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« Superdelegates Should Pick a Winner (Guest Post) | Main | NY Times Contradicts Itself and Ignores Obama's Negaitve Tactics While Slamming Hillary »

April 23, 2008



Yea, they're already saying that he still has the lead, he's won more states, nothing she does can change things, it's time to end it, the Supers know all they need to know to make a decision, she was supposed to win by 20 points, etc., etc.

Funny. The voters keep coming out to vote. And as I've pointed out on my blog, if the nomination is supposed to be decided by March, why do primaries run through June?

Question: Does anybody know how many of the states Obama has won were caucus-only states?

D. Cupples

Hi LC,

Unless my count is wrong, Obama won 12 caucus states. I linked to my source in the post linked below:

Interestingly enough, that post compares three caucus states' and three primary states' turnout for a similar number of delegates: 30+ times more people voted in the primaries.


Side note - It only looks like a "double digit win" due to rounding. Clinton's win is closer to 9% than 10% (54.7 - 45.3 = 9.4). This of course makes no real difference at all, it's just a spin game. But the fact is she was under 10%.

I'm not responding to the whole negativity thing - you've heard more than enough from me on that point. When I read what you wrote there, I note that you DON'T claim that Hillary didn't go negative, or that she didn't go MORE negative than Obama, or that she didn't essentially co-opt a number of right-wing talking points. So, I'll leave that where it stands.

But this "why can't Obama close the deal?" line of argument - I mean, it's just laughable. We know full well that Hillary and Obama have drastically different demographics of support. You can correctly surmise the outcome of the majority of the primaries up to now by looking at education levels, partisan voting index, age profiles, % of African Americans, and a couple other demographic factors.

You ask why Obama can't beat Hillary in Ohio and Pennsylvania? It's because these states fit her profile to a T (pun intended). If Obama won here, it would mean that Hillary was completely disgraced and damaged in the eyes of the voters. A 9% Hillary win here was just a continuation of the status quo that we've seen since mid-February. Obama closed the gap on Hillary with his superior funding and ground organization, but that just took Hillary from a 20 point lead to a 9 point lead.

And before anyone bothers mentioning it - the demographics of the general election splits are quite different. There are states that Obama beat Clinton in where Clinton polls better than Obama against McCain, and vice versa.


Side anecdote that perhaps only I find interesting:

I heard a Clinton staffer make this point (the "why can't Obama win here" argument) before the results rolled in yesterday. The staffer expanded on this idea by saying that Obama could have conceded the state as Hillary home turf, but in stead he contested it hard, and as such any Hillary win is big news.

My first thought was that this was just another iteration of the expectations game. They are trying to make Hillary the underdog so that her likely win is more dramatic and any win can be claimed as a victory, even though a 5 point win would have been a huge defeat.

But then I thought, "what if he really believes that?" If he did, then this is a perfect microcosm for why Hillary is probably going to lose the nomination.

Why did Obama try so hard in Pennsylvania even though he knew full well that it was extremely likely he would lose? Because the Obama campaign has understood from the start that with the Democratic primaries proportional system, you have to work hard in every state. You try to run up the score where you are ahead, and you try to play defense where you are behind. The Clinton campaign has never seemed to grasp this concept.

Why is Obama so far ahead in delegates? You may remember, a milennia ago after super Tuesday, Hillary actually had the pledged delegate and popular vote leads. The Clinton campaign looked at the next set of contests and judged, correctly in my opinion, that they were probably going to lose them. Their response? Effectively ignore those states and plan a "firewall" in Ohio and Texas. Well, over the next month Obama won the nomination. He did it by running up the score in states where Clinton simply didn't work hard enough to play defense.

I've said it before and I'll say it again - Hillary should have cruised to the nomination. She had drastically more name appeal heading in, and the policy differences are not great enough to force most voters to look past that. But Hillary chose to look ahead to the general election and only build an organization in the battleground states. Meanwhile, Obama's campaign was carefully studying the rules and figuring out how to squeeze the most delegates out of every contest. Hillary lost (to this point) on tactics, not on message.

D. Cupples


I don't care if Hillary was 6/10 of a point shy of 10 points (based on 99% reporting). It's still a solid win. And -- as I said -- Obama way-outspent her (in PA and OH).

I didn't mention Hillary's negativity, because it was NOT part of my point. I was listing some of the factors working against Hillary.

Incidentally, I wouldn't mind if Obama had slammed Hillary on Bosnia. It's fair game (and McCain would too).

I mind that Obama claimed to NOT slam her on it -- while he was letting his aides do it. That's almost lying and fully hypocrisy.

Pennsylvania and Ohio are swing states that could easily go Republican in the fall. That's why these wins are important. Florida, too -- now that I think about it.

Adam, I don't buy the "20-point lead." You know that I've consistently challenged polls -- which tend to disagree at given points in time.

For God's sake, I actually use the book cover of "How to Lie with Statistics" as blog art. Check out my polling data section here:

You said ths:" There are states that Obama beat Clinton in where Clinton polls better than Obama against McCain, and vice versa."

Are some of those caucus states?

For sure, Hillary's campaign has largely sucked -- which is partly why her victory last night was pretty impressive.


There is a difference between attacking the other candidate yourself, through speeches, and attacking the other campaign through memos or through aides. One is a "dog whistle" that is only picked up on by superdelegates or political junkies. The other gets play in major news outlets.

I'm not saying this makes negativity not count, but it doesn't matter as much. Hillary calling Obama an elitist* is the sort of attack that directly impacts the fall campaign. Hillary's ability to credibly campaign for Obama in the fall is hurt by those sorts of attacks. There's nothing Obama has said himself that is fuel for the fire of a Republican fall attack. For example, if Obama went around saying in stump speeches that Hillary's Tuzla comments call into question her trustworthiness, then that would be fodder for fall attacks on Hillary, and would hurt his ability to campaign for her. But he doesn't.

(* OK, so she calls his "comments" elitist. That's just CYA behavior. Hillary knows full well that it's a character attack either way.)


It's perfectly reasonable to distrust individual polls, and moreover, to distrust some polling sources more than others. But in the aggregate, and when combined with projections based on demographics, they are a useful tool. Everything pointed to a huge Clinton lead in PA a couple months back. Obama trimmed that lead, but could not overcome it despite a better ground organization and more funding.

The smart projections, considering polls and demographics, had this election pinned exactly. Check this out; pretty much NAILED the popular vote margin (120k):

Your distrust of individual polls is reasonable, but let's not pretend that every primary is an independent and unpredictable event. Hillary was a big favorite in PA for a number of reasons, and her win, and indeed the exact margine of that win, is no surprise.


"You said ths:" There are states that Obama beat Clinton in where Clinton polls better than Obama against McCain, and vice versa."

Are some of those caucus states?"

No, none of them are. That is, Hillary does not out-perform Obama vis-a-vis McCain in any Democratic caucus state, although he does outperform her in many of them.

This is merely a coincidence, because as I have pointed out before, the caucus states have happened to be states that fit the Obama profile much more than the Clinton profile. Obama polls better in the west than Hillary, particularly among independents, and there are no caucuses east of the Mississippi except Maine. Caucuses have helped Obama's pledged delegate lead (easier to run up the score in a caucus) and hurt his popular vote lead (even a blowout caucus victory has lower volume margins than a close primary victory). But there's no reason to think the win/loss results of the caucus states would have been different if they were primaries. If you look at the map of victories by each side, you get a sense that (with the possible exception of New England) geography and demography has dictated the winners and losers.

There are surprising results for the general election even if we just look at primary states. For example, both Democrats are underdogs in Missouri, but Clinton, who lost the primary, has a much better chance there than Obama, who won. And Obama is the favorite in New Hampshire, where he lost, while Clinton is the underdog there against McCain.

A good summary of the relative polling is the front page of

I actually disagree with what states he considers borderline. Barring a blowout, Obama's not going to win Texas or South Carolina, or lose Massachusetts. And Hillary is not going to lose New Jersey. Hillary also has a decent chance in Arkansas, which is not reflected on that map. Still, it's a good starting point to get a sense of how things look for the fall.

"Pennsylvania and Ohio are swing states that could easily go Republican in the fall. That's why these wins are important. Florida, too -- now that I think about it."

Again, primary victories do not necessarily equate to better results in the general election. But I'll set that aside because I would agree that Clinton has a better chance in the fall at all three, to varying degrees.

Obama's not winning Florida (again, barring a blowout win where he doesn't need it), and he probably doesn't get Ohio either. Obama's basic plan is to take the Gore states plus New Hampshire, Nevada, and Colorado. That gives him 270 with room to spare. (Aside: that may be why he was so willing to carpet-bomb Pennsylvania with ads last week - he knows that Pennsylvania is the true clincher state for him in the fall, so the ads were just an early investment.)

For Hillary, Colorado is off the board and Nevada and Iowa are longshots, so she is going for the Kerry states plus either Ohio or Florida. Pennsylvania is almost assumed for her - if Hillary loses Pennsylvania she's lost in an electoral landslide.

Carol Bounds

this is to Buck Naked Politics:

Do the Math, Hillary did not win with double digits. In reality, she had 54.3%, and Barrack had 45.7%. Now that looks like a 8.6 spread to me. Lets get real about these numbers, I hate doing math.

D. Cupples

Hi Carol,

You're right! I had simply posted C-SPAN's results, and C-SPAN had rounded off the percentages. That was based on C-SPAN's results at about 2:30 am on Wednesday, with 99% reporting.

Here are the correct percentages, based on those SAME results (going out 3 digits, no rounding off):

#Votes %Votes

Clinton 1,250,473 54.702%

Obama 1,035,488 45.297%

Difference 214, 985 9.405% (not 8.6%)

Total 2,285,961

I figured out Hillary's percentage of the vote by dividing 1,250,473 (her votes) by 2,285,961 (the total).

I figured out Obama's percentage by dividing 1,035,488 by 2,285,961.

C-SPAN's results have been UPDATED again (all but one precinct reporting), and the percentages have changed a bit (now, Hillary's margin is 9.301%).

I covered the new total in a correction-post linked below (the % could change again when the final precinct reports):

Carol Bounds

Thanks for the correction, I am not taking nothing away from her, but double digits close but not close enough.

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