Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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February 3, 2008
By: Kevin Drum

POLL MADNESS....The national polls conducted in the past couple of days are all remarkably consistent on the Democratic side, showing Hillary Clinton leading Barack Obama by an average of 47%-39%. Here are the individual numbers:

  • Fox: 47-37

  • Gallup: 48-41

  • Rasmussen: 49-38

  • Pew: 46-38

  • ABC: 47-43

Hillary's 8-point lead has been steady for several weeks now. If it holds up, and if undecided voters break evenly, and if delegates get split in about the same proportion as the vote, this means that Hillary will win about 1,127 delegates to Obama's 937. If Obama makes a late surge, it'll be closer. In other words, there's virtually no chance that Super Tuesday will decide the Democratic race. So for all of you who are already sick and tired of the primaries, you better buck up. The real race is just getting started.

UPDATE: Gallup has just released its latest tracking numbers and now has Clinton leading by only two points, 46-44. Is this a fluke, or an Obama surge? Might as well wait until Tuesday to find out.

Kevin Drum 1:39 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (146)

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I know you're not supposed to do this, but this morning I sat down and multiplied all the Real Clear Politics poll averages by the number of Democratic delegates; and I assumed the unpolled small states were a wash.

The result? Hillary won by only about 75 delegates, i.e. 881-807.

And note that a lot of the RCP polls are a week or two old, i.e. they don't register any of the recent movement for Obama.

Anyway, should be interesting.

Posted by: lampwick on February 3, 2008 at 1:49 PM | PERMALINK

Gallup is now 46-44 (tracking) or 45-44 (Gallup/USA Today). They said that Clinton had a good day Friday but Obam had a better day yesterday.

Posted by: qwert on February 3, 2008 at 1:59 PM | PERMALINK

What's interesting is that just a few months ago, I would have bet that the Democratic primary would have been settled by Super Tuesday and that the Republican primary would still be in turmoil. I would have also bet that the chances of a deadlocked convention were greater on the Republican side than on the Democratic side. Amazing how things can change so quickly.

Posted by: PaulB on February 3, 2008 at 1:59 PM | PERMALINK

I imagine the key question is how accurately are the polls measuring opinion among the people who will actually end up voting in the Democratic primaries.

I don't know the answer to that one. There are some factors -- like the fact that California's Democratic primary is open to independents and its Republican primary is not -- that point toward an Obama advantage. But overall I'm a little dubious of how widespread this latest Obama surge is.

Clinton is still the best-known candidate among all Democratic voters -- as distinct from people who follow politics closely all the time. She is a woman running in primaries in which women have so far been the majority (by about 55-45%) of voters. And she is white. This is a disadvantage for her in a few Southern states, like Georgia, in which most Democratic primary voters are black, and it doesn't seem to matter much in northern or western states with very small African-American populations. Elsewhere, though, I think it's a significant advantage -- the Clinton's goosing up the race issue a couple of weeks ago was pretty tasteless, but electorally speaking it wasn't a wrong move.

All this suggests to me that Obama needed to give undecided Democrats and independents something extra in terms of reasons to vote for him over the last Democratic President's wife. I don't think he did that in the debate last week.

Among Democrats who follow politics all the time I see opinion moving more or less toward Obama. I could be wrong, but I'd be surprised if Clinton did not turn out stronger among the Democrats who actually vote on Tuesday.

Posted by: Zathras on February 3, 2008 at 2:03 PM | PERMALINK

I really am leery of polls.

Hillary maybe leading... but push polling is the pits.

check it out (LA Times)

http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/washington/2008/02/breaking-news-p.html

Posted by: Tom Nicholson on February 3, 2008 at 2:09 PM | PERMALINK

Since Edwards dropped out I think I've changed my mind about 8 times between Clinton and Obama and Not Sure. I was going to flip a coin and then I changed my mind on that! Crap, just two days to go.

Posted by: Doc at the Radar Station on February 3, 2008 at 2:23 PM | PERMALINK

Doc, as a former Edwards guy myself let me offer something that might help: I'm convinced, and there are poll number to back me up (sorry no link handy), that Clinton may well lose to McCain, whereas Obama is a pretty good bet to beat him. How does 4 (or God help us 8 if he lives that long) years of ever-expanding warfare sound to you? If your answer is "bad", vote for Obama.

Posted by: Steve LaBonne on February 3, 2008 at 2:27 PM | PERMALINK

National polls sample not only the Feb 5 states, but states where voting will be much later (if at all) and states where voting has already happened. As people start to pay attention, Obama surges. This may be slowing as the Edwards people sort themselves out.

But even the Field Poll in CA had them 2% apart with 18% undecided. The momentum and energy seem to be with Obama, but is it enough? Hopefully yes, as he offers the best contrast with McCain, who seems to have wrapped it all up.

Posted by: Mimikatz on February 3, 2008 at 2:27 PM | PERMALINK

Hillary seems to be holding on by the skin of her teeth, but it is starting to look like she is the weaker candidate in the general election.

A few somewhat random observations:

1. If Hillary hangs on, she really needs Obama to accept the VP. She can't afford the baggage of race baiting Obama to defeat, on top of all her other baggage, and she needs to bury that issue by having him on the team. I think he will accept, because like any other politician he is is looking for advancement and self interest, but I already think highly of him as a person and would really think highly of him if he refuses on princple.

2. In any objective sense, the Tuesday results are not likely to be determinative. However, the media has a great opportunity to shape the perception of the results. If Obamam wins California (even though it will not be significant in terms of delegates), the press almost certainly will greatly exaggerate the result. I also think that generally the media probably now favors Obama, having been reminded of the basis dishonesty of the Clintons, so they may be looking to help Obama on how they present the results.

Also, if Clinton "wins" and the media both favors Obama and wants the "story" to continue, they might resist the normal tendancy to overstate the results. She has been helped twice with the media exaggerating the importance of insignificant results like New Hampshire and Nevada. Maybe it will not happen again with a small Clinton victory, even though that is the normal approach of the media.

Finally, the results might just be too complicaed to lend themselves to simple oversimplification by the media.

Posted by: brian on February 3, 2008 at 2:31 PM | PERMALINK

How does 4 (or God help us 8 if he lives that long) years of ever-expanding warfare sound to you? If your answer is "bad", vote for Obama.

And if your answer is "good" then you can vote for Hillary or McCain, although if you want torture with your war your only choice at this point is Hillary.

Posted by: bobb on February 3, 2008 at 2:36 PM | PERMALINK

Off topic a bit, but very important. Will either Obama or Clinton be in DC tomorrow for the FISA amendment debates and votes??

Posted by: Robin on February 3, 2008 at 2:41 PM | PERMALINK

Going back to 1968 there has always been a candidate of the "wine drinkers" vs the "beer drinkers" - they were once called Volvo Democrats or wine and cheese Democrats: McCarthy/RFK, McGovern, Mo Udall, Teddy/John Anderson, Gary Hart, Paul Tsongas, Bill Bradley, Howard Dean. Obama's gift is that he melds this constituency with the black vote, which should give him a better center of gravity than the establishment voters that support Hillary. I can't see how a long contest favors her - if she doesn't put him away his advantages in passion, intensity and electability will continue to erode her support with the establishment party structure and superdelegates. A tie does not go to the establishment candidate in these situations, and all of Hillary's best opportunities will be behind her after SuperTuesday.

Posted by: loki the mischief maker on February 3, 2008 at 2:42 PM | PERMALINK

Steve, I think either HRC or Obama can whoop McCain's ass easily. The difficulty I'm having making up my mind isn't about electability, it's about what's going to happen when they get into office.

Posted by: Doc at the Radar Station on February 3, 2008 at 2:45 PM | PERMALINK

"So for all of you who are already sick and tired of the primaries, you better buck up. The real race is just getting started."

I was sick and tired of the dozen candidates trying to make the most of their 15 seconds of fame in each debate. Now that we are having substantive debates I am happy to see the process continue. I do not want to see the general election start next Wednesday.

Posted by: Bostonian in Brooklyn on February 3, 2008 at 2:46 PM | PERMALINK

Why would Obama accept a VP slot? As a Democrat who wants the Dems to win, yes, I think he should. But how much is he willing to put up with? Maureen Dowd's piece in the NYT seems to frame this well, albeit in her characteristic style. I'm not sure he'll take it, though I think he should. Maybe he can lay out a whole series of pre-conditions among which Bill is muzzled.

If Obama wins, who would he pick as Veep? Could it be a Kennedy? ;-)

Posted by: manfred on February 3, 2008 at 2:47 PM | PERMALINK
Steve, I think either HRC or Obama can whoop McCain's ass easily.
I don't have your confidence about Hillary. There's a current poll which shows her barely beating McCain in California- and that is NOT a good sign. She divides Democrats and unites Republicans. Posted by: Steve LaBonne on February 3, 2008 at 2:50 PM | PERMALINK

Mimikatz is right to stress that national polls don't predict Feb. 5. There are ad buys and phone banks in those 22 states, but national polls are sampling the other 28.

If you follow state polls, the margin for Clinton is I think several points lower.

But more crucially, Obama doesn't have to win Feb 5. If he comes reasonably close -- say, 45% of the delegates -- it's a victory, because a long race favors an insurgent candidate, especially when he's raising funds at twice the pace of his opponent!

Posted by: Ted on February 3, 2008 at 2:59 PM | PERMALINK

In other words, there's virtually no chance that Super Tuesday will decide the Democratic race.

That doesn't quite follow.

Posted by: coyote on February 3, 2008 at 3:02 PM | PERMALINK

I thought I would be eating Red popcorn on Super Tuesday. Instead, I have to call my supplier and switch to Blue Popcorn.

Posted by: rational on February 3, 2008 at 3:05 PM | PERMALINK

Given the volatility of the polls this year on the Democratic side, given the history in NH of all the polls significantly missing major HRC support from women who felt she was being unfairly ganged up on by the media (which has been going on again this week if not quite to the same intensity) and given the general volatility of the electorate overall I would be very careful about reading much of anything in the polls at this point. While yes they are the only indicators of how things might be going given the points I just made building assumptions on them for either side at this point seems more blue sky than reality grounded. At this point I am simply waiting to see what Tuesday's numbers show in the votes.

I will add one point regarding the who can beat McCain argument, it is based on polls too, and I well remember hearing the same arguments for why Kerry had to be the nominee, he had the best chance according to similar polls in the primary season to beat GWB. How did that work out again? Electability is a factor to consider, but to place it as the primary consideration for a candidate to support has shown itself time and again to be a losing strategy for Dems. So I have to wonder why yet again it seems that the electability Kool-Aid is being drunk so heavily by so many (which applies equally to those that said the same about HRC btw as the reason to vote for her, that she will fight hard to win is one thing to say she is inherently more electable is something else entirely) in the Dem primaries and especially in the online community. I really find the focus on electability tends to allow those candidates that look the best intitially in the primaries to beat the expected GOP opponent to have their weaknesses as general election candidates overlooked resulting in repeated GOP victories in the general, even when they should have lost, i.e. 2004.

I would argue vote for the candidate that you feel will provide the best policies and judgment in your opinion whoever they are whether the head to head matchups make them seem more electable or not at this point, that method/approach certainly has no worse a record for picking winners than the electability argument has show itself to have, indeed it arguably has a better one.

Posted by: Scotian on February 3, 2008 at 3:09 PM | PERMALINK

loki makes a good point, except that we really don't know which way a "tie" goes in these circumstances, becauase there never has been such a tie before. The Clintons certainly will stop at nothing in trying to make sure they get the benefit of a tie. The vote first has to be judged a "tie" and, if that happens, then I don't see how you can predict which way it goes.

Posted by: brian on February 3, 2008 at 3:14 PM | PERMALINK

If Obama wins, Hillary will torture him until he offers her the VP slot. Somewhat more seriously, I think she either (1) makes it quite clear to him that he gets nothing from her without the VP slot; or (2) lets him give it to someone else and then minimizes her efforts to try to make him lose so she gets another chance in 2012.

Other than Hillary, it is hard to figure out who Obama would offer the VP slot to. The obvious choice would be someone low key with stature and a miliary background, who would add some gravitas without getting in his way. You guys will hate to hear this, but a Cheney type choice. I can't think of who that would be on the democratic side. He does not need any sizzle with the VP pick.

Posted by: brian on February 3, 2008 at 3:22 PM | PERMALINK

This time "electability" isn't simply a code word for "old Democratic establishment warhorse", as it pretty much was with Kerry.

On policy the differences between Clinton and Obama are microscopic; it's pretty much a question of style.

Posted by: Steve LaBonne on February 3, 2008 at 3:24 PM | PERMALINK

What makes anybody think Hillary would want to be veep? I don't see it. She'd be 69 after 2 terms of Obama.

Posted by: Steve LaBonne on February 3, 2008 at 3:26 PM | PERMALINK

If the past couple presidential elections are any guide, a Dem candidate needs to get about 51% of the popular vote nowadays to win the necessary electoral college votes to win in the general.

51% of American voters are going to pull the lever to make a black man the most powerful leader in America, and "the leader of the free world"? Yeah, right. Get real.

Posted by: Swan on February 3, 2008 at 3:26 PM | PERMALINK

I'll shut up, but Scotian also makes a good point that (1) it is difficult and perhaps futile to try to judge electability nine months out before events unfold before Hillary or Obama have been seriously attacked by the other side; and (2) people ought to be voting for who they think is the best person and forget about electability.

Posted by: brian on February 3, 2008 at 3:26 PM | PERMALINK

u need more of the polls here i have a project to do and it is due tomorrow and i need the numbers

Posted by: carrot on February 3, 2008 at 3:29 PM | PERMALINK

Hillary would take VP because it is better than nothing, it puts her in position to become president if something happens to Obama (scandal, health or, God forbid, death), it keeps a competitor for future presidential nominations out of the spot, and history tells us that it is often the ticket to the presidency or at least to the nomination for president.

Obama, on the other hand, does not really need it. He will continue to be a star and a contender in the future and, if he wants, he could be governor of Illinois (a better lauching pad than senator, although not better than VP, for a future presidential bid). I also could not imagine that on a personal basis he would want to be VP under Bill and Hillary.

Posted by: brian on February 3, 2008 at 3:34 PM | PERMALINK

Brian

I'm not trying to be snarky, but how can you write "someone low key with stature and a miliary background who would add some gravitas without getting in his way" and call that a "Cheney type."

More on topic, I don't think Hillary adds anything to an Obama ticket except a lot of pain and suffering. Dukakis would be a better choice (slight sarcasm).

Posted by: tomeck on February 3, 2008 at 3:35 PM | PERMALINK

Hold on!
The Keith numbers, which is undecideds plus MOE, are in the 14% to 21% range. Obama will win majority of voters near tie delegates...given mo'...a win.

Posted by: cognitorex on February 3, 2008 at 3:37 PM | PERMALINK

A year ago America witnessed the first Super Bowl victory by an African-American coach.

Also, the first Super Bowl loss by an African-American coach.

President? In most people's minds (maybe not here), not so different from a winning football coach.

Posted by: lampwick on February 3, 2008 at 3:37 PM | PERMALINK

51% of American voters are going to pull the lever to make a black man the most powerful leader in America, and "the leader of the free world"? Yeah, right. Get real.

So true dat. Obama can only win in overwhelmingly minority states like Iowa.

You're living in the past, man.

Posted by: tomeck on February 3, 2008 at 3:39 PM | PERMALINK

Hey, dudes, I haven't looked at pollkatz.homestead.com for quite a while!! I see George W. Bush has been safely ensconced at under 40% approval by every poll since at least the fall of 2006. That's something! That's a poll (uh, compendium of polls) you can rely on!

Posted by: Anon on February 3, 2008 at 3:49 PM | PERMALINK

Team Hillary fundamentally has a better ground game than team Obama. She will be the latest polls the win the vast majority of states and delegates.

Posted by: patience on February 3, 2008 at 3:51 PM | PERMALINK

I watched MTP and George Stef. this morning. All the Republicans said their party is most "worried" about Obama, that he's a stronger opponent than Hillary. Then they all went on to make the case for why Obama should win. Why do you suppose they are doing that? Is it because they really care about the Dems and want us to do the right thing, even though it would be against their best interests. Somehow I doubt it.

Posted by: Vicki Williams on February 3, 2008 at 4:00 PM | PERMALINK

"That doesn't quite follow."

Two different meanings of the word "decide":

1. Decide, as in the winner has votes sufficient to guarantee the win.

2. Decide, as in the winner has sufficient momentum that the loser has virtually no chance of pulling off the upset.

For Tuesday, the first one is pretty clearly off the table, I believe. The second one may or may not be, depending on how the late-breakers decide.

Posted by: PaulB on February 3, 2008 at 4:00 PM | PERMALINK

Clearly, both HRC and BO are "electable", otherwise they wouldn't be so close.

I think either would win against McCain or Romney. Remember, both of the past 2 presidential elections were close. (Personally, I'm glad W got the second term, so I NEVER have to listen to Conservatives wail about how if only Bush had been allowed to "finish the job" in Iraq everything would have been just great!)

This time it MAY also be close, but it will definitely go the other way. HRC and Obama each have attributes that will be stronger with different groups. If BO is the nominee, Black voters will turn out in record numbers. Actually, I think that Dems in general will have a greater turnout because a) BO is so energizing, and b) Dems know what is at stake. HRC may pull more Hispanics, but that is no longer certain. I believe HRC would pull more Independent and center-conservative women than BO in the general election. HRC MIGHT win by a greater margin, but Obama would still win in the Fall.

Regarding VP options, I don't see what the big deal is. Richardson is the obvious choice. As I've said before, first one to get Richardson as VP, and it's over! If HRC beats Obama to this punch, Obama's only chance would be to nominate either another Hispanic or possibly a woman.

Posted by: Mezon on February 3, 2008 at 4:19 PM | PERMALINK

All the Republicans said their party is most "worried" about Obama...

That's the worst reason yet that I've heard to support Hillary. Who cares what the Republicans think, whether they're lying or not. Independent polls show Obama running better against McCain. I'd put more faith in that.

Posted by: tomeck on February 3, 2008 at 4:19 PM | PERMALINK

tomeck,

I did not mean to suggest Cheney had a military background (although he was secretary of defense during the first gulf war, right?). The "Cheney type" was to refer to a respected low key person who would add some gravitas. Many people forget now, but Cheney was a highly respected choice at the time and, in view of how close the election of 2000 was, I always thought that the positive response to the Cheney selection was instrumental in Bush becoming president.

Posted by: brian on February 3, 2008 at 4:26 PM | PERMALINK

I can't imagine why Obama would want to take a VP slot with HRC. Bill will be the bigfoot in the WH and no VP is likely to have much influence. Plus he gets pulled into her orbit and VPs have not done well in getting elected on their own. He would be much better off staying in the Senate, speaking out when necessary, and continuing to act as a movement leader.

Posted by: Sue on February 3, 2008 at 4:34 PM | PERMALINK

Polls, polls, polls.

So explain the difference between the mainstream media and the Internet again. Oh yeah, one claims the media lies, the other claims not to be media.

Posted by: Dicksknee on February 3, 2008 at 4:45 PM | PERMALINK

Being VP is not a bad gig for a politician. I can't think of a politician who recently turned it down under normal circumstances. Maybe McGovern had a hard time getting someone in 1972. McCain sorta turned down with Kerry in 2004, but that was not normal. Am I forgetting someone?

Posted by: brian on February 3, 2008 at 4:55 PM | PERMALINK

the problem with national polls is that they don't reflect any real sense of current voter participation -- their demographic mix tend to underrepresent the percentage of young voters, female, voters, and black voters who have actually been showing up to vote in the Democratic primaries.

*********
to the confused Edwards supporter.... I'm in much the same situation - and I've decided than in eight years, I'll be an enthusiatic supporter of Obama. But right now, he doesn't have the chops to be president -- so right now, I'm deciding between voting uncommitted, voting for Edwards anyway, or holding my nose and voting for Clinton. (I'm hoping that by April 22, when the PA primary comes around, its already decided, because I really don't want to vote for Clinton, but I really don't think Obama is ready to be President...)

Posted by: p_lukasiak on February 3, 2008 at 4:55 PM | PERMALINK

I'd hate to see Obama's political future ruined by getting mixed up in the Clinton White House. We all know how well it turned out for Al Gore. It's interesting to see that it's Democrats talking about not voting for Obama because he's Black, while on the conservative side they are panicking at the thought of John McCain having to stand on a stage next to Barack in a national debate. But the Republicans understand the power of image, and inspiration and emotion in elections. After all they are the party of Reagan. We think debates are won on issues, but they aren't. Sometimes I wonder which party really is more riddled with racists.

Posted by: samc on February 3, 2008 at 5:33 PM | PERMALINK

p_lukasiak, I'm thinking about the *environment* that the new Democratic president is likely to be immersed in come early 2009. We've got a souring economy-will the worst of it be past by then, or will the worst of it just be beginning? Also, Iraq is relatively quiet now, but toward the end of the year when our troops are drawing down will it fire up and become unstable yet again? Any possible "solutions" to these sorts of problems aren't going to be quick fixes. Will the American people be patient with the new President and cut him/her the slack?

Posted by: Doc at the Radar Station on February 3, 2008 at 5:36 PM | PERMALINK

Geez, Louise, they're coming fast and furious. I'm still working on Post-Debate. Guess that's why I'm always left behind.

Posted by: Sharon on February 3, 2008 at 5:46 PM | PERMALINK

Just to add a little bit to what I said... Despite Hillary's perceived experiential surplus will she be able to sooth and calm a troubled public? Despite Obama's inspiring/soothing oratorical skills, will he be able to persuade us of his technical competence?

Posted by: Doc at the Radar Station on February 3, 2008 at 5:46 PM | PERMALINK

As a died-in-the-wool Democratic voter who gives to candidates and propositions, signs petitions, etc. I am on every Democrats mailing list. I emphasize this only to point out one thing. I am in California and too date, I have received 3 calls from the Clinton campaign, asking for my vote, but not one from the Obama campaign. I'm not sure how to account for that except to think that Clinton does indeed have the better ground game.
Also, in looking at the varios polls which all show a tightening race here in California, from 2-8 points with Hillary still leading, it is not often noted, though it really needs to BE EMPHASIZED, that anywhere form 13 - 18 % of Dem voters are UNDECIDED two days out from voting. Is it any wonder that the polls are not able to be predictive of the eventual winner.

Posted by: Merg on February 3, 2008 at 5:53 PM | PERMALINK

51% of American voters are going to pull the lever to make a black man the most powerful leader in America, and "the leader of the free world"? Yeah, right. Get real.
Posted by: Swan on February 3, 2008 at 3:26 PM

While I understand where the basis for this comes from I think it is not something anyone can state as a certainty, especially in an electorate as angry and energized as this one (personally I don't think it is either Obama or Clinton causing the high turn outs, I think it is the recognition of just how bad things have gotten under the GOP and Bushco and the desire to do something about it myself) clearly is. I think Obama and Clinton have helped draw some of the increase, but that neither of them can claim the main share of it despite what the supporters of each may claim/think. There were clear signs of this well before this race started tightening in the fundraising numbers for the Dems across the board which is what I am basing my impressions about this on. So this increases the likelihood of both candidates being "electable" even to the 51% mark you cited despite the presence of both racism and sexism in America and especially American politics.

The one thing I see that may help Clinton more against the sexism than Obama with the racism is the proportion of voters from each identity group as a percentage of not just the Dem voting base but the entirely electorate, but this is not the same thing as saying there is no way a black man can win/get 51%. PaulB is quite correct IMHO for calling you out for making such declarative unsupported statements; indeed I also find them more than a little disturbing myself and I have been fairly critical of Obama here overall being seen as the stronger candidate. You are making sweeping assertions on racism here without backing it up with specific data to make your case, and given the sensitivity of that issue I find that irresponsible. You are entitled to think this is what will happen, you are not entitled to say it *WILL* happen this way, at least not without making a much stronger case than you have to date IMHO.

Posted by: Scotian on February 3, 2008 at 5:54 PM | PERMALINK

I will be caucusing on Super Tuesday, and it's Obama all the way, baby!

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on February 3, 2008 at 6:02 PM | PERMALINK

Besides the Superbowl, my home state of California is pretty much in play, so I have to urge caution on what any one poll is saying, especially after the promise that was suggested before the New Hampshire primary. That being said, the polls as a whole have been showing a Barack Obama momentum, and there is no practical reason to believe that this phenomena is being made up: something real is happening out there, but until Super Tuesday happens one can't really take things for granted. I know from my own experience at the Oakland headquarters for Barack Obama it was pretty hectic as volunteers from all walks came in and made calls, canvassed, made signs, etc etc (myself included).

California is too neck and neck now for me to be comfortable. But it's a good sort of uncomfortability, like when you see the potential there, and just need to push yourself the extra mile.

Posted by: Boorring on February 3, 2008 at 6:22 PM | PERMALINK

Re VP choices: Obama would be a fool to go on the ticket with Hillary and would be a fool to pick her. He will probably pick one of her surrogates for healing and balance, a white male with executive experience, i.e. a former governor, with some Washington seasoning. Evan Bayh fits the profile and puts a red state in play. For Hillary I agree Bill Richardson looks good. For McCain he needs someone that appeals to conservatives, the establishment [close but separate categories], and will look young enough and smart enough to take over should something happen - I predict Christopher Cox, former conservative darling, Orange County Congressman, Harvard MBA/JD, currently head of the SEC. Now off to the football game.

Posted by: loki on February 3, 2008 at 6:25 PM | PERMALINK

Assuming it's not decided on super tuesday, I'll be caucusing for the first time in my life in the state of Washington on Feb 9. For Obama, of course. The first candidate in my lifetime I can support with enthusiasm, not just as the lesser of two evils.

Posted by: bobb on February 3, 2008 at 6:27 PM | PERMALINK

If Obama can't win Tuesday, overall, he is going to need some big time spinning to put a good face on the outcome. The media like him better, and may be willing to help him out.

As long as he doesn't get swamped, he can continue the fight, and he is raising money like mad.

As for the polls showing Obama doing better relative to Clinton against McCain, I would caution anyone to not put too much faith in those-there are a significant number of poll respondants that will never tell a stranger that he/she will vote for the white guy over the black one.

Posted by: Yancey Ward on February 3, 2008 at 6:34 PM | PERMALINK

Well...that's interesting: Maria Shriver just endorsed Obama.

Posted by: Boorring on February 3, 2008 at 6:43 PM | PERMALINK

While the Republicans are basically done and can husband energy and resources for the Fall, we Democrats have structured things so our candidates can go on slashing away at each other and spending our limited campaign monies ad nauseum. If the Feb. 5 primaries are at all decisive in terms of victories, Obama should fall on his sword, suspend his campaign, and take the VP slot.

Posted by: bob h on February 3, 2008 at 6:46 PM | PERMALINK

There is a reason for the favorable Obama trend lines..Obama grows on the average voter. The more known he becomes the better he does. In Illionois, a fairly representative state he has an almost 3 to 1 lead on Clinton about 60 to 24% of votes..
whereas Hillary has roughly 42 to 30 lead in an the equally broad based represntative New York State.. and that is closing as well. This is the reason her strategists don't want the campaign to go on any longer than it has to. Obama would be able to continue this growing trend in a national campaign against McCain..and finally electability..As everyone recognizes..

She has extraordinary negatives. She galvanises the conservative movement in ways no other Democrat can. Against McCain, she and she alone enables the Republicans to forget their deep internal divisions and unite.

There is nothing new in what Andrew Sullivan and others are saying but sometimew we must be reminded rather than informed.

Posted by: Steve Crickmore on February 3, 2008 at 6:48 PM | PERMALINK

Electability isnot a code for old establishhment warhorse. The old establisment war horse in this race is Hillary and she is the unelectible one.

Nearly half the voters disapprove of her.
The media hates her.
The media has been complicit with the rightwing in sliming her, withh thhe resutl that independents don't like her.
Those are real factors.
Plus independents tend to vote for personality, not issues, which means that, inn terms of winning the election, likeablity trumps issues.

McCain has an approval rating of 74% which means independents will vote for him. The media likes him.

In a match with Hillary, mcCain is quite likely to win.

Obama has appeal to inndependents, the mediais fair to him, and he is bringing in new voters. That gives him advantages against McCAin which Hillary does not have.

At this point when the "differences" between the two have been discussed to death and don't amount to much anyway, electability matters. A lot.

Posted by: wonkie on February 3, 2008 at 6:52 PM | PERMALINK

so our candidates can go on slashing away at each other and spending our limited campaign monies... Obama should fall on his sword, suspend his campaign, and take the VP slot.

Obama raised $32 mil in April. McCain is almost broke. McCain should fall on his sword and let the general election be between Hillary and Barak.

Posted by: tomeck on February 3, 2008 at 7:58 PM | PERMALINK

I don't know about the rest of you, but I'm tired of losing to Republicans. Which is why I'll be voting for Obama, for both the reasons others have pointed out (Clinton's high negatives and polls showing that she alone out of the top Dems would lose in a race against McCain - who is now about certain to be the GOP nominee) and for a couple others, primary among them being that I'm not aware of any principle Hillary has ever had that she wouldn't compromise...she disingeniously claims that she didn't know she was voting for war and then campaigns on "experience"...to which I can only say that if I, who has never held public office could see that a vote for the resolution was a vote for war and she couldn't, she's not bright enough to be president, and if she could and voted for it anyway, she lacks both judgement and integrity. In neither of those cases is her "experience" something that should hold her in higher esteem. I just fear that the Democrats are about to do the reliable thing and nominate the one person - only one in the field - who polls show can lose to the only GOP candidate with a chance to beat any of the Dems. I've grown so accustomed to Democratic party suicide attempts that I fully expect to be holding my nose while voting Hillary in November, and then watching in despair as election results come in that evening showing McCain as the next president.

Posted by: Jennifer on February 3, 2008 at 8:02 PM | PERMALINK

"McCain is almost broke."

That's not going to last, particularly if he wins Super Tuesday as big as it looks like he will. If he's the nominee, he'll get the big donors again. What will really be interesting is what happens to his request for matching funds. If he is not allowed to rescind that request, he's going to be in horrible shape for the next few months. I suspect, though, that he'll get around it.

Posted by: PaulB on February 3, 2008 at 8:06 PM | PERMALINK

"polls showing that she alone out of the top Dems would lose in a race against McCain"

That really isn't the case. Most of the polls show that both Obama and Clinton are in a dead heat with McCain, within the margin of error for the individual poll.

Posted by: PaulB on February 3, 2008 at 8:08 PM | PERMALINK

"In Illionois, a fairly representative state he has an almost 3 to 1 lead on Clinton"

Um, since that's his home state, that really doesn't tell us much. Show me, say, Pennsylvania or Ohio and I'll take notice. If he can beat her in California, I'd say he's got a damn good shot at the nomination.

Posted by: PaulB on February 3, 2008 at 8:09 PM | PERMALINK

PaulB - Polls I've seen show Obama vs. McCain going to Obama by 2 to 3 points, while Clinton vs. McCain go to McCain by 2 to 3 points. Which I'll grant is within margin of error for most polls...but then there's the issue of Hillary's negatives, which are some 10 points higher than Obama's.

And then, of course, there are those other reasons I won't vote for her in the primary...

Posted by: Jennifer on February 3, 2008 at 8:12 PM | PERMALINK

The superdelegates make the Democratic Primary a completely undemocratic process, leaving far too much power in the hands of the party of incumbency. Maybe that’s why there’s so little discussion about it.

The New York Times for example ducks the question in their Super Tuesday election guide simply referring to “unpledged” delegates and ignoring superdelegates who have committed to Obama or Clinton.

That information can be found at this Superdelegate endorsement list.

Ari Berman of The Nation has some a good background on how we got here in Not So Superdelegates.

Posted by: antiphone on February 3, 2008 at 8:21 PM | PERMALINK

"it was pretty hectic as volunteers from all walks came in and made calls, canvassed, made signs, etc etc (myself included)."

Boorring, I'm going to be handing out Obama fliers at my polling place on Tuesday here in NY. New York! What a thankless task... So far I've gotten telephone calls from Schumer and my representative John Hall supporting Hillary. Oh, well...maybe I can influence two or three people here.

Posted by: nepeta on February 3, 2008 at 8:29 PM | PERMALINK

Sorry, but this (by Tom Tomorrow) is so on-topic I've just gotta link to it.

Posted by: Jennifer on February 3, 2008 at 9:03 PM | PERMALINK

Jennifer:

Great cartoon. He nailed it!

TCD

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on February 3, 2008 at 9:11 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin Drum: In other words, there's virtually no chance that Super Tuesday will decide the Democratic race.

God, I doubt I'll survive.

Posted by: Sharon on February 3, 2008 at 9:16 PM | PERMALINK

Doc Radar: Since Edwards dropped out I think I've changed my mind about 8 times between Clinton and Obama and Not Sure. I was going to flip a coin and then I changed my mind on that! Crap, just two days to go.

Doc, have you tapped my brain? You're describing my experience exactly. Geez, I'm so glad I don't have to vote Tuesday.

Posted by: Sharon on February 3, 2008 at 9:22 PM | PERMALINK

But the Republicans understand the power of image, and inspiration and emotion in elections... We think debates are won on issues, but they aren't.

Yes, and that's why I will probably end up detaching myself somewhat from the party should HRC win-- it's both depressing and embarrassing to link oneself to a political party with zero sense of greatness, really. No understanding of narrative, or character, or movements (unless they're safely in the past & we're the beneficiaries, I guess), or even much appreciation of a sheer, breathtaking talent that is just dropped in their/our laps.

We're not talking about deserving heirs to Jefferson or Madison, to say the least, nor do modern Dems even manage the lowbrow appeal of a Vin Diesel movie like the GOP does. And you have no idea of how much it has frustrated me that Republicans, as petty and anti-intellectual as they are with their childishly one-dimensional narratives, still understand the art and craft of storytelling much better than the party of liberal and fine arts.

Posted by: latts on February 3, 2008 at 9:23 PM | PERMALINK

Vicki Williams: I watched MTP and George Stef. this morning. All the Republicans said their party is most "worried" about Obama, that he's a stronger opponent than Hillary. Then they all went on to make the case for why Obama should win. Why do you suppose they are doing that? Is it because they really care about the Dems and want us to do the right thing, even though it would be against their best interests. Somehow I doubt it.

Vicki, remember Br'er Rabbit? Don't through me in that briar patch.

Posted by: Sharon on February 3, 2008 at 9:45 PM | PERMALINK

New CBS National Poll has them dead even too.
http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2008/02/03/opinion/polls/main3783743.shtml

Posted by: C.B. on February 3, 2008 at 9:46 PM | PERMALINK

Scotian: You are entitled to think this is what will happen, you are not entitled to say it *WILL* happen this way, at least not without making a much stronger case than you have to date IMHO.

Scotian is spot on, and thank you for your respectful tone, Scotian. Swan, I live in the deep, deep south and I can tell you racism has lost an incredible amount of sting and relevance as a political issue. Everywhere I go, I encounter interracial couples and interracial social and political arrangements of all kinds. I grew up in the 50s. This isn't the 50s. Hallelujah!

Posted by: Sharon on February 3, 2008 at 10:04 PM | PERMALINK

Since all the polls gave the wrong outcome to the South Carolina primary, I have decided to tune out and await the verdict directly from the voters.

That said I cannot imagine Hillary and Barack on the same ticket. That is madness-- two minorites together? The Repulican team would just "walk right" into the White House. Whomever wins, need to seek a VP from else where. That is the reality of American politics if one is serious about winning, particularly in a presidential election.
www.vernasmith.blogspot.com

Posted by: Lisa on February 3, 2008 at 10:05 PM | PERMALINK

If Hillary wins this nomination, Obama needs to stay as far away as possible from that ticket, work real hard in the senate for the next four years and run against Vice President Huckabee in 2012.

He'll be fine either way. Of course Hillary will already have clawed her way to senate minority leadership by then and may not want to do him many favors, so his relationship with congress could be shaky during his presidency.

Wow, that was fun! Anybody want to do 2016?

Posted by: sweaty guy on February 3, 2008 at 10:07 PM | PERMALINK

PaulB's posts are idiotic. Can I now not have my response to his many scurrilous insulting comments deleted, since I specifically mentioned his comments here instead of just insulting him?

It's a pretty thin line on which to let PaulB out all this psychological abuse directed at a specific person who only posted rational, non-personal comments up here, but hey-- that's how they mod the comments at Washington Monthly. Basically anything to f*** over me.

Posted by: Swan on February 3, 2008 at 10:13 PM | PERMALINK

You know I'd like to put this "Hillary's negatives" thing to bed. Don't you think the Republican machine will have a high old time driving up Obama's negatives? They're masters at it and if you think he's invulnerable, you're deluding yourself with magical thinking. I haven't decided between the two of them, so don't accuse me of bias. This media-driven cliché is making me cross.

Posted by: Sharon on February 3, 2008 at 10:20 PM | PERMALINK

What upsets me as a voter, looking for the best candidate to bring the country back from the stunningly wrong direction that the Bush/Chenney administration has steered and provide the quickest effective remedy for the disastrous policies that the Republicans have landed us in, is that the establishment of the Democratic party seems to be locked into some kind of senseless turf war -- a bitter fight with each side taking evermore entrenched battle positions behind one or the other of our two candidates.

I am very concerned that this troubling turf war is damaging the ability of the Democratic Party to choose and put forth their best and most effective candidate, as the silly turf war is being played out now in some kind of alarmingly distracting high-emotion personality cult sphere which serves only to cloud the voters’ judgment as to which candidate best satisfies the particular priorities they have.

For a few shinning moments, at the Thursday night debate, the candidates themselves were able to divorce themselves from the damaging turf fight and give us a glimpse of what we Democrats could have. But now, unfortunately, it’s back to the battle stations . . . and reinforced ones at that.

Posted by: Erika S on February 3, 2008 at 10:28 PM | PERMALINK

Congratulations New York Giants! That was one hell of a Super Bowl.

Vicki Williams: I watched MTP and George Stef. this morning. All the Republicans said their party is most "worried" about Obama, that he's a stronger opponent than Hillary. Then they all went on to make the case for why Obama should win. Why do you suppose they are doing that? Is it because they really care about the Dems and want us to do the right thing, even though it would be against their best interests. Somehow I doubt it.

Every Republican I've spoken to on this subject says they hope Hillary gets the nom, since they're confident they can beat her, but if they have to endure a Democratic president, they would prefer Obama. Of course, every last one of them could be spinning, but...I think Occam's Razor, they just like him. They won't vote for him because he's too liberal, but they're amenable to an Obama presidency.

It's too bad if Obama's ground game in California is lagging, but I think it's made up of mostly grassroots volunteers who up against a formidable machine.

Posted by: Lucy on February 3, 2008 at 10:35 PM | PERMALINK

Garrison Keillor endorses Obama.

Posted by: nepeta on February 3, 2008 at 10:42 PM | PERMALINK

Swan, Paul deliberately moderated his tone and I thanked him for it. Now you need to acknowledge that and quit baiting him. I've been called every name in the book since I started commenting here. I agree with you that the moderator should take a more active role damping down these flame wars. It's hurtful and counter-productive, but dwelling on it, exposing your open wounds, only exposes you to more abuse. Some people are like that. It's called sadism.

On the upside, this crowd does force you to tighten your thinking skills. That's a good thing. It would be a far better thing without all the belittling and meanness. It's not funny. It's not cute. I'm going to re-post something I posted on another PA thread:

There are too many on this site...you know who your are...who pounce on those they consider naive, ignorant or stupid and make vicious personal attacks. This is so unhelpful. Most of us are just trying to work a lot of difficult decisions out in our own minds. We all fall on a continuum somewhere between ignorant/naive/stupid and informed/sophisticated/brilliant. But all of us want to be less naive, more informed, and smarter. This is a conversation, not a war.

Posted by: Sharon on February 3, 2008 at 10:42 PM | PERMALINK

Napeta, Garrison Keillor?! He's one of my personal heroes. (The Kennedy endorsement means next to nothing to me.) Damn, what to do? I'm with Doc at the Radar Station. I've changed my mind at least 8 times since Wednesday when Edwards dropped out. Oy! I have such a headache.

Posted by: Sharon on February 3, 2008 at 10:46 PM | PERMALINK

haha, Sharon...I thought that would impress you.

Posted by: nepeta on February 3, 2008 at 10:48 PM | PERMALINK

Napeta...you have my number. Am I that obvious? Yikes!

Posted by: Sharon on February 3, 2008 at 10:51 PM | PERMALINK

I will never understand peoples fascination with charts and statistics, they are, I say, diametrically opposed to human emotions and guesses.

Economists to this day, cannot predict when a recession, no matter computational means, until after the fact.

Posted by: Ya Know... on February 3, 2008 at 10:51 PM | PERMALINK

Napeta. I've been dragged around by my idealism all my life and it's dragged me through some pretty rough terrain. This race to me isn't change v. experience. It's idealism v. pragmatism.

Posted by: Sharon on February 3, 2008 at 10:54 PM | PERMALINK

If we believe that the Iraq war defined the Bush presidency, and that the people have turned against Bush because of this war, then doesn't it make sense that the Democrats should nominate a candidate who did not agree with Bush on the war?

What is the meaning of "experience" if one got the most important decision of their political career wrong?

How can Hillary argue against Bush, and McCain, and their warmongering? Will she not be instantly painted as a flip-flopper?

And those who believe that she has now seen the light -- then why does she have hawks as her top three foreign policy advisers? (Holbrooke -- who screamed for the war louder than Bush, Albright -- too hawkish even for Powell, and Berger -- a hawk who stole documents from the national archives).

Sorry, but Hillary doesn't compute -- she does not have the credentials to run against a party which took us to a disastrous and criminal war. I see Obama as the only liberal choice, and the only pragmatic one if the war is going to be an issue in the general election (as it should be).

Posted by: JS on February 3, 2008 at 11:11 PM | PERMALINK

PaulB's posts are idiotic.

That's interesting, because yours are sophomoric, poorly thought-out, wander in and out of relevance, and can be refuted in moments.

I mean, when you're a *fucking idiot* and have absolutely no skill at commenting whatsoever, try to refrain from making such easy to slam statements like that.

When you say something ridiculous like:

"If the past couple presidential elections are any guide, a Dem candidate needs to get about 51% of the popular vote nowadays to win the necessary electoral college votes to win in the general."

No shit! Really?!?

Tell that to President Gore, dumbass.

Posted by: Pale Rider on February 3, 2008 at 11:24 PM | PERMALINK

Other collections of polls show a dead heat. Have a look:

http://talkingpointsmemo.com/archives/176823.php

Combine that with those Gallup polls and...

Posted by: LynnDee on February 3, 2008 at 11:28 PM | PERMALINK

Hillary maybe leading... but push polling is the pits.

Do you know what push polls are? None of the polls being discussed here is a push poll.

Posted by: LynnDee on February 3, 2008 at 11:30 PM | PERMALINK

CBS/NYTimes has it 41% even. And this along with the WaPo poll are not volatile tracking polls. California, dead even. Put today's Gallup, the Wapo, and the NYTimes and you've got a dead even nat. race, and Wapo has it even on the Super tues. races. So is this more of the schilling for the Clintons?

Posted by: Bill R. on February 3, 2008 at 11:40 PM | PERMALINK

If Hillary wins the nomination and really wants to be president, she could choose Obama as the VP candidate and promise not to go for a second term. I bet he would accept the deal.

Hillary/Obama would beat McCain/anybody.

If Obama wins the nomination, I don't think Hillary would want to be at the bottom of the ticket.

Posted by: ppk on February 3, 2008 at 11:44 PM | PERMALINK
"Boorring, I'm going to be handing out Obama fliers at my polling place on Tuesday here in NY."

Awesome, nepata, keep it up. The biggest hurdle is just getting off your ass and getting to the campaign, and then it becomes fun.

Posted by: Booring on February 4, 2008 at 12:04 AM | PERMALINK

One possible problem with these polls is the huge number of people who have already voted with absentee ballots in CA. Just like in FL, where the early votes were strongly in favor of Clinton (before Obama's surge) while the actual vote in the primary was only 51-50% in favor of Clinton, these polls are probably neglecting the same problem in CA.

Posted by: nepeta on February 4, 2008 at 12:14 AM | PERMALINK

" I've been dragged around by my idealism all my life and it's dragged me through some pretty rough terrain."

I understand. But we really need idealism more than ever. It's a powerful force. The pragmatists will have plenty to do working on the nuts and bolts of getting us to where we want to go. I think that's what Hillary was trying to say in NH with her ML King/Johnson remark, except that I disagree with her about Johnson being the pragmatist who got things done. I view Johnson, in the civil rights area at least and in The Great Society, to have been a fellow idealist with ML King. It takes the policy wonks in the administration and Congress to figure out how to go about reaching the dreams of the idealists.

Posted by: nepeta on February 4, 2008 at 12:33 AM | PERMALINK

ppk:"Hillary/Obama would beat McCain/anybody."

For people who really don't like Hillary Clinton, because they 1) don't like her pro-war, wishy-washy-torture position, 2) because they regard her as the embodiment of the polarizing, ineffectual establishment Democratic party, 3) are squeamish about legacy candidates, I don't think Obama will sweeten the deal.

In fact, if I were Obama, I would stay miles away from the Clinton camp.

Posted by: PTate in MN on February 4, 2008 at 12:50 AM | PERMALINK

California may well be currently "dead even", but early voting in that state commenced on January 7, and by some accounts over one million ballots have already been cast. We'll see how those break, but if it's like Florida, that probably bodes well for Mrs. Clinton, since she was way up in the polls until about a week ago.

Regardless, we'll see what happens on Tuesday.

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on February 4, 2008 at 12:53 AM | PERMALINK

Gary Hart on why he supports Obama.

Posted by: JS on February 4, 2008 at 1:03 AM | PERMALINK

Gary Hart on why he supports Obama.

Ouch!

Posted by: Lucy on February 4, 2008 at 1:10 AM | PERMALINK

Bah to the polls--I've been canvassing in my city for 2 days and I'll be continuing tomorrow. I'm getting results, albeit not scientific, that fly in the face of much of the received wisdom that has developed over the course of this primary season. I'm not going to divulge what those results are, but I certainly have little faith in polls now!

Posted by: Varecia on February 4, 2008 at 1:12 AM | PERMALINK

For people who really don't like Hillary Clinton, because they 1) don't like her pro-war, wishy-washy-torture position, 2) because they regard her as the embodiment of the polarizing, ineffectual establishment Democratic party, 3) are squeamish about legacy candidates, I don't think Obama will sweeten the deal.

FWIW, all three of the points you list here are reasons I don't support Hillary, and I'd add several others like the way she botched health care reform the first time (http://www.j-bradford-delong.net/movable_type/2003_archives/001600.html).

Even more strongly, if it's Hillary vs. McCain I'll probably vote libertarian or something else.

But Hillary/Obama as a ticket, I'd at least consider. It would sweeten the deal significantly, but I'm not sure if it would be enough. Hillary admitting she was wrong to support the war, wrong to adopt the Bush administration talking points on the surge, etc., those sorts of things would help even more.

Still, you're probably right that Obama should stay away from the Clinton camp no matter what. If he doesn't get the nomination this time, maybe he can try again in 4 or 8 years.

Posted by: bobb on February 4, 2008 at 1:16 AM | PERMALINK

Speaking of polls, I read this from Josh Marshall, regarding the recent NY Times poll:

[First, he quotes this paragraph from NY Times:]
The picture in the states voting on Super Tuesday is not nearly as close as the overall picture and offers some good news for Clinton. Among voters in those states, she leads Obama, 49 percent to 31 percent, with 16 percent still undecided.
...But the margin of error for a subset of the total survey is higher than that for the total. In this case, probably substantially higher since in this case we're probably dealing with not many more than 200 respondents.
So, could mean anything, but the sample size is so small that spread just isn't very reliable.

If indeed the subsample size is 200, then any sample size calculator will tell you roughly what the margin of error is, namely, in the neighborhood of 7.0% -- obviously far less than the 18% difference in the relevant subset.

But why expect an ignoramus like Josh Marshall to know such a thing? It's only a basic instrument in his own field. Duh, math is hard for him, duh.

Posted by: frankly0 on February 4, 2008 at 1:42 AM | PERMALINK

Poll madness indeed. Instead of succumbing to the hysteria, I suggest the following regimen.
a. ignore the polls
b. listen to the candidates
c. make up your mind who deserves your vote
d. vote for him or her
e. await the results

Then, as Doris Day sang so sweetly, "Que sera, sera."

Posted by: zeke on February 4, 2008 at 2:02 AM | PERMALINK

I just checked the Google "Elections" headlines to see the immediate traction of the story about Maria Shriver's endorsement of Obama. Among the headlines: "Pictures Reveal Mercury’s Tumultuous Past."

Interesting. I wonder what this says about the state of political discourse in the United States today.

Posted by: Anon on February 4, 2008 at 3:05 AM | PERMALINK

If indeed the subsample size is 200, then... the margin of error is... in the neighborhood of 7.0% -- obviously far less than the 18% difference

You cannot compare the margin of error to the difference of the two measurements. Instead, you have to say that each of the two measurements can have a range of +/- 7%. So the Clinton number could be in the range 42% to 56%, and the Obama number in the range 24% to 38%. This still shows Clinton unambiguously ahead, though potentially the difference is quite small. (And all of this is, presumably, at a 95% confidence level).

But Josh Marshall makes another, more interesting point: If Clinton and Obama are tied at 41% nationally, and Clinton is ahead by 18% in the upcoming primary states, then Obama must be ahead of Clinton in the non-primary states by a large margin as well (about 12% by my calculation). That sounds improbable, and if you apply the error (6% for the remaining larger subsample) to both their numbers, that entire 12% could get wiped out.

So there's good reason to believe that these numbers are fishy, as Josh says.

I'm not making any predictions with the above -- just commenting on the stats. (If I had to bet money for Tuesday, I would bet on Hillary -- but I'm voting for Obama).

Posted by: JS on February 4, 2008 at 3:06 AM | PERMALINK

"Who could have possibly envisioned an erection--an election--in Iraq at this point in history?"
--George W. Bush, Washington, D.C., January 10, 2005

Posted by: Quotation Man on February 4, 2008 at 6:57 AM | PERMALINK

If Hillary is the nominee, she will be viciously smeared by the Repukes, who want her to be the nominee. They can bring up all the old Bill Clinton baggage, say it will be a co-presidency, etc.

I suspect she could win over McCain (do people really want no end to this war which is devastating the economy, the Iraqis, our servicepeople?), but have doubts.

I do think Obama has the best chance to beat Republicans. And even if we are not sure what we are getting with him, definitely he is less bought and paid for than she is. We can HOPE there will be "change," as he has promised.

Also, if he surrounds himself with smart guys/gals, he should have no trouble governing. He's bright so I suspect this is what he'd do.

Doesn't have to be Hillary.

But I hope John Edwards plays some role.

Posted by: Clem on February 4, 2008 at 8:54 AM | PERMALINK

You cannot compare the margin of error to the difference of the two measurements. Instead, you have to say that each of the two measurements can have a range of +/- 7%. So the Clinton number could be in the range 42% to 56%, and the Obama number in the range 24% to 38%. This still shows Clinton unambiguously ahead, though potentially the difference is quite small. (And all of this is, presumably, at a 95% confidence level).

Well, I wasn't attempting to be that precise about it, since 18% so much swamps 7%. But if you're going to be that precise, then you should realize that this line of reasoning can't be right, even though I see it all over the place, and pollsters seem to encourage it as a simplifying rule for the unwashed.

Look, even if the margin of error is 7% for each measurement of both Clinton's and Obama's, and that's at 95% confidence level, that does not mean that, as you argue, the error between them is not statistically significant at the 95% level unless it's greater than 14%. The fallacy in this reasoning is that the only way you could get two numbers that are 14% far off is if two random things happen: the number for Clinton is at the extreme LOW end of the margin of error, and the number for Obama is at the HIGH end of the margin of error. Since there is only one chance out of four that that will happen (there are four possibilities, HIGH-HIGH, HIGH-LOW, LOW-HIGH, LOW-LOW), the confidence level would have to be well higher than 95% -- closer to 98-99%. If you want to stay at a 95% level, you have to say that the the true margin is well less than 14% -- maybe 10% or so (don't know exact number).

Anyway, I always see this reasoning being put forth, but it just can't be right, if you go back to the basics of probability.

Posted by: frankly0 on February 4, 2008 at 9:09 AM | PERMALINK

the Google "Elections" headlines to see the immediate traction of the story about Maria Shriver's endorsement of Obama. Among the headlines: "Pictures Reveal Mercury’s Tumultuous Past."

It means you don't know how to use the Google to your advantage, sir. I suggest that if you're going to roam about incompetently, leave the commenting to the professionals.

But we really need idealism more than ever. It's a powerful force.

No, it's a way of surrendering to our enemies. If you want idealism, then get out of the American political arena! This is where the knives come out and where the blood flies out of the corner of the smacked mouth!

It may be too rough and tumble for you people to comprehend, but this is busted-knuckle time. Millions of dollars are about to be spent making candidates winners--or losers. This is no time to think about "idealism" because this is where you have to be willing to run ads showing your opponent taking money from a sworn enemy of the United States of America. This is where you go with the stuff that proves McCain was smoking hash with the Viet Cong and helping to shoot down US pilots by helping them target their SAM systems. This is where you go with the story about Hillary being forced to get dipped for fleas after Bill spent the weekend cozying up to a heiress with a filthy dog.

This is where you knock the teeth into the gutter and howl with victory, people. Polls, be damned.

Posted by: Norman Rogers on February 4, 2008 at 9:11 AM | PERMALINK

My only question: How soon after the Obama win do I get my pony and they install the lemonade fountains and lollypop trees on the White House lawn?

Posted by: Pat on February 4, 2008 at 9:15 AM | PERMALINK

Norman, dude, shut your pansy ass up. No one here thinks you're tough but you...

Posted by: elmo on February 4, 2008 at 9:25 AM | PERMALINK

Quiet, elmo. Sesame Street called and their want their brain fart ideas back.

Posted by: Norman Rogers on February 4, 2008 at 9:32 AM | PERMALINK

Damn, you really burned me with your originality...

Posted by: elmo on February 4, 2008 at 9:52 AM | PERMALINK

Umm... a consistent eight-point Hillary Clinton lead? Not at all. Every poll I've seen has her lead consistently shrinking. A "poll of polls" out recently shows Clinton by two points. Yesterday's NY Times/CBS poll showed them tied. Today's CNN poll has Obama by three.
And, btw, those tracking polls are remarkably consistent (with the one exception of Saturday's) in showing Obama closing the gap steadily.
I sincerely doubt that Clinton's campaign people are confidently assuming that she has had a consistent 8-point lead.

Posted by: twc on February 4, 2008 at 10:00 AM | PERMALINK

Over the weekend there was an as yet little-noticed incident in Bridgeton, Mo., just outside St. Louis. Sen. Hillary Clinton addressed a town hall meeting there and was taking questions from the audience.
One elderly woman rose and was asking the Democratic candidate about a rumored economic union among the United States, Canada and Mexico that is widely-discussed, feared and abhorred among conspiracy fanciers. The woman said the president planned to implement the secret agreement in 2010.
Then the woman called the president "Bush the bastard."
The Democratic crowd immediately roared its approval.
Sen. Clinton nodded her head slightly and smiled.

Yes, well, if Clinton can pander to the insane left wing of this country more effectively than Barack Hussein Obama, well, all bets are off.

It would appear to be a fight for the lunatic fringe of the Democratic Party.

How someone could say such outrageous things in public and not be arrested, who knows? Perhaps all of the police in that community hate America as well. I thought St Louis was American territory. Apparently, they have infiltrators there as well.

Posted by: Norman Rogers on February 4, 2008 at 10:10 AM | PERMALINK

Norman

In the America I love you can say outrageous things in public and not be arrested. It's called freedom of speech, my friend, freedom of speech. Home of the brave and land of the free.

Posted by: corpus juris on February 4, 2008 at 10:26 AM | PERMALINK

HRC will win Tuesday but Obama will have a good showing. He is the 'golden boy' right now - so he is surging. Too bad for HRC that he is surging now - it will hurt her.

She is the better candidate for Pres. If Obama wins the nomination he does not have to choose her for Veep. He has all the same choices as she does - and I do not think she will pick him. Lots of good candidates in the Govenors around the country.

Go Hillary!!!

Posted by: abc55 on February 4, 2008 at 10:29 AM | PERMALINK

In the America I love you can say outrageous things in public and not be arrested.

No, you cannot. You cannot yell "FIRE!!!" in a crowded theater and you cannot say rude things about the POTUS or his allies.

Posted by: Norman Rogers on February 4, 2008 at 10:33 AM | PERMALINK

Norman - then I'm sure you'll agree that it's time to go arrest Tom DeLay, Newt Gingrich, Dan Burton, Ann Coulter, Bill O'Reilly, Rush Limbaugh, blah blah blah for all those treasonous ugly things they said about POTUS Clinton back in 1993 - 2000.

Right?

Yeah, that's what I thought. Suck it, boyo.

Posted by: Jennifer on February 4, 2008 at 10:39 AM | PERMALINK

I'm sure you'll agree that it's time to go arrest Tom DeLay, Newt Gingrich, Dan Burton, Ann Coulter, Bill O'Reilly, Rush Limbaugh, blah blah blah for all those treasonous ugly things they said about POTUS Clinton back in 1993 - 2000.

No, because they didn't call the POTUS the "b" word, now did they?

Perhaps YOU would like to be arrested, yes?

Posted by: Norman Rogers on February 4, 2008 at 10:48 AM | PERMALINK

Oh, lay off Norman. It's hard for him to concentrate with a dick in his ass and his mouth...

Posted by: elmo on February 4, 2008 at 10:50 AM | PERMALINK

Wrong Norman. You can't cause a panic by yelling fire because that endangers others, neither can you incite others to violence because that also endangers others, but you can call the President "Bush the Bastard." You can also say Norman is a pussy, or the Pope bangs alter boys before breakfast. Freedom of speech, Norman, freedom of speech. The general rule is freedom. The exceptions are all tied directly to public safety.

Posted by: corpus juris on February 4, 2008 at 10:51 AM | PERMALINK

It's hard for him to concentrate [redacted]

Yes, well, your fantasies are not mine.

but you can call the President [redacted]

No, you cannot. First of all, he has a legitimate father. Second of all, it's wrong. Third of all, it's treason.

Now, please explain to me how liberals love America when there is all of this degrading filth to wade through.

Suck it, boyo.

What is this? The bowery? My goodness. Do you people kiss your mothers with the mouths you use?

Posted by: Norman Rogers on February 4, 2008 at 10:54 AM | PERMALINK

No, because they didn't call the POTUS the "b" word, now did they?

No, they merely falsely accused him of murder and rape. They didn't say, "he's a bad guy", they said "he's a criminal who has committed felonies".

Again, suck it, boyo.

Posted by: Jennifer on February 4, 2008 at 10:56 AM | PERMALINK

No, they merely falsely accused him of murder and rape.

Oh, apparently, you're confusing things that are true with things that aren't true. It's called "reality" and liberals aren't acquainted with it. They're left scratching their heads, confused, when confronted by it.

No, the issue here is that our POTUS was called the "b" word when he is, not, in fact, a "b."

All of that stuff about Clinton? Well, that was true. Are people not supposed to talk about truthful things Bill Clinton does to people who get in his way? Careful, there are Obama supporters around who can attest to what I'm saying.

Posted by: Norman Rogers on February 4, 2008 at 10:59 AM | PERMALINK

Norm, go take your meds.

While what the woman said is technically incorrect, in that yes, Bush does have a father and is not an illegitimate child, only an illegitimate president, it is not criminal.

She should have said that Bush is a son of a bitch, because everyone knows that Barbara is, in fact, a bitch.

Posted by: Jennifer on February 4, 2008 at 11:08 AM | PERMALINK

Slightly OT, Kevin, just a quick thought before you head to the polls on Tues:

Is there anything, anything at all, that Rahm Emanuel, Steny Hoyer, and Chuck Schumer haven't been 100% wrong about in the past year?

Posted by: Brautigan on February 4, 2008 at 11:08 AM | PERMALINK

No, the issue here is that our POTUS was called the "b" word when he is, not, in fact, a "b."

Ok, ok...Bush is a cum guzzling, retarded, no hair on the ass, son-of-a-bitch!

Posted by: elmo on February 4, 2008 at 11:12 AM | PERMALINK

I will assume that Bush is not a bastard, although it is a wise man who knows his own father and no one has ever accused our president of being a wise man, but Norman you are still wrong. Truth or falsity has to do with liable and slander which are civil actions that might be brought by one private individual against another. The president is a public person, the standard for liable and slander in cases involving a public person is considerably higher than absolute truth or falsity.

For such a well educated broadly experienced man you seem to have large holes in your understanding. Your ignorance does not speak well of the educational institutions you allegedly attended.

Posted by: corpus juris on February 4, 2008 at 11:13 AM | PERMALINK

Truth or falsity has to do with liable and slander which are civil actions that might be brought by one private individual against another.

Really? I hope you're not a lawyer.

In general, there are four defenses to libel or slander: truth, consent, accident, and privilege. The fact that the allegedly defamatory communication is essentially true is usually an absolute defense; the defendant need not verify every detail of the communication, as long as its substance can be established. If the plaintiff consented to publication of the defamatory material, recovery is barred. Accidental publication of a defamatory statement does not constitute publication. Privilege confers Immunity on a small number of defendants who are directly involved in the furtherance of the public's business—for example, attorneys, judges, jurors, and witnesses whose statements are protected on public policy grounds.

So, because Bush is not a "b" essentially eliminates any chance you would have of defending yourself from libel or slander if you went to trial. All one would have to do is produce the man's biological, legitimate father, and in which case, a smiling George HW Bush would take the stand, explain how George Bush is his real son, who would be sitting over there, across from you and suing your pants off for defamation and libel and slander, and that's that. Case closed, you're guilty, and you're going to prison.

Sir, the reading the the law is best left to employees. I am a businessman, and lawyers work on my behalf as I make money. That's how that works.

Ha! And you people wonder why I think you're morons.

Posted by: Norman Rogers on February 4, 2008 at 11:27 AM | PERMALINK

Dumbass, people don't go to prison for libel or slander. It's a civil offense, not a criminal one.

Oh, and, Bush is a son of a bitch.

Posted by: Jennifer on February 4, 2008 at 11:41 AM | PERMALINK

Bzzt! Bzzzt! Bzzzzzzzt!

This has been a test of the tolerance of liberals.

One now sees how things will play out in the Fall--unhinged, screaming and dirty liberals are going to call people names when they don't agree with them. Thank Goodness in the sense of the American people. They'll take one look at elmo, Jennifer, and their incompetent barrister corpse juris and they'll vote for the Republican. Had this been a real emergency, you would have been instructed to jerk your knee and twitch uncontrollably until your drug buddy could shoot you up with whatever it is you liberals are shooting up these days.

Case closed. You may now resume your regularly scheduled fit of screeching about things you know nothing about.

Oh, and as for explaining this to you, yes. You are welcome. I doubt you're all smart enough to figure out how to behave in public, but you are, in fact, welcome.

Posted by: Norman Rogers on February 4, 2008 at 11:41 AM | PERMALINK

unhinged, screaming and dirty liberals

Yes, do tell us about how bad it is to call names.

And then, suck it.

Posted by: Jennifer on February 4, 2008 at 11:53 AM | PERMALINK
....I doubt you're all smart enough to figure out how to behave in public…. Ab-Norman Rogersat 11:41 AM
Every time you come out in public you behave like a pompous ass who is rude, crude and lewd. Posted by: Mike on February 4, 2008 at 11:53 AM | PERMALINK

In NM, Albuquerque and Santa Fe, Obama crowds were three times larger than Hillary---huge crowds in Denver and Boise...looks like from the crowds Obama has the Big Mo going into Tuesday. cleve

Posted by: cleve on February 4, 2008 at 12:01 PM | PERMALINK

Norman your original assertion is that calling the president a bastard is an act of treason. I suggest you contemplate the following.

"Those who won our independence believed . . . that public discussion is a political duty; and that this should be a fundamental principle of the American government. They recognized the risks to which all human institutions are subject. But they knew that order cannot be secured merely through fear of punishment for its infraction; that it is hazardous to discourage thought, hope and imagination; that fear breeds repression; that repression breeds hate; that hate menaces stable government; that the path of safety lies in the opportunity to discuss freely supposed grievances and proposed remedies; and that the fitting remedy for evil counsels is good ones. Believing in the power of reason as applied through public discussion, they eschewed silence coerced by law - the argument of force in its worst form. Recognizing the occasional tyrannies of governing majorities, they amended the Constitution so that free speech and assembly should be guaranteed." Whitney v. California, 274 U.S. 357, 375 -376.

Norman you might find someone calling the President a bastard offensive, and he might not be a bastard, but under our law, the name caller can't be charged with a crime.

As to your defamation argument I suggest you read NEW YORK TIMES CO. v. SULLIVAN, 376 U.S. 254 (1964). Read the whole decision. You might learn something.

In a nutshell:" The constitutional guarantees require, we think, a federal rule that prohibits a public official from recovering damages for a defamatory falsehood relating to his official conduct unless he proves that the statement was made [376 U.S. 254, 280] with "actual malice" - that is, with knowledge that it was false or with reckless disregard of whether it was false or not. "

I don't know if anybody knows for sure that the president isn't a bastard. After all, his father can speak a complete English sentence. The current president, not so much.

In any event it would be hard for Bush to prove by the clear evidence standard required by Sullivan that he is damaged by someone calling him a bastard in a comments thread.

Posted by: corpus juris on February 4, 2008 at 12:05 PM | PERMALINK

Argh! Irony is dead!

Posted by: Lucy on February 4, 2008 at 12:19 PM | PERMALINK

"No, the issue here is that our POTUS was called the 'b' word when he is, not, in fact, a 'b'."

Dear heart, has it ever occurred to you that "bastard" has more than one dictionary definition?

Posted by: PaulB on February 4, 2008 at 12:29 PM | PERMALINK

Dear heart, has it ever occurred to you that "bastard" has more than one dictionary definition?

Sorry, sweet cheeks, in the context of what I was explaining, no, but thank you for inserting yourself in someone else's business and making yourself look like the town donkey.

Oh, the other word for that? Jackasss.

Thanks for playing.

Posted by: Norman Rogers on February 4, 2008 at 12:39 PM | PERMALINK

Bastard -- a second meaning is "Lacking in genuineness; spurious; false; adulterate; applied to things which resemble those which are genuine, but are really not so." [1913 Webster]

Under this definition, given the results of the 2000 election, it is clear for a reasonable person to argue that GWB is a bastard president.

Norman, time to move along.

Posted by: corpus juris on February 4, 2008 at 12:48 PM | PERMALINK

Norm, you sound upset.

Do calm down. It's not good for the blood pressure.

Posted by: Jennifer on February 4, 2008 at 12:49 PM | PERMALINK

Bwa! Don't make me laugh!

I've just had lunch here at the club and I've just settled in to watch the markets. While that goes on, I watch some highlights from the New Hampshire game over the weekend and comment when the moment hits me.

Pardon me for noticing this, but I think a few shame faced liberals just got caught being unhinged in public again.

Posted by: Norman Rogers on February 4, 2008 at 12:57 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, I think you're the one who drove off the cliff, not Krugman. Krugman's column today provides a cost analysis comparison between Hillary's and Barack's health plans. Professor Gruber who Krugman cites is a highly respected healthcare economist whom I had the privilege of attending one of his classes at MIT. Thus, Krugman's defense is factual based, while Sullivan's, Barack's campaign ad's, and yours are emotion-based and intellectually dishonest.

I am disappointed in you Kevin, I will no longer be reading your blog. This is why political hacks should remain in the political arena, and not deal with the real issues of our nation.

Posted by: Jonathan on February 4, 2008 at 1:49 PM | PERMALINK

Were Obama to win the nomination, he could go in a few directios for a running mate -- Bill Richardson, Evan Bayh, Wesley Clark, Mark Warner or even Hillary's Senate cohort, Charles Schumer.

If Hillary gets the nomination and Obama isn't the VP candidate, McCain might want to tap into the frustration among some in the black community and name J.C. Watts his running mate. He's certainly no Obama in terms of charisma, but some blacks might like having him on the ticket and he would probably satisfy much of the GOP's conservative base.

Posted by: Vincent on February 4, 2008 at 2:27 PM | PERMALINK

I've just had lunch here at the club and I've just settled in to watch the markets. While that goes on, I watch some highlights from the New Hampshire game over the weekend and comment when the moment hits me.
Posted by: Norman Rogers

What club is that, dunce? Let us know so that the attendants can come and return you to your secure mental health facility and refit you for your nice white jacket with the extra-long sleeves and the buckles in the back.

Posted by: DJ on February 4, 2008 at 2:28 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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