Archive for the 'WV-Dem' Category

Results thread: Childers makes it 3 in a row for Dems, Clinton triumphs

2am: With all precincts reporting, Clinton held on to a strong margin: 67% to 26% for Obama. John Edwards got 7% of the votes. The delegate breakdown is almost as good as Clinton could have hoped for as she gains 20 delegates to Obama’s 8. This includes a 4-2, 4-2 and 5-1 split in the state’s 3 congressional districts. She won every single county of the state, holding Obama under 15% (as low as 8%) in some counties. Meanwhile in Nebraska, Obama won the beauty primary contest by 2% and 2,500 votes — a good contrast for him in another very white state, though he had won the caucuses on February 9th — the first in that series of 11 victories that sank Clinton — with 68% of the vote.

11:45pm: In West Virginia, Clinton’s margin is superior to 40% with 83% of precincts reporting. She is leading 67% to 26% for Obama, as weak a showing as the polls were predicting. If numbers hold as they are, this could mean a delegate allocation as good for Clinton as 20-8.
In Mississippi, meanwhile, Childers’ final margin is an 8 percent victory, a stunning feat in this conservative a district and a significant improvement over April 22nd. This will send shockwaves through the House GOP in the coming days, with some predicting a few additional retirements. And don’t forget that there is a contested Senate race in Mississippi in November.

In Nebraska, finally, Scott Kleeb has won the Democratic nomination for the open Senate seat. The GOP’s Mike Johanns is heavily favored to keep the seat but Kleeb will attract attention from national Democrats. Also, Nebraska Democrats were holding a (beauty) primary today, confirming once again how difficult the playing field is for Clinton in caucuses: On February 9th, Clinton lost the caucuses 68% to 32% (and trailed by 8 delegates). In today’s primary which allocates no delegates, she is leading by 10,000 votes with 3/4th of the votes counted.

10:15pm: MS-01 is called for Democrat Travis Childers!
This is the third special election in a row won by Democrats and leaving the GOP in a state of true disarray. They can’t explain this one away by blaming a flawed Republican candidate. And while this might not seem like a huge surprise given that Childers almost won in April, just remember what was being said about this race as late as April 21st… It was a second-tier race at best in a district Bush won with 62%.
Tate County finished reporting with a slight improvement for Childers. Meanwhile, Pentiss County left no hope for Republicans, giving 86% of its vote to Childers. The Democrat’s 2,000 vote margin will likely increase with the last fifth of precincts reporting.

DeSoto County is done reporting: Davis increased his lead since April 22nd by an impressive 2,000 votes, with 75% of the vote. But he had gotten 81% 3 weeks ago and, with his strongest county done, he still trails Childers by 1,100 votes. Davis can still count on Tate County but that county is much smaller than Prentiss, which is Childers’ base. Not that I am willing to call a race before the AP but…

I am not sure where Davis can get the votes to close the gap. With 64% reporting, the margin is down to 2,000 votes and 2%. But that includes 73% of DeSoto County now — and Childers has 1,000 more votes than the first round while Davis has yet to reach his previous total. Meanwhile, of the 7 counties that have yet to report anything, Childers won 5 three weeks ago.
Meanwhile in West Virginia, Obama is failing to get 30% with 38% reporting. He trails 64% to 29%. Edwards’ name was on the ballot, and he is getting about 7% right now!

This election is looking increasingly good for Democrats. LaFayette County fully reported transforming a 200 vote loss into a 300 vote victory for Childers, with turnout more than double. DeSoto is now 55% reporting and, while Davis is getting 73% of the vote, that is not enough to close the gap with Childers whose biggest county hasn’t even started reporting.

More than half of the precincts are reporting and Childers is 8% — or 3,500 votes — ahead. Keep in mind that DeSoto County has still a long way to go, but Childers’ strongest county (Prentiss) has yet to report. It gave the Democrat 83% of the vote on April 22nd. It is Panola County’s turn to bring good news to Childers. Three weeks, Davis led by one vote in this county. Today, more than 5,000 voters went to the polls instead of 2,100 (a huge turnout increase) and Childers is leading by 700 votes with only one precinct outstanding.

: With 41% reporting, Childers is leading by 6%. More great news for Childers as counties are finishing reporting: (1) Yalobusha County: With all precincts reporting, Childers transformed a 21 vote loss 3 weeks ago into a 400 vote lead (59% to 41%). This is not necessarily the most important county in the district, but it does suggest that Childers is not hurting from the increased turnout: Turnout is about 150% of what it was on April 22nd. (2) Chikensaw County: Here again, turnout doubled and Childers increased his share of the vote from 67% to 73%. African-Americans are voting in greater numbers and Childers leads Davis by 500 votes votes more in the county alone.

More than a third of precincts is now reporting and Childers is down to a 6% lead. But Childers is getting some great news from Lowndes County. With 18/22 precincts counted, this county is tied with Davis 6 votes ahead. Three weeks ago, Childers trailed by 400 votes and got 43%. Also, Webster County just became the first county with more than one precinct to have reported; the margin is the same (+200 votes for Davis) but turnout has almost doubled so this is obviously a good showing for Childers who improves his percentage and did not suffer from increased turnout.

Numbers are now coming in faster from MS and the turnout totals are indeed very different. In Chickasaw County, with half of the precincts reporting, Davis is already at his total from three weeks ago Childers isn’t even at half of his… Things look better for Childers in Marshall County, where it looks like African-American turnout is helping him. DeSoto has started reporting and is naturally helping Davis, though Childers is (for now) at 26%, versus 17% 3 weeks ago. With 20% reporting, Childers is on top with 55% and 1,700 votes.

Results are now trickling in from both races. In West Virginia, Clinton is leading by 24% with 5% of precincts reporting.
In Mississippi, it does not look very good for Travis Childers if we look at a key county. With 16% reporting, he is ahead 59% to 41%. But Lee County — which Childers won with 58% and 1,700 votes is more than 75% reporting and Davis has already surpassed his April 22nd total while Childers is 900 votes under. It looks like there is increased turnout that is helping the Republican.

8:25pm: No votes have yet been reported in either contests (I am following the MS results at the Clarion-Ledger) but Clinton wasted no time sending out an email celebrating her victory in West Virginia and vowing to press forward, sounding a defiant tone and refusing to concede that the race is over:

After tonight’s tremendous victory here in West Virginia, it’s clear that the pundits declaring this race over have it all wrong. The voters in West Virginia spoke loud and clear — they wa
nt this contest to go on. I’m listening to the voters — and to you.

With your help, I’m going to carry the energy of tonight’s victory into the next contests in Kentucky and Oregon… We’ve proved conventional wisdom wrong time and again in this race. We did it again tonight in West Virginia. Let’s keep going.

8:00pm: Still no votes are being reported in WV but the polls have closed in Mississippi. In worrisome news for Democrats, DeSoto County, the district’s biggest county that is also Davis’s base (he got 81% here on April 22nd) ran out of ballots and had to reprint some — suggesting that turnout was very superior to the first round’s. Less than 13,000 voters came to the polls in that county on that day, but 17,000 ballots were printed today. Overall, turnout is up throughout the county. In a district that is as Republican as MS-01, the higher the turnout the more difficult it becomes for Democrats. They can have hope that most of that turnout comes from black voters, but DeSoto running out of ballots increased turnout still confirms why it is much easier to pick-up a seat like this in the first round than in the runoff (see CA-50 a few years ago).

Clinton triumphs in West Virginia. Surprise, surprise, the race was called as soon as the polls closed.
Exit polls suggest a roughly 2:1 margin in Clinton’s favor, who would then get about 66% of the vote. That’s about what polls were suggesting — though perhaps on the lower end of what Clinton was allowed to hope for. Note, however, that only 51% of voters were women which is a much smaller proportion than we are used to seeing in Democratic primaries. Clinton got 73% among voters with no college education. 69% in households with less than $50,000. In further proof that this has little to do with operation mischief, registered Democrats voted for Clinton more than did independents. 21% of voters said that race was an important factor for them, and 84% voted for Clinton; she got more than 60% of those who said it wasn’t a factor.

Original post: Welcome to the third results thread of the month of May. Appropriately, the first concerned the special election in LA-06 and the second the Democratic primaries in IN and NC. Today, two elections await us: the primary in West Virginia, which Hillary Clinton is expected to win handily, and the much more suspenseful special election in Mississippi’s 1st district.

In West Virginia, the question will be Clinton’s margin and how low she can manage to keep Obama among blue-collar voters. Too huge a loss would certainly be embarrassing for the Illinois Senator considering his campaign is already claiming the nomination; and given that some networks have planned some coverage of the primary tonight, they would have little else to talk about than Obama’s continued weakness among the working-class as well as some problematic exit polls from West Virginia: 51% of Democrats say that Obama agrees with Reverend Wright, versus 47%. Also, 75% of Clinton voters say they would be dissatisfied if Obama became the nominee, versus 61% of Obama supporters. Also, as many Clinton voters say they will support Obama in the fall as say McCain (36% versus 35%). These are not Republican voters creating mischief as West Virginia is a half-open primary in which only independents and Dems can vote in the Democratic primary.

In Mississippi, Democrat Childers came within 400 votes of picking up the seat in the first round on April 22nd. Since then, the GOP has done everything it can to nationalize the election and attach Childers’ party affiliation around his neck (this is a district that gave 62% of its vote to Bush). Ensued massive spending on the part of the NRCC and DCCC (more than $3 million combined). Today, a last minute controversy erupted as the Democratic committee sent out this mailer accusing Greg Davis of ties with the KKK:

While the GOP is furious about what they see as race-baiting, note that the flier (rightly) accuses Republicans of having played the race-card first: “You’ve seen the TV ads attacking Barack Obama – trying to use race and religion to divide us.”

Explaining West Virginia, plus some Oregon polls

What is up with West Virginia, a commenter in the previous thread asks. Should we think of it as a racist a state? That’s the impression one gets reading media commentary about today’s primary.

As has been increasingly evident throughout this year, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama have built extremely stable electoral coalitions and the breakdown of the vote among key constituencies has been remarkably stable since January — Clinton wins Hispanics, the lower classes, voters with no college degree, blue collar workers. Obama wins African-Americans, the upper classes, voters with a college degree, white collar workers. In almost every state the demographics determined the results, with both candidates failing over and over again to make inroads in the other candidate’s base (and it’s not for a lack of trying, like Obama with Hispanic voters in California). The few times Obama broke the Clinton code (Virginia and Wisconsin mostly), the rewards were great.

West Virginia has a huge proportion of blue-collar voters and voters with no college degree, not to mention that there is only a small black population. If West Virginia votes the way every other state has voted, its demographic make-up guarantees Clinton a gigantic victory so there is nothing surprising in today’s expectations. There is nothing particularly strange about West Virginia, about its voters or its racial dynamics. We’ve long known that Reagan Democrats are among the toughest groups for Obama. This is not to say that the 25% Obama is getting in the polls are not due to racism or that the Illinois Senator is not struggling because of racial prejudice. The point merely is that the issue here is not that much different than in other states so let’s not be too harsh on West Virginia.

Whether the question of racism arises depends on how you want to explain the fact that blue-collar white voters are not voting for Obama. Clinton supporters would argue that Obama’s rhetoric resonates more with the upper classes because it is more transcendent (Politico quotes a Democratic strategist saying that: (“What people don’t understand about Appalachia is that we’ve heard all this ‘hope’ and ‘change’ stuff since the English kicked the Scotch-Irish out in the 1700s. We’re ‘hoped’ out. Nothing ever changes out here. He’s got to come with some solid policies.”) Yet, it seems hard to argue that race doesn’t play an important role as well. You can decide how much weight to attribute to both factors.

Also, let’s keep in mind that sexism is also a huge issue, and one that Clinton has to fight herself in West Virginia. From a West Virginia voter as quoted by the Boston Globe, via Ben Smith:

“I’m going to vote for the colored guy,” said Henry Ford — “no, not that Henry Ford,” the 87-year old retired carpenter in the Napa Auto Parts hat pointed out. “I don’t dislike her, but I don’t think a woman can be president of the United States. I don’t think she can handle the job.”

Not that such language is surprising considering congressmen are engaging in stunningly sexist rhetoric as well.

Meanwhile, Obama can look forward to Oregon’s primary on next Tuesday where he seems to be solidifying his position according to 3 new polls. This could help him balance out awful news that is likely to come out of Kentucky.

  • SUSA finds Obama to be ahead 54% to 43% and gaining ground among women. Note that 43% of voters say they have already voted (Oregon has a mail-in voting system) and Obama only leads by 1%.
  • The Portland Tribune finds Obama crushing Clinton 55% to 35%. I believe this is the first non-SUSA poll of Oregon.
  • Finally, PPP shows Obama leading 53% to 39%.

The Obama campaign is looking to clinch a majority of pledged delegate on May 20th. A large victory in Oregon would guarantee that they succeed.

Southern polls: North Carolina and Virginia will be battlegrounds

The West Virginia primary feels very much like Mississippi’s on March 11th. It comes the week after a major Election Day and there is no suspense, hardly even on the margin of victory. 24 hours from polls opening, a new poll from WV combined to a poll from Kentucky (which votes next Tuesday) confirms how difficult the Appalachians region is for Obama and how disastrous those two states’ results could be:

  • In West Virginia, Suffolk University shows Clinton leading 60% to 24% for Obama. That’s 71% of the two-person vote, more than what Clinton got in Arkansas.
  • While Clinton has a favorability rating of 70%, only 44% of Democrats have a favorable impression of him.
  • Update: SUSA has released a new poll from Kentucky as well, finding Clinton ahead 62% to 30%, a 2:1 margin which is actually a 2% progression for Obama! In Eastern Kentucky, the Appalachian region bordering West Virginia, Clinton gets 84%! Could Obama fail to reach the viability level in a district?

Those numbers might seem excessive but they are certainly realistic. Not only are they confirmed by other polls but they also conform to what we have been seeing in districts surrounding West Virginia in states like Ohio and Pennsylvania and in which Clinton routinely got 70%. Of the 5 counties of Ohio that border West Virginia, Clinton crossed 70% in 4 of them and got more than 77% in 3.

Obama’s difficulty in winning these regions — whether linked to racism or whether due to the primary’s class-divide, with blue-collar voters dominating these regions being Clinton’s base — probably make West Virginia and Kentucky lost causes in the general election: With only 44% of Democrats having a favorable impression of him in WV, Obama has no path to a majority. That’s not a concern in Kentucky but Democrats might have been looking to put West Virginia in play, as it had long been a blue state before increasingly turning red starting in 2000.

Note, however, that a series of polls taken this fall had Clinton and Edwards looking stunningly competitive in Kentucky, often leading Republicans, while Obama struggled (for example this one). As I have noted many times, both Democrats have regions of the country in which they would be clearly stronger than the other, and this is one Obama is weaker in. The Research 2000 poll referenced above also included some general election numbers with Clinton struggling but performing 13 percent better than Obama in Kentucky:

  • McCain leads Clinton 53% to 41% and leads Obama 58% to 33%. Bush beat Kerry 60% to 40% in 2004.

Meanwhile, three new polls today show that Democrats would be very competitive in Virginia and in North Carolina, two states the GOP has not thought about in recent elections but which it could now have a lot of trouble defending:

  • In Virginia, Rasmussen finds McCain leading Obama 47% to 44% and Clinton 47% to 41%. That’s a great improvement for Dems since the end of March where their numbers had fallen to trailing by double-digits.
  • Obama’s favorability rating (51%) is lower than McCain’s but he has more viewing him “very favorably”.
  • In North Carolina, Rasmussen finds similar results, with McCain leading both Democrats by 3 percent, 47% to 44% against Obama and 43% to 40% against Clinton. That’s an improvement for Clinton but actually a slight drop for Obama who was tied with McCain in the last poll.
  • Finally, Public Policy Polling released a poll from North Carolina as well, confirming that hte race is competitive without being quite as positive for Democrats than Rasmussen: McCain leads Obama 49% to 42% while Clinton trails 46% to 38%.

Virginia has been expected to be a swing state given the state’s rapidly changing demographics and the Democrats’ statewide success in recent years (Kaine, Webb). North Carolina is more of a surprise, after Democrats failed to put it in play in 2004 despite picking Edwards as their vice-presidential candidate. There is no question that forcing the GOP to defend both would be a great victory for Obama, but we should soon move beyond surprise that the state is competitive and start giving McCain credit for still being ahead. After all, Virginia and Colorado are two states who think of as red that the Obama campaign puts at the top of its priorities.

Two Senate surveys came with the polls listed above and they both bring good news for Democrats:

  • Rasmussen confirms that Mark Warner is heavily favored to pick up Virginia’s senate seat, as he leads Jim Gilmore 55% to 37%. 37% have a very favorable impression of Warner, and 29% have a somewhat favorable one (Gilmore’s numbers are 15-33). It’s hard to beat those numbers.
  • More interestingly, PPP released numbers from the North Carolina Senate race. They find Elizabeth Dole leading 48% to 43% against Democrat Kay Hagan.

PPP’s numbers are better for Dole than Rasmussen’s shocking survey last week finding Hagan leading by 1%. But every poll that shows Dole this vulnerable is still a surprise. Hagan is considered a second-tier candidate at best, and few signs pointed to Democrats making it this tight this quickly with this little effort. Given that NC is (was?) about 10th on the Democrats’ priority list, they will certainly take any poll that shows Dole under 50% and leading by single-digits.

Friday polls: Obama suffers WV blues, Cornyn struggles again

3 days after North Carolina and Indiana, Hillary Clinton is showing no sign of withdrawing from the race; no matter how low her chances to get the nomination (and Rasmussen has just announced that he will soon cease his tracking poll of the Democratic nomination race!), this means that we should pay attention to the upcoming primaries again. If Obama performs disastrously, it would put him on the defensive again in the final weeks of May, perhaps buying Clinton the time she needs to continue to June 3rd and embarrass the Illinois Senator.

This applies to Kentucky, of course, but also to West Virginia which votes in 4 days:

  • A new ARG poll shows Clinton leading 66% to 23%. Obama fails to get 20% among white voters.
  • An Orion Strategies poll with too large a margin an error finds a similar margin, with Clinton leading 63% to 23%.

We have long known that Obama’s worst region was the Appalachians, as he lost by similar voting margins in the counties of Ohio, Pennsylvania and North Carolina that border Kentucky and West Virginia; given the demographic determination of these elections, it doesn’t appear there is much Obama will be able to do to avoid this large a defeat (to put things in perspective, only Arkansas has voted for Clinton by a bigger margin).

Meanwhile, we got a series of general election polls in the past two days. Keep those numbers in mind for they will serve to determine whether Obama gets a bump from his being proclaimed the presumptive nominee in the coming days and weeks:

  • In Rasmussen’s tracking, Obama leads McCain 47% to 44% (the first time he has led for consecutive days for two months) and Clinton leads 48% to 43%. In Gallup, Obama leads McCain by 1% and Clinton leads by 2%.
  • UPDATE: How frustrating must today’s Gallup numbers be for Hillary Clinton. Not only does Obama fail to pull away despite this being the third day after NC and IN, but Clinton has suddenly jumped up to a 48% to 44% lead against McCain (which I believe might be her biggest lead ever in Gallup tracking) while Obama leads 46% to 45%.
  • A Rasmussen poll in Missouri, however, has McCain leading both Democrats. He has a 48% to 41% lead against Obama and 45% to 43% against Clinton. Last month, he led Obama by 12% and Clinton by 9% so this is actually quite an improvement for Democrats. Obama’s favorability rating is only at 46% — equal to Clinton’s and much lower than McCain’s.
  • In Georgia, Rasmussen finds McCain comfortably leading both Democrats, 53% to 39% against Obama and 48% to 37% against Clinton.
  • In Rasmussen’s Wisconsin poll, McCain leads yet again — this time in a blue state — beating both Democrats 47% to 43%. This is a big boost for Clinton who led by 11% at the end of March. Obama’s favorability rating — at 51% — is lower than McCain’s (58%). Note that McCain’s “very favorable” rating is much lower (only 14%), suggesting that his support is soft.
  • A Research 2000 poll from Texas, meanwhile, does not confirm how tight Rasmussen had found the race last week (both Democrats within single-digits) but the race is not as much of a blowout as in past cycles: McCain leads Obama 52% to 39% and Clinton 53% to 38%.
  • Finally, Hotline published its latest national poll and finds Clinton leading McCain 46% to 43% and Obama ahead 47% to 43%. McCain leads both Democrats by double-digits among independents, a troubling sign, but both Democrats have markedly improved their showing since the end of March when they both trailed. Proving how much McCain overperforms, Democrats lead the generic presidential ballot by 14% (15% among independens).

Democrats were used to leading Republican candidates in a whole list of red states back in 2007… until John McCain became the nominee. Trailing in both Wisconsin and Missouri is not a good place to start for Democrats considering they are supposed to be the heavy favorites to win this year’s election. The question then is how these numbers will evolve in the coming weeks. Will Obama’s becoming the presumptive nominee and the media’s round of celebration boost his numbers, in a traditional post-victory popularity boost? Will Clinton’s staying in the race blunt the impact of that?

Finally, a few very interesting down-the-ballot polls:

  • Research 2000 polled the Texas Senate race and found a 47% to 43% lead for Senator Cornyn versus state Senator Noriega. Back in September, Cornyn was leading by 16%.
  • This is the same margin of a Rasmussen poll released a few days ago.
  • Meanwhile, Missouri Attorney General Jay Nixon is opening a large lead against both his Republican rivals for the open gubernatorial race. He is leading state Treasurer Sarah Steelman and congressman Kenny Hulshof 51% to 35%.

Both of these polls are great news for Democrats. Missouri is the most vulnerable gubernatorial seat and Nixon has basically been running since 2004. Governor Blunt’s surprise retirement actually gave the GOP a bit more hope but it looks like Nixon could put this away quickly. As for Texas, the fact that two polls within one week show this tight a race is truly shocking and suggests that we were wrong to completely overlook this state in assessments of this year’s Senate picture. Noriega always had the potential to make the race competitive but TX-Sen was a second-to-third tier race at best: Too big and conservative a state, too well-funded an incumbent, not a well-known enough challenger. We shall know in the coming weeks if the DSCC can count on expanding the map to the Lone Star State.

Poll round-up: Both NC and IN tightening in last hours

In many latest post, I explained that tomorrow’s results will be determined the class and racial breakdown of the electorate. As such, it is more important than ever to understand that the trend lines of these latest Democratic polls are more important than the raw numbers insofar as most (though not all) pollsters project a turnout model and weigh the results accordingly; they cannot help us determine what proportion of the electorate blue-collar voters or African-Americans will end up making.

That said, on to the polls — and I will do my best to provide the sample’s breakdown when it is available. First up, Indiana where Zogby remains the only pollster to show Obama ahead:

  • First, SUSA finds Clinton up double-digits, 54% to 42%. Last week, Clinton was ahead by 9%.
  • As always, Clinton’s lead is much bigger among registered Democrats (69% of the sample): she is ahead by 19%. Women only make up 52% of this sample though they are sure to be a much stronger force tomorrow (women typically make up 57% to 59% of the electorate of a Democratic primary).
  • In Zogby’s final tracking, Obama maintains a 2% lead for the third day in a row. The two candidates are tied among women — a finding other polls disagree with.
  • Suffolk, meanwhile, finds Clinton up 6 percent, 49% to 43%. Only 61% of the electorate is made up of registered Democrat, a crucial difference with SUSA.
  • PPP finds a close race as well, with Clinton’s lead diminishing to a 5 percent margin, 51% to 46%. That’s a 3% improvement for Obama.
  • Insider Advantage shows a similar tightening, with Clinton’s 7% lead last week down to 4%; she leads 48% to 44%.

North Carolina, meanwhile, stays strong for Obama though there is disagreement on the margin:

  • SUSA finds Obama to be leading 50% to 45%; this is the same margin as last week.
  • SUSA projects that 32% of the electorate will be African-American; among whites, Clinton gets an impressive 63%.
  • Zogby’s final tracking shows Obama expanding his lead to a 51% to 37% margin.
  • Zogby also predicts that the black vote will make up 32% of the electorate; in more good news for Obama, he only gets 79% of the black vote in this poll, with Clinton at her usual 11%. The remaining undecided black voters are likely to almost all break towards Obama.
  • PPP’s final poll shows Clinton tightening the race for the second week in a row but she still trails by 10%, 53% to 43%. She was trailing by 25% two weeks ago and by 12% last week.
  • PPP projects 35% of the electorate to be black; Clinton gets 60% among whites.
  • Insider Advantage, finally, finds the race much tighter than other institutes; it has Obama ahead by 3%. Its most recent poll had him leading by 5% — but keep in mind that IA was hte only group to find Clinton narrowly ahead early last week.
  • IA shows Clinton with 58% of the white vote but also with 17% of the black vote. If that is at all confirmed tomorrow, it would be a huge gain for Clinton, and one that would surely lead her to a solid result overall.

There is the potential for both candidates to get what they need out of tomorrow: SUSA’s poll have Clinton up double-digits in Indiana and trailing by low single-digits in North Carolina, exactly where she needs to be to score a credible victory. If Zogby’s findings and turnout model is vindicated, however, it would be very difficult for Clinton to stay in the race. Other polls fall somewhere in between. All in all, the fact that both races are tightening is better news for Obama who is happy with the status-quo being maintained. He does not need to change the narrative of the race. (We will discuss all of this in more detail tomorrow.)

However, there is a risk to Obama failing to close the deal once again. If Clinton survives tomorrow’s votes, she can look forward to a very good week in West Virginia:

  • Rasmussen’s latest poll, released today, has Clinton up 56% to 27%. That’s actually a 1% improvement from a poll taken in mid-March.

Clinton’s margin is even stronger in Kentucky, which votes on May 20th. West Virginia and Kentucky are part of Obama’s worst region in the country, the Appalachians. Clinton typically wins more than 2:1 in districts of that region and she can expect much more attention to be turned to her strength among these voters if she is alive after tomorrow.

Also today, other general election polls found interesting results:

  • The latest national AP/Ipsos poll shows Clinton opening up a 47% to 40% lead against Obama among Democratic voters. In the general election, both lead McCain. Clinton is ahead 47% to 42% while Obama leads 46% to 42%. This is the AP’s second poll in a week — quite unexpectedly.
  • The USA Today/Gallup poll also finds Clinton leading 51% to 44%; but in the general, McCain is ahead of both Republicans, 3% against Clinton and 1% against Obama, thus confirming that yesterday’s NYT/CBS poll should not be taken to signify that Democrats have opened a big lead.
  • Finally, a general election poll from Texas finds a competitive race! Rasmussen finds Obama trailing McCain 48% to 43% and Clinton behind 49% to 43%. This actually confirms a SUSA poll from late February that had McCain stuck in single-digits against both Democrats.
  • As always, it is fascinating to see how both Democrats arrive at similar numbers by putting together two completely different coalitions. Clinton trails by 12% among men, Obama leads by 2%; Clinton leads by 1% among women, Obama trails by 12%. Among Democrats, Clinton gets 80% but Obama 69%, a poor showing he compensates with stronger numbers among registered Republicans.

Just as some polls suggest McCain has the potential to dealing a terrible blow to Democrats by keeping New York competitive, having to seriously contest Texas and pour resources and time here would be a horrifying development for the GOP. The biggest Republican state in the country, Texas has also been one of the most reliable in recent cycles. But with the share of Hispanic vote increasing, Democrats are hopeful they can tighten the partisan gap in the state — though few people expect (expected?) Texas to tighten this year.

SUSA complements primary polls with avalanche of general election surveys

  • Primary polls have Clinton up in two key states

Two primary surveys released today point to Hillary Clinton’s advantage in some upcoming states, including a surprisingly big lead in a state that is supposed to be closer:

  • In Pennsylvania, Franklin & Marshall released a survey showing Clinton leading 51% to 35%. This is an improvement for the New York Senator, who led 44% to 32% in the group’s previous poll.
  • The favorability ratings of both candidates are also very instructive. In the past month, Obama has gone from 57-16 to 47-25, a significant plunge (and this is among Democratic voters only), while Clinton is still viewed favorably by 65% and unfavorably by 18%.
  • In West Virginia, Rasmussen released a poll today showing Clinton up 2:1, 55% to 27%. West Virginia votes on May 13th.

Rasmussen’s survey is the first poll we have seen from West Virginia, so it is clearly a relief for Hillary to see that she is so favored in the state, which was not necessarily a given. As for Pennsylvania, Clinton’s has been steadily increasing her baseline double-digit lead since March 4th to the extent that a 16% lead almost looks disappointing for her right now.

  • General election: McCain picks up ground but Obama holds his own

Following the string of 9 catastrophic general election polls released yesterday (including three from SUSA in OH, KY and MO), today’s delivery of general election surveys is almost a relief for Democrats, as it can reassure them that they have yet to lose all the advantages they had amassed in the past few months. And SUSA followed up yesterday’s releases with an avalanche of polls today, many of which were less dramatic for Obama.

We’ll look more at the detail of the swing state surveys:

  • In New Mexico, both Clinton and Obama lead McCain 51% to 45%. That’s a six point improvement for Clinton in the past two weeks and a one point decline for Obama.
  • Obama gets much more cross-over Republicans, Clinton more independents. And Clinton does better among Hispanics, 65% to Obama’s 56%.
  • Great number for Democrats in the traditionally red state of Virginia, where Obama edges McCain 48% to 47% and where Clinton ties him at 47%. That’s a 10 point improvement for Clinton and a one point improvement for Obama over the past two weeks.
  • Obama is slightly stronger than Clinton among independents and Republicans, and weaker among Democrats. Clinton is also weak among black voters (63% only, versus 84% for Obama).
  • In Minnesota, Clinton leads McCain 49% to 46% but the Republican edges out Obama 47% to 46%. That’s an 8 point decline for Obama and a 1 point decline for Clinton.
  • In Iowa, it’s the inverse: Obama leads McCain 50% to 44% but McCain leads Clinton 48% to 44%. That’s a one point improvement for Clinton and a three point decline for Obama.
  • The difference is among Republicans (Obama gets 14% and Clinton 5%) and among independents (Obama leads by 12, Clinton trails by 2).
  • In Wisconsin, the race is also very tight: Clinton edges out McCain 45% to 44% and Obama beats him 48% to 44%. That’s a 3% decline for Clinton and a 7% decline for Obama.
  • There are here again noteworthy differences: Obama leads independents by 2% but Clinton trails by 19%. Clinton balances that by her strength among Democrats, 85% versus 74% for Obama.
  • In Washington, Clinton is ahead 50% to 45% and Obama 52% to 41%. That’s a significant improvement for Hillary who trailed in the state three weeks ago.
  • In Oregon, Clinton leads 5o% to 44% and Obama 5o% to 41%. That’s also a significant shift in Clinton’s favor as she was led by 5% three weeks ago. Generally Clinton has had trouble in WA and OR, so it is good for her to be ahead in both.
  • And then there is Massachusetts which is competitive even though it should not be: Clinton leads 55% to 42% and McCain manages the stunning feat of tying Obama at 47%. There have been many polls that have shown Obama in trouble in this blue state. Obama trails among independents and only gets 66% among Democrats in what represents a 7% decline for him in the past 2 weeks.
  • We also got a MA poll from Rasmussen, pointing to a more positive picture for Dems: Clinton leads 54% to 35% and Obama 49% to 42%. Even that is too close for comfort for Obama.

We also got a number of polls from less competitive states:

  • In California, Clinton is up 56% to 38% and Obama 54% to 40% — that’s a 3% improvement for Obama and 6% for Clinton, though she only gets 64% of black voters, while Obama is a bit weaker among both Democrats and Hispanics.
  • In Alabama, McCain crushes Clinton 56% to 38% and Obama 62% to 35%, a 13% decline for Barack in 2 weeks. Obama gets 62% of Democrats, Clinton 64% of blacks.
  • In Kansas, McCain leads Obama by only 51% to 39%. Clinton is trailing 55% to 36%.
  • In New York, Obama is only up single-digits, 52% to 44% (a 6% decline). Clinton leads 54% to 41%.

The last poll I will cite is CBS’s national poll that has Obama up 48% to 43% and Clinton up 46% to 44%. Worth noting that McCain was trailing by 12% against Obama last month, so this is actually a positive trendline for him — though he clearly trails.

All candidates have good news in those polls: McCain is generally strengthening his position, Clinton is as well and while Obama is on the decline in most states he remains in a very strong position in a number of key contests (Virginia, Iowa, New Mexico, for example, all states won by Bush in 2004). Contrary to yesterday’s 9 polls, these general election surveys point to are balancing from the polling excesses of the end of February: At the height of Obamania, Clinton was constantly distanced in polls and Obama was riding high. Now, the latter is back down to more normal levels and Clinton is back up to where she likely
always truly was.

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