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Monday, May 05, 2008

Indiana and North Carolina Scenarios

Tomorrow is the Indiana and North Carolina primaries. On the surface there are only four combinations of results:

A: Obama wins both.
B: Obama wins North Carolina, Clinton wins Indiana.
C: Clinton wins North Carolina, Obama wins Indiana.
D: Clinton wins both.

Each of these simplified scenarios has a different effect on the primary. Given each, we can draw general conclusions about where the rest of the Democratic Primary is headed. In Scenario A, Clinton concedes almost immediately. In Scenario B, the most realistic of the scenarios, Clinton probably survives through the final primaries in Montana and South Dakota on June 3. In Scenario C, everyone and their mother should get out of the prediction business. In Scenario D, Clinton becomes the favorite for the nomination.

Of the potential scenarios, one sticks out as more likely than the other scenarios combined, and that is of course Scenario B. Therefore, it is relevant to examine the sub-scenarios of Scenario B.

Sub-Scenario's of Scenario B:
Sub-Scenario a: Obama wins North Carolina big, Clinton wins Indiana big.
Sub-Scenario b: Obama wins North Carolina big, Clinton wins Indiana small.
Sub-Scenario c: Obama wins North Carolina small, Clinton wins Indiana small.
Sub-Scenario d: Obama wins North Carolina small, Clinton wins Indiana big.

First, a caveat: It is very difficult to determine the effects of each of these scenarios, if for not any reason other than this primary has been difficult to predict from the beginning. Will that stop me from trying? Not a chance.

Predicting impacts of the sub-scenarios should be made within the context that Clinton is trailing and has very little margin for error for the balance of the Democratic Primary. Therefore, the question that should be addressed is: Given Scenario B, what does Hillary Clinton need to stay alive?

Well, the weight of each primary is a factor. North Carolina has 134 pledged delegates up for grabs, while Indiana has 85. Therefore, if each candidate wins their predicted state with, say, 55% of the vote, then Obama actually wins more delegates on the day (ballpark 112-107). Translation: Clinton, already trailing by 150 pledged delegates and 130 overall, sees her deficit increase while less pledged delegates remain in the rest of the race (217). To compound this, when Obama, however predictably, rights his ship with college and African-American heavy North Carolina, more superdelegates will climb on board as they look to end the race, much like Joe Andrew did last week.

So at the very least, Clinton needs to make up ground tomorrow. If Scenario B does indeed unfold, that means she needs to win Indiana by more than Obama wins North Carolina. The good news is that she is making headway in North Carolina, so she's still alive. The Clinton camp is hoping to stay within 6-8 points there, while winning Indiana by double digits. If they do that, the campaign continues and she gains strength. If the campaign gains strength, Clinton will sweep the remaining primaries (West Virginia, Kentucky, Oregon, Puerto Rico, Montana, South Dakota), which will bring her only 20-25 delegates closer, but will give her all the momentum and it will give the superdelegates a lot to think about this summer.

The latest polls and my predictions tomorrow.

1 comment:

David said...

I wouldn't count out Obama in Indiana. She's done nothing for a few days and the gas tax thing has hurt her.

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