Showing posts with label DC. Show all posts
Showing posts with label DC. Show all posts

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

The State of the Race--Post-Potomac Primary Edition

What did we learn from last night's results in the DC, Maryland and Virginia primaries?

1) Better than expected was not really part of the equation. Clinton was overwhelmed in all three contests and Huckabee, while drawing close to McCain during the vote tally, faded at the end to a near double digit deficit. And it has to hurt that McCain got all 63 delegates. It is difficult to win, much less prevent someone from passing the 1191 delegate threshold if you get nothing out of a 40+% showing.

2) Obama is starting to bring in more groups of people. Last night women broke for him. Population centers are going heavily for Obama too. And if you think back to those general election maps, the ones that break down support by the precinct level, those are areas where Democrats do well. The Missouri map from last week comes to mind. Obama won in Kansas City, St. Louis and Columbia (home to the University of Missouri) while the rest of the state (all but two counties) sided with Clinton. Virginia was like that last night, with the eastern (more urban) half going for Obama. The votes are there, so if Obama continues to out pace Clinton by large margins in urban centers, it will be to his advantage.

3) Good vs. Bad. On the Democratic side, I've had a tally of new stories from the last week or so floating around in my head.
Good: Obama raises $32 million in January.
Bad: Clinton loans her campaign $5 million.
Afterthought: Clinton raises $12 million since Super Tuesday.

Good: Obama sweeps the weekend contests following Super Tuesday.
Bad: Clinton shakes up her internal campaign; bringing in a new campaign manager.

Good: Obama sweeps through the Potomac Primaries.
Bad: Clinton's deputy campaign manager steps down.

This isn't really a good balance for the Clinton folks. And it certainly isn't hurting Obama's ability to begin indirectly using the M word. But all is not lost. Hawaii and Wisconsin are up next. Hawaii is a caucus state and one where Obama lived for a period of his life. Wisconsin however may offer an opening for Clinton. The most recent poll there (via Real Clear Politics) gives Obama only a four point edge. Yes, it is only one poll (the others are outdated--from 2007--and show Clinton in the lead), but it is something. While Clinton may be able to take advantage of the more rural areas of the Dairy State, Obama will surely do well in an open primary that allows independents to participate. The Fix has a checklist of things via a cadre of Democratic strategists that the Clinton campaign can shoot for if they want to regain the delegate lead and the upper hand in the nomination fight.

4) One thing not included on that list is the upcoming series of debates. Those may be key to Clinton shifting the underlying message and course of the campaign. And those will come after next week's contests during that two week lull until Texas-Ohio-Vermont-Rhode Island on March 4. That'll be a good time to attempt to that, but will the media be pushing the Obama momentum story during that time instead?

5) McCain still has some issues to iron out with those voters considering themselves highly conservative. But it doesn't hurt to have one of the Bush team's best fund-raisers on your side. That's a good signal that the party continues to unite behind his candidacy.

6) And what of Texas and Ohio? The first series of polls are up at Real Clear Politics. Again, like the Wisconsin poll above, there is only one recent poll to base things on. However, the first Ohio poll has Clinton up 17 points. Nothing yet has surfaced from Texas. Clinton was there last night and is there today by the looks of the candidate tracker on

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

The Potomac Primary Results Show

Polls close in Virginia in the next couple of minutes and in DC and Maryland at 8pm. How will it play out tonight? We'll use a top down update approach tonight.

9:52pm: Back tomorrow with more on the impact of the race heading forward and impressions of what transpired.

9:50pm: Here are the results via NYT's Election Guide (ooh, with the maps):

9:48pm: CNN and the other networks are now calling DC for Obama and McCain. No real shock there. Well, the shock is that it took so long for any results to surface.

9:30pm: Again, that didn't take long. The networks (here's CNN) have chalked Maryland up for Obama and McCain already. Not really a surprise on either side, but such an early call is bad news for Clinton and Huckabee.

9:29pm: Well, DC won't post anything until 10:30 according to the Board of Elections there (via The Caucus--9:25pm post).

9:17pm: Suh-low. Things have slowed way down. Well, polls are only a few more minutes away from closing in Maryland.

8:54pm: Well, the 8 o'clock hour was a bit strange. Maryland got pushed back and DC disappeared. The New York Times has replaced the 8pm poll closing time with 0% reporting for DC, so the numbers should begin trickling (apparently) in soon.

8:41pm: Now all the rest of the networks are following suit on the McCain call in Virginia. Does Huckabee's showing attain better than expected status? The margin will be less than ten points. In the end, I think it continues to indicate that McCain has issues with conservatives, but that story is going to get old fast if McCain keeps winning.

8:35pm: CNN is calling Virginia for McCain. This thing is still very close (from the NYT Election Guide--48% reporting).
McCain 46.4%
Huckabee 45.2

8:18pm: Ouch! The shake ups continue in the Clinton campaign. Now her deputy campaign manager, Mike Henry, has resigned (via The Fix). This just won't look good beside headlines like the one immediately below.

8:16pm: CNN is running the headline, "Obama Wins 6th in a Row." Truthfully, does that smack of momentum or not?

8:01pm: Or not. Polls in Maryland will be open until 9:30pm because of inclement weather across the state.

7:53pm: We are now seven minutes away from DC and Maryland closing up shop for the night. How quickly will those races be called and how much longer will the GOP race in Virginia play out?

7:50pm: Is it me or is this Clinton-Texas-Ohio firewall strategy not at least somewhat reminiscent of Giuliani's holing up in Florida for the entire month of January? Now, I'm sure she'll make some appearances in Wisconsin, but Obama is there now celebrating his Virginia win (see 7:41 post on The Caucus live blog). I don't know, that parallel just popped into my head.

7:45pm: Just looking at the map on the Times Election Guide for Virginia, western Virginia looks like Arkansas east. Clinton and Huckabee did their best in the rural, mountain part of the state. Look for the college areas (also in the mountain region of Virginia) in Blackburg and Charlottesville to go for Obama and McCain though.

7:41pm: I don't know what hurts McCain worse: that Virginia is close or that Virginia has an open primary and it is still a close race with independents (Well, the ones who didn't decide to cast their vote for Obama. I thought that was supposed to be the New Hampshire outcome.).

7:33pm: Now the numbers that we expected to see begin to emerge (3% reporting). The better than expected scenario looks better for Huckabee than it does for Clinton right now.
Obama 62.1%
Clinton 36.9

McCain 44.3%
Huckabee 48.2

7:21pm: Here come the Virginia numbers (from the New York Times Election Guide--0% reporting):
Obama 50.6%
Clinton 48.1

McCain 38%
Huckabee 54.9
What does that tell us? Not much. If anything, if the numbers were flip-flopped between parties it would probably end up being more accurate. Now's the time to remind everyone that it is the Times that has those great county by county maps.

7:15pm: Despite the exit polling, let's not forget that Virginia holds an open primary and that Maryland is closed. That may give Clinton something of an advantage in Maryland until you factor in the reports of very high turnout among African Americans there (see caption below picture). One thing to note also from that story is that white men went with Obama over Clinton in Virginia. Virginia women backed Obama as well (see 7:09 post on The Caucus' live blog).

7:08pm: Notice that no one is calling the Virginia race on the Republican side. Can that be good news for McCain?

7:03pm: Now the New York Times is reporting that the major networks (Here's ABC's.) and the AP have projected Obama the winner in Virginia. That was fast.

7:00pm: The Drudge Report is indicating that exit polls show Obama ahead 2:1 in Virginia and Maryland and 3:1 in DC. If that comes to pass that will out pace even the rosiest of polls favoring Obama in those locales recently. *As always, these are exit polls, not actually results.

Setting the Stage for a "Better than Expected" Moment?

I prefer the moniker Potomac Primary to the alternate Chesapeake Primary, so I'll go with the former as I discuss the delegate selection events in Maryland, DC and Virginia over the next few days. As we've learned during the course of the delegate phase of these nomination contests, nothing can be taken for granted. A quick glance at the Real Clear Politics average of polls in Virginia (Dems/GOP) and Maryland (Dems/GOP) on both sides paints a seemingly clear picture: McCain and Obama should do well today.

However, that opens the door to the inevitable discussion of expectations. Bill Clinton was expected to finish back in the pack in New Hampshire in 1992. His better than expected second place showing though bolstered support for him as the next series of contests approached; helping to catapult him to the lead in the race for the nomination that year. That is probably the most famous (or oft-cited) example of the phenomenon, but gives pause to the idea of handing today's contests to either McCain or Obama. It never is completely about winning. The margins matter. This fits the Democratic contest better than the Republican race, where Huckabee can hope that evangelical conservatives can keep him competitive in Virginia and that's pretty much it (*The two recent Survey USA polls cited on RCP (see above links) show the gap closing in Maryland but is still double digits for McCain.). For the Democrats though, all is doom and gloom for the Clinton camp...if you read the media accounts of the race. The New York Times has her shifting the focus to Ohio and Texas; drawing a line in the sand on March 4. One superdelegate supporting Clinton was quoted in the article as saying:
“'She has to win both Ohio and Texas comfortably, or she’s out. The campaign is starting to come to terms with that.' Campaign advisers, also speaking privately in order to speak plainly, confirmed this view."
On the flip side, Obama is garnering headlines like: Obama Hopes to Rout Clinton in Primaries. I don't know, but titles like that seem to build the perception that today's events are over before they start; potentially laying the groundwork for a better than expected showing for Clinton. POTENTIALLY. There is a precedent this cycle to back me up on this. Anyone remember New Hampshire?

The Washington Post pens a slightly rosier story in answering a series of eight questions about the potential impact of region's contests today (The Post also has a nice rundown of what the candidates were up to on the last day of campaigning in the region.).
There are good reasons to avoid slapping [the frontrunner] label on Obama. One is that his margin in delegates will be far smaller than the number of superdelegates still undecided, and it is still assumed that the Clinton camp will be ferocious in its pursuit of those still undeclared. Another reason is Obama himself, who is likely to prefer to continue running as an outsider and an underdog.
Despite the naysayers, Clinton could still do better than expected today and ward off the momentum talk in relation to Obama's post-Super Tuesday performances. Winning one contest would be ideal (if unlikely), but keeping things in the single digits would go a long way toward shaping perceptions coming out of the today's elections (if only to keep the delegate allocations even). I should go ahead and caution everyone that these are completely arbitrary thresholds. The alternate take from the media could be that, no matter what the margins are, an Obama sweep is the story of the night. Further, we could begin to see some discussion of the "big mo'" with Obama-favorable contests in Wisconsin and Hawaii next week. One last thing that could bode well for the Clinton campaign is that all the contests today are primaries and not caucuses. Does that insure success for her? No, but the fact that these are not caucuses has not escaped anyone and it can't hurt.

I'll be back later in the day with a post updating the vote counting situations in Washington and New Mexico and with a results post tonight. In the meantime, the comments section awaits.