Thursday, May 8, 2008

Which Superdelegates Are Most Likely to Desert Clinton?

Yesterday, Jennifer McClellan, a superdelegate from Virginia, switched her support from Clinton to Obama. A week earlier, Joe Andrew did the same. With Clinton's chances of winning the nomination shrinking even more after Tuesday, we may begin seeing even more superdelegates fleeing the Clinton campaign to support Obama. But which of Clinton's supporters are most likely to switch their support?

My model for predicting who superdelegates will endorse is not really built to estimate which superdelegates would change their endorsements. After all, making an endorsement is a very different process from choosing to switch an endorsement. However, what the model can do is provide a list of superdelegates who appear to be most mismatched. In other words, I can use the model to identify which superdelegates have endorsed Clinton when the model would've predicted that they would endorse Obama.

Here is the list of superdelegates who have endorsed Clinton despite the fact that the model suggests that they would be better matched to Obama (these are the 25 most mis-matched Clinton endorsers):

Two interesting things stand out on this list. First, most of these superdelegates come from states that Obama won. It makes sense that these superdelegates would be under some pressure to desert Clinton first given that their state went with Obama. It will be interesting to see if any of them do abandon her campaign in the coming days/weeks.

Second, several names on this list include superdelegates that have endorsed Clinton very recently. For example, Governor Mike Easley (NC), Rep. John Tanner (TN) and Rep. Tim Ryan (OH) all endorsed Clinton in the last few weeks. In the case of Tanner and Ryan, the decision to endorse Clinton is understandable given that Clinton did win their states. Easley's state went definitively for Obama, but he is term-limited and will be leaving office at the end of this year, so his endorsement of Clinton will probably not cost him much.

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