6.01.2008

Clinton triumphs in Puerto Rico

Update: With 98% reporting, Hillary Clinton won Puerto Rico more than 2:1, 68% to 32%. She won each of the 8 districts with margins ranging form 65% to 72%. The delegate split will be very favorable to Clinton: 38 to 17, which means that she got almost as much out of Puerto Rico than out of Michigan and Florida combined. As for the popular vote, there are still ballots to be counted but it looks like Hillary fell just short of her bid to get 166 thousand more votes today as she is ahead by roughly 140,000. The turnout, which looks to be somewhere around 10% of all registered voters, was not high enough to allow Clinton to get a big enough raw vote margin (though 10% turnout for a late primary in a territory which little involvement in continental politics is not that weak).

Original post: The networks wasted no time calling Puerto Rico for Hillary Clinton in what was an anticlimactic day for an island that, just a few months ago, was hoping it would play a decisive role in the fight for the Democratic nomination. The exit polls show a Clinton triumph beyond expectations as they project that she will obtain about 68.5% of the vote. Depending on turnout, this might put Clinton on top of the popular vote count without counting Michigan, a shift that her campaign would surely boast about in the coming days.

A few months ago, everyone suddenly realized that Puerto Rico, which was scheduled to hold the last primary on June 7th and perhaps allocate its delegate winner-take-all, could play a huge role in the Democratic fight. With the two candidates looking to be locked in a tight race with no end in sight, the 55 delegates of Puerto Rico looked like the prize that might put the Clinton campaign ahead. Instead, Obama built an advantage early, negating much of the influence Puerto Rico might have had on the process and making today's vote more of a formality.

But the Clinton campaign looked to today's vote as a crucial means to catch up in the popular vote. Up until today, they did claim to be ahead in that count but that required them to count Florida and Michigan without giving Obama any vote in the latter. That, however, does not appear as a legitimate count to most people, especially after yesterday RBC decision to count the Michigan uncommitted as if they were Obama voters. Real Clear Politics puts Obama's popular vote margin without Michigan but with Florida at 166,186 votes, so we will see whether Clinton can open that big a margin in Puerto Rico. She will need a decent-sized turnout of the island's 2.4 million registered voters to accomplish that. Note that the island's two main parties (which are not Democratic and Republican) were not organizing today's vote and were not encouraging voters to participate; a third independentatist party was calling for a boycott of today's vote.

Naturally, I am not saying that Clinton's emerging ahead in this count of the popular vote or getting a delegate boost in Puerto Rico will at all improve her chances to win the nomination.
But the important question the next 6 days will answer is whether Clinton will drop out without a fight or whether she will press on, perhaps even until the convention. If she
gets within 100 pledged delegates or if she gets what she considers to be a legitimate popular vote lead, it could make it that much tougher for the Obama campaign to convince her to give up her quest for the nomination and would heighten Clinton's demands.

A note also on the Puerto Rico exit polls, for it is remarkable how different they look than what we are accustomed to. For one, this could very well be the first Democratic contest this year in which there are more male voters than female voters -- and the exit poll shows Clinton performing better among the former! Also, there is very little difference in voting patterns across class and education-level. An interesting measure, finally, is the proportion of Puerto Ricans (79%) who say they have family members who work in New York. Of those, the New York Senator wins 70%; of those who do not, she is at 63%.

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11 Comments:

  • Taniel, only a few hundred votes have come in at this time so to say that Clinton will win with about 68% of the vote is presumptious. I do think that when all of the votes are counted she will get at a minimum a 60% lead. In a way this is anticlimatic, SD and MT will be more important because fewer polling has been done there and while Obama is favored in both states, by how much is not apparent. I feel that Obama will win SD by at least 10 points because he basically has the support of the SD Democratic party while it could be a bit closer, maybe by 5 points, a Obama win in Montana because none of the abudent Democrats in that state have endorsed and maybe the guns and religion comment has damaged Obama in Montana, althrough its almost two months since that happened.

    By Anonymous jaxx raxor, At 01 June, 2008 15:56  

  • No surprise at all, especially given that the votes reflect her most loyal electoral constituency, which is Hispanic voters.
    It is beyond me why Hillary remains the political favorite of those 'low- info' voters despite Clinton's self-centered political ambitions that will do no good to the future of America. But it is comforting that PR won't have a say in the presidential election.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At 01 June, 2008 16:07  

  • Calling Hispanics "low info" seems very offputting to me. Indeed, in the Democratic primaries at least, hispanics have been going overwhelming for Clinton, probably less over the black/brown divide that many pundits speak of but of Obama's familiarity. Obviously Obama has increased his name recognition immenseily thanks to the extended primary process, but Clinton remains the most well known of all of the candidates that ever participated in this 2008 election. Its possible that hispanics are just more comforable with a familiar face rather than a new one.

    By Anonymous jaxx raxor, At 01 June, 2008 16:13  

  • Jaxx Razor,

    I explicitly said that exit polls show Clinton winning with 68% of the vote, which they do. I did not say Clinton will win with 68% of the vote. I provide the exit poll projection every election day for every state, and they often end up being off but I don't think it is more presumptuous here than in other states!

    By Blogger Taniel, At 01 June, 2008 16:16  

  • Can someone remind me of PR's worth in the GE - somewhere between not worth a pile of dust and Idaho. I.e. zero EV's. Move onto proper states.

    By Anonymous Tom, At 01 June, 2008 16:46  

  • Taniel the main two political parties in Puerto Rico are not the Democratic and Republican parties: they are New Progressive Party (PNP) and the Popular Democratic Party (PDP). The PDP strongly indentifies with the Democratic party, while the PNP is basically split 50/50 between the Democrats and the Republicans.

    And yeah Taniel I understand your views on the exit polls and it seems you were right: Clinton is getting about 68% of the vote with 29% of the vote in.

    By Anonymous jaxx raxor, At 01 June, 2008 17:03  

  • Jaxx,
    Of course they aren't Democratic and Republican. I meant to say just that (which was the whole point of my parenthetical) but the summer heat got to me.

    By Blogger Taniel, At 01 June, 2008 17:27  

  • What happened to the supposed mega turnout. More like meager!!
    350000 total votes at 93%

    By Anonymous Tom, At 01 June, 2008 19:27  

  • Tom your right, there wasn't a mega turnout. However Clinton has done much better than what the polls has expected and that kinda offsets the low turnout numbers in Puerto Rico if we are talking about the popular vote.

    I do think that Montana and South Dakota will be much more important because it will help determine how high the race will end for Obama. Since the March 4th primaries Obama has been losing most of them, so solid wins in SD and MT are importnat in him winning with some pride rather than just straggling to the finishing line. The good thing for Clinton is that Obama favored states are not as favorable to him as Clinton favored states are to her, so Clinton has a much better chance at an upset in both Motana and South Dakota than Obama had in Puerto Rico. If she wins one or both states, it will encourage her to keep her campaign going even through all of the primaries will have ended.

    By Anonymous jaxx raxor, At 01 June, 2008 19:42  

  • I love how the Clinton's were turning to a group that can't vote in the General election to sustain their popular vote argument.

    By Anonymous Chris, At 01 June, 2008 23:11  

  • This is very interesting for Clinton. According to realclearpolitics.com, with the addition of the Puerto Rico results, she is now LEADING in the popular vote if you include the Michigan totals. (This is the case whether you give the Uncommitted popular votes to Obama or not.)

    It appears that Clinton will, in fact, be able to claim that she is by some standard the choice of the people. Unfortunately for her, it won't be in delegates, the only metric that matters. But it still might be enough to make her take her case to the convention.

    By Anonymous Mr. Rational, At 02 June, 2008 03:27  

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