Monday primary polls: Obama improves his standing in incoming primaries

Two new primary polls out this afternoon bring good news for the Obama campaign, first in Wisconsin whose primary, of course, is tomorrow:

  • PPP shows the Illinois Senator leading 53% to 40%, in what would be a crushing defeat for Clinton. Obama leads among both women and whites.
  • PPP's previous poll out last week had Obama up 11%.
  • In Texas, CNN shows a toss-up, with Clinton at 50% and Obama at 48%.
  • Among Republicans, McCain has a commanding lead in the state that Huckabee is hoping to embarrass him one more time in, 55% to 32%.
Add to this rumors that Obama's internal polls only have him down 7% in Ohio, and the situation is starting to look worrisome for Clinton. She does not need to win Wisconsin, but certainly needs to keep it closer than 13%, and she then needs to have comfortable wins in both Ohio and Texas -- at least one of which should be single digits. And the two debates that are coming up appear to be her last chance to reverse Obama's momentum.

One note of caution about PPP's poll, however. As I noted, the group's previous poll had Obama up 11%, and those two surveys are the only ones that have shown Obama up double-digits in Wisconsin. Furthermore, PPP includes an alternative turnout model -- as a secondary result -- that shows Obama leading 47% to 44%. On the other side of the spectrum stands ARG, which has been the only institute showing Clinton in the lead. Both PPP and ARG's poll in the past few days have shown an Obama improvement, which suggests that the trendlines are in his favor, but this could be more or less close depending on what the turnout looks like and which groups show up. In particular, how large will be the proportion of independents? The more the influence of registered Democrats is diluted, the better Obama will fare.

Second, a 50% to 48% win for Clinton in Texas would almost certainly mean that she would come out of the primary trailing among delegates, given the state's delegate system being structured in a way that favors Obama. Take a look at this great calculator of delegates from the Lone Star Project, in which you can vote totals district by district (with some demographic info provided). I worked myself to an 8% Clinton win which results in only a 6 delegate lead -- out of 126. And don't forget that 66 delegates will then be selected in a caucus system, which could possibly tilt the delegate lead towards Obama.

Clinton needs to not only win but also get a lead in delegates out of Texas, because she needs to start cutting that margin in pledged delegates. It will be interesting to see whether a win coupled with a significant delegate deficit would also be a blessing for them, if it provided them with another argument to deride the absurdity of the delegate system and give cover to the superdelegates). And the news over the past day that the Clinton campaign did not know about the Texas allocation rules until earlier this month is truly stunning and testifies to the fact that they really were not expecting this to go after February 5th, and they had barely prepared a strategy to deal with March 4th.

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  • The superdelegate system has definitely become absurd. It's original intent of stopping the infiltration of the party by outsiders could be addressed much more easily by forcing closed primaries. I hope this year's election puts a spotlight on this and brings the necessary reforms. The call to change the rules after the damage has been done just compounds the problem. Too much in the way of favoritism in this situation.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At 18 February, 2008 18:37  

  • Polls. Yawn. Are we still reading them?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At 18 February, 2008 22:54  

  • "Anonymous said...
    Polls. Yawn. Are we still reading them?"

    If you are not reading polls, what the hell are you doing on this site?

    By Anonymous C.S.Strowbridge, At 19 February, 2008 01:40  

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