Slow day in polls and superdelegate news

Sunday is a slow news day. After 17 superdelegate endorsement in the space of 48 hours on Friday and Saturday, only 1 announced her support today: Young Democrat Crystal Strait announced she was endorsing Barack Obama explaining that, "Barack Obama has shown a real commitment to young voters in his campaign and in response young people have overwhelmingly voted and caucused for Obama in these primary contests."

However expected, this endorsement gets Obama one vote closer to the nomination as the pool of uncommitted superdelegates continues to decrease. Note also that 46 superdelegates (about a sixth of the total of "uncomnitted superdelegates) have yet to be chosen because they are add-ons states in which the state party has not yet finalized selections. Most of the add-ons (though by no means all) that are designated tend to already be supporters of a candidate, so the pool of superdelegates that Obama and Clinton are hoping to convince is even smaller than it looks; this is obviously bad news for Hillary.

Meanwhile, three new general election polls have been released this week-end. First, the LA Times-Bloomberg national poll:

  • Both Democrats lead McCain. Clinton leads 47% to 38%, while Obama is ahead 46% to 40%.
  • Clinton performs much better among voters with an income of less than $40K: She leads 50% to 29% while Obama is only ahead 43% to 45%. Among the highest-income group, however, Obama is slightly stronger than Clinton: She trails by 6, he trails by 1.
  • The two Democrats also differ based on gender (Clinton leads by 21% among women, trails by 12% among men, Obama leads by 13% and trails b 3%), partisan affiliation (Obama is 9% weaker among registered Democrats but 10% stronger among independents). Contrary to what we might think, it looks like Obama's weakness among Dems comes from people who identify themselves as liberal (he is 13% weaker in that group), so not necessarily the white blue-collar base.
With the Democratic primary drawing to a close, polls testing both Clinton and Obama will become more rare so this might be one of our last opportunities to reiterate how different Clinton and Obama's general-election coalitions are and how remarkable it is that the two Democrats are arriving at roughly the same final numbers poll after poll considering the different paths they take to get there. Obama's relative weakness among women, registered Democrats and lower-income voters is compensated by his relative strength among men, independents and higher-income voters.

What this confirms is how different their two electoral maps would have looked and how the electability difference rests on a state-by-state basis rather than a national analysis. Rasmussen's new general election poll from Oregon, for example, confirms that Obama is much stronger in the Northwest (Oregon and Washington):

  • Obama has opened a double-digit lead, 51% to 39%. Clinton has strengthened her position and leads 46% to 40%. Last month, McCain led Clinton by 6% and Obama led McCain by the same margin. Obama has always looked strong in Oregon.
  • Rasmussen also polled Michigan, however, and finds troubling news for Democrats as McCain continues to be surprisingly strong. He edges out Obama by 1 percent, 45% to 44%, and is tied with Clinton at 44%.
Conventional wisdom would hold that Oregon is a tighter state than Michigan in the general election, but Obama's appeal to Western independents could help him put the Northwest away, concentrating on a state like Colorado; but he certainly cannot afford to lose a state with as many electoral votes as Michigan and the GOP is certainly preparing to make the argument that Obama was nominated on the back of Michigan voters if the DNC does not resolve the rogue primary mess in the weeks ahead.

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  • Obama's weakness among those that consider themselves liberal shouldn't be misconstrued to mean that Obama isn't liberal enough. People that consider themselves to be liberal are more intelligent and more cautious about things like electability. Agreeing with his platform and supporting the stronger candidate are different issues. I think that Obama's liberal standing may be a downside to his chances.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At 11 May, 2008 18:31  

  • A key question is why Clinton who was the undisputed front runner at the start of the year (in fundraising and super delegates) failed to defeat Obama first in Iowa, then on Super Tuesday and then finally failed to do what was necessary in PA, NC and IN (namely do better in PA than OH, win IN well and keep Obama to a single digit victory in NC).
    It should also be noted that Obama racked up an average of a 22% win in WI, VA and MD. Collectively these states have more EV's than TX and Clinton seems to have trouble winning in double digits (barely in OH, didn`t in TX, PA or IN all of which favored her demographically).

    The GE should be fun seeing new electoral maps rather than the stagnant maps of 2000 and 2004 which the Clinton campaign would put us through again this year(namely focusing yet again on OH and FL.) Remember VA and IA equal OH.

    I predicted that May 7th could be the last date of the contest and it looks like it was with so many super delegates coming forward for Obama.

    By Anonymous Mike, At 11 May, 2008 20:10  

  • Super delegates are a joke, they are just hopping on board of the winner. If the dems had the republicans system, Hillary would have it all wrapped up by now. That said, I could care less about these polls of the general election at this point. This country will not elect Obama. Period. Refer back to this post next November.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At 11 May, 2008 23:39  

  • Of course if the party had different rules then the outcome might be different. Although the Obama campaign would have changed their tactics and strategy. They did just stumble upon the smaller states - they planned to campaign everywhere and not just relie on NY, CA and MA. That is hardly fitting for someone wanting to represent the whole of the USA.

    Hillary is showing herself a poor loser if she whines baout the rules. She knew them, they have been around for decades so get over it.

    By Anonymous Tom, At 12 May, 2008 07:45  

  • Super delegates are a joke, they are just hopping on board of the winner.

    And if the candidates' positions were reversed, would superdelegate support of the trailing candidate be reversing the will of the voters?

    If the dems had the republicans system, Hillary would have it all wrapped up by now.

    We can't know that, because if the rules were different then the campaigns would have been run differently.

    I could care less...

    Sorry, that's a pet peeve of mine. Should be "I couldn't care less..." Saying one could care less implies that one does care to at least some small extent.

    By Blogger dsimon, At 12 May, 2008 11:10  

  • Sorry, have to make another comment on "If the dems had the republicans system..."

    Why should Democrats have a winner-take-all system? Does it better reflect the will of the voters that if someone gets 50% + 1 votes, that person gets all of the district's or state's delegates? It would tend to wrap up the process earlier, but then what about the cries that other states should have the chance to influence the process?

    I think support for a different system should be based on factors other than who would happen to win under it.

    But in any case, it's too late for this round. Candidates compete under the rules they were given, not the rules that might have been in place.

    By Blogger dsimon, At 12 May, 2008 11:38  

  • Regarding the Republican system of winner takes all: If the Republicans had had the proportional system that the Democrats have in awarding delegates, then it's fair to say that McCain might not have been the nominee. Republicans might still be fighting it out. At least the Democrats have produced an interesting an much-talked about race.

    Also, saying that Obama can't win the GE: We heard much the same thing about Reagan back in 1980. The pundits and media dismissed him as a far-right wacko who did not stand a chance. I remember it well, because I admired Carter never dreamed he would go down in defeat to such a reactionary figure. Obama has a LONG way to go before he can earn the trust of lower-middle-class white folks, but he has a lot of charisma, and he may yet be able to pull it off.

    By Blogger Daniel Greenfield, At 12 May, 2008 11:52  

  • Also, saying that Obama can't win the GE

    Even without taking into account the Reagan example, the web sites that look at head-to-head, state-by-state polls against McCain certainly have Obama able to win the GE. That's not to say he's ahead at the moment, but he's within striking distance and the general campaign hasn't really gotten started yet.

    Won't win? Perhaps. Can't win? He can.

    By Blogger dsimon, At 12 May, 2008 14:11  

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