle was anything but controlling, unless one had a preconceived assignment to spin her behavior that way. She was modulated and highly complimentary to HRC, as she should. There are enough bona fide differences between the candidates to support a vigorous discussion without making them up whole-cloth.

    As for predatory lending, he voted against the 2005 bill. He also voted against the Dayton Amendment that would cap rate at 30%, because he believed that that ceiling was too high and was attempting to muster support for a lower cap. Voting for Dayton would have legitimated a usurious 30% max and killed any effort for a more reasonable ceiling.

    By Anonymous zoot, At 12 February, 2008 10:24  

  • His Blueprint has a 36% cap on those sleazy payday loans. The hasn't been any lower cap so he helped kill one at 30%. As for Michelle stating that she makes Barack change his mind everyday, I don't know how you could spin it otherwise. It was a dumb thing to say. Do Obama supporters always denounce criticism as lies before actually checking them out? That lie about Rezko was a terrible idea. People can check out statements and issues to see for themselves. Claiming all criticism is lying is an indication of guilt. Ever hear of crying wolf? When the real lies start coming from swiftboaters your side will have no credibility left.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At 12 February, 2008 10:39  

  • An Edwards endorsement looks great in the papers, but in terms of actual votes it really won't help him that much since his supporters have already broken for Sen. Obama in a 2:1 ratio. The time for him to endorse was immediately after dropping out when his supporters would have still been hanging on to his words. By waiting, it becomes more obvious that he is waiting for a politically expedient to endorse In my opinion, an Edwards endorsement would be welcome, but it's not absolutely necessary for Sen. Obama.

    There aren't any polls for Hawaii because they aren't needed. Obama is a local boy, and Hawaiians love it when their local boy is on the national stage. Everyone there, including the media, is overwhelmingly pro-Obama. An acquaintance of mine who was born and raised in Hawaii quipped to me that if "Obama doesn't win it with at least 60% of the vote, then there is probably voter fraud."

    By Blogger penif, At 12 February, 2008 11:03  

  • If Obama can't take criticism without immediately denying it, then getting caught in a lie,he has no chance against republican spinners. He's going to be painted as a pathological liar. He's green at this. His supporters are even more juvenile in their attempts to protect him. It's time to wise up quickly.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At 12 February, 2008 11:09  

  • As a DNC supporter I can't help to defend someone who consistently lies. If he is the nominee,it will be difficult to do damage control for him if he's unable to control his self-destructive behavior. He's already screwed up and now his wife is screwing up. Look at how the old hands handle it. Slippery as fish. Neither of the Obama's seems to be able to think before talking. It's a big problem looming.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At 12 February, 2008 11:27  

  • ARG released it's final polls on Maryland and Virginia this morning:

    On the Dem side, there's been no movement for Hillary in Maryland:

    Democrats Feb 8-9 Feb 10-11

    Clinton 37% 38%
    Obama 55% 55%
    Someone else 2% 2%
    Undecided 6% 5%

    And only a tad (statistically insignificant) for her in Virginia:

    Democrats Feb 8-9 Feb 10-11

    Clinton 38% 40%
    Obama 56% 57%
    Someone else 2% 1%
    Undecided 4% 2%

    But Senator McCain has gained ground in Maryland (albeit only slightly):

    Republicans Feb 8-9 Feb 10-11

    Huckabee 25% 27%
    McCain 50% 53%
    Paul 11% 11%
    Someone else 6% 6%
    Undecided 7% 3%

    And lost ground in Virginia (though he still leads by 8, lining up with Survey USA):

    Republicans Feb 8-9 Feb 10-11

    Huckabee 32% 39%
    McCain 54% 47%
    Paul 5% 4%
    Someone else 4% 2%
    Undecided 5% 8%

    It looks like McCain will run away with Maryland and win a tighter, yet decisive, win in Virginia. I really don't know what to say about DC, although I would give Mac the edge.

    By Anonymous Steve, At 12 February, 2008 11:33  

  • Can't Obama keep his mouth shut? I just saw a clip on CNN where he says he has a legitimate claim to the nomination without the superdelegates' votes, because the voters are what counts. But when it comes to the voters in Florida and Michigan, the rules should apply to keeping them out. He beginning to implode. His foot in mouth syndrome is getting really bad.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At 12 February, 2008 13:15  

  • I assume all the Anonymous comments come from the same rather frenetic source. They bear the tell-tale marks....

    "Helped kill the cap"? Have you taken a look at the roll call on that amendment? http://www.senate.gov/legislative/LIS/roll_call_lists/roll_call_vote_cfm.cfm?congress=109&session=1&vote=00020

    It had no co-sponsor. It might have pre-empted state laws with lower usury limitations, or arguably increased pressure on states with lower caps to increase them to the federal cap. It was defeated 74-24 and senators like Bingaman, Cantwell, Reid, Sarbanes, Leahy, Kerry and Reed joined Obama in voting in the negative. Not a lot of corporobots in that crowd. The amendment was never going anywhere, it was badly written (with apparently inconsistent provisions on pre-emption) and politically it was a distraction from the main fight, which was to kill the bill to which it was attached - and that is how Obama voted.

    "Consistently lies"? Like what? Instead of ranting, point to clear and explicit examples of 'lies'. If by 'lying' you mean that you don't accept the explanation, you've opened up new frontiers in semantics. I'm not going to get into a finger-pointing exercise about your putative candidate, but you should be exceptionally cautious in throwing that charge around while trying to defend her.

    Michelle "changing his mind" and controlling him? Even the GOP pit bulls wouldn't try to make anything out of that. It was a joke, and anyone whose wheels hadn't come off recognizes it for what it is. If anyone ahd the temerity to say that WJC 'controlled' HRC, the outrage would be spilling all over the Web. I take that remark as a measure of your desperation.

    There are bona fide differences between the candidates. I respect fellow Dems who support Clinton because to them mandates are imperative to a healthcare plan that works (although I disagree). I respect the choices of those who feel that experience trumps the ability to marshal broad popular support.

    But it's hard to take seriously the kind of nonsense that you're peddling here. However, I suppose it's less expensive than a prescription for Valium.

    By Anonymous zoot, At 12 February, 2008 13:29  

  • Hello? Have you ever known Joe Public to distinguish the difference between only doing five hours of work for Rezko, from being involved with him for twenty years as close as his own home? And what about those letters he wrote on behalf of his buddy,recommending his companies? Omission is still lying. Knowing that every study has concluded that people who can buy insurance do not, and telling his supporters you think they would without mandates is not being truthful either. To the Democrats that think Michelle was too pushy and ALL the republicans that thought Hillary was too controlling of Bill, that statement was no joke! I guess you weren't around for that whole fiasco. Now your attempt to link the defense of Hillary to criticism of Obama is exactly the type of juvenile response I'm talking about. Criticizing one person is not defending the other. Now Barack hypocritically dismisses the superdelegates while upholding the rules on Florida and Michigan. Is that Hillary's fault too? And since the banks just switch charters to federal ones, those state's limits aren't even applicable. Why can't you see that making an issue of capping interest rates on loan sharking (payday loans) is like saying "I don't approve of wifebeating,so let's limit it to two days a week." If Obama wins, we all have to live with his shortcomings in the general. When these things come back and give the WH to McCain, I'm sure you Obamabots are going to say it was all Hillary's fault. Wake up and start preparing your guy for the general election. He's not looking too good for the job. I'll call it consistently untruthful to make you feel better. The problem is that he gives speeches about being truthful. People in glass houses shouldn't throw stones. Now I haven't said one thing to defend Hillary so grow up and deal with it. A person like you that attacks the messenger is not helping his candidate. This is not a kindergarten class. Obama needs to be toughened up or he's not going to make it.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At 12 February, 2008 15:22  

  • Hey Zoot-Don't get all uptight. I've been throwing rocks at Hillary for years. This is the way Democrats prepare. I wouldn't be sticking it to Obama unless I had high expectations.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At 12 February, 2008 16:26  

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