Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Pennsylvania Results

There's enough "what to watch" stuff going around about what is worth keeping tabs on tonight as the results come in from precincts across Pennsylvania (see here and here). 10 is the number du jour; the number Clinton has to clear tonight to have a fighting chance going forward into Indiana and North Carolina in two weeks. With a new contest come visions of the end game. Anything less than 10 points maintains the status quo and an Obama win likely ends things for Clinton by the end of the week. I've said before that her performance thus far and standing in the delegate count has earned her the right to compete until the last contest has been held, but a loss in Pennsylvania is an ominous sign in light of the $10 million hole her campaign is in according to the recent FEC reports. Those are the stakes on this Earth Day where the record turnout of the 2008 primary season stretched to the Keystone state. On to the results:

10:39pm: Margins and delegates, part II: I'll be back in the morning with more on PA and what's ahead. This should make for an interesting discussion group meeting tomorrow afternoon.

9:37pm: Why is it assumed in media accounts that Hillary voters won't vote for Obama if he is the nominee? The opposite scenario isn't getting as much play because Hillary is playing catch up. This is an interesting question though. Why is the media automatically assuming that Obama running behind among certain groups is ominous for him in the fall? Sure, there are polls to suggest that some among the supporters of each would rather vote for McCain than their favored Democrat's rival for the nomination. Is Clinton closer to McCain than Obama though? This seems like a stretch. In a swing state like Pennsylvania, it may matter. But they aren't saying that. This continues to baffle me as this race continues.

9:32pm: Margin and delegates. That's the focus now. Clinton will talk about the win. Obama will talk about the delegates. Does he dare invoke the name of Huckabee and the idea of the miracle he needed to overtake McCain when the math was up against him? I doubt it, but it is an interesting comparison.

9:17pm: CNN has followed suit on the Clinton projection. The question now? What will the final margin be? That's where the true spin begins.

...and the new bickering too. "Clinton was supposed to win!" "We were outspent and still won!" Voters in North Carolina and Indiana must be so excited. FHQ will be reaching out in the next couple of weeks to satellite members in the North Carolina viewing markets for their take on the ads running there.

9:11pm: ABCNews is calling PA for Clinton. That came out of left field. "Despite Delegate lead Obama can't wrap up nomination" is the secondary headline. I've drawn parallels between this race and the Democratic race in 1980 before. That was in terms of the two years' calendars, though. The two races are similar in other ways too. Jimmy Carter gained something of a comfortable lead in the early going but Ted Kennedy had all the big wins coming down the stretch. The result was an extremely divisive convention an a loss in November. Democrats are hoping history doesn't repeat itself.

9:00pm: What am I saying?!? Of course we know more than we did an hour ago. John McCain has won the Pennsylvania primary. I'm somewhat disappointed given the level of chatter among Ron Paul supporters over the last week. Since my Ron Paul post last week, I've been keeping tabs on the chatter and the news from that end of the Republican Party and a lot of the talk concerned how Paul could win in the Keystone state. I'll have an update on the efforts to secure Paul a presence at September's GOP convention later this week.

8:58pm: Nearly an hour in and we still don't know much more than we did an hour ago. We have some numbers trickling in, but it is still too close for a call from any of the networks.

8:41pm: Ah, numbers. Clinton has opened up a nearly two to one lead on Obama.

...with 2100+ votes counted so far.

8:35pm: This is fun. This just popped up in the sidebar of the live blog over at The Caucus: Is Obama a Mac and Clinton a PC? Unless you've been under a rock for the past two or three years, you are familiar with the Apple ads with the "cool" Mac guy and the "square" PC guy. [I suppose I could have gone with another descriptor for the PC character, but I thought I'd use a 50s/60s throwback.] An interesting parallel to the Democratic race. We could see a reprise in the general election if Obama wraps up the nomination.

8:29pm: As of 8:25, the New York Times Election Guide is still showing 0% reporting. It could be a long night.

8:25pm: The Caucus is reporting that two of the big battleground counties, Bucks and Montgomery (both in suburban Philly) will not have any results until 9pm and 10pm respectively (see the 8pm and 8:20 posts over there). The winner of those counties will be in good shape overall, but we won't know who that is for a while...apparently.

8:20pm: The Drudge Report has 0,000,000 beside each candidates name. Will both candidates surpass one million votes? That is a far cry from four years ago when Pennsylvania was an also-ran and only managed a shade under 800,000 votes in a Democratic primary that was after the point at which Kerry had been crowned the nominee.

8:07pm: ABCNews says it's too close to call. Does that mean a large turnout for Obama in the quick-reporting urban centers? If so, this could go on for a while. Not really what the Clinton camp wants.

8:00pm: I've got eight o'clock here. Polls are closed. Start counting.

7:53pm: Seven minutes to go. The Caucus is running a report from watchdog group, Committee of Seventy, that contends that in the Philly area there are some voter identification/registration problems (see 7:50 post at the Caucus). People who were registered as Democrats were appearing as independents on the voter rolls. That's a problem in a closed primary. Send in the provisional ballots. There aren't any hard numbers as to how widespread the problem is, but that could really be a headache for elections officials in the city of brotherly love.

7:35pm: Something else to pass the time: The Monkey Cage has a new post up discussing a paper looking at momentum in the primaries. The authors, Knight and Shiff find that in 2004 Iowa voters were six times more influential in determining the outcome than Super Tuesday voters. That's a lot of influence for such a representative state. Michigan and Florida just got even angrier.

7:32pm: If you need something to do to pass the next twenty-some odd minutes, head over to the New York Times where they have a delegate scenario calculator for "Clinton's Challenge" over the course of the rest of primary season. You can set her percentage of the vote for the remaining contests and determine the percentage of remaining uncommitted superdelegates she needs to win to take the nomination. A neat little gadget.

7:30pm: Polls close in half an hour.

7:25pm: The most interesting nugget from the exit polls so far is that two-thirds of those surveyed think Clinton hit below the belt in her attacks on Obama. That jibes well with the theory I proposed yesterday: that blame attribution for the negative attacks will go a long way toward deciding who wins in Pennsylvania. Of course, those polls also show few last minute deciders, so it may not have matter much anyway.

7:14pm: I will fall back on my old stand-by sneak peek at the exit polls from The Drudge Report. As of 5pm they had these numbers up (REMEMBER, these are exit polls.):
Clinton 52%
Obama 48
Here's the breakdown among whites, blacks, men and women:
Clinton 55%
Obama 44

Clinton 47%
Obama 53

Clinton 60%
Obama 40

Clinton 8%
Obama 92
None of these numbers are particularly surprising, but it would be interesting to see how things look among different age groups. Remember back to Wisconsin (That was eight weeks ago, two weeks prior to Texas-Ohio.) when Obama was cutting into Clinton's support among women and blue collar workers? Things have changed and Clinton seems to be avoiding that scenario among women at least. Again, these are exit polls so we don't know where the data is coming from or if it is an accurate depiction of the Pennsylvania electorate today. With just four points separating the two, Clinton certainly won't be making up much, if any, ground in the delegate count.


Robert said...

Well she got her 10% (9.7% if you get more precise). I heard two insightful comments last night among the many mathematically challenged pundits. Bill Schneider said that she won NJ and OH by 10% which means that despite everything that has happened in the last seven weeks, little has really changed. The other cogent comment was by Jeffery Toobin who claimed that this was the worst possible outcome for the Democrats. A smaller victory (less than 5%) by Clinton would have been a loss for her while a bigger win (much above 10%) would have put her back in play. This result gives her justification to stay in the race but not enough to make much of a dent in the delegate count and not enough to capture the popular vote. It certainly gives her campaign a solid two more weeks. It will be interesting to see if she is able to get some superdelegates to come out now after her victory to commit.

On the idea of negative campaigning, it does not seem to have helped Obama. Apparently there is a struggle in his campaign right now as to whether to go negative on her in NC and IN. I think that would be a big mistake, but time will tell. More later.

Josh Putnam said...

Something similar to what Schneider said was what I went to bed thinking about last night. I'll have more in a separate post after my class this morning.

The interesting thing is that two-thirds thought Hillary was too harsh in her criticism of Obama. Yet, her total was 55%. That means that there were people (and quite a few of them from the looks of it) who thought Hillary was too harsh, but voted for her anyway. The exit polls may have been off there. They certainly overestimated the closeness of the outcome (by three or four points--the margin of error).

Robert said...

It is interesting that the Sunday/ Monday polls were more accurate than the exit polls. Shades of the 2004 general election! One other thing about the exit polls was that by as 55-43% margin thought Obama would win the nomination even though the majority supported Clinton. So much for the old bandwagon effect. The other thing that the talking heads have come back to is the whole idea of momentum, but momentum does not seem to be playing a factor this year for the Democrats. It has been much more about demographics than about momentum. Momentum provided McCain the Republican nomination, but has been greatly overestimated in the Democratic race.

Will have a few more thoughts to express after your post.