Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The Next Day

Well, the exit polls didn't hold up after all.

Clinton ended up winning not with a 4% margin, but a 9% margin. She managed to hold most of the Philadelphia suburbs- I'd expected her to win Burks County handily, but other results were a little surprising.

More to the point, she won 75-25 in most of the rural counties around the state- numbers almost identical to her results in predominantly white areas of Mississippi, Alabama, and Tennessee. Anyone who wants to complain about James Carville's much-repeated quote about Pennsylvania being Pittsburgh in the west, Philadelphia in the east, and Alabama in the middle can just shut up right now, thank you.

No matter how much Obama likes having his "50-state contest" talking point, these results should be more than enough for him to write West Virginia off completely, and Kentucky nearly so. Clinton is going to win those by landslide margins- Kentucky by 60-40, West Virginia by almost 70-30.

Another point that bears noticing: beyond getting out the basic message, money does not matter in elections. Obama spent nearly three times as much as Clinton in Pennsylvania. Some people claim that this forced the Clintons to put more money than they wanted in there, but I doubt it; they had to win Pennsylvania, and really had to win by much more than the 9% they got. Obama's first strategy- to downplay Pennsylvania as Clinton country and a state where they would be happy with a good showing- was the right way to go. Dumping money in as he did over the past three weeks was a strategic blunder; it made him look weak for apparently trying and failing to score a knockout blow, and it means he has that much less money to spend on Indiana, a state with a legitimate chance for a knockout.

That said, although Obama underperformed in the state, Clinton only reached her expectations- she didn't surpass them. My prediction six weeks ago was for a delegate breakdown of Clinton 83, Obama 75; early projections at the Daily Kos suggest the final breakdown will be Clinton 84, Obama 74. That's a ten delegate net to Clinton... which Obama can make up by a simple 10% margin of victory in North Carolina in two weeks. Polls currently show him leading there by as much as TWENTY percentiles- which could lead to as much as a 69-46 margin there, or a net delegate pickup of 23.

So, what are my predictions for two weeks? Looking at poll trends, I'm going to call Indiana for Obama by only about 3% statewide- say 51% to 48%. I'm going to be a little conservative and call North Carolina at 57-43 for Obama as well, with Clinton winning most of her vote in the western mountain area. Breaking that down into actual delegate projections (thanks to the Green Papers for the details):


Statewide at-large: Obama 8, Clinton 8
Pledged PLEOs: Obama 5, Clinton 4
CD-1: Obama 4, Clinton 2
CD-2: Obama 3, Clinton 3
CD-3: Obama 2, Clinton 2
CD-4: Obama 1, Clinton 3
CD-5: Obama 2, Clinton 2
CD-6: Obama 2, Clinton 3
CD-7: Obama 4, Clinton 2
CD-8: Obama 3, Clinton 3
CD-9: Obama 2, Clinton 4
TOTAL: Obama 36, Clinton 36

So- a null result in Indiana.


Statewide at-large: Obama 15, Clinton 11
Pledged PLEOs: Obama 7, Clinton 5
CD-1: Obama 4, Clinton 2
CD-2: Obama 4, Clinton 2
CD-3: Obama 2, Clinton 2
CD-4: Obama 6, Clinton 3
CD-5: Obama 1, Clinton 4
CD-6: Obama 2, Clinton 3
CD-7: Obama 4, Clinton 2
CD-8: Obama 2, Clinton 3
CD-9: Obama 2, Clinton 4
CD-10: Obama 1, Clinton 4
CD-11: Obama 2, Clinton 4
CD-12: Obama 5, Clinton 2
CD-13: Obama 4, Clinton 3
TOTAL: Obama 61, Clinton 54

That's a net of seven delegates for Obama- and that's planning for a disastrous loss to Clinton in the mountainous west of the state, plus a couple of borderline districts.

So, in two weeks Obama makes up most of the ground he lost today. Not to worry. (Much.)

And finally... remember my Magic Superdelegate Number? As of today's endorsement of Obama by Oklahoma governor Brad Henry, Obama's magic number is 89 superdelegates. 89 more superdelegates, and he slams the door on Hillary's ability to overturn his lead in the pledged delegate count- presuming, of course, that the remaining contests, plus Pennsylvania, come out with both candidates splitting the pledged delegates.

Oh, Clinton has her own magic superdelegate number: 238.

There are only 304 superdelegates total who are still apparently neutral or undeclared. 67 of those are either empty seats (state add-on delegates) or superdelegates whose terms of office expire before the convention in Denver (Hawaii's DNC positions and state chairman). That means Clinton needs every single remaining superdelegate that currently holds the position... plus one.

Or, in percentage terms: Obama needs 29% of the remaining superdelegates. Clinton needs 78%. (The difference is John Edwards' 18 remaining pledged delegates.)

Unless Obama's superdelegates begin to defect, Clinton really can't win... and it's Clinton, not Obama, who has had problems with superdelegate defections.

Clinton will still win Kentucky, West Virginia, and more than likely Puerto Rico. She has an even shot in Indiana- but that's all, and it's not enough.

But until she realizes and accepts that- and I doubt she ever will- she'll continue the contest, which is doing nothing but hurting both candidates for the November race.

(You notice, of course, that all the people who say the continuing contest is good for Democrats are conservative/Republican activists?)

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