May 6th races stabilize, as ad war rages on

In the trench warfare Clinton and Obama have been waging for some time, the New York Senator advanced a few inches over the past week. From trailing widely in North Carolina and tying Obama in Indiana, she pushed forward in both states. But the polls in the field since Tuesday (Obama's second attempt to turn the page of the Wright scandal) suggest the race has stabilized to a mid-to-high single digit lead for Clinton in Indiana and a high-single to low-double digit lead for Obama in North Carolina.

  • Rasmussen finds Clinton continuing to impressively close the gap in North Carolina but remaining distanced by the Illinois Senator. She now trails 49% to 40%; on Monday, Obama led by 14% -- and that was already a dramatic drop from the 23% lead he had in the previous poll.
  • Insider Advantage, meanwhile, came out with a second poll in three days; they stunningly showed Clinton ahead by 2% and they now come closer to the average of polls: Obama leads 49% to 44% in their updated poll. This is in great part due to his improved numbers among black voters (80% instead of 65%, though he still has a lot of room to grow here).
  • ARG also released a North Carolina poll today, finding a stable race with Obama up 52% to 41%. He led by 10% at the beginning of the week.
  • In Indiana, ARG shows Clinton slightly expanding her lead from 5% to 9%. She is ahead 53% to 44%, thanks to a 22% lead among whites and a 22% lead among registered Democrats (quite a big partisan gap here).
  • Also in Indiana, a poll by the Downs Center (done by SUSA, though with a different model than its non-Downs polls) finds Clinton ahead by 7% (52% to 45%). This is the third poll in two days that has Clinton up 7%, after yesterday's Mason-Dixon and Research 2000 surveys.
  • The previous poll for Downs Center had Obama leading by 5%, so a 12% swing towards Clinton in 2 weeks.
If this new conventional wisdom holds on Tuesday and neither candidate pushes a few inches more, May 6th will be a replay of March 4th and April 22nd: Neither candidate would get what they need. Clinton would score a "credible enough" victory (a meaningful Indiana victory) for her right to stay in the race to remain unchallengeable, but certainly not enough to change the fundamentals of the race or give pause to superdelegates. As for Obama he would have lost one more opportunity to end the race, a more frustrating one even than in Pennsylvania; he could do so by winning Indiana, but if he were to win big in North Carolina (building on home court advantage, the way he did in the latter half of February) Clinton would face a huge amount of pressure.

With a few more days to go, both candidates are blanketing the state with advertisements; in what is a huge relief for the Clinton campaign, it looks like they are being able to stay financially on par with Obama. As is by now well known, the main topic on which the ad war is raging right now is the gas tax and its summer repeal. Clinton is hitting Obama for his refusal to consider the plan, while Obama is defending himself by highlighting the superiority of his own energy plan and using the fact that the media (for once breaking its frustrating tradition of artificial neutrality to try and get to the bottom of the topic) is supporting his side. Obama is now running a second response ad, which is probably an indication that Obama's internal polling is finding Clinton's attacks on this subject are resonating with voters.

A variety of other groups are spending heavily on behalf of the candidates, in particular SEIU on Obama's behalf and the American Leadership Project on Clinton's. The ALP is now spending more than $1 million to hit Obama on the lack of specifics in his economic plans. You can watch the ad here. The Obama campaign attempted to threaten the ALP with legal action, alleging that they should have registered as a political committee and are thus violating campaign finance law. This is not the first time that Obama has objected to outside expenditures when they are helping his opponents (see the controversy around 527s in the run-up to Iowa).

To close this thread, it is worth noting that the two tracking polls find surprisingly similar results for once -- Obama is being distanced by McCain in the general, while Clinton is holding for now:

  • Gallup's tracking poll finds Clinton leading by 2 points, 48% to 46%. Rasmussen also has Clinton up 2%, for the second straight day.
  • In the general election, both trackings find McCain leading Obama by 6% and Clinton only by 1%. In the Gallup poll, this is the largest lead McCain has had over Obama and the largest differential between Obama and Clinton's general election showing.
We will have to watch and see whether these numbers hold once all the polling data is collected after Tuesday and the re-fading of the Wright issue.

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  • It does seem that the situation has stabilized in both states. I am also surprised that Clinton is stayting on par finanically with Obama. Obviously he is saving some of the $42 million he has in the bank compared to Clintons near zero.

    I was talking to some colleagues earlier this week who are middle of the road voters (mix of moderate Dems and Republicans) and when the topic came around to Governor Easley of NC I was surprised by the vehmence of their disdain for him. NC seems to be a well run state (good univerisities, balanced budget etc) but several people said is this the best endorsement Clinton can get. It was not a positive move for her campaign. Of course this is anecdotal but maybe telling none the less.

    By Anonymous Mike, At 02 May, 2008 15:46  

  • Taniel,

    What if Clinton wins Indiana double digits and lose NC between the 4 to 8 percentage that Insider Advantages say?

    These results (specially the one in NC which was supposed to be a blow-out win for Obama and also considering the fact that it's really impossible for her to win the state with such huge black population)

    first, will SCREAM that Obama is not electable.

    second, will for sure make it possible for Hillary to catch up with Obama in popular votes in Kentucky and West Virginia

    and third, will help her win Oregon also which basically means all bets will be off, no matter how many clueless superdelegates Obama campaign takes out of its bag by then.

    By Anonymous Josh, At 02 May, 2008 18:24  

  • Apparently, Obama is already recovering from Wright II - the statistics (the margin averages) from today as opposed to Wednesday tell me this.

    It's probably good that we still have a weekend before the festivities on Tuesday.

    But it does look like Clinton will win IN.

    By Blogger Mark, At 02 May, 2008 18:48  

  • type "Mickey Kantor" in youtube and see how the Clinton advisers feel about Indiana voters.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At 02 May, 2008 20:17  

  • Wright II may be over, but no doubt there will be a Wright III, Wright IV, Wright V, etc. if Barack wins the nomination.

    By Blogger Daniel Greenfield, At 02 May, 2008 20:59  

  • That comment was directed at Obamans and Andrews, not Indiana voters. I see Taniel is no longer hiding his pro-Obama bias.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At 03 May, 2008 06:58  

  • Secretly videotaping inside your opponent's campaign headquarters is serious criminal activity. Nice reflection on what the Obama WH would be like. Crooked.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At 03 May, 2008 07:01  

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