Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Potomac/Chesapeake Tuesday Live Blog

Midnight Hour (Final Thoughts)
Obama has once again exceeded expectations and McCain has done what he needed to do. Obama is going to pick up a net gain of about 50 delegates, which was larger than the 40 delegate margin I predicted using the preelection polls. The campaign now shifts to Wisconsin where the latest survey shows Obama up 50-39% and McCain up 53-32%. Add in Hawaii, where Obama spent part of his childhood, and it looks as though Obama may have won 10 in a row before March 4th.

How stunning is it that Clinton did not seem to get 40% in any of the primaries tonight?

The good news for Clinton is that a new Survey USA poll puts her up in Ohio 53-39%. The bad news is that Obama has several weeks to cut into that lead. The Dems will have debates between now and March 4th, so it will be interesting to see how those play out. How aggressive can Clinton be without risking a backlash like what happened in South Carolina.

In Maryland, not one, but two House incumbents are in trouble. Al Wynn is behind 59-37% with half the precincts reporting, and Wayne Gilchrest is 40-36%, also with a little more than half of the precincts in. Could two House incumbents fall in one night? It isn't that common that House incumbents lose primaries.

I think we'll see a lot more about Superdelegates, particularly as we have a couple of weeks with no contests. How likely is it that we'll get something like a "gang of 200?" I'll be up with an update on the Superdelegate model now that several states have voted and more superdelgates may have committed. I'll also give out more detail on how we are modeling what these superdelegates will do.

Finally, I'll start producing delegate estimates for the upcoming primaries and post on how the Potomac Primary predictions fared (though, I can tell you now I underestimated what Obama would win tonight). But for now, I'm off to bed.

Time for second-guessing: To what extent are Clinton's problems a function of poor strategy? As I've suggested a couple of times, it seems as though the ground operation was largely absent from the DC area in the past week. Clinton essentially decided to skip every race between Super Tuesday and March 4th because they didn't think they could win those states. But by failing to seriously campaign in these states, the storyline is not just about Obama victories, but about landslide Obama victories and the fact that Obama now has a delegate lead. Given the PR rules, shouldn't the Clinton campaign have fought hard to keep Obama's margins down over the past week? Ignoring states where you are going to lose just makes 55-45% defeats into 65-35% defeats, and there is a big difference between those in terms of both perceptions and tangible delegates.

Howard Fineman was just on MSNBC noting that the Hillary campaign believes the best it could do at this point is finish close behind in pledged delegates; they don't think they can finish ahead.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out in the next few weeks. Surely the Clinton campaign wishes that Texas and Ohio were voting tomorrow. However, Obama has 16 days after Wisconsin votes to campaign in Texas and Ohio. That is a lot of time to make inroads in those states.

Maryland voters were also participating in Congressional primaries today. Embattled incumbent House member Al Wynn (D) is vying to become the first incumbent to lose a reelection campaign in 2008. With 11% of precincts reporting, he is trailing challenger Donna Edwards 55-42%.

And along the lines of the last post, turnout in the Democratic primary in Virginia about doubled turnout in the Republican primary. (Of course, the Republican race is nearly over, while the Democratic race is neck-and-neck, but still striking).

Striking contrast as the networks cut away from Obama speaking to an arena-sized crowd (like the one Clinton spoke to earlier) to join McCain speaking to a ballroom-sized group.

From the MD exit polls:
Obama won 54% of white men; he won 46% of all whites and 88% of African Americans. Independents were 13% of the Democratic electorate, and he won 68% of that group. He won 70% of first time voters.

McCain still hasn't won a majority of conservatives...he captured 43% in Maryland, but 70% of moderates. And he won just 35% of born-again Christians.

Eight minutes after Obama completes the Potomac sweep, out he comes to address the crowd in Wisconsin. I imagine that he won't be ignoring the results of today's primaries in his speech.

Why is Clinton in Texas rather than Wisconsin? A poll taken immediately after Super Tuesday had her up 50-41 in that state. However, a poll released today reverses that and puts Obama up 50-39. How worried is the Clinton campaign that they might see similar shifts in Ohio and Texas once the Obama campaign lands in those states?

Maryland has been called for Obama and McCain by the networks.

Clinton makes no mention whatsoever of the fact that 3 states held primaries today...the networks all break away from her speech. Polls finally close in Maryland soon.

Clinton is expected to speak soon from Texas. Will she even acknowledge today's primaries? Will she make any note of Wisconsin? Or will it all be about Texas and Ohio?

The dominant storyline in the media tonight...Obama's inroads among white men.

CNN has called Virginia for McCain...the McCain campaign is surely breathing a huge sigh of relief right now. It definitely looks like the open primary drove down his numbers in Virginia, which will just give Huckabee all the more reason to stay in this campaign for another week.

Wolf Blitzer notes that CNN is not calling the race in DC yet since they have no exit poll data and no real vote returns yet. Sure enough, there is no exit poll data on DC, yet MSNBC called it at 8:00pm exactly. Does that seem odd to anyone else?

MSNBC earlier put up a map that seemed to have Washington DC sitting on the shores of the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland. Is it not bad enough that the district has no representation in Congress? Isn't placing the city in Annapolis just adding insult to injury?

Obama is holding a steady 62-37% lead in VA with about one-third of the precincts reporting. If that margin held, he gets about a net gain of about 20 delegates out of the state.

Barack Obama is projected to win DC. The McCain-Huckabee race is too close to call. Does anyone thing that this is because they couldn't find enough Republicans in DC to conduct a reasonable exit poll?

I had a friend report that she received a robo call from Michelle Obama at 7:30pm. It seemed odd at the time since the polls were going to close in 30 minutes. But now it has been announced that the polls are staying open until 9:30pm. Did the Obama campaign decide to crank up the robo calls once they heard this?

Evidently DC polls will still close at 8pm.

The Obama campaign will surely be talking about these numbers from Virginia. 67% of independents (22% of the electorate in the Democratic primary) went to Obama. Republicans made up 7% of the Democratic primary electorate, and he won them by over 70%.

According to Virginia exit polls, Obama won 90% of African Americans. He also won with white men and virtually split the white vote altogether. More to come...

According to leaked exit polls, Obama's margin is expected to be at least 60-40 in both MD and VA, and 3-to-1 in DC. Based on those estimates, I think they'll be calling MD and DC for Obama in about 52 minutes.

VA race has been called for Barack Obama and is expected to win a "substantial victory" tonight. The Republican race is too close to call so far.

The exit polls are suggesting as much as a two-to-one victory. As I look out the window, freezing rain is causing gridlock, which may be keeping some people from making it to the polls tonight.

Two VERY important nuggets from the Virginia exit polls (according to MSNBC). 68% of the Republican electorate identified themselves as conservative (it was 55% in 2004) and 46% we born again Christians. We know that McCain does not generally do that well among those groups. How much did the fact that Virginia has an open primary hurt McCain? Did a lot of moderate voters who would otherwise vote for McCain choose to cast their ballots in the Democratic primary instead?

This Washington Post graphic is a visually appealing way to get a sense of the campaigning that has happened in the Potomac region.

Don't forget the predictions we generated based poll averages over the past several days. Based on the polls, we expect Obama to come out of tonight with 103 delegates compared to 65 for Clinton 65. I'll keep close track of how we do, unless we don't do well. (Just kidding).

As for predictions, after writing a few days worth of "who are the superdelegates?" stories, most of the journalists and talking heads are now noting that it is highly unlikely that superdelegates would overturn a decision arrived at by pledged delegates. I agree entirely, but we'll keep updating our superdelegate predictions until we know something definitive.

More exit poll previews, this time from MSNBC. The Democratic electorate was 56% women, 29% black, 63% white, and 35% are first time voters (compared to 26% in 2004). Clinton has won with women in most contests to this point, Obama has won overwhelming support from blacks and first time voters.

Polls don't close for a couple of hours, but CNN is beginning to discuss their exit polls. Here is the one highlight of interest so far: in VA, 64% of Huckabee's voters are born-again Christians, compared to 32% for McCain voters. This suggests that McCain is still struggling to win over the social conservatives.

I can offer the following first-person account from my polling location in DC today. I counted 10 Obama signs, 2 Clinton signs, and zero signs for Huckabee or McCain. No big surprise with any of those, I'd say. There was a representative from the Obama campaign out front, but nobody else's campaign was represented. It was pretty quiet, but I went in the middle of the afternoon when there is rarely a crowd.


Mike said...

The storyline with Obama and white men adds another layer to the demographic breakdowns of vote choice we have been seeing in a lot of recent stories.

Now, we should expect to see stories building on the black v. white vote to men v. women, giving us coverage in all 4 cells of our Obama v. Clinton matrix! It is interesting, as Obama has done very well in states with high white populations (Utah, Nebraska, Kansas) and states/districts with high black populations (SC, DC, etc.) His support in states with high Hispanic populations drops as the Hispanic population increases, but the drop isn't all that dramatic...interesting to see how Texas goes. Sen. Clinton is there while Obama's in Wisconsin...

Brian Schaffner said...

Exactly, the only cell Clinton won tonight was White/Women. That means she is running out of cells.

Mike said...

Re: The Clinton strategy of having hoped to be done by now...I find it interesting that the Deputy Campaign Manager, the one who suggested to skip Iowa, resigned today. I wonder how things would have gone if she had taken 3rd without competing rather than taking 3rd after fighting for Iowa.

It's easy to write revisionist history, and I think she is still as likely to win as not (though the train has a March 4th appointment to leave the station), but then Obama may not have surged as highly in the polls, Clinton's win in NH would've been more perfunctory and not as dramatic, which would have suited the 'inevitability' frame better.