As more ads come in, polls from upcoming primaries are all over the place

There are a lot of polls coming in today from many different primaries, and we are forced to conclude that the numbers are all over the place, particularly in Pennsylvania and Indiana where it looks like anything could happen.

Pennsylvania, first, where 3 polls this morning showed Clinton up 14, 5 and 9. Two new surveys released this afternoon show Hillary leading by single digits:

  • LA Times/Bloomberg poll shows Hillary leading in Pennsylvania 46% to 41%. The survey was conducted Thursday through Monday, so partly before bittergate.
  • Strategic Vision, meanwhile, finds Clinton increasing her lead by four percent in a week; she is now ahead 49% to 40%.
My analysis of the Keystone state's primary does not differ form this morning's, when I explained that it is difficult to assess what effect Obama's comments have had, but that the Clinton campaign at least has to be happy that it has stopped the bleeding and the steady plunge it went through for 2 weeks or so. This is not because Obama isn't trying, however: he is outspending Clinton 5:1 on Pennsylvania cable TV (!), which is truly a huge proportion.

Today, Obama launched his response ad (you can view it here) to the attack ad Clinton started airing yesterday centering on Obama's remarks. The response ad shows Clinton being jeered when trying to bring up an attack line against her rival, and then goes on to say that we should be looking to work on concrete problems and leave politics as usual behind. The ad is a rather typical response to an attack ad by a front-runner. Indeed, front-runners have nothing to gain from attacking back and they try to portray themselves above the fray (which is exactly what Clinton did for months in the fall when Edwards and Obama were going after her). It is also interesting that the ad never mentions what Clinton is attacking Obama on, so Obama is not using this opportunity to defend himself against criticism.

If Clinton survives Pennsylvania (and with a couple of polls today showing her on the verge of the "Ohio threshold," she is more than ever in a position to), the race will go on to North Carolina and Indiana (on May 6th). A few weeks later would come Kentucky (May 20th). We got a poll from each of these 3 races today, with good news for both candidates:

  • In North Carolina, which Obama is heavily favored to win, the LA Times poll shows him leading 47% to 34%.
  • In Indiana, where there is less of a defined favorite, Obama posts a 50% to 45% lead (still LA Times).
  • In Kentucky, finally, SUSA finds that Clinton demolishes Obama 62% to 26%... much more than a 2:1 margin. SUSA's previous poll already had Clinton way up, 58% to 29%.
The most interesting numbers among this set is the Indiana survey. However much the primary has no clear favorite, the two only polls we have gotten from the state have shown Clinton lead. They have both been released from SUSA, and the latest, yesterday, had her leading by 16%. A conventional wisdom was starting to set in, then, that Indiana was Clinton's to lose. The LA Times reestablishes some balance in our expectations. But it is clear that Clinton needs a comfortable win here on May 6th; she will need it to offset the likely loss of North Carolina.

Finally, an interesting question in Pennsylvania is what effect the prolonged primary has on the general election; there have been a number of polls suggesting that Democrats are improving their position in the Keystone state against McCain and that their millions spent on tv are helping them in the general. Strategic Vision's poll, however, suggests the exact opposite, as this is the second week in a row that McCain is gaining. Last week, Clinton was leading by 6% and Obama trailing by 5%. In this week's poll, Obama is led 49% to 39% and Clinton trails 47% to 44%.

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    By Blogger Jason, At 15 April, 2008 18:51  

  • Ironically, I think bittergate has made it more difficult for Hillary to survive Pennsylvania. The media frenzy has made it such that "oh now Obama is really in trouble with the working class voters" so the expectation for Hillary's vote percentage is now even higher than before. If bittergate in reality hasn't brought that extra margin of victory everyone is looking for, her argument about Obama's failure to win the working class voters' would lose some credibility.

    By Blogger Jason, At 15 April, 2008 18:51  

  • Obama's response ad is very good and should be effective in making Clinton's "outrage" at his comments look petty. Maybe she should be outraged at people losing their jobs and not advancing in the past thirty years.

    It is interesting that the latest PA polls are from 5-16%. Clinton really needs to do better than OH, not just because demographically PA is more favorable for her than OH (old, less educated, whiter) but because she has this manufactured issue to attack him on.

    I am glad you noted than Obama wins PA in a match up against McCain (usually caveats of this being months before the GE) so he isn't that weak in an important Dem state after all!!

    By Anonymous Mike, At 15 April, 2008 18:54  

  • I agree with Jason and Mike - this "bittergate" stuff means Hillary has to win by much more than OH. So we are looking at 15%+.

    Nobody is going to get too concerned by Kentucky because we may not get that far - depends on PA, IN and NC. But also using the old Clinton argument that red states do not count!!

    By Anonymous Tom, At 15 April, 2008 18:56  

  • So we have differing views on whether this contest in Pennsylvania helps or hurts the Democrats in November. If SV is right, Hillary has done the sabotage job well, getting many of her followers to vote for McCain in in the GE. Her attacks don't have any authenticity, something the "Marshans" overlook.

    By Anonymous mikeel, At 15 April, 2008 19:11  

  • Yes it does look like Hillary is doing the GOP's job for them - way to go for someone who wants to lead the Democratic party. Should we be surprised by the couple who brought us triangulation, defense of marriage, NAFTA and welfare reform?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At 15 April, 2008 20:48  

  • Those of you guys who are talking about 15% threshold do realize that if Hillary pulls it off there is no way you can come back here next week right at this very hour and spin what you just said. Right?

    The expectations game doesn't work here any more. We all know that Obama's gaff is not gonna hurt him among democrats. Hillary has to win in the first place to keep going no matter what the margin would be.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At 15 April, 2008 23:35  

  • 1.) PA - Clinton margin:

    Her ceiling for this region until now has been 58.45% (DE), and her primary winning average is 53.05% for the region and 53.85% for the country thus far. That being said, PA is Clinton country and both have now campaigned tirelessly for 5 weeks, with one to go.

    With or without "bitter" - she will win, but I suspect between 10 and 13%. She will probably cut about 14 pledged delegates into Obama's lead, which he will promptly regain in NC in 3 weeks.

    2.) PA - GE:

    Strategic Vision is a REPUBLICANpollster. Both Rasmussen and Temple have Obama and Clinton well ahead. The average of the last polls keeps the state a battleground, with a winning margin average of less than 0.5%

    By Blogger Mark, At 16 April, 2008 06:35  

  • I am one of those who has said there is a 15% threshold and I will not spin it afterwards. If Hillary gets 15% then that is a good result. Period. She would then have to continue and follow that up with a good win in IN and making NC close. That way she eats into the delegate lead Obama has as well as the popular vote margin (of states tha have legitimately voted).
    I will not spin, lets hope tohers out there do the same.

    By Anonymous Mike, At 16 April, 2008 08:12  

  • I think Hillary having a shot and a beer (Crown Royal, no less) is one of the phoniest things I have ever seen a candiate do, keeping in mind Hillary's long held distain for booze. Talk about pandering!

    By Anonymous stone621, At 16 April, 2008 10:53  

  • Maybe such blantant pandering will backfire and reinforce the "she will do anything, say anything to get elected" view some people have.

    By Anonymous Tom, At 16 April, 2008 11:07  

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