Tuesday, February 12, 2008

[updated 2/13 AM] Mini-Super Tuesday, and thoughts on the middle-term

After today's Potomac primaries, Senator Obama has finally moved ahead of Senator Clinton unequivocally (numbers are Obama-Clinton) [UPDATED/corrected 2/13 AM]:

1. CNN-allocated pledged delegates: 1096-977 (+superdelegates: 1253-1211)
a. I estimate a final count of: 1144-1001 (1301-1235)

2. Popular vote totals are available only for states with primaries (in millions):
a. Without Florida and Michigan: 8.944 - 8.409, or 51.5%-48.5%
b. IF we include Florida and Michigan: 9.672 - 9.595 or 50.2%-49.8%
(only 2/3 of the "uncommitted" vote in Michigan to Senator Obama)

3. Senator Obama has also won ten caucuses, usually by large margins (difference between allocated state delegates in parentheses):
Alaska (50%)
Colorado (35%)
Idaho (62%)
Iowa (9%) - only margin less than 19%
Kansas (48%)
Maine (19%)
Minnesota (35%)
Nebraska (36%)
North Dakota (24%)
Washington State (37%)
He lost Nevada by 6%.
Add the popular votes that these caucus results represent, and Senator Obama is well ahead.

These numbers were generated using CNN's data. My estimated final counts were obtained, as explained in earlier posts, by allocating all state- and district-level delegates based on the state-wide vote, unless CNN allocated all such delegates, in which case I used the CNN numbers.

Next week, we have Hawaii and Wisconsin:
a. Hawaii has 13 district-level and 7 state-level delegates, and is a caucus, which should favor "native son" and Punahou alum Senator Obama.
b. A PPP poll for the Wisconsin primaries (48/26 delegates) shows Senator Obama ahead 50-39, while an earlier ARG [shill for Hill!?] poll had Senator Clinton ahead 50-41 (link).

As we head into Texas, Ohio, Vermont and Rhode Island on March 4, the possibility that Senator Obama will be ahead in both delegates and the nation-wide popular vote is quite strong.
Let us say that Senator Obama wins the Hawaii caucus 60-40, which is at the small end of his caucus victories. The current trend estimates for Wisconsin at Pollster.com are Obama 43.1%, Clinton 39%. By my crude estimates, Senator Obama gains another 8 delegates on Feb 19.

Texas is part-primary, part-caucus; let us say Senator Obama wins the caucus portion by an even smaller margin, 55-45 (this assumption from Election Inspection's Texas work). Then, even if Senator Clinton wins all four March 4 states 60-40, she could still trail Senator Obama by ~95 pledged delegates, which - as of now - is more than the difference in superdelegates. Thus, even with blowout wins in Texas and Ohio, Senator Obama could still be ahead in total delegate count.

Of course, this does not count Florida/Michigan delegates; if these delegates are fully counted, they could give Senator Clinton ~233 delegates compared to ~135 for Senator Obama. That would even up the pledged delegate count, with Senator Clinton getting the edge on the basis on superdelegates. And then we wait for Pennsylvania, though there is no indication that the Florida/Michigan debacle will be resolved before April 22 (the PA primaries).

Earlier tonight on CNN, I heard James Carville proclaim that if Senator Clinton wins Texas, Ohio and Pennsylvania, she will be most electable. I agree - this also means Senator Clinton could be ahead in total delegate count - assuming blowout 20%-margin wins in Texas and Ohio.

While I think Senator Obama's path to the nomination is not easy, I don't think Senator Clinton will get blowout wins in Texas and Ohio either. Much as I am prone to pessimism, I think there is a chance Senator Obama will squeeze out a win in either Ohio or Texas, given enough momentum coming out of February and his fund-raising advantage.

[UPDATED] A win in either Texas or Ohio could well tip the balance in Senator Obama's favor, as the one outstanding argument against him - he has not won primaries in big states outside of Illinois, Georgia and now Virginia- should be fully answered. Expect more money and superdelegates to flow to Senator Obama, and peer pressure on Senator Clinton to drop out.

No wonder the Clinton campaign has repeatedly beaten down expectations for the post-Super Tuesday February races. Also, the Clinton campaign management changed:
(a) Patti Solis Doyle, Senator Clinton's campaign manager and long-time aide, quit on Sunday, dominating CNN headlines - for a long time Obama's Maine win did not headline CNN, even after Maine was called by CNN;
(b) Mike Henry, the deputy campaign manager, also quit. Henry apparently quit on Monday, but "volunteered" with the campaign for two days before the news came out today - on the day of the Potomac primaries.

Senator Clinton apparently had a chance to win either Maine or Virginia, but lost both heavily. Conveniently, perhaps, the two personnel stories broke out on the days of these two losses (though Henry's resignation didn't carry the weight of Solis Doyle's departure). Am I just too cynical, or do I credit the Clinton campaign with more smarts than they have?

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