Tuesday, May 6, 2008

May 6th Primaries: Live Blog

1:22AM: Looks like Lake County fell short for Obama and Clinton will have won Indiana by about 20-25K votes. This victory, however, is much smaller than most expected and Obama's margin in North Carolina was bigger than most estimates in the last few days. Clinton will possibly take a net gain of 1 or 3 delegates from Indiana while Obama will likely take a net gain of more than 10 delegates from North Carolina. All in all, Obama's big night allows him to cancel out the gains (in delegates and popular vote) that Clinton made in Pennsylvania two weeks ago.

Clinton has canceled her morning talk show appearances and is said to be contemplating what her next move is. Obama, in the meantime, is evidently planning to take on the air of a presumptive nominee.

This is a split decision that clearly favors Obama. Now, will large numbers of superdelegates begin falling in line behind his campaign? It may not take too long to find out the answer to that question.

Thanks for everyone who followed this blog tonight. According to Google Analytics, there were well over 1,000 visitors on this blog today and that number should increase since we are still waiting for the numbers to come in from Lake County.

Just noticed that the exit poll estimates have been revised (as they typically are to come in to line with where turnout is greater) and African American turnout in Indiana is now estimated to have been 18%. That is up from a 14% figure reported earlier. As I noted a few days ago, assumptions about African American turnout were driving the different poll figures we were seeing in the state. Blacks turned out at a greater rate than most pollsters expected in Indiana and that significantly affected the outcome.

The early voters in North Carolina went a little more strongly for Obama than did those who voted today, but the difference wasn't huge. With just a few precincts left, Obama won 59% of the early vote and 55% of the votes that came in today. As it stands now, 25% of the total vote came from early voters.

I think the networks are so focused on Lake County that they forgot about Monroe County. With 97% of the precincts in there, Obama won the county by a little over 5k votes. That is 1k more than the network sites are currently showing.

Tim Russert just said, pointedly, "We now know who the Democratic nominee is going to be and nobody is going to dispute it."

The CNN discussion right now is focusing on whether there is some conspiracy behind why it took so long for the Lake County returns to be reported. The Hammond (also in Lake County) mayor is on saying he turned in his vote hours ago.

Worth noting now that things has closed is that there are a small number of uncounted votes in Indianapolis and 1/3 of the vote still out in Bloomington.

Also worth noting is that Obama's margin (in total votes) in NC looks like it will be slightly bigger than her margin in Pennsylvania, wiping out any gains Clinton made in the popular vote gap two weeks ago.

It is important to note at this point that who wins or loses Indiana has little practical importance when it comes to delegates. It may mean the difference between one delegate. The only reason we care about this is perception...it will drastically effect how her candidacy is viewed by the media and superdelegates in the coming days.

Lake County is beginning to come in and it is already making a difference. Obama just cut Clinton's lead in half, from about 40k to about 20k.

Evidently the mayor of Gary is saying that there may very well be enough votes for Obama to take over the lead.

Turnout in the Democratic primary in NC has already topped 1.5 million. That is as many as voted for John Kerry in the 2004 general election. To get that kind of turnout in a primary is truly impressive.

Tim Russert reports that there are still 220k votes uncounted in Indiana. Clinton's lead is about 40k. If Russert is right, Obama needs to win about 60% of the outstanding vote to win Indiana. Certainly a possibility.

Clinton holds about a 40k lead over Obama and Lake County still has not come in. At this point, I'd say that it is unlikely that there are enough votes there for Obama to overtake her lead. Not impossible, but unlikely.

Oops, rest of Tippecanoe County just came in. It went 58% for Obama (he picked up about 5k votes there).

Here are the counties that still have significant votes that haven't been reported:
Porter County (about 30% missing) going 58% for Clinton so far.
LaPorte County (about 50% missing) going slightly for Clinton so far.
Tippecanoe County (about 50% missing) going 60% for Obama so far.
Monroe County (about 50% missing) going 66% for Obama so far.
Hamilton County (about 10% missing) going 60% for Obama so far.
Lake County (100% missing) supposed to go for Obama.
Union County (100% missing) not much vote there, even when they do come in.

Key statistic on Lake County: about 25% of the population there is African American. Is that, and its closeness to Chicago, enough to produce the big margins that Obama needs there?

Just to give you a sense of how many votes could be in Lake County, in 2004, about 115K voted for John Kerry in Lake. If there are 100K votes there, Obama needs to win about 2/3 of them to have a shot at pulling out a win.

Tim Russert now says that Lake County may not be in until 11pm. Evidently extra ballot counters were brought in to count the votes (are we doing this the old fashion way?). In the meantime, Clinton is supposed to be teaching soon, but what can she say without having won anything yet?

Evidently Lake County will begin reporting at 10pm. That county is going to decide Indiana. But even if Obama comes up short, he appears to be the clear winner tonight, at least as much of a winner as one can be when they lose one and win one.

There was a lot of Zogby bashing going on by the readers at Pollster.com and other sites over the last week or so. But at this point, it looks like he is going to be closest to getting both NC and IN right.

9:42PM: Chuck Todd says the Obama campaign thinks that they will come up just short (by about 10-15k or so). If it ends up that close, then there is no way CBS could've confidently known that he was going to win the state an hour ago. Unless something odd happens and it doesn't tighten significantly, the call was a mistake, regardless of whether or not they end up being wrong at the end of the night.

9:25PM: Here is why Indiana is now too CLOSE to call:
Monroe County (Bloomington) is only 10% in.
Marion County (Indianapolis) still has about 1/4 of the vote not in.
Hamilton County (Wealth suburbs of Indianapolis) is only 1/3 in.
Lake and LaPorte Counties (Chicago area) are reporting nothing.

These should all be Obama areas. Clinton is up by less than 50k votes now. Are there enough votes for him in these counties? Quite possibly.

Obama just congratulated Clinton on "what appears to be her victory" in Indiana. Does he know something we don't or is he unaware of how things are tightening there?

Will CBS end up with egg on its face? MSNBC just changed its IN statement from "too EARLY to call" to "too CLOSE to call." The change is important, because it reflects that the vote there is tightening and still not a single vote in from Gary.

This is a rare night (at least compared to the last several election nights) where Obama gets to come out early to celebrate while Clinton sits back and waits out "her" state's results.

CBS was too early in calling Indiana. Only about half of the Marion County vote is in, and he is winning that by about 25K votes. If he wins the second half by the same margin, that cuts her lead in half. And not a single vote has come in from Gary yet. IF Clinton wins this state, it is going to be fairly close and I think the votes are out there for Obama to catch up. I'm not saying it WILL happen, but it certainly COULD and the early call from CBS was probably too soon.

The NC Board of Elections has a top-notch website complete with county maps and all sorts of other tools for looking at the primary results. The IN Secretary of State site struggles to calculate percentages. I'm just saying...

Wow, quite an exchange between Paul Begala and Donna Brazile on CNN. The long primary campaign appears to be wearing on even them.

On MSNBC, Howard Fineman just said that the Obama campaign now thinks that May 20th will be the day they wrap up the nomination because that is when they will have a majority of pledged delegates. Sound familiar? Well, I blogged this very point on March 31st. This is what I wrote then:

Based on the delegate totals that Obama's campaign thinks he will win in the upcoming states (from the memo that the campaign inadvertently sent to a Bloomberg reporter), Obama would pass this milestone on May 20th, after picking up 28 delegates in Oregon and 23 in Kentucky. ... If he does clinch this on May 20th, might Clinton call it quits at that point? Certainly she would be facing increasing calls to get out of the race if she stayed in. In addition, on the 20th, she will likely have won Kentucky but lost Oregon. Thus, she would be able to leave the campaign on a day that she carried a state. The only states voting after the 20th are Puerto Rico and then Montana and South Dakota. She could win Puerto Rico, but she is likely to lose Montana and South Dakota and none of these states will do much to change the delegate count. If she left the race on May 20th, she could do it on a relatively high note and on her own terms, whereas anything after that may make it look like she was forced."

The NC Board of Elections breaks out the early vote differently from those voting today. It appears as though they've counted a little more than half of the early vote so far, and Obama leads with 61%. His percentage among election day votes counted so far is 54%.

Good thing Obama was in North Carolina this afternoon. He wouldn't have been able to do this in Indiana this afternoon. Bars in Indiana are closed while the polls are open. Wouldn't want anyone drinking and voting.

Evidently CBS called Indiana for Clinton. I would imagine that the other networks will follow soon. But still no vote in from Gary.

Here is the comparison between early voters and the racial and gender composition of the NC exit polls:

% of Early Voters Exit Poll
Men 38.7% 43%
Women 60.8% 57%

White 56.5% 62%
Black 39.9% 33%

White Women 33.2% 35%
White Men 23.1% 28%

19% in North Carolina are voting in their first primary...they favor Obama 68-28%.

Clinton holds a comfortable lead in IN right now, but only 11% of Marion County (Indianapolis) is in and nothing in yet from Lake County (Gary).

Some talk on MSNBC right now about whether Superdelegates will start flocking to Obama (and calling on Clinton to leave the race) if Obama wins as big as it appears in North Carolina tonight.

The early exit polls are showing a 55-41% lead for Obama in NC. Usually, his lead shrinks, but I'll be curious to see if it does this time. We already know that the exit polls are overestimating the percentage of early voters who were white women, which would seem to inflate Clinton's support.

The initial exit polls indicate that blacks were 33% of the NC Democratic electorate. Will be interesting to see if that number creeps upwards closer to the 40% figure for early voters. But the work that the Obama campaign and other groups did in getting African Americans out early in NC is one of the most under-told stories of the campaign.

At the minute the polls close, most networks call NC for Obama. That's big for him, since it likely means a big victory. No unpleasant surprises for Obama tonight.

Apparently Romney and Huckabee were both on the IN Republican ballot. What will a strong second place showing mean for Huckabee's VP chances? What does languishing in 4th do for Romney's? Probably nothing at all!

Candidate Vote %
John McCain 42,744 76.4%
Mike Huckabee 5,990 10.7
Ron Paul 4,354 7.8
Mitt Romney 2,841 5.1

Question: will the networks be able to call NC right away? If not, how long will it take?

21% of those voting in the IN Democratic primary were voting in a primary for the first time ever. That group went for Obama 59-40%.

According to early exit polls, 14% of IN voters were black. That is slightly higher than most pollsters were estimating, but lower than the Howey-Gauge poll that showed Obama ahead. (See here)

Networks say Indiana is too EARLY to call. Suggests Clinton wins by 5-10%?

MSNBC notes that exit polls show that 37% of early voters are white women. That figure is actually higher than the actual number, which is 33%.

The New York Times, perhaps inadvertently, has put the following exit poll data from Indiana online:

% of total Clinton Obama
14 17-29 years old 42 58
23 30-44 years old 43 57
34 45-59 years old 51 49
29 60 years old and older 67 33
85 Less than $100,000 52 47
15 $100,000 or more 52 48
17 Today/In the last three days 62 38
82 Sometime last week or earlier 50 50

Based on these figures (particularly the income figures) it looks like Clinton is up 52-47% in the early exit polls. Keep in mind, as well, that Obama usually does better in these than he ends up doing in the actual vote totals.

Obama did well among younger voters, but the 60+ crowd remains a tough group for him.

Interesting that the networks are expected to wait to call states until everyone has voted, yet election boards in Indiana are already reporting their vote totals. Ah, the ethical questions raised when your state spans time zones.

In case you hadn't noticed.

The polls just closed in most of Indiana. However, the areas near Chicago are on central time, so they have another hour to vote.

Some things to think about tonight:

1) Beware of early vote totals, particularly in NC. We already know that Obama is going to win big among early voters in NC. In Texas, the early voting returns were the first to come out, so Obama held a lead for the first few hours after the polls closed there. Eventually, Clinton overtook Obama based on the vote from the day of the primary.

2) For the same reason as above, be especially skeptical about the early exit polls. These have tended to favor Obama, but will they in NC when so many Obama supporters voted early?

3) The memo accidentally released by the Obama campaign after Super Tuesday projected that he would win Indiana 53-46% and North Carolina 53-45%. The IN result seems doubtful, the NC prediction may be closer to the mark.

4) What will African American turnout be in NC and IN? In NC, 40% of early voters were black, but pollsters have been estimating that African Americans would make up about 30-35% of the NC electorate. If it is closer to the 40% figure, it should be a blowout for Obama. Closer to the 30% figure, and it is a tight race. In IN, black turnout will also be very important. Most polls were estimating that African Americans would make up about 10-12% of the Democratic electorate. If that number climbs higher, the chances of an Obama upset increase.


Anonymous said...

Looking at the Indiana results, the highlith the interesting coalition of Obama supporters. He carried Marion Co.-Indianapolis quite easily but is also winning Hamilton Co. by a large margin. Hamilton Co. is of course the home to Carmel and is one of the richest, fastest growing, and most Republican areas in the state.

Anonymous said...

Congrats from Europe (CH) to Dr. Schaffne and his colleagues. This blog is the most informative, accurate and sensible we can find tonight. Tremendously helpful for us here, on the other side of the Atlantic.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the updates... much appreciated.

Mike Wagner said...

On MSNBC, David Shuster was just making Brian's point about Bloomington...also noting that since IU's classes ended a few weeks ago, lots of the absentees are likely to be in the 75/25 Obama category.