With her campaign in disarray, Clinton leads in Ohio in the state's first poll

Just as the Clinton campaign is bracing for crushing losses in today's primaries and looking ahead to the upcoming contests, PPP released a Wisconsin survey, with bad news for the New York Senator:

  • Obama is ahead 50% to 39%.
  • The two are tied among registered Democrats, and Obama gets his lead because of the support of independents. Worth noting that Obama has a 3% lead among women, so that is an obvious group that Clinton will attempt to shore up in the coming week.
This is only the second poll from Wisconsin we have seen this year. The first, released last week, had Clinton up 9%. Remember, the conventional wisdom is that this is Obama's state to lose, though that might be very undeserved, considering the large blue-collar electorate in Wisconsin. And Obama has a lot to gain here, as Wisconsin now looks to be the only obstacle to his completing a (post-Super Tuesday) February sweep.

But just as Clinton's camp was settling in panic mode, SUSA released the year's first Ohio poll. That's right, until this afternoon we had no idea what the political landscape looked like in what is now shaping as the markee race of this primary:

  • Hillary Clinton is leading 56% to 39%, entirely on the strength of the female vote. She leads among women 62% to 33% and trails 47% to 46%. It is worth noting that not all states had this pronounced a gender gap. Massachusetts is the state that comes to mind that consistently showed wide discrepancies, and Clinton won big there.
  • Among Republicans, McCain is up on Huckabee 50% to 36%.
Finally, SUSA released a North Carolina survey, the first since John Edwards's withdrawal from the race. Barack Obama is ahead here for the first time, 50% to 40%. North Carolina does not vote until May 6th, however, and the Clinton campaign has to be thrilled looking at those Ohio numbers, especially since the poll was taken after Obama's Saturday sweep was announced.

This does not mean that the race will not tighten, but considering the deluge of Obama victories and polls that have the Illinois Senator up over the past few days, the situation must have started to appear a bit desperate to the Clinton campaign. The media is feeding on stories of Ohio and Texas being Hillary's last stand, and the campaign will at least be able to retort that the latest poll has them comfortably ahead. The Obama momentum has not (yet?) reached Ohio, though the question remains of whether Obama has amassed enough of a delegate lead to make the March 4th contests almost irrelevant.

Meanwhile, The Atlantic's Joshua Green's piece summarizing the shake-up in the Clinton campaign is a must-read. Green's richly reported article explains the significance of Patti Solis Doyle's replacement as campaign manager. Green goes into how Clinton's strategy was developed early on, and why they did not see the Obama threat coming. There also is a lot about how in the world a Clinton can find herself in financial woes, and the financial mismanagement, some of which can be directly attributed to Solis Doyle.

This article has too many insights for me to summarize here, so make sure to check it out. And expect many similar "what went wrong in the Clinton campaign" stories in the coming days, which is what this Ohio poll is so important for Hillary as it allows her to justify that she still is viable in March despite her streak of February losses and that the press should wait on the obituaries.

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  • Hey tone down those headlines. We need to have Obama out front for a while. We can't have Hillary all wrinkly for her come back.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At 12 February, 2008 16:19  

  • Every state is relevant until there's no more campaign cash to spend.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At 12 February, 2008 16:22  

  • Obama is a far better speaker and campaigner than he was just a few months ago. He is confident, assertive, and electrifying when he speaks to crowds. He gets people excited, motivated. Hillary, for all her merit, and she has many good points, just does not have the speaking ability of Obama.

    By Anonymous Lady Luck, At 12 February, 2008 16:41  

  • Few have those oratory skills. His debating skills leave something to be desired though. Quick responses aren't the best responses. He gets tripped up. He needs to think for a second or two before falling into those traps. You don't lose points for answering more slowly. That screeching tire sound effect from CNN's factcheck rubs me the wrong way. I'd rather it was the republican that gets that honor.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At 12 February, 2008 16:55  

  • Yes, but Hillary Clinton explains policy well. Seeing the two of them as the final candidates for the nomination is really an embarrassment of riches.

    By Anonymous Tom, At 12 February, 2008 18:53  

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