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Saturday, March 08, 2008

Wyoming Caucus Results and Ramifications

CNN has projected that Barack Obama is the winner in today's Wyoming Caucus with 61% of the vote. This projects to a delegate spread of between 2 and 4, which keeps right on pace with my predictions from earlier today that stated Obama would get back on track.

Wyoming and the Caucus Pattern

Wyoming is the least populous state in the country. In the Democratic Primary, Wyoming has been allocated less delegates (12) than any other state. (Alaska and North Dakota are the next smallest with 13 each.) In every election, primary or general, Wyoming has been all but dismissed as an afterthought, lucky enough to have a candidate fly over it on the way to and from the west coast. In the past, the state has been an insignificant mini-caucus.

Yet today, Wyoming is a giant.

The twelve delegates are not worth as much in math as they are in momentum. Hillary Clinton scored a win last Tuesday, when she won primaries in Texas, Ohio, and Rhode Island, ending Barack Obama's 11 state streak. While in the end she only netted herself 9 delegates, what was more important was that Obama's four weeks of momentum was halted, and her indefinite momentum had begun.

There are only two contests between the aforementioned March 4th primaries and the much talked about Pennsylvania Primary on April 22nd. Today's Wyoming Caucus is one of them, while Tuesday's Mississippi Primary, with its 33 delegates, is the other. The 45 delegates from these two states will be the last pledged delegates awarded before Pennsylvania's 158. It explains why the candidates would take time to visit even sparsely populated Wyoming.

Frustratingly for Clinton and her supporters, both of these states will go to Obama. (There are no Wyoming polls or polling data or projected delegates to back this up, but it will happen.) The dissection of Mississippi will be Tuesday. Wyoming will be in Obama's corner by the end of the night for two reasons.

1. Obama wins caucuses.
2. Geography.

The caucus factor is well known by now. Including the Texas Caucus this past week, Barack Obama has a 12-1 record in states that have chosen to go with caucuses instead of traditional primaries. It began famously with the Iowa Caucus last on January 3. Clinton took the next caucus in Nevada, but since then Obama has rattled off Alaska, Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Minnesota, North Dakota, Nebraska, Washington, Maine, Hawaii, and Texas (though Clinton took the Texas primary) without dropping any.

Equally important is the margin by which he is winning these caucuses, especially Wyoming's geographical neighbors. (Click here for a map of the U.S. for reference.) Obama won the Colorado Caucus 67% to 32%. In Idaho, he won by an astounding 79% to 17%. He easily took Washington State 68% to 31%. In Kansas, he won by nearly a 3 to 1 ratio with 74% to her 26%. He took the Nebraska Caucus 68% to 32%. He won caucuses further from Wyoming by margins just as wide, including Maine, Hawaii, and Alaska.

And those are just the caucuses. He took the bordering Utah Primary with 57% of the vote to her 39%. In fact, the only two states that border Wyoming that he has not won are two states that have not voted yet. (Montana and South Dakota are the last two states to vote in the primary cycle, doing so on June 3rd. Of note, Puerto Rico has recently moved up from June 7th to June 1st.)

So yes, he will win Wyoming, and once again, the press will be covering Obama as a winner, and he will use that heading into his win on Tuesday in Mississippi. Ultimately, with these two wins in small states, he will undo most of the netted delegates that Clinton won on March 4th. All of the build up and effort by the Clinton campaign to do well last Tuesday resulted in winning by 9 delegates (out of nearly 400) and stealing momentum. Those wins are soon negated by Wyoming (3 delegate spread for Obama?) and Mississippi (5?), with the only difference now being that they are deeper into the primary season.

Once again, Hillary Clinton will be down by over 140 pledged delegates and without momentum, only there are less delegates remaining to make up the difference.

All thanks to Wyoming.

That has to frustrate her.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Fixing Florida and Michigan

(Editor's note: A couple of emails and comments from readers convey the feeling of anticipation towards the revelation of my problems with some recent tactics from the Obama campaign, so I need more time to make it a legitimate post. I'll post that on Monday. This allows me to address some interesting developments from yesterday regarding the Democratic Primary.)

So Florida and Michigan want their votes counted. What a shock. They are upset that their influence has been stripped, but they seem confused as to whom they should focus their ire. It is not Howard Dean and the Democratic National Committee's fault. Florida and Michigan have only one place to point their finger, and that is at their own state parties.

Both parties of both states were forbidden to push their primary in front of February 5th. If they proceeded, sanctions would be imposed. The motivations behind the national committees imposing such strict laws were clear and simple. If any state was allowed to push up their primary in order to gain more influence in the primary process, then eventually all states would leapfrog each other until the primary season began months earlier than usual. Order and civility were necessary and penalizing rule-breakers was the only way to maintain them.

So, Florida and Michigan were warned, but their state parties insisted on pushing up their primaries to January. The Republican National Committee penalized the two states half of their delegates to the Republican Convention. The DNC stripped all of the Florida and Michigan delegates from the Democratic Convention.

The Republican candidates continued to campaign in the states, as even half of Michigan and Florida's delegates were still greater than smaller states at full value. The Democratic candidates, however, were instructed not to campaign in the penalized states. Some even went as far as to take their names off the ballot in Michigan (though Hillary Clinton did not do so). Mike Gravel was the only candidate to campaign in Florida, while Dennis Kucinich was the only one to campaign on Michigan.

Thus Michigan and Florida were ignored by Democrats, a long-term implication addressed in yesterday's post. As promised, their delegates were stripped. And now the governors of the two states, Republican Charlie Crist of Florida and Democrat Jennifer Granholm of Michigan, are predictably demanding that their delegates be seated. It is important to note that they did not fight the move into January. In fact, they championed the idea. The two governors are partly responsible for their states' predicaments.

Yet, once the promised consequences were delivered, they complained about the consequences. Simply, they called a bluff and lost and then complained about it.

But did they lose? Now, it seems, it behooves the Democratic National Committee to somehow count votes from the two states, so as to not alienate the Michigan and Florida voters. Since counting the unsanctioned January primaries is out of the question, despite Hillary Clinton's pleas, there is a chance that the states will revote either in primary or caucus form. If they do this, they would have more influence on the election than they possibly could have dreamed of when they moved up. Ironically, in this election, it is now the later primaries that are holding the most influence of all, and Florida and Michigan are going to get the best of both worlds.

All for breaking the rules.

So how is this situation fixed, when fixing it must balance fairness with what is best for the Demcoratic Party? What are some possible avenues of rectification? Here are six scenarios, ranging from no chance to probable:

No chance - Counting the elections from January. The party cannot - cannot - award delegates to Clinton in Michigan when the other candidates withdrew their names from the ballot after the DNC's decision. And since Florida will presumably have the same fate as Michigan, they cannot count Florida's January vote either. To award either or both states their delegates based on the unsanctioned January votes would also set a horrible precedent for future primary seasons, when other states will want to move up without fearing punishment (I'm a high school teacher, I know these things).

Doubtful - Ignoring the two states all together. As explained yesterday and earlier in this post, to completely ignore such important states would severely injure the party's chances in the general election, to say nothing of the handful of close congressional races in the two states. Politically speaking, Michigan and Florida must have their say, even if they do not deserve it.

Unlikely - A shotgun caucus. Obama's nearly undefeated record in caucuses (12-1) would make it unlikely that the Clinton campaign and American people would allow a few thousand caucus voters to decide the nominee.

Questionable - Proportional allocation based on national delegates. Under this scenario, if Obama wins 54% of the national pledged delegates, he would get 54% of the pledged delegates from Florida and Michigan. If Hillary Clinton wins 51% of national delegates, she would be awarded 51% of the pledged delegates from the two states. This would be to ensure neither candidate is cutting into the overall percentage point lead of their rival, which would make superdelegates more powerful. Interestingly, in this scenario, John Edwards might get one delegate from each state, as he has won about 1% of the delegates.

Plausible - Split the Michigan and Florida delegates evenly. In the above scenario and in this one, the goal is to make sure that Florida and Michigan cannot swing the decision made by the 48 states and other territories that followed the rules. With these scenarios, the two states get to seat their delegates, and the ill-effects from this fiasco are nearly minimized. Nearly. There is only one true way to truly please Floridians and Michiganites...

Probable - A re-do primary. A caucus is unlikely because the result of the votes of millions of Democrats should not come down to tens of thousands who can show up during an impromptu two hour block. A caucus would alienate the elderly (Florida) and those who are forced to work a second job due to an ailing economy (Michigan). (Incidentally, both are core Clinton constituencies, which partly explains Obama's stellar caucus record.) Moreover, thanks to looming Social Security concerns, as well as Michigan getting killed by free trade, those are two voting blocs that really need a say in their Democratic candidate. Thus, if there's a re-vote, an entire day must be availed.

Now, in order to pull off a primary, massive funding will be needed, but neither the DNC nor the state committees want to pay it. In this disagreement, the DNC is completely justified. They were not the ones to break the rules, and they need to focus their funds on the general election. If the states want to fix their own mistake, they will have to pay for it.

Ultimately, they will probably hold a re-vote in each state, perhaps splitting the costs down the middle. Until then, you will not see Clinton or Obama come out against a re-vote, because when it comes time for that re-vote, the voters may remember such opposition. If anything, you will see both Clinton and Obama push for a re-vote in order to gain an upper hand should it ever happen. Therefore, with the states and candidates pushing for a re-vote, one will probably happen.

I'll be back tomorrow to take a quick look at Wyoming and Mississippi. See you then.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

The Impending Demise of the Democrats

Only the Democrats.

The three biggest swing states in the November election will be Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. The Democrats have alienated Florida voters by stripping their delegates. The Democrats have shown the worst sides of themselves during their national security civil war in Ohio. And the Democrats' two remaining contenders are about to empty their war chests attacking each other for the next seven weeks in Pennsylvania.

In a general election where the majority of the country is upset with the incumbent Republican Party on the election's two biggest issues (Iraq and economy), to say nothing of the majority of the country thinking the country has gone in the wrong direction under a Republican president, only the Democrats would find a way to lose what should have been the biggest electoral lock since 1996.

Here are the Democratic difficulties, outlined in the form of bullets, which you can metaphorically find in one of the feet of the Democratic Party, compliments of themselves.

--The Florida situation is only the fault of the Florida Democratic Committee, yet it is the national committee that has been wounded. When Florida's state Democrats openly discussed pushing up their primary in front of February 5, the Democratic National Committee instructed them to stay where they were, in an effort to keep order in the primary season. Florida was warned that such a move would result in their loss of delegates at the convention. Florida proceeded. Florida lost their delegates. It was supposed to be the end of it.

Now, however, with neither candidate approaching the 2,025 necessary for the majority, Florida, and of course, Michigan, are receiving more attention than intended. Floridians are continually reminded that the Democrats stripped them of their influence and their delegates, while the merciful Republicans only penalized them half. When it comes time to pit the two parties against each other, Florida will have their popular Republican Governor Charlie Crist going from Miami to the panhandle, reminding them of the disenfranchising Democratic Party. A late attempt by Crist and Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm to re-seat their delegates is underway, but that by no means will rectify the ramifications on the general election.

--In Ohio, Hillary Clinton is recklessly swinging her arms at her opponent (though this by no means is an implication that Obama has contrarily run an immaculate campaign of late). This pugilistic approach has rejuvenated her campaign, but horrendously tarnished the Democratic Primary to the point where the party's chances in the general election have taken a direct hit from one of her attacks.

Her ongoing tactic of reducing Obama to an inexperienced schoolboy reached new depths in the days leading up to Ohio. The now infamous "3 AM ad" implied that Clinton would be ready to answer an important national security phone call while Obama might hide under his bed sheets. This seemed to slow Obama's momentum across the country, as he stopped cutting into Clinton's Ohio lead, his temporary Texas lead was lost, and his average national lead in polls slipped from 5 to 1.

If one were to examine the November implications, the Democrats will be severely hurt by these attacks, regardless of who garners the nomination. If Obama holds onto his lead and is the Democratic nominee, attacks from John McCain and the GOP will carry a lot more weight with Clinton's words behind them. While there is no doubt that McCain would continually bring up the difference in their experience regardless of Clinton's strategy, there is something a little more legitimate about such attacks when a member of Obama's party was saying the same thing seven months earlier. Therefore, Ohio, a swing state, was continually hearing this message from a Democrat and then a Republican. Obama's general election chances take a hit.

Now, however, suppose Clinton's tactic eventually gives her the nomination. If Clinton is the Democratic nominee, and it becomes a campaign about the 3 am phone call and who is more prepared to lead on Day One, then how can she possibly expect to beat John McCain, a veteran in the military, a foreign policy expert, and someone who is in his fourth term with the United States Senate? Once again, the GOP can go back to the Democratic Party and use the Clinton campaign's message to sink the nominee. If this is a national security election or an experience election, the Republicans will win. She is making it one.

--Finally, in Pennsylvania, we will see Clinton's Ohio tactics but for a longer stretch. The Democratic contest will be focused on Pennsylvania and its April 22nd primary for nearly seven weeks. The exact message Clinton used to defeat Obama in Ohio will be used in Pennsylvania. The same implications exist. With every attack ad these two candidates create, they are hurting themselves in a crucial swing state.

For fairness' sake, this diatribe against Clinton will tomorrow be matched by a diatribe against Obama. By no means has he run the perfect campaign of late. For specifics, check back tomorrow.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

After Texas Caucus, Clinton Only Nets 8

MSNBC reports that after factoring in today's Texas Caucus, Hillary Clinton only gained 8 delegates on Barack Obama last night. The momentum shift, however, is unquantifiable, as is the irreparable harm to the Democratic chances in November. More on that tomorrow morning.

Coming Soon: A Brokered Convention?

It was Scenario 2. Here's what I wrote yesterday:

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. Horserace coverage is nothing new. They are bias towards Obama not because he's Obama. They were bias towards Obama because he was winning. It was because any coverage of a winner always looks good.)

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. Scenario 2 is the only potential catalyst to a brokered convention.
And so it was, and so it will be. Ladies and gentlemen of the Democratic Party, you are headed towards a brokered convention, and the Republicans are loving it.

As it stands, there is no official number for the Democratic Primary delegates, as votes are still coming in from last night's states and delegates are still being allocated. From a general standpoint, however, Obama's 150 pledged delegate lead was cut to about 120. Here are estimates, based on current returns from last night's states (Texas: 65-61 Clinton, Ohio 75-64 Clinton, Rhode Island 13-8 Clinton, Vermont 9-6 Obama) (Note: Texas has 67 more at large still to allocate later in the primary cycle.):

Obama - 1330 pledged delegates + 195 supers = 1535 (still needed: 490)
Clinton - 1207 pledged delegates + 244 supers = 1451 (still needed: 574)
Difference: Obama +84

There are still 654 pledged delegates and 355 superdelegates left to allocate. The target for the nomination is famously 2,025. To obtain that mark, Obama, who is leading with 1,535, would need 75% of remaining pledged delegates. Clinton would need 88%. Neither has ever won any state with that type of margin, so it certainly cannot be expected that either could possible win at near that rate through Puerto Rico, the final primary, on June 7th. There will not be a majority without superdelegates deciding it. If some superdelegates hold out until the convention, waiting for promises from the desperate candidates, then the Democrats will not have a nominee until then.

It is unlikely that there would technically be a brokered convention. It is highly improbable that the convention will need more than one ballot to decide between two candidates. Still, the potential for this primary to see a brokered convention has not been this great since John Edwards dropped out of the race. His 26 delegates barely put a dent in the 4,048 delegate total, which means the candidates would have to be within 13 of each other when this is all over to not go over the 2,025 benchmark.

The potential for a brokered convention still lies with the superdelegates and their ability to abstain from voting as long as they wish.

Ultimately, this situation is a mess for the Democrats in a myriad of ways, all of which I'll discuss tomorrow. See you then.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

John McCain Officially Wins Nomination

Called by this blog in 2007 and several times over in January 2008, John McCain is now officially the presumptive nominee of the Republican Party. Mike Huckabee is expected to concede in the next 12 hours. President Bush is expected to endorse McCain tomorrow.

How quickly the conservative wing will rally around McCain remains to be seen, but expect this to be the Republican Party line for the next seven months: It doesn't matter that he disagrees on some issues with the right, as long as he keeps us safe.

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.


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.


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.


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.

Latest Texas and Ohio Polls and Analyses

Where are the polls breaking and who has the momentum for today's enormously important primaries? Let's get right to the latest numbers. Nearly all polls are found with the help of the Real Clear Politics website.

Texas Polls (228 delegates)

Reuters/CSpan/Houston Chronicle (3/1-3/3)
Obama - 47
Clinton - 44
Obama +3

Reuters/CSpan/Zogby (3/1 - 3/3)
Clinton - 47
Obama - 44
Clinton +3.0

Rasmussen (3/2 - 3/2)
Obama - 48
Clinton - 47
Obama +1.0

InsiderAdvantage (3/2 - 3/2)
Clinton - 49
Obama - 44
Clinton +5.0

PPP (D) (3/1 - 3/2)
Clinton - 50
Obama - 44
Clinton +6.0

SurveyUSA (3/1 - 3/2)
Obama - 49
Clinton - 48
Obama +1.0

WFAA/Belo Tracking (2/29 - 3/2)
Clinton - 46
Obama - 45
Clinton +1.0

M-D/Star-Telegram (2/27 - 2/29)
Obama - 46
Clinton - 45
Obama +1.0

Average of 8 polls (Each takes 4)
Clinton - 47
Obama - 46
Clinton +1

Presidential Politics for America analysis: Texas has now twice seen swings of momentum. For about two years, Hillary Clinton led in polls for the Democratic Primary in Texas. In 2007, she saw double-digit leads in every Texas poll taken, running comfortably ahead of Barack Obama and John Edwards. In early 2008, her lead began to slim. On or around February 20th - two weeks ago - Obama started winning some polls in the Lone Star State. By the last few days of February, he was leading most Texas polls, and suddenly seemed the favorite to win it.

However, as February turned to March, Hillary Clinton began to reclaim momentum just in time for QuasiSuperTuesday. If momentum holds through 8:00 pm CST, she should win Texas by a couple points.

Ohio Polls (161 delegates)

Zogby International (3/1-303)
Obama - 47
Clinton - 45
Obama +2

Reuters/CSpan/Zogby (3/1 - 3/3)
Clinton - 44
Obama - 44

Rasmussen (3/2 - 3/2)
Clinton - 50
Obama - 44
Clinton +6.0

Suffolk (3/1 - 3/2)
Clinton - 52
Obama - 40
Clinton +12.0

PPP (D) (3/1 - 3/2)
Clinton - 51
Obama - 42
Clinton +9.0

SurveyUSA (3/1 - 3/2)
Clinton - 54
Obama - 44
Clinton +10.0

Ohio Poll/Univ of Cin. (2/28 - 3/2)
Clinton - 51
Obama - 42
Clinton +9.0

Quinnipiac (2/27 - 03/2)
Clinton - 49
Obama - 45
Clinton +4.0

Average of 8 (Clinton takes six, Obama one, tie in one)
Clinton - 49
Obama - 44
Clinton +5

PPFA analysis: A victory is expected for Clinton in Ohio, but the question is by how much. She can spin two narrow victories in Texas and Ohio as a tangible sign of the momentum shift, but in delegate math, two 5-point victories in Texas and Ohio closes the gap maybe 20 delegates, when she currently has a deficit of well over 100. Therefore, while she would take two small wins right now if offered to her, she would love to see a 57-42 win in Ohio to really make a statement.

Rhode Island (32 delegates)

Three major Rhode Island polls have been taken in the last ten days.
On February 23rd, Rasmussen had Clinton up 16.
On February 27th, Fleming had Clinton up 9.
On March 2nd, Brown University had Clinton up 5.

PPFA Analysis: That's a trend. Look for an even split of the delegates.

Vermont (15)

PPFA Analysis: Obama is up by double-digits in every Vermont poll, some (Rasmussen) by as much as 24. Look for an Obama romp that could potentially negate a tight Clinton victory in the Texas behemoth.

PPFA Overall Analysis and Predictions: Coming this afternoon.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Two Days from a Hillary Clinton Concession?

Mulling over the five possible scenarios with which we go to sleep on Tuesday night...

Scenario 1: Hillary Clinton wins both Ohio and Texas by large margins.

Scenario 2: Clinton wins both by small margins

Scenario 3: Clinton wins one state, Barack Obama the other, likely by small margins

Scenario 4: Obama wins both by small margins

Scenario 5: Obama wins both by large margins

In Scenario 1, Hillary Clinton is still very much in the ballgame. While she is down about 150 in pledged delegates, to win both Ohio and Texas by 10-15 points would get her back to double digits, but more importantly, shift the momentum severely in her favor. It would then be a seven week campaign in Clinton's neighborly Pennsylvania, which she probably wins with the Ohio-Texas momentum. If she wins the troika of states, she argues to the superdelegates that she wins big states and has the momentum as the primaries wind down, and they have their excuse to join her.

In Scenario 2, Hillary Clinton is still in the ballgame, though she would still be down by over 100 delegates. The path to victory is similar to Scenario 1, just less likely.

In Scenario 3, Hillary Clinton should concede but does not. There is no avenue for victory, barring a Pennsylvania blowout, and Puerto Rico adopting a winner-take-all vote on the final primary in June, then voting for Clinton. Neither would happen, because Obama never let Clinton get momentum on March 4th.

In Scenario 4, Clinton should concede and might wait a few days to gather the troops first.

In Scenario 5, Clinton concedes Tuesday night or Wednesday.

With the polls steadily slipping towards Obama, Scenario 1 seems impossible. The most likely case is Scenario 3, which drags out the election far too long. Here is the likelihood and longterm result of each scenario.

Scenario 1: Likelihood: 5%; Longterm result - Clinton nomination
Scenario 2: Likelihood: 20%; Longterm result - Unpredictable
Scenario 3: Likelihood: 40%; Longterm result - Obama nomination
Scenario 4: Likelihood: 30%; Longterm result - Obama nomination
Scenario 5: Likelihood: 5%; Longterm result - Obama nomination

As if it had to be said, Obama is clearly in the driver's seat.

Tomorrow, the latest polling data for Mini-Super-Tuesday.
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