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May 01, 2008



That MyDD article seems to ignore that more SDs have turned out for Obama than Clinton since Pennsylvania. And a couple Clinton superdelegates have actually switched to Obama, including one today (Joe Andrew). If you're looking to SDels as evidence of momentum (which you really shouldn't), it's evidence for Obama, not Clinton. Moreover, the indications from the Obama camp are that many elected SDels who support Obama are just waiting for June 4 to come out, so that they won't be seen as pre-empting the remaining primary votes.

As for the AP poll, it's interesting... but slanted toward the Democrats relative to every other recent poll we've seen, including the Gallup tracking numbers. The same poll has Obama beating McCain and Obama preferred by Democrats over Clinton. For now, this poll is the outlier.

Of course, none of those national numbers mean a thing - they're basically for entertainment purposes. What matters is electoral votes. puts Obama's chances as better than Clinton's in the general election, mainly due to better numbers in Washington, Oregon, Nevada, Colorado, New Mexico, Iowa, Wisconsin, Michigan, and New Hampshire. Hillary's better numbers in Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, and Arkansas don't close the gap.

D. Cupples


I didn't realize that the AP poll is the outlier, because Hillary seems to have gained ground in other polls too. Obviously, I didn't read too closely.

Just before Tuesday's elections, I'll likely put together some poll-result tables (I enjoy later pointing out which ones were wrong).

I just read about Joe Andrew. As a Hillary supporter, I'm disappointed, but it's his choice.

I read somehwere that Donna Brazile is NOW painting herself as leaning toward Hillary. Is that true?

If so, is it just a P-R move, so she can convince angry Dem voters that she really hadn't made up her mind months ago?

You're teeling me about an electoral map that favors Obama, and I saw one in the last week or two that favors Hillary. At this point, I suppose we can focus on whichever one we like.

Frankly, I still think that the best chance of the Dems' winning will be a joint ticket (whatever the order). People like Pelosi (who opposes the "dream ticket") have not satisfactorily explained the reasoning behind their opposition.

Speculations always abound at this point in a race.


Is the spelling "Hellary" in the post title intentional?

D. Cupples

Not intentional: I'm so embarrassed, but I've corrected it.

I don't know why Typepad doesn't have spellcheck in title field but it does in body of post (or maybe it's Firefox).

thanks for pointing it out.


Hillary may have gained in other polls too. She's gone up a bit in the gallup tracking poll, which is the most regularly taken national poll. Still, this poll puts Clinton's AND Obama's numbers way past their Gallup numbers. Who knows which is right? Not me, but I'm not reading much into any national result.

I trust's methodology more than any other site that has done a state-by-state analysis. has a much simpler approach - basically just grab the most recent poll in each state and assume that result happens - and as a result its estimates fluctuate a lot more heavily from week to week. Most of the time Obama does better, but right now Hillary wins and Obama loses, so go ahead and believe those polls in stead if you like.

My broader point is that I think the "electability" argument advanced by Hillary to the superdelegates is both very selective and very speculative. Obama and Clinton clearly have DIFFERENT paths to general election victory. Personally, I think Obama's November game plan is slightly more robust (because his eggs are in more baskets, so to speak) and likely to succeed. But I also freely admit that none of us can really know, and that includes Hillary's people.


As usual, poblano from does a fantastic job putting these numbers in context. I HIGHLY recommend this read:

D. Cupples

Hi Adam,

I just read the article.

I disagree with #11: I think Axelrod has run a very risky campaign, in the sense that he has encouraged Obama to say things that he doesn't understand and encouraged STEALTHILY negative campaigning.

I say "risky," because -- as the cliche goes -- you can't fool all of the people all of the time. I think that Obama's credibility (re: his grasp of some issues and his political hygiene) is downward spiraling -- a risk that Axelrod should have anticipated and NOT taken.

I think Axelrod was too short sighted.

As for the article's "analysis": I see a lot of conclusions based on speculations.

For example, poll numbers are conflicting re: Hillary v. Obama, nationwide and in upcoming primary states.

Second, some polls show Hillary gaining ground since Penn.

Fact: No one knows how likely (or not) it is for Hillary to win NC or for Obama to win it but non-solidly. God knows that conflicting polls can't be relied on.

Thus, it's all based on feelings or suppositions of the "analyst."

I'm not sure what you want me to glean from the article, so tell me.

Incidentally, Krugman has critiqued Obama's performance on Fox: he too had a problem with Obama's use of R-talking points re: de-regulation, but Krugman addressed Obama's handling of the pollution issue more directly and from a different angle than I did.

I quoted 90% of it here:

Krugman does agree with you about Hillary's gas-tax holiday. But I disagree with him on that, as I expressed in my answer to your comments on that post.

What you and I (and likely Krugman) DO agree on is that Hillary was merely playing political games re: the gas tax holiday.

I just think that it was a necessary and smart move.


I'm not sure what you're *rejecting* re: that article. If I were to summarize his points, I would say they are,

1) Clinton's numbers are improving against Obama, but since both are improving against McCain, the cause would seem to be more about positives for Clinton than negatives for Obama.

He lists some of the factors working for her, but those are certainly not his main arguments. You quibble on #11; not only do I disagree with you, but I think it's pretty clearly beside the point.

Aside from that, though, do you disagree with that point?

2) Because of Obama's increasingly inevitable pledged delegate lead, it's in the interest of the Clinton campaign to spin this as a negative for Obama rather than a positive for Clinton, because the only way the superdelegates move en masse to Hillary is if they think Obama's campaign has gone toxic.

I'll admit that that argument is fundamentally speculative, but it also seems pretty reasonable. "Hillary can win" will not be enough to get 80% of the truly undecided, non-add-on superdelegates to break her way. It has to be "Obama can't win".

D. Cupples

Hi Adam,

I agree (H left open raising the SS cap). I think I said as much. I would have a serious disagreement with her if I thought she'd closed off that option.

I too liked her tax-policy comments, but I found her health care comments most impressive. I was amazed that she backed O'Reilly into a corner -- to the point that he ended up saying he is willing to help pay for hardworking Americans' health care safety net.

My dad listens to O'Reilly (and Limbaugh). These are guys who've spent YEARS inspiring sheer terror in people like my dad over the S-word (socialism). Hillary's getting Bill-O to back off even a centimeter -- and in front of his own viewers -- was a noteworthy accomplishment.

I don't think that Hillary's strategy on the gas-tax holiday was all that risky. If it somehow does get through the Senate, it's a no harm/no foul policy in terms of $. I just don't see it passing the Senate.

Even if it was risky, McCain forced her to APPEAR (to ordinary voters) to be pro-tax breaks instead of pro-big oil. I think her response was like making lemonade with all those lemons. I just hope that Obama and other Dems join her on the "plan."

You and I always disagree re: the flavor of Obama's campaign. I'm still irritated that many media let him get away with claiming that he's not into nasty campaigning while his surrogates punch with brass knuckles.

The most recent example was before PA: at the ABC debate, he said that HE doesn't bring up Bosnia, and Hill deserves a break. That next weekend, his "surrogates" were having media calls and talking about Bosnia.

Technically, Obama didn't lie about not brining up the issue, because HE DID NOT. But his surrogates repeatedly did.

I WOULD NOT mind if Obama, himself, went after Hillary directly and openly with the brass knuckles IF he quit trying to claim that he isn't doing it.

But that's not how he's played since January.

The other issue: racism. His surrogates ludicrously accused Hillary of racism before South Carolina (with help from that SC congressman, Eugen Robinson and others -- remember the campaign memo re: race?).

And just last week, that same SC congressman was hollering about racism again. That's too much coincidence for me to think that it's not coordinated with Obama's campaign.

If it were true, I wouldn't mind, but Hillary and Bill have solid records re: civil rights and race relations. Ask Maya Angelou.

I was upset about it before SC, and I was upset about it last week.

Again: I'd be perfectly fine with his campaign's playing ordinary (old style) politics, if he weren't trying to disown his surrogates' tactics.

I think you and I will always disagree on that one point. But that's ok.

D. Cupples


I just NOW read (from Memeorandum) that Hillary actually called on ALL Dems to be with her or against her on the gas-tax holiday. I was off line most of the day.

That may have been a MISTAKE. I think they should have joined her but should not have been shamed into it, esp. since it's not a real proposal.

Sen. Udall is complaining about it, and he must be mad, because his initial statement is downright inaccurate: he says that Hillary's and McCain's plans are "the same," which they aren't.


We're thread hopping a bit, but your responses to my gas tax thread comments are well taken.

As I've said before, there's an enormous difference in the nature of negative attacks depending on how they are delivered. From most benign to most malicious:

1) Supporters who the campaigns have limited or no control over making accusations, and/or staffers going off-message and making stupid comments. Examples: Ferarro, Power, Bob Johnson, Robinson, et cetera. Connecting these attacks to the candidate him/herself is unfounded.

Attacks by supporters in the blogosphere or journalists in the MSM are of course not even tenuously connectible to the campaigns. I mention this not because you or any other rational person consciously thinks this to be the case, but because when you read a lot of criticisms of your favorite candidate, they will naturally tend to become conflated in your mind. For this reason, I think that a lot of the negative feelings Hillary supporters have about the Obama campaign are due to attacks on Hillary that Obama has had literally zero influence over.

2) Staffers making nasty comments on conference calls or in memos. This is certainly a bigger deal that the previous class of comments, because the candidate certainly has control over the message. Nevertheless, the nature of these communications is that they are only picked up on by the media or by political junkies. Attacking a candidate this way simply does not have the same impact, and is not comparable to more direct attacks.

3) Attacking a candidate through direct advertisements (either print or TV), or incorporating direct attacks into speeches. THESE are the attacks that actually determine the true tone of a campaign. You can complain until the cows come home about staffer conference calls, but their impact is really quite minimal. What matters is how a candidate speaks and how they spend their ad dollar.

I just looked through that whole Left-Coaster littany Damozel posted a while ago. Frankly, the more I went through it, the less impressed I became. Again and again, I would follow links that purported to show "Obama's camp" attacking Clinton, only to find quotes from a "prominent supporter", or even blog posts. The WORST examples they actually put in Obama's mouth, or any media statement made directly to the public, are:

- Obama saying he thought Hillary dodged a question at a campaign stop.
- Obama saying he does better among independents
- Obama arguing that Hillary is being selective in taking credit only for the things she wants from the Clinton years
- Obama, in response to a media question, noting the controversy of Hillary's LBJ/King comments, but saying he has no comment on it and his campaign is not pushing the issue.
- Some back and forth sniping where Clinton makes fun of Obama's book title and Obama calls her campaign a step toward the past.

Honestly, that's it. Hillary has been hit HARD in this campaign, but the majority of those hits have not been delivered by Obama, or even by his campaign. Obama has not produced a single ad or made any negative comments on the Bosnia flap or most of the other bumps in the road for Hillary's campaign.

In comparison, we have Hillary's "McCain and I have passed over the threshold of the presidency" comment. We have Hillary's "I'm running on years of experience, McCain is running on years of experience, and Obama is running on a speech in 2002" comment. We have Hillary making a prepared comment on the Jerimiah Wright controversy to give it another round in the media cycle. We have Hillary calling Obama's "bitter" comments elitist and incorporating that into her stump speech, and producing an attack ad about them before the Pennsylvania primary.

As I've said before, I think it takes a large dose of cognitive dissonance to think that the Obama campaign has been the more negative one for the last two months.


He's not Senator Udall yet. We've gotta wait six months before we can call him that. ;)

You're right, of course, that the plans are not the same. Hillary is right when she says her plan falls between that of McCain and that of Obama.

McCain's plan is to take money from highway maintenance programs and give it to oil companies. Hillary's plan is to take money from oil companies and give it to oil companies. Obama's plan is to take money from oil companies and reduce the amount we borrow from China.

D. Cupples


I've been saying this for weeks: 1) Obama's negativity has been largely stealthy; and 2) I don't judge his campaign based only on the last two months, I go back to January, when the stealth attacks began.

Stealth attacks are hard to respond to, precisely because it's hard for the opponent to even bring them up without spotlighting the story.

And yet stealth attacks are effective (esp. if much of the media supports the stealthy attacker), because they tarnish the image of the other candidate without letting him/her try to correct the record.

Aside from repeatedly implying (himself) that Hillary is dirty, corrupt, and incapable of changing Washington, Obama's worst one was the racism thing (Jan - Feb).

First, I don't believe for a second that the NC congressman who has TWICE now cried racism didn't run it by at least one campaign operative first, because it was risky.

Second, what about that memo that the Obama campaign OPERATIVE wrote, seeking to list comments from Hillary that could be SPUN as racism?

That shows direct intent, on his campaign's part, to paint her as a racist. If it were true, I wouldn't mind (and wouldn't support her). But it's not true.

The NY Times ran a piece TODAY that accuses Hillary and Bill of racist statements from Jan-Feb. Outrageous, in my opinion.

It also accuses THEM of pummeling Obama, as though he didn't provoke any of it. Again, outrageous.

I wouldn't mind Obama's being directly negative (instead of hiding behind surrogates), because that results in public debate.

I agree with you about loud-mouthed supporters.

I do NOT agree about media conference calls. They may not be as direct as an ad, but those things get made into media and blogger stories -- which ultimately do influence public opinion.

That's why I don't discount conference calls. I also think they show something important about how a candidate is TRULY operating when he makes nice at the very same time that his operatives are playing pit bull.

I would have far fewer questions about Obama's character and sincerity IF he had just stuck to criticizing Hillary directly and giving her a chance to respond.

He didn't do this, because it would get his hands dirty. Instead, he had other people do it.

As well as fearing tarnish on his (false) image, I think he was afraid to face direct responses from Hillary. I know I'd be afraid to take her on.

That's my take, after months of watching from a Hillary supporter's perspective, and it's ok if we disagree.

I understand that Obama supporters are more likely to overlook the more subtle negative stuff about Hillary than they will about their own candidates. It's natural.

I think that's why we disagree so much about Obama campaign's negativity and divisiveness: we're just looking at a different set of facts.

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