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Friday, February 01, 2008

Super Tuesday Odds: State-by-State

To do any sort of predicting for Tuesday's 22-state bonanza, it is necessary to look at the polls in the states that will vote that day. Ultimately, a rough estimate of the delegate spread can be postulated, although one should be fully be aware that strange things can happen on voting day. Indeed, much can happen between now and voting day, which is why I'll repeat the process for Monday. More on that in a bit.

So here is some information for the 22 states (and 2 other delegations) voting on Super Tuesday. A few bits of the information I sought were:

-Number of Pledged Delegates. Those do not count superdelegates from each state, who are at their leisure to choose either candidate. Pledged (3,253) + super (796) = total (4,049).
-Number of polls done recently in each state.
-Average of recent polls in each state.
-Projected split of delegates in the state, if polls hold.

What will be interesting is that I will repeat this process on Monday, to see how the John Edwards drop out and last night's cordial debate affect these numbers. That way, we'll see if any candidate has momentum going into Super Tuesday. So be very sure to check back in on Monday.

On with the show... (Most statistics found from Real Clear Politics. Special thanks to friend and fellow blogger Lando for helping me out with some research.)

Alab.- 52 Pledged Del; 3 polls since 1/15/08; HC36%-BO32% ; HC28-BO24
Alaska - 13 Delegates; no major polls
American Samoa - 3 Delegates; no major polls
Arizona - 56 Delegates; 2 polls since 1/20; HC41%-BO26%; HC34-BO22
Arkansas - 35 Delegates; no recent polls
California - 370 Del; 6 polls since 1/20; HC45%-BO33%; HC213-BO157
Colorado - 55 Delegates;
1 recent poll 1/23; BO34%-HC32%; BO28-HC27
Connecticut - 48 Delegates; 2 polls since 1/17; HC41%-BO34%; HC26-BO22
Delaware - 15 Delegates; no recent polls
Democrats Abroad - 7 Delegates; no major polls
Georgia - 87 Delegates; 3 polls since 1/10; BO43%-HC35%; BO48-HC39
Idaho - 18 Delegates; no major polls
Illinois - 153 Delegates; 2 polls since 12/13; BO51%-HC24%; BO106-HC47
Kansas - 32 Delegates; no recent polls
Mass. - 93 Del; 2 major polls since 1/28; HC50%-BO35%; HC55-BO38
Minnesota - 72 Delegates;
1 recent poll 1/27; HC40%-BO33%; HC 39-BO33
Missouri - 72 Delegates; 2 polls since 01/24; HC44%-BO28%; HC 44-BO28
New Jersey - 107 Del; 2 polls since 01/15; HC47%-BO 30%; HC66-BO41
New Mexico - 26 Delegates; no major polls
New York - 232 Del; 6 polls since 01/14; HC 50%-BO 27%; HC150-BO82
North Dakota - 13 Delegates; no major polls
Oklahoma - 38 Delegates; 2 polls since 1/13; HC45%-BO19%; HC27-BO11
Tennessee - 68 Delegates; 2 polls since 1/21; HC47%-BO23%; HC45-BO23
Utah - 23 Delegates; no major polls

This is a total of 1,688 pledged delegates (with 400 superdelegates still to pledge down the road, but those have nothing to do with whom the voters choose). If we do not include the 185 delegates from the small delegations with no reliable polling (Alaska, Arkansas, Delaware, Idaho, Kansas, New Mexico, North Dakota, Utah, American Samoa, and the Democrats Abroad), that leaves 1,503 delegates.

The projected split for that 1,503, among current polling from above, is:
Clinton - 840
Obama - 663
(Spread - Clinton up 173)

Add in the pledged delegates earned thus far (2,025 needed for nomination), and it's:
Clinton - 888
Obama - 726
(Spread - Clinton up 162)
Unprojected - 185
Edwards - 26
Remaining - 1,428 Pledged Delegates, 796 Superdelegates

If you're an Obama supporter, these are sobering numbers. He loses 8 of the 11 states projected and pushes a ninth. Despite Obama's strides, he will still be trailing after Super Tuesday, which will push more voters to Clinton. What's more is that Clinton is expected to win most of the 796 superdelegates will be casting their vote down the stretch. In the race to 2,025 total delegates, Obama looks to be in a hole on February 6th, and he probably will not be able to climb out.

Of course, none of this is chiseled in stone. I plan to utilize the polling numbers from this weekend to re-do this chart on Monday, so check back in then.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

John Edwards - The Kingmaker?

John Edwards dropped out of the race yesterday, leaving only Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton in the Democratic Primary. A few readers sent me emails regarding his decision, and one of them, Dave, emailed me these cogent thoughts:

"Edwards is out and already receiving adulatory press. Where was that press when he was still a viable candidate? Now everyone is saying he was the classiest, most principled, most idea-driven, civil, etc, candidate in the race, but they never said that before."

Dave is absolutely right. In response, I would only say that the press is treating this like a funeral. When people are alive, they're fair game for criticism and scrutiny, but when they pass on, you see a moratorium on those character critiques for a while, leaving only blandishments and fond remembrance.

Even Obama and Clinton bathed Edwards in praise. Obama did his best Edwards impression in his assessment of Edwards' issues and campaign: "At a time when our politics is too focused on who's up and who's down, he made a nation focus again on who matters -- the New Orleans child without a home, the West Virginia miner without a job, the families who live in that other America that is not seen or heard or talked about by our leaders in Washington."

Clinton was sure to offer her own praise: "John Edwards ended his campaign today in the same way he started it -- by standing with the people who are too often left behind and nearly always left out of our national debate."

While it would be unfair to doubt the sincerity of the two remaining candidates, let us not fool ourselves when it comes to their motivation of these public announcements. Endorsement or not, they want his voters. Badly.

The question everyone seems to be asking is, "Who does this help more?"

It is clear this helps Barack Obama, and that's if Edwards doesn't endorse either one. (Of the two, realistically speaking, the only one Edwards could possibly endorse is Obama, as Obama much more resembles the campaign Edwards was running.)

Edwards still polls between 10 and 15 percent in all major national polls. Considering Obama trails Clinton by between 6 and 13, if he can take 2/3 - 3/4 of the Edwards voters, he'll pull within a statistical tie in most major polls by Super Tuesday. To do this by Super Tuesday is significant, as the lead cannot seem insurmountable on Fallout Wednesday.

This shift in numbers also affects the number of delegates to be won by each, which ultimately is the most important battle. Obama's current miniscule lead in the delegate count is a drop in the bucket of the total delegate count to be won during the entire primary season. He's up 63-48 in a race to earn at least 2,025 out of 4,049. He has 3.1% of the total delegates needed. By Super Tuesday's conclusion, half of the 4,049 delegates will be awarded, compared to just 3.3% thus far.

Edwards was destined to win about 10% of the roughly 2,000 delegates available on Super Tuesday. For the math-impaired out there, that's about 200 delegates that will now be divvied up among Obama and Clinton. If Obama takes 75% of them, which is reasonable, that's 150 to Clinton's 50 - a 100 point spread - and this is to say nothing of the undecideds that could not make up their mind between the two candidates of "change."

In a primary that is expected to be incredibly close, 100 points could be the difference, or at least keep Obama a lot closer than he would have been had Edwards remained in the race.

Remember, unlike several Republican primaries (like Florida last night) the Democratic primaries are not winner take all. The go by proportional voting. For example, Clinton will win California, but it's by how much that is really important. There are 441 delegates up for grabs in California, but will she win 300 to Obama's 141 or 240 to Obama's 201? Edwards dropping out could mean the latter. Extend this to all 22 states, including states where Obama might win by more now, and you'll see how the delegates can add up quickly.

Which brings me to my conclusion: Why did Edwards drop out now? A week ago, I explained why he would:

"...the Democratic Primary is careening towards a Clinton nomination. If Edwards wants to stop it, he needs to drop out, point to Obama, and say "This is our guy." The amalgam of Edwards and Obama supporters would be enough to stop Clinton.

It is worth mentioning that this cannot wait until March or April. It cannot even wait for February 6th, the day after Super Tuesday, when the Edwards campaign truly dies. If Edwards waits that long, his national support will be in the high single digits, and his endorsement will mean less. Moreover, by then Clinton's lead may seem insurmountable, as she will put some distance between herself and Obama on the fifth, while half of the states have already voted."

So the reason for Edwards dropping out is simple. He read this blog.

Back tomorrow.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Edwards Dropping Out

John Edwards is about to drop out of the race to the Presidency. Analysis and impact tomorrow morning.

Florida Primary Results Analyzed

Last night, four former favorites for the Republican nomination were cursing under their breaths as an unabashedly grinning John McCain stood over his podium, pretending to have won only the Florida Primary.

The McCain campaign bottomed out last summer, with less national support than three other candidates, with less money then four other candidates, with no backing in Iowa, and with his wrinkled and battle-scarred face mirroring the state of his campaign.

Now, Rudy Giuliani, Mitt Romney, Fred Thompson, and Mike Huckabee must be asking themselves, "How the heck did John McCain win my nomination?"

Well, Presidential Politics for America predicted last year, re-predicted before Iowa, reaffirmed it after South Carolina, and explained it a week ago today. So it was already over. But now it's reeeeeally over.

John McCain's Florida victory and ensuing endorsement from Rudy Giuliani, has relegated the rest of the Republican Primary to window dressing. While it can be expected that Mitt Romney is nowhere close to bowing out, for reasons to be explained soon, there is nothing left in the party that can stop the Straight Talk Express.

Let's take a look at the top 10 reasons McCain will win Super Tuesday and the nomination.

1. He has the lead in the delegate count, so he has horse race coverage going for him, not to mention the remaining undecided voters who want to support the eventual winner.
McCain - 93
Romney - 59
Huckabee - 40

2. He and Romney have each won three states to Huckabee's one, but one of Romney's was Wyoming.

3. McCain has won the last two states, South Carolina and Florida, to obtain all momentum.

4. Before those two states, many conservatives pointed to the fact that McCain was only doing well because of crossover appeal to open primaries. Both South Carolina and Florida were states where only registered Republicans could vote in the Republican Primary.

5. McCain is commonly regarded as the Republican with the best chance to win the general election, especially against Hillary Clinton. This cannot be underestimated, as the Republican Party is much better than their counterparts at casting aside differences in order to win elections.

6. The Rudy Giuliani endorsement consolidates almost total power among hawkish foreign policy voters. They are the same type of candidate, minimizing social issues important to the party in favor of prioritizing, you know, being alive to bicker about these social issues. This brings over the 10-15% of the country still leaning towards Giuliani. This also eases the decision for voters' undecided between the two.

7. Knocking out Giuliani and earning his endorsement sews up California (174 delegates) and New York (101), each are winner-take-all Super Tuesday states. Those two states will widen the lead to what will seem insurmountable.

8. Unlike Romney, Huckabee has left his gloves on when it comes to challenging McCain's recent spike in support. He's refused to significantly attack McCain on any issue, either in debates or ads. Instead, Huckabee has actually washed McCain in praise. It is a real possibility Huckabee is campaigning for the Vice-Presidency.

9. There might even be a wink and a nod between the two campaigns. As long as Huckabee stays in, he's siphoning votes away from Romney's social conservative base. As much as Giuliani dropping out helps McCain, Huckabee staying hurts Romney. If it was just down to McCain vs. Romney, it'd be a spectacular battle between the foreign policy conservatives and social moderates vs. the base of the Republican Party.

10. While the conservative media (Fox News, Limbaugh and co.) will do all they can to rally conservatives around Romney, the mainstream and liberal media will cover every McCain triumph and like doing it, because they've always been find of McCain.

Still, if there's any hope that this still goes to a brokered convention, it's that some time between now and Super Tuesday, conservatives will do their very best to rally around Mitt Romney. If they had any pause about supporting him because he was a Mormon or because he had a history of saying liberal things or because he was spending too much money and still losing, those will all go by the way side. Any social conservative supporting Huckabee, who now realizes not only does Huckabee have no chance to win, but he might even be on McCain's side in this, will go to Romney.

It will turn into a zero-sum contest between McCain and Romney, with the other candidates doing very little the rest of the way. McCain's national numbers will go into the 40's, Romney's into the 30's. Rush Limbaugh and conservative radio will rail against McCain for a week, bringing up McCain-Feingold, McCain-Kennedy, McCain-Lieberman and the rest of McCain's maverick tendencies to remind the Republican Party why they did not nominate him in 2000. Romney will see a lot of conservative money for the next week with promises of more to come. He'll combine that cash with his own wealth and blitzkrieg the airwaves across the country in order to subdue McCain's vote tally on February 5th.

But none of that will work. John McCain is going to win the nomination. The party will rally around him after this is evident. Then they will sit and wait for the Democrats to find someone to go up against him.

Speaking of the Democrats, they deserve some ink, so check back in tomorrow.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Rudy Giuliani To Drop Out, Endorse McCain

Not that John McCain hadn't already wrapped up the Republican Primary, but Rudy Giuliani intends to drop out tomorrow and endorse McCain. We're headed for a blow out.

Check back tomorrow morning for a full Florida wrap-up, and on Thursday I'll take a look at McCain's VP possibilities.

Florida and the Final Five

Today, Florida Republicans have a decision to make. They can vote for John McCain, thereby putting a bow on the Republican Primary as McCain rides the momentum into Super Tuesday (and beyond). Or, they can vote for Mitt Romney, keeping their primary competitive between two men, making Super Tuesday (and beyond) a toss up.

Let there be no mistake, those are the only two feasible scenarios tonight. I'll make quick work of the other "contenders" still in the contest.

Ron Paul - He's admirably plucking away while his supporters are still fervent. His issues are so deviated from the new Republican Party that he has no reason to drop out. Who would he endorse? He'll want to partake in any remaining debates, so he'll probably stay in until the nominee is evident.

Mike Huckabee - His strong national poll numbers from mid-December to mid-January were due to his temporarily enthusiastic support from the Deep South and Midwest, with their right wing ideology guiding them to whom they thought was the conservative alternative for which they had so long been pining. He flirted with legitimacy right up until his second place finish in South Carolina. Once he proved the least bit fallible in the middle of his core constituency (evangelical Southerners), any hope of possibly stringing together enough states and delegates to win the nomination went by the wayside. With no viable route of attracting skeptical metropolitan Republicans, the momentary excitement after his Iowa Caucus victory was all for naught.

Rudy Giuliani - Worst. Strategy. Ever. He'll finish out of the top 2 in Florida, he'll win a couple primaries next Tuesday, and he'll drop out soon thereafter that, not wanting to tarnish Giuliani Partners by making desperate moves. (For the record, IF Giuliani wins Florida, and McCain finishes third, then it can develop into a 3-way race, as a viable Giuliani could catapult back into the polling lead in California, while also winning New York and New Jersey. Those three states have winner-take-all primaries, so all delegates go to the candidate with the plurality of the vote. If Giuliani wins those three states, he's competing for the nomination, if not leading it. But first, he has to win Florida. Which he won't.)

The other two Republican candidates, John McCain and Mitt Romney, have the momentum in the Republican Primary, evidenced by their wins in South Carolina and Nevada, respectively. They also lead Florida polls and national polls. In sum, they are the only two candidates that have any realistic shot at winning the Republican nomination.

At the beginning of the month, we had seven potential Presidents (Clinton, Obama, Edwards, McCain, Romney, Giuliani, Huckabee). At the end of the month, we're down to four (Clinton, Obama, McCain, Romney). If McCain wins tonight, we're down to three, and I can start taking a real close look at McCain's VP possibilities later in the week.

Tomorrow I'll break down the results from Florida.

Monday, January 28, 2008

The Sickening South Carolina Primary

(Editor's note: I'll save the Republicans and their Florida Primary for tomorrow in favor of putting a sad stamp on the South Carolina Democrats.)

*(South Carolina exit polls with demographics found here.)*

Blacks voted for Barack Obama. White women voted for Hillary Clinton. White men voted for John Edwards. What century, exactly, does South Carolina think it's in?

What are we to make of this? Are the candidates that similar on all issues that the voters threw up their hands (as I threw up in my mouth) and said, "Screw it, I'll just vote for the one that looks like me."

It is undeniable. Take a look at these demographics from exit polls. (Note the bold as things I wanted to highlight.)
Final results:
Obama - 55
Clinton - 27
Edwards - 18

African-American men:
Obama - 80
Clinton - 17
Edwards - 3

African-American women:
Obama - 78
Clinton - 20
Edwards - 2

White men:
Edwards - 45
Clinton - 28
Obama - 27

White women:
Clinton - 42
Edwards - 26
Obama - 22

Undeniable that race and gender was the dominant reason for these results. Among black men, John Edwards polled at three percent. Among white men, Edwards won the category at 45, with Obama in last. Among black women, Obama won with 78 percent. Among white women, Clinton won at 42 percent, with Obama again coming in last.

Does it end there? No. Apparently, South Carolina voters got so entrenched in their subconscious aesthetic voting rational that they had the following answers to the following questions:

Is U.S. Ready to Elect a Woman President?
Definitely ready - 33%
Probably ready - 42%
Probably not ready - 17%
Definitely not ready - 6%

The major trouble lies here: Of those who voted for Obama or Edwards, ninety-nine percent said no. Ninety-nine percent of exit pollers who voted for a male said that the U.S. was not ready to elect a woman president.

It goes on...

Is the U.S. Ready to Elect a Black President?
Definitely ready - 42%
Probably ready - 34%
Probably not ready - 17%
Definitely not ready - 5%

The problem: Of those who voted for Clinton or Edwards, ninety percent said definitely not ready. Only nine percent of Obama supporters answered definitely not ready.

Those statistics are a direct correlation. If a voter is allowed to project their feelings on the rest of the country, it's their way of answering the question: "Are you ready for a black President" or "Are you ready for a female President." It is very difficult to admit if you are one of these people, but if you get to pawn off your conservative racial tendencies on the rest of the country, that changes everything.

How else are those numbers explained? Are voters really saying to themselves, "You know, I want Obama to win, but I don't think the country is ready for a black President, so I'll just decide between Clinton and Edwards." We can only hope that South Carolina's racism and sexism doesn't linger around for the 22-state Super Tuesday, like a bad aftertaste on a national political scale.

This blog will concentrate on the Republicans the next two days before taking a look at both parties in the final push to February 5th.

Until tomorrow...
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