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Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Ohio and Texas Thoughts & Predictions

Idle thoughts, while waiting for Ohio polls to close at 8:00 EST...

Republicans are in an interesting dilemma while on the sidelines of the Democratic Primary, as Andrew Sullivan pointed out today. As a group, they undoubtedly prefer Obama over Clinton as a President. However, they also see Clinton as the much more beatable candidate, as she unites the right in a way John McCain cannot. So who do they root for?

Is it any surprise that Limbaugh is pushing Republicans to vote for Hillary Clinton in the Democratic Primary? Look at what they stand to gain.
1) McCain still does not get massive conservative support.
2) The Democratic Primary is extended, weakening both candidates.
3) Hillary Clinton's chances of victory go up, as do the Republican chances in the general election.

To his credit, Limbaugh admits that it is helpful if Clinton beats up on Barack Obama, because the Republican Party has refrained from doing so. As Limbaugh even admits, "We're getting all kinds of memos from the RNC saying we're not going to be critical." Therefore, it behooves the Republican Party that the Democrats attack each other. And so it is thus.

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Here is a quick recap on potential ramifications of Ohio and Texas:
Scenario 1 - Clinton wins both big
Probability - 5%
Ramifications - Clinton makes up dozens of delegates in one fell swoop and the momentum completely shifts in her direction. The media then begins to cover her more favorably, though they have always covered her fairly. (Note: The media "bias" was a farce. The media always covers the primary winners much more favorably. It is nothing new. They are not reporting bias towards Obama because he's Obama. It was because any coverage of a winner always looks good.) She wins Pennsylvania big and garners to take a lead in overall delegates, thanks to a then strong majority of superdelegates, and goes on to win the nomination. Obama might drop out right after Pennsylvania's April 22nd primary, when the writing is on the wall and the Democratic Party asks him to step aside and be the party's presumptive nominee in 4-8 years.

Scenario 2 - Clinton wins both, but one or both narrowly
Probability - 25% (updated from 20)
Ramifications - A very similar situation to Scenario #1, except Obama will still have an overall delegate lead (or an extremely thin deficit) after the Pennsylvania Primary, and thus stays in it, despite once again being the underdog to come out on top. Scenario 2 is the only potential catalyst to a brokered convention.

Scenario 3 - They split the states
Probability - 40%
Ramifications - Hillary Clinton should concede but does not. (If she does, it is after a week of seeing if she can spin the split, and then bowing out "for the good of the party.") There is no avenue for her victory, barring a Clinton blowout in Pennsylvania (highly unlikely in Scenarios 3-5) combined with Puerto Rico adopting a winner-take-all vote and voting for Clinton in the party's final primary in June. Neither would happen, because in Scenario 3, Obama does not let Clinton get momentum today.

Scenario 4 - Obama wins both, but one or both narrowly
Probability - 25% (updated from 30)
Ramifications - Clinton should concede but might wait a few days to gather the troops first.

Scenario 5 - Obama wins both big
Probability - 5%
Ramifications - Clinton concedes Tuesday night or Wednesday.

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Predicting the two primaries is incredible difficult. Earlier today, I organized over a dozen polls in the four states voting today, including eight each in the last four days from Ohio and Texas. The conclusions from those polls were:
A) Texas - Obama took a small lead but has now relinquished it, leaving him virtually tied with Clinton.
B) Ohio - Clinton's massive lead was gradually worn away to about a five point lead, so while she still has a lead, it has been slipping for weeks and Obama has the momentum.

The tightness of this race is further reinforced by the idea that while Obama has won a dozen straight contests, this is also the only time since February 6th where Clinton can legitimately argue that she has slowed that momentum, evidenced by the Texas polls turning back in her direction.

Predictions:

I think this slight momentum shift in Clinton's direction will be felt, especially in Ohio. With economy as the states biggest issue, undecided Ohio voters will vote for the only person alive whose spouse balanced the American budget. Clinton wins Ohio by 6-8 points, 53-46ish.

In Texas, there will be an out of this world turnout from minorities, with Latinos and African-Americans outnumbering whites. It will come down to the white male vote, and why not, as they've never had a say in government. They will break towards Obama, as will Texas, by the narrowest of votes which might not be called by midnight.

Clinton seemingly comes out on top on March 4th. However, Obama's narrow Texas win, combined with his romp in Vermont by 20 points, combined with an Obama upset by only losing Rhode Island by 3-5 will produce very close to a clean split of March 4th's 370 pledged delegates.


Check back tomorrow for analysis... and humble pie.

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