Public Nuisance

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The first Republican president once said, "While the people retain their virtue and their vigilance, no administration by any extreme of wickedness or folly can seriously injure the government in the short space of four years." If Mr. Lincoln could see what's happened in these last three-and-a-half years, he might hedge a little on that statement.
-Ronald Reagan

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Wednesday, February 20, 2008
Only a few days ago, I thought that Senator Clinton, clearly now an underdog, still had a realistic shot at winning. But the latest results and all the trends of the race seem to imply it is virtually over.

Polls taken about a week ahead of the Wisconsin Primary showed a real possibility of a Clinton upset, with only a 4% Obama lead and one outlier from ARG (which is having a bad year) showing Clinton up by 10. In late polls, Obama showed a healthy 10% margin. In the actual voting, Obama won by a hefty 17.4%. This is consistent with the results from the Potomac Primary, where late polls gave Obama a mean margin of 18 in Virginia (actual margin +28) and 20 in Maryland (actual margin +24). So much for the Bradley Effect!

The pattern seems to be that Obama rises in the polls going into a primary where he is actively campaigning, then outperforms his polls on election day. If this pattern holds on March 4, we're looking at Obama winning in Texas and Ohio being neck and neck. That result would end any serious competition. With a deficit now of about 150 elected delegates, Clinton really needs to blow Obama away on March 4 - and notice that is something she hasn't done once in this season in a state both worked hard for. Her big trophy victories were New Hampshire, probably more a backlash against media sexism than an endorsement of Hillary, where her margin, with other candidates clouding the issue, was 2%, and Nevada, where the margin was close enough that Obama actually won 1 more delegate. Obama did campaign in California, where Clinton scored very well, but he made, it now seems rightly, a strategic decision to emphasize picking up multiple victories that day and put less focus on the Golden State.

Exit polls have showed that Obama is making inroads into Hillary's key constituencies of women, union members, and low income white voters. The results in Wisconsin, a blue collar state with modest blocs of white collar and black voters, a state where Clinton should have done well, confirm that. Unless those groups rally to Clinton in numbers that now seem unlikely, and give her two landslide wins in conditions where she has yet to claim one, Clinton on March 5 will have to start worrying about a graceful exit from her campaign, rather than Iraq.
Tuesday, February 05, 2008
Polls for today's California primary are bizarre, as noted by a blogger at Kos: Zogby shows a 13 point edge for Obama, while SurveyUSA shows Hillary by 10. That's a gap I can't recall ever having seen in polls this close to a major election. But then, no final poll that I saw showed Hillary winning NH or correctly called the huge size of Obama's margin in SC. It does seem that Obama is riding a wave, with recent jumps in most national polls, but it may crest too late for him. If Hillary has a big night, she will, with some right, be able to say she it the party's national choice. If Obama can split the outcome, he lives to fight on in later primaries, where I think he'll likely win. It's still very much up for grabs.

Still, one thing should be noted: for most voters in California, this will be the first opportunity they've had in their lives in either party to vote in a Presidential primary that actually mattered. The Dems haven't held one here since 1972, the Dark Side since 1968.