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Saturday, February 09, 2008

Saturday Primaries

(Note: With the Republican nomination wrapped up, all analysis of remaining primaries will be dedicated to those of the Democrats. Don't worry. I'll get back to the Republicans for the general.)

First, a look at the updated standings:

Standings (does not factor in superdelegates):
Barack Obama - 861
Hillary Clinton - 855
Difference - Obama +6

Standings (factors in superdelegates):
Hillary Clinton - 1048 (193 superdelegates)
Barack Obama - 967 (106 superdelegates)
Difference - Clinton +81

A look at the numbers available today:

Louisiana Primary: 56 pledged delegates
Nebraska Caucus: 24 pledged delegates
Washington (State) Caucus: 78 pledged delegates
Total: 158

Obama will win the majority of delegates today, but after taking a look at the superdelegates, you have to ask yourself: Will it matter in the long run?

Full length post on that coming Monday.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Romney Out. Significance?

In every conceivable way, Mitt Romney did the right thing yesterday. Operating under the accurate assumption that he did not have a chance to come back, Romney's exit benefits just about everyone:

1. Romney - He's alive to resurrect his political career in four to eight years, and he'll remain on John McCain's short list for the VP nomination (more on this next week). To read how he went out in a conservative blaze of glory, read the text of his withdrawal speech.

2. John McCain - With Romney out of the race, specifically his money and potential to buy ads, McCain has avoided month(s) of attacks from Romney, with, of course, the help of the conservative media and Republican base. Obviously, this would hurt McCain's chances in the general election.

3. Mike Huckabee - Despite Huckabee vowing to push forward yesterday, he has no feasible chance to win. The numbers back this up:

Total delegates possible in Republican Primary: 2,380
Total delegates needed for a majority: 1,191
Delegates remaining to be allocated: 1,166
Huckabee's delegates thus far: 195
--Amount short of 1,166 majority: 996
--Percentage of remaining delegates Huckabee must win: 85%

Huckabee needs to win 996 of the remaining 1,191 delegates up for grabs. The chances of a Huckabee comeback are roughly 50:1. If Romney stayed in to split the social conservative bloc, the odds of a Huckabee comeback would have been ten times worse.

4. Republican Party - It is in the interest of the Republican Party to unite under McCain while Clinton and Obama exchange blows at least through March 4th. It is in the interest of the Republican Party to stay in the White House after President Bush leaves in January. There are potentially 2-3 Supreme Court judge vacancies in the next four to eight years. Who would a Republican rather have in the Oval Office to nominate replacements - passionately pro-choice Clinton/Obama, or staunchly pro-life McCain? Who would a Republican rather have calling the shots in Iraq? Who would Republicans rather have choose the Vice-President and future presumptive nominee? Does it make any sense for a Republican to not support McCain in November?

5. Conservatives - See 2 and 4.

On the subject of conservatives, it will be interesting to see how much longer the right wingers will pretend that McCain and Clinton are indistinguishable. It was clear that the intention of Rush and Co. (Coulter, Beck, Hannity) was to rally the party around Romney by painting McCain as a liberal. Now, however, with Romney out of the race, will they finally agree with objective ratings that show McCain is only a handful of percentage points behind the most conservative senators, while Clinton and Obama are far on the other side of the spectrum?

Yes, of course they will. Why? Because Republicans are better politicians. Democrats constantly fight over sub-issues that are important to the liberal agenda (health care, education, middle class issues, poverty), letting their passionate progressive ideology get in the way of actually making progress, save some select moments in American history (abolitionist movement, woman's movement, civil rights movement, clean air and water). Republicans, meanwhile, happily follow Ronald Reagan's eleventh commandment (Thou shalt not speak ill of a fellow Republican) every November, thereby winning seventy percent of national elections in the last forty years, including five of the last seven since Jimmy Carter left office and Reagan won the White House.

This propensity of sacrificing smaller issues, or at least tabling debate on them, manifested itself in Romney's drop out. When Romney stepped aside and claimed it was good for the party, he was telling the truth. He is one of many Republicans who do not want to make the same mistakes that constantly plague Democrats.

Instead of splintering on the sub-issues, Republicans always fall into line with the same three core tentants: Low taxes, no abortion, walk loudly and carry a ridiculously humongous stick. John McCain embodies those issues, so therefore the GOP will follow him to November 4th.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Romney Out

Reuters reporting that Mitt Romney has suspended his campaign for the Presidency. Analysis on the development tomorrow.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Super Tuesday Analysis--Republicans

Lately, I can't even count the number of times I've been right with predictions, but that still doesn't stop me from having no idea where the Democratic race is going. I don't know where to begin.

People are coming to me for answers, and I don't have them. The Republican race is decided, but as I've said for weeks, that's nothing new. The Democratic race, however, is very difficult to analyze because no one can settle on a reliable delegate projection. Obama's people have him up big, Clinton's people have her up big, and the networks have thrown up their hands in defeat, especially have those terrible, non-indicative exit polls they were feeding the public with last night.

So let's start with the easy one. While no delegate numbers are final, we can draw the following conclusions for each GOP candidate.

1. John McCain took the majority of delegates yesterday and is the heavy favorite.
2. The conservative media's attempt at strong-arming Mike Huckabee so he dropped out was a laughable attempt by the base to rally around Romney. Huckabee is as viable as Romney is.
3. Mitt Romney is toast, and he's about to spend a lot more money to find that out.

We can also draw the following conclusion for the conservative media:
1. No one cares what you think.

State victories for Super Tuesday:

McCain - New Jersey, Illinois, Connecticut, Delaware, New York, Oklahoma, Arizona, California, Missouri (9)
Romney - Massachusetts, Maine, Utah, North Dakota, Montana, Minnesota, Alaska, Colorado (8)
Huckabee - West Virginia, Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Tennessee (5)

McCain took 9 of the 22 states, only a plurality, but those wins included much larger states, while Romney took home Maine, North Dakota, Montana, and Alaska.

Delegate estimates, from CNN, including January primaries.

McCain - 615
Romney - 268
Huckabee - 169
Paul - 16

Analysis: McCain has won about 58% of the delegates, which means he's well on his way to the nomination. Huckabee and Romney will fight on, though Huckabee will do it with a lot less money than Romney, but will fair about the same. They split the conservative vote, while McCain wins big among everyone else, and even takes his share of right wingers. As explained time and time again in January, this race is over. If either Romney or Huckabee drop out, it's not to help the other, as the two candidates have public animosity. On the contrary, if either drop out, it will likely be Huckabee who throws his votes to McCain in exchange for the VP nomination. This cannot be overstated: These guys do not like Romney.

To best analyze the Super Tuesday on the Democratic side, I need more numbers. My prediction yesterday was that Clinton would win by a narrow margin - within 100 delegates - keeping Obama's heart beating. If it's more than 100, it's essentially over. If Obama is within a couple dozen, it's anyone's game.

Therefore, the responsible decision is to wait until the delegate counts become official before we draw any conclusions about where this race is headed, so tomorrow will be dedicated to the latest Democratic analysis. See you then.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Super Tuesday Preview and Predictions--Democrats

If tomorrow morning's lead story for the Democratic Primary is that Hillary Clinton wins Super Tuesday, Barack Obama and his supporters will all be thinking the same thing:

"If only we had two more days..."

Obama showed some impressive closing speed over the last week. As January was ready to pass the baton to February, the Illinois junior Senator found himself in the same situation as he was in during December - down double digits nationally, down double digits in California, and projected to lose most Super Tuesday states by significant margins. Save a practically insignificant lead in the pledged delegate count, not too much had changed in the big scheme of things in the Democratic Primary.

On the eve of John Edwards' exit from the race last Wednesday, if one looked at the numbers, Barack Obama had no avenue to victory. With California and New York expected to be landslide victories for Clinton, as well as 15-17 of 22 Super Tuesday states expected to go to her column as well, Obama, unbeknownst to most of the country, was just playing out the string. Sure, Clinton wouldn't have the 2,025 delegates needed for the nomination on Wednesday the 6th, but she'd have it by month's end, and if Obama was lucky, maybe his loss wouldn't be official until March or April.

But then the feel of the race started to change. When Edwards dropped out, he didn't have to endorse Obama for Obama to get a bump in polling. First, most Edwards supporters were excited about the "change" mantra pushed by Edwards and Obama, so they were naturally inclined to gravitate to Obama over yesteryear's candidate in Clinton. Second, many undecided voters were undecided because they did not want to support Hillary Clinton, and once there was only one other candidate left, they were no longer undecided.

Third, and most important, Obama was now officially Clinton's equal. It was no longer Hillary and the Eight Men. It was Hillary and Obama. This manifested itself in last Thursday's Democratic debate in California. On stage, it was just the two of them.

What were the effects of this image?

Well, on Friday, I ran through Super Tuesday polling numbers, which projected that Clinton would win between 150-200 more delegates than Obama today. On Monday, I ran through the same states, but with updated polling numbers. Obama gained on Clinton in nearly every state poll. Incredibly, this weekend, he pulled even in California and nationally.

So, that was the Monday headline in blogs and newspapers. On the day in an election cycle when the number of people interested in the primary hit at an absolute peak (today, this website smashed its record for hits), Barack Obama was the comeback kid, making a run at the dynastical power, an underdog who was hitting all cylinders late in the fourth quarter.

But was it enough?

Did Barack Obama completely overcome the deficit by today, or did he need a few more days to fully diminish the lead that Hillary Clinton has had for three years?

(Prediction alert)

Methinks Clinton hangs on to win more delegates today, but mealsothinks that's not the point. Try as they might, the Clinton camp will spin the tiniest of victories as a national Democratic validation that while Obama can steal a caucus and a black state, Clinton is still the candidate of mainstream Democrats across the country. Anything under 100 delegates, however, and it's a Pyrrhic victory.

The story tomorrow will be that Barack Obama has taken Clinton's best punches and is still standing. Even if his 15 delegate lead turns into a 50 point deficit, what's important is the message that this sends the country. It tells the rest of the country that this candidate is here to stay. It tells the country that the national lead Clinton had been nursing for months is evaporated. It tells the country that this one is going the distance.

I'll be back tomorrow to break down the results. Don't forget to read my Republican preview and predictions from this morning.

Super Tuesday Preview and Predictions--Republicans

Two fractured parties, one perhaps irrevocably. This was the impact of the frontloaded primary schedule. Campaigns have rarely been this fierce, attacks rarely this acute.

With only one week between Christmas and the Iowa Caucus, campaigns had to fit what traditionally was weeks of last minute campaign strategy into six working days. Since then, Super Tuesday perpetually loomed over both primaries. Today was the day the nominations were supposed to be all but official. Therefore, an entire campaign was crunched into the one month between Iowa and February 5th. This, combined with the underlying factor of an open White House seat, produced an unprecedented blitzkrieg of ads, stump speeches, and debates. There was a seemingly limitless opportunity to not only promote ones agenda, but also to take an ax to the platform planks of a rival candidate.

There has been a palpable effect of the frontloaded schedule, though it is felt differently in each primary.


If you despise the Republican Party, which many do, there is an outside shot of a dream scenario lining up, though I think Republicans are too talented of politicians to let it happen.

Weeks ago, on the night of the South Carolina Primary, Presidential Politics for America explained that John McCain was a lock for the Republican nomination. His nomination grows more likely with each passing day and with each new poll.

He is not, however, being nominated without a fight from the Republican base. Last Wednesday, I wrote about the impending unification of the conservative media against John McCain. Here is an excerpt:

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.

Today, CNN finally agreed, citing Limbaugh, Laura Ingraham, Hugh Hewitt and Lars Larson as conservative pundits who have come out against McCain's nomination, hoping to rally the Republican base around Mitt Romney in an effort to stave off McCain, or at least keep Romney alive through Super Tuesday, in order to regroup after Mike Huckabee leaves the race later this week. Ann Coulter piled on this weekend, saying she would rather vote for Hillary Clinton (!) than John McCain, in a blatant effort to steer votes away from McCain in the primary before it's too late.

The reason for this concentrated campaign against McCain is that there was only one week before the Florida Primary and the day where 24 states vote in the Republican Primary. There was no time for thinking about what to do, or even time to make the most prudent decision that would not hurt the Republican Party in the general election. The conservative media and the Republican base just went from zero to sixty on Wednesday morning and they haven't let up since. It was a myopic decision, because (prediction alert) John McCain will win big on Super Tuesday and he will easily win the nomination.

Regardless, it has come to blows in the Republican Party, with potential for a deep divide if rifts are not crossed after McCain's nomination. If there were a struggle for the Republican Party, pitting the social moderates and war hawks against the social conservatives, it would be the greatest civil war a United States political party has seen since the 1824 general election, when four Democratic-Republicans all ran against each other.

If the animosity lingers after the primary, it is feasible, if not likely, that an independent social conservative would run, further dividing the party. This would result not only in severe and possibly irreversible acrimony in the Republican Party, but also a Democratic White House, with a Clinton once again calling the shots in the West Wing, which one has to assume is a bigger nightmare to a Republican than a McCain White House.

Perhaps the reason the Republicans cannot see the forest from the trees is because there is still hope among the party that Hillary Clinton will not be the nominee; that they would rather have Romney lose to Barack Obama than McCain beat Hillary Clinton.

This is because this is the first time since the eve of the New Hampshire Primary that there just might be understandable hope for Republicans (and Obama supporters) that Clinton is not inevitable.

For the Democratic preview and prediction, however, you'll just have to check back in this afternoon.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Super Tuesday Odds: State-By-State (Redux)

Barack Obama has caught Hillary Clinton in California and maybe the rest of the country. In California, Suffolk, Rasmussen, and Zogby all have Obama on top. CNN and Cook Political Report each put a poll out today with Obama up nationally.

Obama's momentum in the month of January kept him in the race. His momentum in February could win it. Keeping this in mind, on Friday I took a look at polling averages in all of the 22 states that will be voting in tomorrow's Super Tuesday, though many of the small states did not have reliable data then or now.

The aim was to juxtapose those Friday polls with weekend polls that have been revealed today. It was my goal to see how Thursday's debate and John Edwards' exit, among many other factors, would affect the numbers.

Friday's conclusion, which I stressed was not the final conclusion of this process, was that Clinton would open up as much as a 200 delegate lead in the Democratic Primary by February 6th, and that's even before counting the majority of superdelegates that she's expected carry.

Today's conclusion? Quite different.

Here's a refresher on what you're looking at in this chart, when I take a look at the 22 states (and 2 other delegations) that are voting in Democratic Primaries on Super Tuesday:

-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.
-ADDED TODAY: BLUE represents Obama picking up projected delegates, RED represents Clinton picking up projected delegates. Black represents no change.

Back to it... (Most statistics found from Real Clear Politics.)

Alab.- 52 Pledged Del; 4 polls since 1/31/08; HC47%-BO44% ; HC27-BO25
Alaska - 13 Delegates; no major polls
American Samoa - 3 Delegates; no major polls
Arizona - 56 Delegates; 3 polls since 1/24; HC42%-BO36%; HC30-BO26
Arkansas - 35 Delegates; no major polls
California - 370 Del; 6 polls since 2/1; HC42%-BO42%; HC185-BO185
Colorado - 55 Delegates;
1 recent poll 1/23; BO34%-HC32%; BO28-HC27
Connecticut - 48 Delegates; 3 polls since 1/17; HC42%-BO38%; HC25-BO23
Delaware - 15 Delegates; no recent polls
Democrats Abroad - 7 Delegates; no major polls
Georgia - 87 Delegates; 5 polls since 2/1; BO49%-HC34%; BO51-HC36
Idaho - 18 Delegates; no major polls
Illinois - 153 Delegates; 3 polls since 1/24; BO55%-HC23%; BO108-HC45
Kansas - 32 Delegates; no recent polls
Mass. - 93 Del; 3 major polls since 1/28; HC48%-BO39%; HC51-BO42
Minnesota - 72 Delegates;
1 recent poll 1/27; HC40%-BO33%; HC 39-BO33
Missouri - 72 Delegates; 3 polls since 01/31; HC46%-BO44%; HC 37-BO35
New Jersey - 107 Del; 7 polls since 01/31; HC47%-BO40%; HC58-BO49
New Mexico - 26 Delegates; no major polls
New York - 232 Del; 4 polls since 01/31; HC54%-BO 36%; HC139-BO93
North Dakota - 13 Delegates; no major polls
Oklahoma - 38 Delegates; 2 polls since 1/27; HC43%-BO18%; HC27-BO11
Tennessee - 68 Delegates; 3 polls since 1/29; HC47%-BO34%; HC39-BO29
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.

On Friday, the projected delegate split for that 1,503, among polling through Friday morning, was:
Clinton - 840
Obama - 663
(Spread - Clinton up 173)

Today, the projections looked like this:
Clinton - 765
Obama - 738
(Spread - Clinton up 27)

Clearly, Obama has stolen nearly all the momentum of the Democratic Primary. Now, add to these projections the delegates thus far, and the standings would look like this:
Clinton - 813
Obama - 801
Unprojected from Super Tuesday - 185
Edwards - 26
Remaining - 1,428 Pledged Delegates, 796 Superdelegates

Are you kidding me? 813-801? Understand that these projections have an enormous margin for error, but it was a completely objective breakdown, taking the averages of multiple polls.

What cannot be denied is that every single state that showed movement over the weekend went in favor of Obama. Clinton is barely hanging on. If she comes out on top tomorrow, one can very well postulate that if this took place later in the week, say on Thursday or Saturday, Obama would be Super Tuesday's big winner.

But it's not on Thursday, nor is it on Saturday. Super Tuesday is tomorrow.

I hope to see you back here tomorrow morning, for the latest analysis on both parties, heading into the closest event this country has ever had to a national primary.

Super Tuesday State Polls

The state-by-state Super Tuesday polling examination will be concluded this afternoon, after more polling data from the weekend is in. Check back later.

Part 1 was here.

Note: You did not and will not get any Republican Super Tuesday polls because tomorrow's McCain coronation is not as excited as the Clinton-Obama showdown.
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