5.19.2008

Preparing for an election day that has little at stake, as Byrd goes Obama

The Democratic campaign is strangely subdued given that we are only one day from the Oregon and Kentucky primaries. The question, after all, is no longer what Hillary Clinton would need to accomplish to remain credible or even to change the fundamentals of the race, but only what she needs to get in order to make her argument that she ought to stay in the race two more weeks and that superdelegates should at least give her one last chance.

Besides the continuing picture of candidates going through the motions of a competitive race in what has ceased to be one, tomorrow night could also be surreal in that it will feature two dramatically different states that will feature two dramatically different results -- Clinton is heavily favored in Kentucky, in what should be a replay of her 41% victory in West Virginia, and Obama is favored in Oregon. This is confirmed by today's polls:

  • Suffolk University finds Clinton leading 51% to 25% in Kentucky, an impressive showing that is inferior to what other polls have been showing. There are obviously a lot of undecideds. Obama's popularity stands at 43%, and only 41% of Democrats said they would vote for their party's nominee if their first choice did not get the nomination.
  • In Oregon, Obama is narrowly ahead 45% to 41%. His popularity stands at 73%. Even here, Democrats have a loyalty problem as only 59% of Dems say they would stick with their party's nominee if their candidate does not get the nod.

Clinton looks to be in a position to pull an upset tomorrow in Oregon despite Obama's popularity in the state and the huge crowd he drew in Portland (about 70,000 but as we saw in New Hampshire unexpectdly gigantic crowds are not enough to carry one to victory); at least she is in a position to exceed expectations and keep a state that was supposed to be one of Obama's strongest in single digits. She is also likely to pair any good result with Oregon with a triumphant result in Kentucky. Yet, there is little at stake in such successes since Obama is getting ready to announce he has won a majority of pledged delegates tomorrow in a triumphant speech in Iowa, no matter the results in Oregon and Kentucky. As Plouffe said, "A clear majority of elected delegates will send an unmistakable message -- the people have spoken." To which Clinton's Howard Wolfson responded that this was "a slap in the face to the millions of voters in the remaining primary states and to Senator Clinton’s 17 million supporters."

In fact, the attention of superdelegates appears to also have already turned to the general election, making it difficult for Clinton to reach her audience even with convincing victories. Today, Obama got a major endorsement: Senator Robert Byrd of West Virginia, whose support is announced a week after Obama was trounced in that state. Byrd is now the longest-serving Senator, and an ardent opponent of the Iraq War. He was a member of the KKK in his youth and an anti-civil rights Democrat in the 1960s, so this endorsement will be trumpeted by the Obama campaign as the symbol of the party's reunification (though Byrd has changed course over the past 40 years). This endorsement actually gets Obama at two superdelegates for the day, as he also got the support of the Chairman of the Washington State Party, Dwight Pelz.

This is not to say that tomorrow's results are not important. A strong night by Clinton would be given much more weight than West Virginia's results did last week, especially if she does well in Oregon. WV was expected to go heavily for her, and it was a small state. A strong showing in two bigger states in which she is not supposed to do as well could embarass Obama and push him once again on the defensive.

However much Obama is basically assured of getting the nomination and however much his campaign pretends to be indifferent to tomorrow's results, that does not mean that they do not care about posting convincing results.

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9 Comments:

  • Oregon is going to go for Obama by a much bigger margin. Not as much as Kentucky but big enough to make it huge news.

    By Anonymous Ron, At 19 May, 2008 15:44  

  • Oregon is going to go for Obama by a much bigger margin. Not as much as Kentucky but big enough to make it huge news.

    By Anonymous Ron, At 19 May, 2008 15:44  

  • I would be suprised if Obama only wins Oregan by 5 points or less. It does seem that his supporters are demobilizing a little bit because of the perception that he is the likely nominee, while Clinton supporters are still on full throttle as the underdogs. If Clinton WINS Oregan then it would force OBama to pay attention to the three primaries after that to prevent Clinton from getting another upset (which is most likely in Montana), however it would not be enough for SDs to deny him the nomination.
    Alot of recent polls have been showing Clinton doing better in GE matchups against McCain than Obama, however I think a major reason why this is so is because the GOP is ignoring Clinton and going after Obama. In addition Obama supporters are theoretically more open to supporting Clinton than Clinton supporters for Obama. This is especially true in some of the big traditional swing states like PA and OH: Clinton mainly does better because she holds more democrats.

    However, realistically I don't think that this electorability argument would hold up. First of all, if the GOP was to start ignoring Obama and go after Clinton, her numbers would probably go down just as GOP attacks have weakened Obama.

    But what is most important is that Clinton can only win by having SDs over turn the PD lead that Obama has. As bitter as Clinton supporters are about Obama right now, that is nothing compared to the anger Obama supporters would have under this scenario, especially AAs. I think that AAs make up around 20% or so of the total Democratic Vote, and if they all stayed home (as well as other Obama supporters like the upper class whites and young voters) not only would Clinton lose big in the GE, but the GOP would suddenly have a great chance to take back Congress, especially gaining seats in the south, where Black support is crucial for Democrats.

    By Anonymous jaxx raxor, At 19 May, 2008 16:13  

  • Maybe the expectations game that effected the NC results will kick in. Namely most people think Clinton will do well getting a 5-9% loss. If she loses by an NC margin of 15% then she will be badly weakened. Whereas the CW just a week or two ago was Obama would win OR heavily.

    By Anonymous Tom, At 19 May, 2008 16:17  

  • Obama has been focussing on the GE more - campaigning in Missouri and Michigan as well as visiting Florida. So he has spent less time and money on the remaining primaries.
    So of course Clinton should do well if her major opponent is fighting the bigger fight.

    By Anonymous Tom, At 19 May, 2008 16:19  

  • Clinton feeds on attacks by the republicans and would gain tremendously from them while Obama gets hurt by them because of his youth and relative anonymity. Two completely different effects that can't be compared. If Obama continues to fall, like the media just loves to feed upon, the SDs will have no choice but to give the nomination to Clinton. Remember just how much the msm loves to build up people before they rip them limb from limb. They're out for ratings and nothing gets more attention than knocking someone off their pedestal. They're salivating at the prospect of Obama claiming victory.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At 19 May, 2008 16:25  

  • Anonymous, Obama is not "falling". He is going to win big in Oregon and now has a 16% lead over Clinton in the gallup poll. This thing is over.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At 19 May, 2008 17:19  

  • I'm guessing that Obama will win Oregon by 12%, and Clinton will Kentucky by 26%.

    I'm a Hillary supporter, but I truly believe that Obama has the Democratic nomination all but sewn up.

    By Anonymous Jim West, At 19 May, 2008 17:23  

  • http://www.publicpolicypolling.com/pdf/PPP_Release_Oregon_051908.pdf

    How about this poll, Obama +19, fresh of the presses

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At 19 May, 2008 18:04  

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