Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Election Night Thoughts on Pennsylvania

12:11am: Ok, this mini-live blog is over for the night. It looks as if the 9 or 10% margin will stick. I'll leave you with this interesting post from the Politico. It turns out that Mr. Super is a reader of this blog (or of our Superdelegate predictions, at least). I'd love for more superdelegates to reveal their preferences, if only so we could figure out how well our model really did.

How do you measure tonight's results? Here are a few ways:

1) Clinton will pick up about 12-15 pledged delegates from PA. The bad news for her is that at this rate she will be able to over-take Obama's pledged delegate lead some time in 2012.

2) That fact is of some solace to the Obama campaign, but they cannot be happy about their inability to deliver a definitive knock out punch. Their best shot at doing so comes on May 6th.

3) The Obama campaign expected that they would lose PA by a spread of 52-47%. Thus, by their own expectations, they did twice as badly as they thought they would.

And with that, goodnight. I promise you I won't be live-blogging Guam.

Looking ahead, the polls show a tight race in Indiana and the Pollster.com average in NC shows Obama up by about 20%. The pundits appear to be saying that she has to win both to stay in. Question: if she narrowly wins Indiana but does lose NC by 20%, will she still stay in the race? Another question: can she cut into a large Obama lead in NC the way that he cut into her leads in PA and OH?

Clinton is hitting hard on the spending disadvantage she suffered in PA. It is a way to make her look like the hard fighting underdog, which is quite a turn from where we were 5 months ago.

The lead is hovering between 6 and 10% with almost half the precincts in so far. If it stays at or above 10%, Clinton may get a nice bump from this victory. If less, than this probably doesn't change the dynamics of the race at all (other than extending it for at least two more weeks).

Tim Russert reports that the Clinton campaign is asking for $5 donations tonight via email. Are we now in a place where the candidates are scrambling to see who can get the smallest donations (with the most donors)? Should the Obama campaign begin soliciting $1 donations?

Just a thought about how this will be spun. The networks have little else to do for the next several hours other than watch how Clinton's margin ebbs and flows. How does this effect how the outcome will be framed by the media? Well, on one hand, if everyone goes to sleep thinking Clinton won big, then that may be the story. On the other hand, and possibly more likely, if she has a big lead early in the night, but it narrows significantly, will the final margin be discounted to some extent (since it had been bigger earlier on)? We live in a 24 hour cable news world where it probably matters matter which votes are counted first. Surely you can imagine Keith Olberman at 11pm saying something like, "wow, Obama has really cut into Clinton's vote margin in the past hour."

Marc Ambinder from the Atlantic notes how the networks were able to make the call despite no real vote in yet:

"They're merging the exit poll data with quick tallies from specially selected model precincts across the state. Clinton in those precincts is outperforming her margin in the exit polls."

All the networks are falling into line now and calling PA for Obama. Blumenthal over at Pollster.com made an interesting point about how the key thing the networks are working on in getting their exit polling right is how to weight the data they have geographically. In other words, how much weight do they give to their Philadelphia interviews versus those from Pittsburgh or other areas? If they under- or over-weight a particular region relative to actual turnout in that area, it could be problematic. Of course, just after I read that, the networks began calling the state for PA, so they must've figured it all out ok (or else they are going to look pretty bad).

EARLIER: Ok, I promised myself I wouldn't do a live blog for tonight, but I can't resist posting a few thoughts tonight. Here is the first one:

The early exit polls are showing that 9% of the Democratic electorate changed their registration to Democrat from Republican before the primary. Another 4-5% were newly registered and voting for the first time in PA. Obama won those voters by a margin of 60-40%. This certainly helped Obama cut into Clinton's lead.


Katie said...

Please change your mind and do a live blog :-)

Katie said...

Thanks! Your live blog is great! :-)

I'm just sad PA couldn't put away Hillary, but I have great confidence in your superdelegate predictions.