Pennsylvania results thread: Clinton prevails; Childers 400 votes from stunning pick-up

12:45am: With 98% reporting, Clinton's lead is back down under 10% -- at 9.4% to be exact. Most of the remaining precincts look to be in Chester County in which Obama is ahead, so it does not look like Clinton crossed 10%. However, her win clearly falls within the "credible victory" category I outlined this afternoon -- though it is certainly not enough to change the fundamentals of the race. Clinton had the potential to score a much larger victory, and she reach the level she needed to truly change the discussion. As for delegates, Clinton failed to meaningfully dent into Obama's margin, and this was by far the largest state left, ensuring that the primaries will end with Obama holding on to a very large lead among pledged delegates.

Yet, how can a candidate who just won such a large victory in a crucial state even think of dropping out? Clinton has to be happy with today's narrative since she won based on her strength in rural areas and blue-collar voters. She broke 70% in many counties in Western Pennsylvania (79% in Fayette County). And in the all-important issue of money, it looks like Clinton will be able to generate money out of tonight's victory. Her campaign claims that she had raised $2,5 million from the polls closing as of 11:30pm! More on all of this tomorrow. And also on MS-01, where the last county got Childers even closer to 50% -- about 400 votes short. But this race is on to May 13th.

11:20pm: Clinton is holding firm to her double-digit lead with 88% reporting. In short, the results today are remarkably similar to those of Ohio, with most numbers internal numbers today very similar to those we saw on March 4th. Most things have remained stable in the past 6 weeks: Obama moved numbers very little despite massively outspending Clinton, and Clinton did not move upward among blue-collar voters despite her argument that Wright and bittergate hurt Obama in that group.

10:50pm: The AP has called a runoff in MS-01. With only 1 precinct remaining, Democrats just missed a pick-up in a conservative Southern district. Childers has 49% of the votes versus 46% for Davis but he remains only about 470 votes from the 50% threshold! This will certainly get Childers and the DCCC very frustrated, but it also guarantees that there will be a lot of spending in this race in the weeks ahead.

Meanwhile, Barack Obama has taken the stage in Indiana, already looking ahead to the now crucial contest of May 6th. He tried to put Pennsylvania behind him, using a tactic Clinton employed in late February when she gave her speeches on nights of defeat from the upcoming state. After congratulating Clinton for her victory (something she did not always do), Obamalaunched into a long charge against John McCain. He then moved on to his attacks against Clinton, drawing many contrasts without mentioning his opponent's name; he called to reject a party that uses the fear of terrorism to win elections (a clear reference to Clinton's 3am and bin Laden ads), tests its message in polls and relies on divisiveness. Meanwhile, Clinton has progressed to a 10% lead with 79% reporting.

10:40pm: In MS-01, Childers is now ahead by 500 votes... but both candidates are now far away from 50%. Results can be found here. The only outstanding county right now is Clay county, which Kerry won with 52% -- so it is very likely that Childers will stay ahead but it is very unlikely that he gets above 50%.

In the Democratic primary, meanwhile, 76% of the votes are in and whether Clinton can inch to a 10% victory will determine much of the coverage of the race in the days ahead. As I explained this afternoon, she needed a double-digits victory, or at least a high single-digit lead to have what I called a "credible victory." But she has certainly not reached the level she would need to change the fundamentals of the race.

10:20pm: Speaking in Philadelphia, Clinton vows to press on, emphasizing that, after a long campaign in which both candidates criss-crossed the state, Pennsylvanians chose her . "The American people don't quit, and they deserve a President who doesn't quit either," she said. She also insisted on the need for people to go to her website and donate... Her campaign is in dire need of money, though they are reporting that they have raised half a million dollar tonight already. With 68% reporting, Clinton is still in single-digits. Both Philadelphia and Pittsburgh have almost finished reporting.

Meanwhile, exit polls have been updated. Among notable changes: Clinton won big among women (57%) but the surprise is among male voters: Obama only held on to a 4% lead. Helping Clinton, of course, is the fact that 59% of voters are women. Clinton is now ahead 62% to 38% among white voters and broke into double-digits among African-Americans (not that that is a strong showing at all); she is winning big among Catholics (69%) but she is also ahead among Protestants, contrary to what some polls were finding. Clinton wins union households with 59% and voters with no college degree voted for her with 58%; Obama underperformed among voters with a college degree (51%). And in a very important measure, Clinton is found to have won the white vote 56% to 44% -- that is still less than her margin in Ohio, an argument Obama will use when talking to superdelegates.

10:10pm: With 92% of precincts is reporting, it looks like the MS-01 is heading for a runoff with Davis leading Childers by 400 votes, 48% to 47%. More proof that Childers is benefiting from strong turnout from Democratic voters: In Itawamba County, which voted for Bush overwhelmingly in 2004, the Democrats won with 59% today. There are plenty of similar examples.

Some interesting notes on the presidential race: Ben Smith finds that, among Republicans who went to vote in the meaningless GOP primary today, ie. the base of the base of the GOP, only 73% say they will vote for McCain in the general election suggesting that McCain still has some work to do among conservatives. Many of those could be Ron Paul supporters, as the Texas representative is coming in with 16% right now, ahead of Huckabee.

10pm: Quite a suspense in MS-01; with 83% of precincts reporting Davis is now at 49%, barely under the 50% threshold and 1,100 votes ahead of Childers. 4 counties have significant number of votes to count; I just looked back at the 2004 elections and one of these counties voted for Kerry, so Childers will score big there. Of the three others, one voted for Bush at the level of the rest of the district (61%) and two are more Republican than the district at large. On paper this favors Davis but don't forget Childers is significantly overperforming the district's partisan make-up.

In Pennsylvania, half of the precincts are now reporting and Clinton is ahead by 8% still; Pittsburgh and Philadelphia are now reporting at the same level, way ahead of the rest of the state. That suggest that most of the outstanding precincts are from non-urban areas, which should favor Clinton. A CNN commentator is suggesting that a Clinton nomination would make many voters flee the party -- though more Clinton supporters in Pennsylvania are saying they would vote for McCain if Obama is the nominee than Obama supporters.

9:50pm: Davis is now ahead 51% to 45% with 71% of precincts reporting. Davis's stronghold, DeSoto County, is now entirely in; Davis won there with 81% (8000 votes), which is 400% of his total margin. There is thus the potential for Childers to hold the Republican under 50%.

In Pennsylvania, Clinton is ahead by 8% with 45% of precincts reporting. Obama is performing better in Philadelphia (61% to 39%) but 72% of the city's precincts are already reporting. Clinton is swamping Obama outside of Philadelphia, posting very strong numbers in most of the counties heavy with blue-collar voters, with way above 66% in many counties. It is too early to talk about delegates, but this type of margin will enable Clinton to get strong results in many even-delegate districts.

9:25pm: Clinton's margin of victory is still unclear -- Clinton is leading by 6% with 15% of precincts reporting. It is too early for the Clinton campaign to be triumphant -- though there are indications that her lead might grow significantly because of the simple fact that 41% of Philadelphia is reporting. PA has been called for Clinton, but the race's dynamic going out of this contest is not yet determined.

In Mississippi, there has been a change as counties in which Davis is strong just reported. He is now ahead 50% to 46% with 46% of precincts reporting. If Davis wins tonight, the DCCC will regret not having met the NRCC's spending and waited for the May 13th runoff.

9:10pm: The danger for Obama is that the storyline is that Clinton's win is due to blue collar voters. With 10% reporting, Clinton is ahead by double-digits and Philadelphia (Obama's stronghold) is reporting 28% while Pittsburgh (where Clinton is strong) has not reported at all.
In Mississippi, with 25% reporting, Childers is ahead 53% to 43% -- hanging on above 50%.

9pm: AP calls
Pennsylvania primary for Hillary Clinton.
It looks like Clinton's actual winning margins are bigger than those in the exit polls -- which also suggests that the numbers among key groups like white men and blue-collar voters will likely change to suggest larger wins by Clinton. Other good news for Clinton: I said that her winning margin among white men was cut since Ohio, but it looks like it has increased among other key groups like Catholics or union households; this will be used to push the argument of Obama's weakening. With 25% reporting in Philadelphia, Obama is only getting 55% -- a decent margin, but much less than what he would need.

: Raw votes are starting to come in, and with 3% of precincts reporting Clinton is ahead 55% to 45%. This includes 11% of Philadelphia -- in which the two candidates are tied right now! Exit polls suggest Obama got a huge victory in Philadelphia, so this implies the most favorable neighborhoods have not reported yet at all (or so Obama should hope).

In Mississippi, there are some very important numbers: With 7% reporting, the Democrat, Childers, is leading 58% to 37% against Davis. It is unclear where those votes are coming from, so things can obviously get much tighter, but the truly significant result for now is that the other candidates are getting 2% at most. This is a surprise considering that the ballot was non-partisan and that the primaries had been very nasty. This means that the odds of a candidate crossing 50% is much higher than previously thought -- we might have a winner tonight.

8:25pm: The all important white male vote will be scrutinized very closely in the coming days, and the exit polls as they stand right now are not bringing her good news: She won the white men vote 53% to 46% (she won the white female vote 64% to 36%); in Ohio, she had won among white men by 19%. One of Clinton's main hopes was to claim that Wright and bitter-gate weakened Obama among white voters; it's going to be hard for her to argue that Obama has slipped dramatically enough to endanger his general election position if these numbers are confirmed in later updates to exit polls. However, Clinton won Catholics with 68% -- another group that we were looking for closely.

8pm: Polls are now closed in both Pennsylvania's primary and MS-01. As expected, there is no call in the Democratic contest; this does not mean that the race is going to end up close. It took a while for Ohio to be called and Clinton won by double-digits. Wolf Blitzer claims that "If Clinton wins tonight she will of course go on," an interesting expectation setting with which the Obama campaign would beg to differ. By the way, Clinton is in Philadelphia, Obama is in Indiana.

The full exit poll just posted on CNN's website shows Clinton narrowly ahead by 4-5%. This now looks to be the late wave of exit polls -- which tend to be much less skewed than the second wave. Among interesting numbers: 14% of voters changed their registration to Democratic since January, and 60% of them favored Obama (So much for those who criticize Clinton for riding the Rush Limbaugh Operation Chaos wave). Clinton leads by 14% among voters with no college degree; Obama leads by 8% among voters with a college degree. These numbers will be refined through the evening.

: In Pennsylvania, a group sought to keep the polls open in Philadelphia until 10pm but the motion was denied, confirming that the polls will close (and results will start tricking in) at 8pm. In Mississippi, I reported that polls had closed but, as a commenter correctly points out, they close at 7pmCT -- so not for another hour.

Original post: The polls close at 7pm in Mississippi and at 8pm in Pennsylvania. Most of the suspense, of course, is in the latter. The first exit polls are starting to leak -- and as always these numbers should be taken with a huge grain of salt since they include only part of the day. And please keep in mind that this is only the second wave of exit polls and those have often been too favorable to Obama: The ones from Ohio showed a tie on March 4th, and Obama was found to be leading in Massachusetts on February 5th (he lost both states by double-digits). In fact, Pollster.com's Blumenthal finds that 18 out of 20 second wave exit polls were too skewed to Obama's favor by an average of 7%.

That said, Fox reports that these early exits have Clinton leading 58% to 42% among gun owners, with Obama ahead 54% to 46% among voters with a college degree -- perhaps a smaller margin than he would need. CNN adds that these exits are finding Clinton is ahead 55% to 45% among white men, that Obama getting as massive a victory among black voters as ever (92-8) and that those who have decided in the past week heavily broke for Clinton. As for full results, there are being leaked indirectly, they don't agree with each other and thus don't look reliable. The National Review (which often gets correct exit polls first) is reporting that exit polls have Obama narrowly ahead. Drudge is showing a narrow Clinton lead but Marc Ambinder notes those are the first wave of exit polls -- not even the second.

For now, you can read my guidelines of what to expect tonight here.

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  • Taniel, polls close in MS at 7 PM CENTRAL time--not for another hour yet.

    By Anonymous angel eyes, At 22 April, 2008 19:07  

  • The PA presidential primary is actually two parts - a "beauty contest" and then the election of delegates. As a result, one candidate may win the "beauty contest" but lag in the delegate selection. For instance in my district there are three delegate positions, but the Clinton camp only filed one candidate. As a result, Obama is almost guaranteed two of the three delegates, regardles of how well Clinton does in this district.

    By Anonymous Ellis PIerce, At 22 April, 2008 19:09  

  • ellis pierce,

    Many primaries function that way, as far as I know. Illinois's did, for instance. Which district are you from?

    By Blogger Taniel, At 22 April, 2008 19:12  

  • I'm in Franklin County (SW of Harrisburg)

    By Anonymous Ellis Pierce, At 22 April, 2008 19:36  

  • Knowing from what the exit polls say now, I would wager that Clinton will win PA by 8%-12%, which would generally be the Ohio threshold, not enough to drop Clinton out of the Race but also not enough for Clinton to radically alter the race. Because many exit polls in terms of demographics show Clinton favored constiuencies, it will be extremly hard for Obama to get closer than a 8% loss, which is basically the status quo. There is a little chance that Clinton could reach the 15% mark, which would be a decive margin but would only weaken Obama somewhat. Very unlikely that Clinton could reach a 20% win but it' more likely than Obama getting within 5% or less. Of course if Obama loses PA by 15% or more, then he will really need to win Indiana to prove that he can win in a state with working class whites. If he then loses Indiana to Clinton on May 6th then the earliest the nominee could be decided would proably be Howard Dean's Date of July 1st as there would be alot of jocking around with Superdelegates but not enough to go all the way to the convention. If Clinton does pull off a 20%+ win in PA then Obama will weaken in Indiana and probably North Carolina and it would be extremely likely that the nominee wouldn't be decided until the convention.

    By Anonymous jaxx raxor, At 22 April, 2008 20:00  

  • Taniel, If Clinton is leading in the exit polls, then we will definitly see a double digit win for her later in the eveneing.

    By Anonymous jaxx raxor, At 22 April, 2008 20:12  

  • We will see.

    With regards the delegates - in yet another sign of organizational ineptitude the Clinton campaign could not file sufficient delegates. They knew the deadline and this was extended by the Governor (well know Clinton supporter Ed Rendell) and still they could field a full slate.
    Ready on day 452!

    By Anonymous Tom, At 22 April, 2008 20:17  

  • Woah! I just went to Politico and althrough the returns are EXTREMELY early (less than 1%) and Clinton is destroying Obama 66%-33%! Clinton will win PA, but I'm didn't check to see which area's of the state are coming in first, if they are from the Clinton favored areas like the 'T' area then the margin will go down, but if the early returns are from Phil, as big cities usually put foward returns first, then this is a sign that Clinton will destroy Obama in this state. :(

    By Anonymous jaxx raxor, At 22 April, 2008 20:46  

  • faux noise has just called it for Clinton..
    bad news

    By Anonymous Carlos, At 22 April, 2008 20:46  

  • Yeah I just saw that too. It's no suprise with Clinton having margins this big despite the extremely early returns. The other new organizations will probably call the race for Clinton within the next half hour. Now the real question will be by what margin?

    By Anonymous jaxx raxor, At 22 April, 2008 20:53  

  • It's possible that Nutter helped to keep Obama's victory margin in Phili low.

    By Anonymous Jaxx Raxor, At 22 April, 2008 21:13  

  • jaxx raxor - Obama will not be destroyed in the state. If the definition of destroyed is a 15% or greater loss.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At 22 April, 2008 21:46  

  • If Clinton does pull off a 20%+ win in PA then Obama will weaken in Indiana and probably North Carolina and it would be extremely likely that the nominee wouldn't be decided until the convention.

    First, I'm not sure why a big Clinton win would have dramatic effects in other states.

    But more importantly, I don't see the nomination going to the convention. There's no reason for superdelegates to sit on the fence after all the voting is over, and they'll be under tremendous pressure to make a decision. Someone will get a majority, and MI and FL will be dealt with in a way that doesn't change the outcome.

    By Blogger dsimon, At 22 April, 2008 21:53  

  • Taniel,

    Where are you getting your information for the MS-01 race?

    By Anonymous carolina man, At 22 April, 2008 22:02  

  • A 20% win for Clinton would give her a boost in Indiana because its fairly similar to PA, with the cavet of Ilinois being a neighbor to Indiana and the Indiana Demomcratic party being much weaker and less likely to organize than in the OH and PA. Clinton does have Bayh, the most popular democrat and possibly the most popular politcian in Indiana overall.

    If Clinton win in PA is about 20%, then it's possible that she would be able to get within single digits in NC, OR, and SD, make Montana a tossup, win Indinana by a double digit margin, win her other favored primaires by big margins. This is of course a highly speccultiave scenario, but if this happens then its likely the SDs will be too nervous to vote for Obama and either go for Clinton or remained undecided until they have to make a decision in the August Convention.

    Of course I could be completely wrong, and little change even if hillary gets 20%+ but undoublty such a margin would cut into Obama's popular and delegate lead and could very well lead to the scenario I describe.

    By Anonymous Jaxx Raxor, At 22 April, 2008 22:04  

  • So far it is looking like 8 or so percent.

    A 10% win would be average for Clinton. Demographically slightly better for her than Ohio (PA is slightly whiter, poorer and less educated than OH). Obama had more money but what with Wright, the debate and "bittergate" they should have negated his financial advantage.
    9 or 11% are rounding errors and essentially the same as 10%.
    If Clinton starts getting 12% or more then it is a good night (better the greater the %). If Obama loses by *% or less then that would be a good night (obviously better the nearer to a tie you get).

    By Anonymous Guy, At 22 April, 2008 22:11  

  • CNN and others report to integer values only and that makes a big difference. 55-45 is 10% Clinton lead. 54-46 is an 8% lead and would be reported differently.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At 22 April, 2008 22:16  

  • The MS-01 Race and the likely runoff is bad news for Republicans. That the race is this close means that the GOP will have to spend alot to keep this district. Davis will probably have the barest of advantages in the runoff, as he won't have his defeated opponets sucking up GOP votes and party affliation will be on the ballot. Nontheless even if Davis ultimately pulls out a win it will have come at great cost to the RCCC. Interesting to see McCain have the edge in the Presidential election now but the Republicans doing outright horrendus in the House and Senate. As a Democrat, the only good news a McCain presidency would bring is much lesser likelyhood that voters would want to return the Republicans to the majority in both houses in 2010, based on historical trends.

    By Anonymous jaxx raxor, At 22 April, 2008 22:26  

  • Does anyone know where I can find the results for MS-01? I can't find a thing.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At 22 April, 2008 22:27  

  • I have no idea where Taniel is getting his results for MS-01....

    The fact that the Dem's missed picking up a seat is a very minor setback considering that they came this far in a district Bush won easily. As I said in my earlier post, the GOP will have a slight advantage in the run-off but the Republicans will still have to spend alot of money to protect this district, which is less money they can spend in November.

    As to the PA primary, I don't think it matter if the margin is 8%or 10%. Clinton win in PA is shaping up to bascially be a replica of Ohio's win... which is bascially keeping the status quo. And the status quo only enables Clilton to extend the race, it doesnt' enable her to eventually win the nomination.

    By Anonymous jaxx raxor, At 22 April, 2008 23:04  

  • if this happens then its likely the SDs will be too nervous to vote for Obama and either go for Clinton or remained undecided until they have to make a decision in the August Convention.

    I just don't see why superdelegates would remain undecided after the voting is done, much less wait all the way until August. What would the reason be? Seems to me that they'd only gain the ire of party members and, for elected officials, their own constituents for dragging things out. So it would be in their own interests to decide and get it over with.

    By Blogger dsimon, At 22 April, 2008 23:28  

  • Well dsimon, my hypothetical scenario is now looking to be a moot point because it looks like the final margin will be by about 10% rather than the 20% which I do feel would have started to get SDs at least a littlenervous about Obama.
    Happy we are having a respectiful argument. This is the first blog in which I've been posting regulary and there have been way too many annoymous flamers in the previous posts.

    By Anonymous jaxx raxor, At 22 April, 2008 23:35  

  • Clinton has won PA, but the path to the nomination doesn't look good for her. Her problem at this point: you can't fight the math.

    It's all about delegates. Looks like Clinton will cut into Obama's pledged delegate lead by about 16, bringing it down to 150 or so. That's really not enough to change the dynamic, especially since it's likely that some of that gain will likely be reversed in two weeks when North Carolina and Indiana vote. After that, there are only 217 pledged delegates left. Even a 60-40% split the rest of the way would net Clinton another 43 delegates, so Obama would have a pledged delegate lead of over 100.

    Clinton would have to win over the remaining 300 uncommitted superdelegates by 2:1 to get the nomination. And that seems extremely unlikely, especially considering that Obama will have the pledged delegate lead. (Recent superdelegate trends have not been favorable for Clinton, though I'm not clairvoyant so I won't assume that will necessarily continue.)

    Yes, I know all the superdelegates can change their minds. But the probability of that is, I think, pretty minuscule. I'd expect that most superdelegates, especially the ones that endorsed most recently, thought pretty hard before making their decisions and are unlikely to go back on them.

    By Blogger dsimon, At 23 April, 2008 00:06  

  • He's unelectable. Keep dreaming Obamans.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At 23 April, 2008 00:09  

  • Anonymous said...
    He's unelectable. Keep dreaming Obamans

    Well I guess you will be voting for McCain in the fall, its obvious in your comment. I wish you be more constructive on your opinion on why Obama is unelectable.

    Dsimon you are right that Hillary's path to the nomination is very unlikely... she needs more than just status quo. Now I'm wondering, if the SDs decide to go for Obama after the race is over, and get him to the magic 2024 or so delegate mark, will Clinton call it quits and exit the race. Or will she continue to go on. Because I can tell you right now that with the race being so tight and passionate, there is no way Hillary supporters will even dream of supporting Obama until Clinton drops and endorsed Obama as the Democratic nominee. I'm looking foward to when this Democratic race is over and Democrats can start to talk about John McCain instead of each other.

    By Anonymous jaxx raxor, At 23 April, 2008 00:55  

  • even though the actuals at 54.7 - 45.3 for a 9.4% margin, but thanks to rounding, it'll be reported at 55-45 in most newspapers and circles, and thus giving her the "psychological" Ohio threshold needed.

    Besides, these are political pundits not statisticians. They're not gonna be splitting hairs by arguing the difference between Ohio's 10.1% and PA's 9.4%.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At 23 April, 2008 05:54  

  • So the final result looks like the expected result of 9-11% which means no-one really won or lost since it was predicted.

    Clinton will point to having been outspent 2:1 and having the "bosniagate" thing.
    Obama can point to having had 6 weeks of bad news - Wright, "bittergate" and the debate. His opponent also had the major of Philly and the Governor of PA which helped her.
    So all in all I expect those two sets of things to balance each other out.
    Clinton keeps mentioning how she was outspent but she had other stuff to balance that out.

    Anyway onto North Carolina - one of the largest states in the Union.

    By Anonymous Guy, At 23 April, 2008 06:33  

  • Now I'm wondering, if the SDs decide to go for Obama after the race is over, and get him to the magic 2024 or so delegate mark, will Clinton call it quits and exit the race. Or will she continue to go on.

    I don't think it will matter. If the nomination is effectively decided, I don't know what she'd actually do in the time between that point and the convention. There won't be much money coming in to run ads. She could clamor for FL and MI, but I don't see it as doing anything helpful to get the result she wants. And the media won't be paying as much attention, allowing the party to get ready for the general election. And she may tonie it down because she'll have to think about whether more rancor is going to help her standing with her colleagues in the party.

    So I think the focus will turn to the general long before the convention.

    I wouldn't be surprised if many remaining superdelegates don't commit until after NC/IN in two weeks. After OR/KT on May 20, they'll have even less reason to stay on the fence.

    By Blogger dsimon, At 23 April, 2008 08:56  

  • On my blog is an extrapolation of how that last uncounted 1% could go.

    Hillary is currently at + 9.38%
    I think it may sink to about + 9.22 % or so. If the voters in both counties only reporting at 97% apiece break as they have thus far, she she comes down to + 9.18%.

    My prediction was +8.75% for her.

    By Blogger Mark, At 23 April, 2008 09:25  

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