First assesment of post-Super Tuesday contests

We got a few days of rest after the deluge of polls that marked the run-up to Super Tuesday; but with 7 states voting in the next few days, polls were bound to start coming in again. At a time most of us were expecting to relax a little in preparation for a grueling general election, there is still a lot to cover in the Clinton-Obama race.

Two polls from Virginia were released this afternoon and confirmed the conventional wisdom that the Potomac primary is ideally suited for Obama:

  • First, a SUSA poll shows Barack Obama up a significant 59% to 39%. He is leading 87% to 12% among blacks -- which make 29% of the electorate -- and manages to tie Clinton among whites, at 49%.
  • Obama's showing among both groups is particularly strong. He seems to be continually rising among African-Americans, and it is particularly important for Clinton to stay above 15% (which she did on Tuesday) to make sure she is viable in all districts.

  • An Insider Advantage poll confirms SUSA's finding, showing Obama ahead 52% to 37%.

  • SUSA also released a poll of the GOP race taken yesterday night -- after Romney's withdrawal -- and it shows McCain picking up most of Romney's votes and crushing Huckabee, 57% to 25%.
SUSA also released a poll from Maryland, which holds its primary the same day as Virginia:

  • Barack Obama leads Hillary Clinton 52% to 33%. They are tied among women, but Obama leads among men by 37%! Furthermore, they are tied among whites (Clinton is up 42-40) but Obama leads 71% to 18% among black voters. 39% of the sample is African-American, underscoring the challenge Clinton faces on Tuesday.
  • Among Republicans, there is more suspense for second-place than for first, as McCain is ahead of Huckabee 56% to 17%, with Paul in double-digits, at 10%.
Obama's victories in Virginia and Maryland are expected at this point, but that does not mean Clinton has nothing to lose here. She cannot afford a 20% loss yet again: Virginia allocates 101 delegates, and Clinton could wake up on Wednesday to find herself trailing widely in the pledged delegates count.

Virginia is particularly suited to Obama, and the margins he has opened up in these two polls is not surprising. A third of the state's Democratic electorate is African-American, and Obama has most of those voters in his camp. He does need a share of the white vote to prevail, but this is where Virginia is so good for Obama: Northern Virginia consists in the DC suburbs, and the electorate will not be as racially divided there as in other Southern states, ensuring that Obama gets a higher proportion of the white vote than he did in Georgia and Alabama. In other words, Virginia combines the high proportion of black voters of other Southern states without the extreme racial polarization that made Clinton run way ahead of Obama among white voters in places like Georgia.

In the GOP race, Virginia could very well be Huckabee's last stand. The former Governor prevailed in a number of Southern states on Super Tuesday, and he who lives by a Southern strategy dies by a Southern strategy. If Huckabee cannot win Virginia -- which is a very hard state for him to win given the growing prominence of moderate regions such as Fairfax -- it is unclear where he can win down the line.

Hillary Clinton did get some good -- and unexpected -- poll news today, from Wisconsin (which votes on February 19th). Keep in mind that this is the first poll from Wisconsin we have seen since December:

  • An ARG poll of the race shows her ahead 50% to 41%. Clinton leads by 20% among registered Democrats, testifying to how much she is hurting in open primaries.
Fairly or unfairly, Wisonsin has been painted as a state Obama is expected to win. Obama's campaign itself did nothing to squash that conventional wisdom, admitting it was expecting to do well throughout the February primaries. The next few weeks will be all about "holding serve" -- Obama has to win the February states, with Clinton facing a do-or-die situation in Ohio and Texas on March 4th.

This ARG poll suggests the story is not that simple. If Clinton wins here, she would diminish the pressure of getting both Ohio and Texas and get at least a few good news cycle in the next few weeks. But the question she now faces is how much the coming Obama victories over the week-end and on Tuesday will affect the results of Wisconsin? Will the Potomac Primary give Obama a boost, or are wins there now so expected that they will leave the fundamental dynamics as is? The answer to these questions will mostly depend on the margins that open up on the 12th.

Finally, it's worth noting that itis not just Americans who are unable to decide between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. A poll conducted in France finds that the French are torn between the two as well... 38% say they would prefer that American Democrats choose Obama, 36% Clinton, with 26% undecideds (that's a lower rate of undecideds than in some polls we see over here).

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  • It's going to be a brutal few weeks for Clinton. She survived other ones before, but getting to March 4th will not be easy for her.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At 08 February, 2008 19:31  

  • Obama is now showing his true colors. While he talks a nice piece about new, different politics he is again stooping very low and attacking Hillary Clinton on tax records that she said she will make available before the general election.
    Why does he not focus instead on sharing his so-called vision or presenting how he plans to implement the unending promises he is now making?
    If you cannot take a punch and whine when you do, then you should at least have the decency to abstain from crass behaviour....
    We have seen too much of that before and we already had someone promissing to "unite# rather than divide, etc... We all saw what happened. I do not buy promises of a great future: I want to see a concrete plan and specific proposals...

    By Blogger Francois, At 08 February, 2008 19:32  

  • Francois,
    I encourage you to do your homework, before making uneducated comments. Here are Obama's concrete plans and specific proposals:
    Obama's Blueprint for Change

    By Anonymous Alex, At 08 February, 2008 19:53  

  • Obama's blueprint for change is just a sketch. Lots of promises. Reading through it you get the same message that was re-hashed throughout this democratic congress. At least he sticks to a cap of 36% interest on loansharks. I guess that's why 30% was something he voted against. I'm sorry I read that "blueprint" because it further eroded my respect for this guy. He's definitely a charlatan preying upon the foolish. Everything he offers is couched in generalities. Idealism squared.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At 08 February, 2008 21:59  

  • I encourage all to vote for Hillary... Obama is a wonderful speaker and promises change.( Isn't that what Bush promised?) Hillary has specific plans AND the experience to make the right changes.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At 08 February, 2008 23:46  

  • Unbelievable... I just heard about MSNBC reporter's disgusting remark about Chelsea Clinton. We all know MSNBC in general( Matthews et al) don't like Hillary but to be so insulting to women, so blatantly biased should put their "news channel" status in question. As a female, I am even more determined to elect Hillary. She is the best candidate and does not deserve the obvious chauvanistic attitudes at MSNBC. Isn't it time to shatter the glass ceiling... hopefully the male vote will also go her way.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At 09 February, 2008 00:34  

  • About these numbers, I wouldn't put much stock in any poll this primary season, but if I did have to put money on one, it would be SUSA. ARG appears to be bad at calling races this year and Zogby has been even worse. SUSA was the only pollster that got CA right (scary right, exact percentages).

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At 09 February, 2008 02:33  

  • Hillary is a polarizing figure, strongly disliked by 45% of the electorate (compare to 36% for McCain and 31% for Obama). Obama has proven himself with his work for Veterans in Illinois and transparency and lobbying reform in the Senate. Yes he's slick and his campaign is often vague, but this is precisely how he gets independents and Republicans to support him. To get a real progressive agenda in Washington will take the support of a strong majority of the electorate and Senate, something Mrs. Clinton is incapable of achieving. Furthermore, she's embedded in the corporate-funded Democratic Leadership Council, which neither Dean nor Obama have joined. What a message we could send, that neither our chair nor nominee will bow to corporations or the party machine! A vote for Hillary is a vote for the same old deadlocked partisan politics and corporate ownership of Washington. ("Rural Americans for Hillary" fund-raiser was held in Monsanto's lobbyist's DC HQ. Nuff said). Plus, not only can he speak, he can write! Hillary's 'Living History' is awful in comparison to Obama's books (and reviews support this). Listen, if we want to take back our country there is no choice. Too many independents I know will vote McCain over Hillary; to them, authenticity counts.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At 09 February, 2008 02:38  

  • I don't think either of them actually wrote books. Politicians use ghostwriters.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At 09 February, 2008 07:28  

  • Your reasoning that Obama is deliberately slick and vague to win over Republicans and independents makes Obama seem even more like the career politician playing the game that he says he's against. Meanwhile, if that is the case in what he is doing, how effective do you think he is really going to be when he actually "details" his agenda? All these people will find out he lied and swindled them to get their votes to elect him. Then they will be angry and viciously oppose him on everything and not work with him. So much for unity and hope and change. If this is his true tactic (and I really think you're on to something here based on personally witnessing his very light on substance rally in Seattle Friday, as well as Clinton's detail laden rally the night before), then he is really a slimy hypocrite and not for anything he claims to be for. So much for integrity.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At 09 February, 2008 14:28  

  • I know If Hillary were to get elected she and Bill could set more records in the White House. Just look @ some of the records they set last time.
    - The only president ever impeached on grounds of personal malfeasance
    - Most number of convictions and guilty pleas by friends and associates*
    - Most number of cabinet officials to come under criminal investigation
    - Most number of witnesses to flee country or refuse to testify
    - Most number of witnesses to die suddenly
    - First president sued for sexual harassment.
    - First president accused of rape.
    - First first lady to come under criminal investigation
    - Largest criminal plea agreement in an illegal campaign contribution case
    - First president to establish a legal defense fund.
    - First president to be held in contempt of court
    - Greatest amount of illegal campaign contributions
    - Greatest amount of illegal campaign contributions from abroad
    - First president disbarred from the US Supreme Court and a state court

    Look at it this way: the next democratic nominee will have to turn red states into blue states. Ironically, the one doing this is Obama.
    Clinton cannot achieve this because republicans and independents despise her. She cannot gather independents and republicans around her. She has a strong base of supporters within the democratic party but it is not enough to get elected in november!!!
    Nominating Clinton means electing McCain.
    Obama will win.

    Go BIG "O" 08

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At 09 February, 2008 14:42  

  • Alex referred Francois to a rather vacuous document to support his assertion that the poster did not do their homework. I have not decided on who I will vote for, but I´m beginning to agree with Joe Klein that Obama may be an illusion and his supporters just a wee bit delusional.

    By Blogger Mark Jack Smith, At 09 February, 2008 16:49  

  • In 2007, Hillary raised millions more than Obama.

    Why on earth should we hand the keys over to someone who has shown herself to be irresponsible with her own campaign finances?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At 10 February, 2008 14:19  

  • Alex,
    Information has little or nothing to do with education. As for Obama's Blueprint for change, posted on his website, it is a real joke and amounts ot nothing. Anybody can write and post anything and everything they want!What really matters is what they say and emphasize on their speeches and rallies.
    And there we can really see that Obama is full of platitudes and contradiction. His rhetoric is to conduct clean politics and not attack the opposition, which is exactly what he does when he demonises Hillary and caracterises her as being status quo and a divisive figure! Shame on him! He whines and accuses others to be racists when he is put to the test but has no compunction in hitting below the belt when he gats at every opportunity.
    If he wants to be about change and be optimistic, then give us reason to vote for him, not reasons to dislike or fear Hillary.
    Fact is , it may matter very little because if he makes it to the general election the Republicans will destroy him with attacks on his record , or lack thereof! And this time Ted Kennedy and Johm Kerry could not come to his defense, as Republican care very little about those two...
    Further on National Security and Foreign policy McCain will blow him out. Who would you prefer to have in the white House if the US where attacked? An experienced war hero with a long military and service record, or a Chicago community organizer with 2 years experience on the national scene?
    At that point political party matters little: any reasonnable American will opt for McCain as Obama will look like a joke!
    Inspirational speeches are nice, but experience is essential and Obama should have had the wisdom to gain some experience prior to have his ambition take the best of him...
    For now, any reasonable Democrat who wants to regain the White House knows that Hillary is the best bet despite all the attacks and criticism unfairly hurled at her because it is fashionable to insult the Clintons...
    I rest my case. Come Novemeber we will see the same thing we saw in 1988: what appeared to be an impossible election for Democrats will go to Republicans if Obama is the candidate..

    By Blogger Francois, At 11 February, 2008 11:51  

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