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Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Analyzing Indiana and North Carolina Effects

A great night for Barack Obama and a disappointing night for Hillary Clinton, to say the least. Beyond delegate math, what are the consequences?

Moving forward, there is an enormous risk for Hillary Clinton. There is no longer a realistic avenue towards victory lane, a conclusion that will be addressed shortly. Therefore, as it seems she is staying in the race despite a nearly disastrous Tuesday night, she runs a major risk of ruining her legacy. It boils down to this:

If Hillary Clinton is against the steepest of odds, with no realistic path to victory, then does her decision to push forward and extend the Democratic Primary mean she's in it just to hurt Barack Obama?

Whether she is or isn't, one cannot deny that many people will think that she is, and even worse, succeeding. Moreover, if her and her husband continue to go hard after Obama on issues like experience and elitism, she could destroy not only the party's chances in the general election, but destroy nearly her entire legacy and some of President Clinton's legacy as well, which to this point has been wildly popular in Democratic circles.

Does this not seem like too high of a cost, when any potential gains are incredibly unrealistic? As explained by PPFA beginning two weeks ago, a big North Carolina win for Obama would eliminate Clinton's Pennsylvania triumph in one fell swoop, especially if Obama kept Indiana close. That's exactly what happened. Despite all the momentum and general election polls, Clinton is in the same spot she was in on March 5th, the only tangible difference being that there are a lot less delegates left to win. The math is nearly impossible for her to come back and her argument of leading the popular vote if one counts Michigan and Florida took a major hit last night. You would be hard-pressed to find anyone that gives her better than a 1 in 10 shot to win the nomination. If you do find that person, have them try to explain how she does it. It will be good for a laugh. They're like Ron Paul supporters. They live in another reality.

Yet she pushes forward, from West Virginia to Kentucky to Oregon, seemingly oblivious as to the collateral damage on the party or her reputation. It's like she's riding a team of oxen on the Oregon Trail and forces them to forge a five-foot river. Except with this, she'll lose a lot more than a frying pan, some shot, and forty pounds of bacon. She could cost her party the White House, and she could lose the opportunity to ever run for President again.

Onward, ho!

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Barack Obama: "The Imperfect Messenger"

Barack Obama, somehow, finds a new message and a new theme with each victory speech. Incredible. Not a lot of substance to the North Carolina victory speech... but man, unparalleled style in politics.

Obama wins North Carolina big. Clinton wins Indiana small. It was Scenario Bb.

A breakdown of the fallout over the next couple of days. Now if you'll excuse me, the Celtics are on.

North Carolina and Indiana Polls and Predictions

Yesterday, I wrote about the potential scenarios following today's two big primaries. It was ultimately concluded that while the winner for each primary is already determined, it's the margins of victories that are difficult to project and extremely significant.

So let's take a look at some recent polls. Most polls are found with the help of Real Clear Politics.

North Carolina:
SurveyUSA 5/2 - 5/4
Barack Obama: 50
Hillary Clinton: 45
Obama +5

Insider Advantage 5/4 - 5/4
BO: 48
HC: 45
Obama +3

Zogby Tracking 5/3 - 5/4
BO: 48
HC: 40
Obama +8

PPP (D) 5/3 - 5/4
BO: 53
HC: 43
Obama +1o

Rasmussen 5/1 - 5/1
BO: 49
HC: 40
Obama +9

Research 2000 4/29 - 4/3
BO: 51
HC: 44
Obama +7

Mason-Dixon 4/28 - 4/29
BO: 49
HC: 42
Obama +7

North Carolina Average 4/28-5/4
BO: 50
HC: 43
Obama +7
----------------------------------------
Indiana:
InsiderAdvantage 5/4 - 5/4
HC: 48
BO: 44
Clinton +4

SurveyUSA 5/2 - 5/4
HC: 54
BO: 42
Clinton +12

Suffolk 5/3 - 5/4
HC: 49
BO: 43
Clinton +6

PPP (D) 5/3 - 5/4
HC: 51
BO: 46
Clinton +5

Zogby Tracking 5/3 - 5/4
BO: 44
HC: 42
Obama +2.0

Indiana Average 5/3-5/4
HC: 49
BO: 44
Clinton +5

PPFA Analysis: Despite the Clinton campaign making inroads in North Carolina, the polls say that we're heading towards a 7-10 point victory for Obama there and a 3-6 point victory for Clinton in Indiana. If this is what happens, it's probably all she wrote for Hillary Clinton. As explained yesterday, North Carolina has more pledged delegates than Indiana. If he wins the state with more pledged delegates (North Carolina) by more than Clinton wins the state with less pledged delegates (Indiana), he could come away with nearly as many delegates as he lost in the Pennsylvania Primary (12). Such a result would nearly negate her victory there after six weeks of heavy campaigning.

Ultimately, after eight weeks of campaigning and three big primaries which had 345 pledged delegates, Clinton will cut her deficit of 150-160 by about six. What's worse is that without a very strong showing tomorrow, it will be very difficult to make a case to superdelegates that she has all the momentum.

Now, if we're not headed towards where the polls indicate, it means we have a surprise in store for us tonight. If Obama takes both primaries, expect a Clinton suspension or concession by the end of the week. If Clinton takes both primaries, I'd consider her the favorite for the nomination, as superdelegates will stampede towards her and she'll sweep the rest of the primaries.

Stay tuned.

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.
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