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Tilting at Windmills

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February 7, 2008
By: Kevin Drum

THE CLINTON SURGE....This is just weird. Here is Gallup's latest daily tracking poll:

The increase in support for Hillary Clinton at the national level that Gallup saw in interviewing conducted Sunday and Monday continued in interviewing Tuesday night. Gallup Poll Daily tracking conducted Feb. 3-5 now includes three consecutive days in which Clinton has done well, giving her a 13-percentage point lead over Barack Obama, 52% to 39%.

This polling was all done before the election, so it has nothing to do with last night's results. But what on earth happened on Sunday to raise Hillary's stock so dramatically? And why didn't it show up in Tuesday's election? Was her surge concentrated in states that weren't voting? Why?

This is inexplicable. Gallup is obviously a reliable outfit, and these numbers are far too big to be merely a fluke. What the heck is going on?

Kevin Drum 12:00 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (175)

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Well, it's still a little early for "Obama fatigue" to be setting in. Could it be a reaction to the run-up to Super Tuesday, during which Sen. Obama threw all those big-name endorsements into the mix? He was the insurgent candidate until the Kennedy, Shriver, Patrick, Kerry, endorsements started getting such big play. Obama is still not as establishment as Clinton, but he's no longer much of an insurgent if he's so surrounded by establishment figures.

Posted by: Zeno on February 7, 2008 at 12:07 AM | PERMALINK

1 in 20 polls are by definition outside the 95% confidence level...

Posted by: mac on February 7, 2008 at 12:07 AM | PERMALINK

It could very well be possible, Kevin, don't take things for granted I say. But, in retrospect, Gallup had Barack winning in California, and we know how well that turned out?

Posted by: Boorring on February 7, 2008 at 12:08 AM | PERMALINK

Mac: Yeah, but this is three days running. Not likely to be a fluke.

Boorring: National polling is generally a lot less volatile than state polling. This is just a very weird result, especially since I can't come up with any persuasive explanation for it.

Still, I'll be curious to see if it keeps up, or if it's just a spike and Hillary's lead vanishes over the next few days.

Posted by: Kevin Drum on February 7, 2008 at 12:12 AM | PERMALINK

As we get closer to important elections more people start paying closer attention.

I would think that Hillary is benefiting from previous undecided voters making up their minds. And Obama is being hurt from a closer examination by voters starting to look beyond the hype.

That plus the economy is tanking. Hillary owns that issue.

Posted by: ken on February 7, 2008 at 12:14 AM | PERMALINK

At the same time, Rasmussen's daily tracker shows no such movement. Who's right/wrong? Who knows.

Posted by: Evan on February 7, 2008 at 12:18 AM | PERMALINK

I heard a lot of "last minute decision voters broke for Hillary" today on the cable shows. According to this poll it looks like many were giving Obama a 2nd thought, then decided against him the closer they got to Tuesday.

I can't wait for tracking polls a few days out, that might be the real tell, that and Obama's stunning campaign contributions today.

Posted by: tom.a on February 7, 2008 at 12:18 AM | PERMALINK

Here is a great article that can help explain it. From Steve Lopez of the LA Times:

http://www.latimes.com/news/columnists/la-me-lopez6feb06,1,4590020.column?ctrack=8&cset=true

The article is about a Bush Republican turned Democrat who voted for John Kerry in 2004 and hosted an event for Barack Obama just last month in her own backyard - but decided to vote for Hillary Clinton after the debate.

Posted by: ken on February 7, 2008 at 12:22 AM | PERMALINK

I know that I found, as an Obama supporter, the celebratization of the Obama campaign to make his campaign feel more faddish and less sincere.

Posted by: yabba on February 7, 2008 at 12:23 AM | PERMALINK

I take it that Kevin Drum never took a statistics course in HS? Even the best polling firms produce outliers occasionally. It's the nature of the beast.

I've heard a lot of things in the media, but Barack Obama lost California and still stayed even in Delegates. Everyone expected that Obama needed to win California, and he didn't, and I don't think it's sunk in with the media that the fact that he won 8 other states he was supposed to lose kind of changed the requirements for success.

Posted by: soullite on February 7, 2008 at 12:25 AM | PERMALINK

What is going on? Nobody even seems to have final delegate counts yet.

Posted by: antiphone on February 7, 2008 at 12:26 AM | PERMALINK

2 factors:

1. Most polls do not use 95% confidence intervals (2 standard deviations from the mean) as their margin of error. They use a single standard deviation which means that there is only 65% confidence that a given poll is within the margin of error. 1 poll in 20 will be TWICE the margin of error (8-10% off) which accounts for a lot of the wacky polls this season.

2. Gallup uses a likely voter model that measures voter intensity. Its a ver non-reliable model that accentuates fluctuation. In 2000, one university estimated that 90% of the fluctuation in Gallup polls was noise due to that factor. It's bad polling but makes good headlines as one candidate or another is always "surging."


Here's something I posted early in 2004 cycle about it. http://www.cosmiciguana.com/2004/01/polls_apart_discrepancies_in_c.html

(Ignore the compliment I wrote about Zogby - they have gotten much worse)

Posted by: cosmici on February 7, 2008 at 12:31 AM | PERMALINK

The economy is causing a lot of anxiety for people, and many of these people are turning to Hillary. She is a known quantity (a "safe" choice), is perceived to be more knowledgeable on the economy, and most of all in my opinion, is associated with the strong Clinton years.

If you want to know why Barack Obama is winning higher income voters, it's because that group can afford to vote their hopes. Anxiety and fear govern voting behavior more than anything. It's why the worse the economy does, the better Clinton does, and if there is a terrorist attack in American later this year, McCain will be a shoo-in.

I don't think people realize that Obama has run an *amazing* campaign to do as well as he has in light of this and other factors, such as lack of an established network and lower name recognition.

Posted by: Jason on February 7, 2008 at 12:33 AM | PERMALINK

these numbers are far too big to be merely a fluke.

I suggest you take a stats course.

Posted by: Disputo on February 7, 2008 at 12:41 AM | PERMALINK

National tracking polls now measure nothing of any significance. The 'national' primary was yesterday; all those states don't get to vote again.

Posted by: lampwick on February 7, 2008 at 12:42 AM | PERMALINK

There's been a trend of election-day undecideds breaking for Clinton, perhaps that shows up in the poll trend the last few days. Her number isn't that far above her total popular vote % yesterday, which makes sense.

The weirder thing is that Obama's number is well-below his popular vote percentage yesterday. So either he's got some folks moving to undecided from him or it's simply an outlier.


Posted by: BDB on February 7, 2008 at 12:51 AM | PERMALINK

Take your polls and shove them. Look at your pretty graph and then consider that Clinton and Obama got almost exactly the same number of total votes on the 5th- over 7 million each. How do you justify this 52-39 Clinton surge? When will people learn that polls are a waste of time and money? - people tell you what they think you want to hear.

Posted by: erewhon on February 7, 2008 at 12:52 AM | PERMALINK

I've been back and forth between the two 'til I'm dizzy but if a news story I read the other day is correct, it's Hillary for good. Is it true that Michele Obama, when asked whether she would vote for Hillary if she got the nomination, replied that she would have to think about it? Ouch!

Posted by: Stilliberal on February 7, 2008 at 12:54 AM | PERMALINK

The differences for the last 7 days: 6 points, 4, 3, 7, 2, 4, 5, 13. It seems that (possibly) something changed on Super Tuesday. I think it's what KDrum himself experienced-- the "I'm so sad for Hillary" effect. It caused a big bump in New Hampshire, too.

It may get her the nomination yet.

Posted by: calling all toasters on February 7, 2008 at 12:54 AM | PERMALINK

I think the polls have proven themselves to be volatile, to say the least. The campaign has a long way to go. But Mrs. Clinton has obviously proved herself capable of winning in areas where Democrats must win if they are to be successful in November, while Mr. Obama has -- with the noted exception of Iowa, Illinois and perhaps Missouri -- has performed quite well in places that can best be described as "GOP wingnut country."

I would hope that coolers heads would soon prevail, and that some sort of accommodation can be reached soon that would preserve the Democrats' collective sense of mission and purpose. Frankly, I believe the ball to be in Obama's court whether or not that accommodation can and will be reached.

P.S.: Taylor Marsh has reported that the Clinton campaign raised $3 million in the last 24 hours.

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on February 7, 2008 at 12:58 AM | PERMALINK

Clinton surge? I still haven't come up with an appropriate neologism. The clurge? Mobama just writes itself.

Is there going to be another debate? Or is it going to be all bio ads and horse race stuff.

Posted by: B on February 7, 2008 at 12:58 AM | PERMALINK

The Clinton campaign raised $3 million in the last 24 hours.

I notice my wife tapped our credit card late last night.

Posted by: B on February 7, 2008 at 1:04 AM | PERMALINK

The numbers started changing right after the debate. I thought her debate performance killed for the potential Hillary voter.

Tweety said today that Obama voters want someone who can reinvent government and Hillary voters want someone who can address their laundry list of needs. Hillary came off really wonkish on domestic policy (mostly healthcare), and I think she won a lot of those people over. I think it just took a couple of days for it to sink in for some.

No way Obama should agree to another debate. He should take his licks and try to move things back up from here.

Posted by: chris on February 7, 2008 at 1:06 AM | PERMALINK

What caused the Hillary surge starting Sunday? Uhm, wasn't Saturday the day she cried again? Evidently, the more she weeps, the more she sweeps.

Posted by: Traven on February 7, 2008 at 1:14 AM | PERMALINK

Since Jan 27, to choose an arbitrary start, the average difference has been 6.4, with a standard deviation of 3.6. Two standard deviations up is 13.6 (probability of such an event = about .05). Chance of not getting a .05 event in ten trials = .6. So, about even money that you'd get a 13 in ten tries. Of course, if it goes up again tomorrow, then ... -- but I seem to recall that these are rolling panels, so each day is only updated by 1/3, giving a false sense of smooth trends.

Posted by: JD on February 7, 2008 at 1:15 AM | PERMALINK

No one really knows what is going on. We just have to guess, based on what we know of the candidates.

One of the things we know is that Hillary Clinton is very well known by Democratic voters, and has been for a long time. Obama's history with them is much shorter. She is Bill Clinton's wife, a circumstance that sometimes arouses controversy among people who follow politics all the time but is a major plus for her among the people who vote in Democratic primaries. And she has the advantage -- it is a major advantage in primaries where more than 55% of voters are female -- of being a woman. Obama has the disadvantage of being black.

What I think all these things mean is that Obama still has to consider himself the underdog. A lot of his support is coming from people who don't really know a lot about him -- which doesn't mean they wouldn't support him if they did, but rather that their support for him may be softer than Clinton voters' support for her.

The other side of this coin, of course, is that many fewer people dislike Obama than dislike and distrust Clinton. This probably means his ceiling in terms of the general election is higher than hers is. But for that to matter he has to get the nomination, and the odds on that are still against him.

Posted by: Zathras on February 7, 2008 at 1:16 AM | PERMALINK

Gallup is correct. The reason Senator Obama is so close is that he is winning the caucus states where only a small percentage of party activists go to the caucus. These people tend to be extremely liberal and therefore do not represent the rank and file Democrats that prefer Hillary.

Posted by: jim on February 7, 2008 at 1:16 AM | PERMALINK

Maybe I’m the only one, but the disparity in delegate totals is driving me nuts.

New York Times:

Clinton 892 SD- 204

Obama 716 SD- 99

CNN:

Clinton 823 SD- 193

Obama 741 SD- 106

CBS:

Clinton 847 SD- 211

Obama 856 SD- 128

MSNBC:

Clinton 838 SD?

Obama 834 SD?

Open Left, Chris Bowers

Clinton 850 SD?

Obama 862 SD-?

2008 Convention Watch, Matt

Clinton 803 SD- 201

Obama 803 SD- 112

SD= Superdelegates

Posted by: antiphone on February 7, 2008 at 1:18 AM | PERMALINK

1 in 20 polls are by definition outside the 95% confidence level...

A 13 point difference is way, way past the 95% confidence level for a poll with a sample size this large, namely over 1200, insofar as you're looking to answer the question of whether Clinton is in fact beating Obama in the population (a little different question from the usual one the margin of error addresses, though, I should note). Don't have a chart, but I'm sure it's somewhere deep into the upper regions of the 99th percent.

Actually, what people don't seem to recognize is that the real problem with polls is almost always that they don't get a representative sample. That's why they come up with bizarre results so often.

We should be so lucky that the stated margin of error was itself an accurate estimate of the reliability of the poll.

Posted by: frankly0 on February 7, 2008 at 1:19 AM | PERMALINK

It's clear that in a race between the first truly viable woman candidate and the first truly viable Black candidate, trying to poll, handicap, or otherwise predict outcomes is a mug's game. Voters are changing their minds at the last minute, voting their prejudices, voting *against* their prejudices . . . who the hell knows *what* is going on?

Even so, the mugs will continue to predict results with a straight face. And continue to *get* faced. If nothing else, this race has provided plenty of opportunity for shadenfruede at the expense of the big media honchos.

Posted by: Douglas Moran on February 7, 2008 at 1:27 AM | PERMALINK

Stilliberal: "Is it true that Michele Obama, when asked whether she would vote for Hillary if she got the nomination, replied that she would have to think about it? Ouch!"

What audacity--you mean she actually wants to *think* about her vote?!

Posted by: Varecia on February 7, 2008 at 1:31 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin, the answer to your question is: Caucuses. Barack won the Caucuses, which are notorious for disenfranchisement. Had Minnesota, Kansas, Utah, and North Dakota been primaries, we might have seen a very different popular and delegate spread.

Secondly, most of the polls underestimated the black vote. None of them predicted a 82-94% black vote for Obama.

Posted by: Jonathan on February 7, 2008 at 1:33 AM | PERMALINK

Traven--
She teared up again? Man, if she can keep Bill in the basement and the waterworks running, Obama doesn't stand a chance.

New campaign slogan: "Leave Hillary alone!"

Posted by: calling all toasters on February 7, 2008 at 1:33 AM | PERMALINK

I work with data for a living and have to say that the obsession with statistical significance as it relates to polling is misplaced. I am certain that I sound pedantic but applying any statistical test is only appropriate if you believe that a variety of assumptions are being met. We have only a very rough idea what the population in question looks like (actual primary voters) so any claim that a random sample has been drawn is highly suspect. There are other examples but by now I KNOW that I am getting tedious so suffice it to say that any claim to significance (or description of the confidence interval etc.) really cannot be evaluated.

Posted by: sven on February 7, 2008 at 1:37 AM | PERMALINK

I think it may well BE a fluke. Right now, Rasmussen's three-day tracking poll still shows Hillary at a stable 4-point lead. And Gallup is by no means immune to such chance fluctuations in their sample.

I do think, however, that Hillary's California victory -- and the sheer size of it (I never dreamed she'd win by 10 points) -- may have hurt Obama, when combined with all those more predictable but still-big wins of hers in the East.

Posted by: Bruce Moomaw on February 7, 2008 at 1:41 AM | PERMALINK

Is it true that Michele Obama, when asked whether she would vote for Hillary if she got the nomination, replied that she would have to think about it? Ouch!

Ah, yet another HRC backer spreading this lie. What a shocking surprise. Do you freaks have no effing shame at all?

Posted by: Disputo on February 7, 2008 at 1:41 AM | PERMALINK

The Clinton campaign raised $3 million in the last 24 hours.

Josh Marshall reported that Obama raised over $5 million (now over $6 million) since the polls closed.

Posted by: pol on February 7, 2008 at 1:43 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin had a post a few days ago about a poll that showed Obama and Hillary tied 41% nationwide, but with Hillary leading by something like 18% in the super-Tuesday states. And there was a discussion about how improbable that was, since it meant that she would have to be trailing by something like 12% in the non-primary states.

I cannot find that post right now -- does anyone else remember it? Do posts disappear at PA?

Posted by: JS on February 7, 2008 at 1:46 AM | PERMALINK

Disputo: "Do you freaks have no effing shame at all?"

That's a rather novel way to win people over. You do P.R. for a living?

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on February 7, 2008 at 1:47 AM | PERMALINK

But Mrs. Clinton has obviously proved herself capable of winning in areas where Democrats must win if they are to be successful in November, while Mr. Obama has -- with the noted exception of Iowa, Illinois and perhaps Missouri -- has performed quite well in places that can best be described as "GOP wingnut country."

What this demonstrates (ignoring your slur against Dems who just happen to live in majority Red states) is that, assuming that HRC supporters will indeed vote for Obama if he gets the election (and are not merely projecting every time they falsely accuse Obama supporters of vowing not to vote for HRC in the general), is that Obama is the better candidate in the general, as he'll win the areas that the Dems need to win (thx to HRC supporters), as well as be competitive in the, er, Red states.

Thanks for pointing that out, Don. Once again you have been a big help.

Posted by: Disputo on February 7, 2008 at 1:48 AM | PERMALINK

I call it as I see it, Don. I'm not a shameless liar such as yourself.

Posted by: Disputo on February 7, 2008 at 1:49 AM | PERMALINK

Disputo, if you really think Democrats are going to be competitive in states like Utah, Idaho and Alaska, why don't you volunteer to walk the precincts of Provo, Pocatello and Fairbanks for your candidate?

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on February 7, 2008 at 1:53 AM | PERMALINK

And it's quite notable, Don, that instead of helping the rest of us correct the record against the lies being propagated by the HRC campaign, you lay down cover fire for the liars.

But I guess that that is what PR is all about, isn't it? At least for a political operative such as you.

Posted by: Disputo on February 7, 2008 at 1:54 AM | PERMALINK

Stilliberal: "Is it true that Michele Obama, when asked whether she would vote for Hillary if she got the nomination, replied that she would have to think about it? Ouch!"

For the record, the question was not about whether or not she would vote for Hillary but whether or not she would actively work for Hillary should Hillary get the nomination. Whether that was an appropriate response or not is another issue.

Posted by: work for, not vote on February 7, 2008 at 2:00 AM | PERMALINK

From the Kansas City Star:

"Four-hour waits. Long lines zig-zagging into the night. Elderly voters forced to stand outside in the sleet. Overflow meeting rooms. Mass confusion.

"One day after Super Tuesday, Democrats were looking back in frustration — and wonder — at their chaotic, jam-packed caucus night with some demanding a switch to quicker, simpler, less-time-consuming primaries.

"'Shame on us for being too cheap to set up a real vote,' said Elliott, who wondered whether her vote Tuesday on a sheet of paper was ever tallied.

"Secretary of State Ron Thornburgh, the state’s chief elections officer, said tens of thousands more Kansans likely would have voted in a primary with a turnout equaling, or even exceeding, the 36 percent showing of registered voters in Missouri on Tuesday.

"As it was, about 37,000 Kansans crowded into 50 meeting rooms around the state."

Caucuses are undemocratic and the reason Super Tuesday didn't correspond with the national Gallup poll was because Barack scored big on the Caucus votes due to a large showing from some of his diehard supporters.

Posted by: Jonathan on February 7, 2008 at 2:04 AM | PERMALINK

Disputo, if you really think Democrats are going to be competitive blah, blah, blah...

Once again totally ignoring the point; but that is the game you play, isn't it? The truth be damned. It's all about spin to a political operative like you, huh?

I have to say that I appreciate the dirty crap of this campaign for one reason -- that it has revealed quite clearly who are the crypto-wingnuts pretending to be progressives. Being progressive isn't just about adopting a particular set of policies. It is about how you live your life; about your personal code of ethics. If you cheat at poker just to win, you're a lying punk; I don't care what your position on [liberal item x] is.

Posted by: Disputo on February 7, 2008 at 2:04 AM | PERMALINK

If Hillary won the nomination and picked Obama as a running mate, I am sure Michelle would be working her butt off for Hillary.

Posted by: Ogre Mage on February 7, 2008 at 2:04 AM | PERMALINK

My guess is the debate more than any other single factor (assuming of course that these polls are accurate, a qualification which cannot be overstated this year in the Dem contests) combined with the horrible economic news during the same period. It is much easier to sell the Obama message of hope and inspiration when people aren't worrying that major economic calamity is just around the corner, especially when the candidate selling it has a thin resume in national politics and little to no record in dealing with serious economic issues as is the case with Obama. I also have to wonder whether his increasing tendency to take swipes at Clinton in his speeches is also taking some of that luster off the self described post-partisan politician who does politics differently than the bad old ways of the past with negative attacks and such. For those already "converted" to the Obama cause they are not going to see the problems with his resume as serious nor are they going to be willing to recognize that the name Clinton is tied in many minds including I might add independents with economic prosperity (regardless of how fair this perception is it exists and complaining she doesn't deserve any such credit won't change that) which is a major selling point for her.

The stock answer Obama has had whenever his experience and fitness for the Presidency is raised is his anti-war stance in 2002. When the war and foreign policy is the prime focus that is a major selling point for him as he has shown so far, but what happens when it shifts to the economy? What card can he play to show he has good judgment and can be trusted to guide the nation through turbulent economic times? That is a real problem for him.

When I first starting commenting on the race here one of the points I made was what would happen to Obama if/when his message of inspiration/hope was no longer a dominant factor, what else did he have to justify why someone with three years of experience on the national stage and no political executive experience at all have to offer to recommend him as the better Presidential choice? We may be seeing that question starting to be answered with these polls and if so it is exactly what I feared might be the case, but if this is the case at least it is happening before he locked away the nomination. Having this sort of collapse of message/support/basis for a candidacy once he was the nominee is one of the only ways I could see the GOP winning in November. Remember, this is not what I am saying is happening, just one way to explain what this poll is showing if it is true, so please do not read more than that into it please if/when you respond.

There is also another factor which needs to be remembered, for years now everyone has been told that HRC is unelectable, that the more the voters get to know her the more they will turn away, yet the results in the primaries do not show that at all. Indeed, given her dominance in late breaking votes on the day of the voting in the primaries there is a stronger argument that the more the voters see of her the more attractive a candidate she looks, and if that perception starts catching on one of the core reasons for people to support Obama (not wanting to lose in Nov) will be seriously undercut if not destroyed altogether. There is also the fact that Obama's wins have been fairly narrow in their demographics and he may be looking more and more like a limited appeal candidate to many voters, another possibility to consider.

So I can think of several potential reasons for why this shift is happening in the Gallup polls that are consistent with reality, so if it is a true reflection of reality it is hardly inexplicable, at least if one is not blinded by preconceptions and partisan blinders. Something I know most of the Obama supporters here do not believe of me is that I really do not care which wins so long as I think they should be able to win in Nov, and Clinton I have always believed that true of and Obama I used to think that was true of, at least until the last several weeks, which btw is why I started commenting here about it hoping to have my concerns shown to be without merit/basis.

Alas though instead I have found more and more reasons to be concerned, not less, and much of it is from the clear talking from both sides of his mouth on the so called new politics of post-partisanship versus the actions his campaign takes AND what comes out of his own mouth as seen last night in his speech where he took multiple swipes at HRC. I find it bitterly ironic to listen to both Obama and Clinton and hear far more negativity coming from Obama about her than I have heard from her about him, especially when his followers appear completely oblivious to it or worse, are happy to see him "fighting back against the evil Clinton attack machine" without once recognizing that it completely contradicts his message AND by the fact that he has no other way of responding shows the hollowness of his claim to do politics differently, especially if the other side isn't willing to play by his rules which the GOP most certainly will not.

It speaks volumes that he is winning mainly caucuses and not primaries, and most of the States he wins do not have large Democratic party membership, while Clinton does take those States and most of the big important swing States like Florida (which does count equally for all since no Dem campaigned there) as well as the primaries in large States where the AA demographic is not disproportionately higher than the national average like in Alabama and Georgia. There is also the assumption that he is bringing in most of the "new" voters, yet this is not proven out, it could just as easily be her candidacy bringing out the most new voters, or as I tend to think the crappy Bush years combined with real fear of major catastrophe coming soon down the road wanting major change that is behind most of the voter turnout increase for the Dems. He is also not winning the youth vote as much as his supporters claim, and taken together she appears to be the choice of the clear majority of Democratic party members, and I think that is something the superdelegates are going to have to consider when they decide which side to go for. Besides, which demographic is larger the AA voters or the Latino, let alone the female ones? So if you must disappoint one of these groups which one from the cold strategic POV makes more sense? Especially if with Clinton you can lock in the Latino affiliation for the Dems given their growth as a demographic as well as the increase in women voting for the Dems in even higher numbers than they normally tend to?

Yes, Obama has played a valuable role in energizing the base and youth in particular, but that does not make him automatically the savior of the Democratic Party able to lead the party into a brighter tomorrow. Obama has not been able to increase his demographic appeal significantly between SC and Super Tuesday going by the demographic breakdowns, and that is a real problem for his candidacy. I don't see him being able to change much of the percentages with women and while I think he has a slighter better chance of changing Latino minds it is not by much. The Clintons spent years cultivating that community, and Obama just recognized the need in the past few weeks, and I don't think the Latino community is going to buy that sudden recognition as anything more than the standard reaction of a politician that suddenly sees a demographic that will sink his candidacy if he doesn't give them some love, classic political pandering in other words.

There are a lot of viable causes/factors for explaining why Clinton could be rising again in the national polls from Gallup, or it could be yet another major polling mistake. If it is not though, if it is real, then it is quite explicable even is Obama supporters don't want to hear it. That is always the way with partisans, especially ones which appear to be following the focus of a cult of personality (I am sorry, but I do not agree that Obama is the head of a true movement, especially when considering that his voters are following him first and not the party and the principles it stands for first and he and his wife repeatedly make that point when they say he will get all of the Dem voters for Clinton while she cannot get all of his, indeed his refusal to try to make the case that the most important thing is that the Dem candidate gets all the votes from those supporting any of the candidates is one of but not the only reason I consider this a cult of personality and not a movement) as I see happening with Obama. I would have thought the cult of personality surrounding GWB in his first term would have shown why that is an unhealthy thing for any democracy, but apparently not. Time will tell us whether this is real or just another pollster illusion like so many we have seen in the last several weeks including leading into last night.

Posted by: Scotian on February 7, 2008 at 2:06 AM | PERMALINK

Arkansas has about the same amount of delegates as Kansas. Arkansas was a primary and got 250,000+ votes, while Kansas had only 37,000 because it was a Caucus.

Seniors, rural voters, and mothers are no-shows for Caucuses.

Posted by: Jonathan on February 7, 2008 at 2:07 AM | PERMALINK

Did Michele Obama say that she would have to think about voting for Hillary? I have a lot of things wrong with me, but my hearing and eyesight are very good and I saw and heard her say that in a clip on CNN.My jaw fell!.......and I'm a Edwards guy....or Gore...or Obama or Hillary.

Posted by: R.L. on February 7, 2008 at 2:09 AM | PERMALINK

Work for,not vote is correct. I was wrong, but just thought both were about the same and that it was not a proper response.

Posted by: R.L. on February 7, 2008 at 2:14 AM | PERMALINK

Here is that CBS poll that Kevin discussed a couple of days ago. It says The poll found that Clinton and Obama both have the support of 41 percent of Democratic primary voters... Among voters in [the super-Tuesday] states, she leads Obama, 49 percent to 31 percent....

Still cannot find Kevin's post on this -- it should have been on Feb. 3. Curious if he deleted it.

Posted by: JS on February 7, 2008 at 2:26 AM | PERMALINK

IHAVE JUST POSTED THE BELOW UNDER THE "ON THE COUCH" THREAD, but with your all's indulgence, I'm reposting my comment here because I think Hillary's surge has something to do with the fact that Obama's campaign has morphed into a MOVEMENT that has certain cult-like attributes which turns many off. Since Democratic voters have nowhere else to go, except Hillary, hence Hillary is experiencing a surge. Below is my reposting:

Kevin, Scotian, nepata, Boorring, Sharon, Donald from Hawaii, etc, etc, … anyone on this blog …

I noticed something new and odd about Obama’s speech last night that I don’t know how to interpret and have a serious and honest question about, a concern really, that I have not seen addressed anywhere. So, I hope others here can help me make sense of what it means.

That is, I noticed Barack Obama using the word “MOVEMENT” over and over again to refer to his quest for the nomination and the Presidency. He said things like, “I want to welcome to the Movement” . . . “our Movement is going forward“. . .“our Movement is gaining strength” . . . etc.
When he first used the word I thought it was a gaffe, that he meant to say “campaign,” but when he used the word, over and over again, I recognized that it was a very deliberate choice of words. What do you (meaning others who comment on this blog) understand from his deliberate choice of words here? Does it ring certain alarm buttons for anyone else here?
To me, the word MOVEMENT does not belong in American politics. It connotes a controlled ideology and group thinking, group pressure . . something I associate more with Communism, or Nazism or other forms of despotic “’isms” than with American Democracy. Obama’s characterization of his quest as a “MOVEMENT” scares me, a bit. I remember my mother (who grew up in Austria when the Hitler phenomenon and the Nazi movement swept over the land) telling me with what spirit of unquestioned adulation she and her friends enthusiastically joined the Hitler youth program and waived and excitedly screamed their approval when Hitler marched into Austria. She explained, I and my friends did not investigate or understand what Nazism was all about, “we weren’t political,” she said. We were just caught up in the fervor and fever of the Movement that promised to bring change and hope -- the economy and other things were so very bad in Austria in 1938, she explained.

Now, don’t everybody get excited! I am NOT in the least suggesting that Obama and Hitler have anything in common (except maybe a penchant for rousing speech-making). Obviously not. What I am saying, however, is that an emotionally propelled rush to join-up to a new political MOVEMENT, fostered by adulation of the movement’s leader because his speeches “inspire” people, scares me. And, I’m explaining why I have that reaction.
So, I'm asking: what does “MOVEMENT” in the context of Obama’s political campaign mean to you, and why do you think he has now chosen to use that charged word to describe his campaign?

Posted by: Erika S on February 7, 2008 at 2:27 AM | PERMALINK

..... by far you are one of my favourite commenters on any internet site Scotian and after reading your lengthy diatribe the only issue I find myself taking with it is at the very end you describe a similar cult of personality surrounding Obama that surrounded Bush during his first term. Obama is a politician, we get that. He has flaws juss like any other. He isn't a saviour type of any kind and as one of the demographic groups that are tilting heavily towards him (liberals) he is far from my ideal candidate but truth be told he or she doesn't exist.
Why am I so supportive of Obama when he doesn't strike me as particularly progressive, and I don't have much hope that he'd govern that way? What he does is represent such a shift from what this country has ever advanced as a leader of its population that there is a chance (slim one at that) to transcend the last 75 years of governing? Maybe more? You can look at men like Carter and Clinton and say they weren't entrenched in the halls of power as they rose to the highest office. They were white southerners tho, not a huge break from that which came before them.
To me H Clinton loses that argument as she approaches the table. I am tired of entrenched power, do I think Ms Clinton will govern competently? Heh. According to many news reports I read her ability to connect with people on individual basis has served her exceptionally well. She will protect a woman's right to choose, but I juss get the sneaking suspicion that if her name was Hillary Rodham she'd have the same amount of support that Libby Dole had when she explored her chances to become President (I have that right don't I?). To me she has been able to gain support as much through her last name as her laundry lists of accomplishments in the Senate. Neither candidate has particularly done themselves credit with their service in that once august chamber but than again only one of them went in there with 28 years of experience (now 35) as a headstart and resulted in a monumental disappointment, not to mention get hoodwinked on a pretty easy nay vote in 2002.
As always what you said was eloquently stated and I look forward to your future musings....................

Posted by: robbymack on February 7, 2008 at 2:38 AM | PERMALINK

........ should've used preview me thinks.

Posted by: robbymack on February 7, 2008 at 2:39 AM | PERMALINK

Here is a link to the (three day rolling) averages from Gallup over the past two weeks.

http://www.pollingreport.com/wh08dem.htm

I can't help but be highly skeptical of the reported swings for both candidates over this period. It is amazing that after the polling issues in NH, SC, and prior to Tuesday, that anyone here can so passionately argue that these results are precise. My only prediction is that tomorrow if the Gallup numbers swing in the opposite direction supporters for both sides will be vigorously defending the other's position...

Posted by: sven on February 7, 2008 at 2:42 AM | PERMALINK

I'm having Obama fatigue. Enough with the 'There's tons of new dirt on Clinton! Really!' 'People hate Clinton, Really!' 'In one poll, Clinton lost to McCain. Really!' Ugh.

Anyhow. Mostly what I want is...

One Clinton/Obama ticket, please.

Posted by: Crissa on February 7, 2008 at 2:45 AM | PERMALINK

Don't mind Disputo. He thinks that anyone who disagrees with him is a political operative with a nefarious agenda. It's a reoccurring theme with him!

Posted by: Caitlin on February 7, 2008 at 2:46 AM | PERMALINK

Based solely on that chart, it looks like Edwards supporters initially broke for Obama (as Edwards' numbers dropped, Obama's went up), but upon more reflection, some of them changed their minds for Hillary..

Posted by: Andy on February 7, 2008 at 2:48 AM | PERMALINK

Erika, all I can say is wtf?? That was just ridiculous....did you feel the same way about the Civil Rights Movement?

Antiphone, a good breakdown of how different news agencies are counting delegates can be found here: http://tpmelectioncentral.talkingpointsmemo.com/2008/02/your_election_central_delegate.php

Basically ABC, CBS, and The Washington Post are counting the tallies as they are coming in, AND also including superdelegates in their totals. These totals will continue to be updated as the count comes in. CNN is doing the same (counting the tally as it is coming in) but not including superdelegates. NBC though, is doing their own projections based on the vote totals (not including superdelegates), which is why they show Obama leading. If NBC includes the superdelegates though, Clinton takes the lead.


Posted by: Dan on February 7, 2008 at 2:48 AM | PERMALINK

Surprise! A-list bloggers turn out to be as clueless as the MSM. Gee, now why would Hillary's numbers go up when the "beautiful people" start going all ga-ga over Obama? Gee, why could that be?

It's because poor and working people--the heart of the Democratic Party--are voting for Clinton, that's why.

Posted by: John Petty on February 7, 2008 at 2:48 AM | PERMALINK

OK -- mystery solved. The discussion I referred to above was in one of Kevin's threads but it was about a post from TPM quoted by frankly0. Nothing has disappeared.

sven, I don't think many people here believe polls are close to accurate. But for a political blog, they are grist for discussion.

The numbers you linked to are the same ones that are in the graph in Kevin's post. By the way, as far as I can tell, these 3-day rolling averages can be misleading -- each one is based on only about 300 - 400 new interviews which receive 1/3 weight, and in the last two days' interviews which receive 2/3 weight. So these are not independent data points, as one initially assumes before reading the fine print.

And speaking of the fine Gallup print, it includes this: In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.

Posted by: JS on February 7, 2008 at 2:56 AM | PERMALINK

I think that Jim and Jonathon up the thread have made excellent points about Obama's victories in caucus states. I was puzzled by the that and I hadn't considered that caucuses depress participation compared to primaries.

Outside of my family, I haven't really discussed the Democratic race with anyone, as I work with a bunch of Republicans and we don't talk politics much. So maybe I'm just sheltered from the "cult of personality". That said, I caucused for Obama, even though I prefer Clinton's position on health care. I thought that he has the best chance of advancing a progressive agenda if elected and he's less likely to be bellicose on foreign policy.

The funny thing is, I don't feel like I've joined a cult. BTW, I'll happily vote for Clinton in the general election.

Posted by: AK Liberal on February 7, 2008 at 3:12 AM | PERMALINK

Scotian,

A brief response at the moment. The word 'movement' doesn't bother me in reference to those who support Obama because to me it IS a movement of sorts within the Democratic party.
There are lots of 'movements,' right? The environmental movement, the pro-choice movement, the anti-war movement, etc. What Obama's 'movement' represents to me is a group of people (his supporters) who are tired of seeing special interests in Washington control legislation in Congress in almost every single area. We're tired of hearing liberal rhetoric in campaigns get nowhere in reality, compromised out of existence by one special interest or another. This was really John Edwards major message although I've always heard it in Obama's speeches too, although expressed in a different way. The 'Yes We Can' mantra of Obama supporters is 'Yes We Can' change the system. I don't know if it's possible or not within the current structure of US government but I see it as being our last best hope.

Posted by: nepeta on February 7, 2008 at 3:32 AM | PERMALINK

Re Jonathan

The twin cities had similar accessibility problems as those mentioned in the Kansas City Star. We attended our precinct caucus (suburban minneapolis). The voting window was from 6:30PM to 8:00PM; long lines and not enough ballots (the ballot was a tiny square of paper 2x2 inches) and there were some concerns about ballot integrity and disenfranchisement of many voters that couldn't make it to the caucus in that narrow time window.

Posted by: CSTAR on February 7, 2008 at 3:34 AM | PERMALINK

R.L.: Did Michele Obama say that she would have to think about voting for Hillary? I have a lot of things wrong with me, but my hearing and eyesight are very good and I saw and heard her say that in a clip on CNN.My jaw fell!

Actually, your hearing, memory, or honesty aren't all they're cracked up to be.

Here's the transcript (note the deliberately misleading headline to get people to click the link):

ROBERTS: So what if Senator Clinton defeats her husband, becoming the first woman nominee. Could you see yourself working to support the first woman nomination?

OBAMA: I'd have to think about that. I'd have to think about that, her policies, her approach, her tone.

ROBERTS: That's not a given?

OBAMA: You know, everyone in this party is going to work hard for whoever the nominee is. I think that we're all working for the same thing. and, you know, I think our goal is to make sure that the person in the White House is going to take this country in a different direction. I happen to believe that Barack is the only person who can really do that.

One very critical bit of context is that Michelle Obama has explicitly and repeatedly stated that her work for husband's campaign comes second to her parenting. She says she is always at home to feed their daughters breakfast, make their lunches and get them to school - then back at night to tuck them into bed. Once they're off to school, she will fly out somewhere to campaign for her husband, but returns home later that day.

Given that context it's hard to imagine that she would work for Hillary when her husband's campaign already takes a back seat to her parenting schedule.

Would she support Hillary? Obviously she would. Would she vote for Hillary? Obviously she would. Would she work (read: campaign) for Hillary? Probably, but she'll wait and see.

Please stop attacking and lying about Michelle Obama. It reflects poorly on you and your candidate.

Posted by: Augustus on February 7, 2008 at 3:35 AM | PERMALINK

"Erika, all I can say is wtf?? That was just ridiculous....did you feel the same way about the Civil Rights Movement?"
(Dan, at 2:48AM)

Dan, that's exactly my point. The civil right's movement was NOT a political campaign. Rather, it was a "movement" a group effort oranized around a common cause or ideology for the purpose of influencing the thinking of others, the legislators and elected leaders and voters. It was not a political campaign, as such.
That's what I'm asking, what is it about the Obama campaign that makes him insist that he is heading up a "movement" -- like the civil rights movement?
Buut, you are right "movements" can be for good or bad. It was error on my part not to note that and just bring up Communism and Nazism as examples.

Posted by: Erika S on February 7, 2008 at 3:38 AM | PERMALINK

"NBC though, is doing their own projections based on the vote totals (not including superdelegates), which is why they show Obama leading. If NBC includes the superdelegates though, Clinton takes the lead."

That's interesting, Dan. I didn't know that and it now makes sense - because Tweety today started laying the groundwork: he was saying that if it turns out to be basically a delegate tie in the primaries, then the Superdelegates will be the deciding factor. And, as he put it, these aren't regular people, but Congressmen, Governors, etc. and they are skewing toward Hillary.

And all those black folks who finally have a chance to get a candidate nominated will then be up in arms if their guy doesn't win, thwarted by all these fancy people in their smoke-filled rooms (I swear he actually used that phrase). And of course, Andrea Mitchell (but maybe it was David Gregory) then eagerly agreed with him.

So NBC not counting the (agreed upon in advance by the Dem. party) Superdelegates votes makes sense now.

Oy - when there's a race war in this country, Tweety will be thrilled. And he will blame the Clintons of course. Just fucking amazing.

Posted by: jbk on February 7, 2008 at 4:21 AM | PERMALINK

Augustus,
While I appreciated your well- reasoned and evidenced defense of Michele Obama, it would be more in the divisive spirit of this subthread to say, "As a black woman, I resent the implication that, should Hillary win the nomination, Obama and his family should work as slaves in the Clinton campaign." Who knows, maybe there's a bit of that as subtext here, to assume a candidate's spouse would automatically go to work for the other campaign. . .

Posted by: matt on February 7, 2008 at 4:30 AM | PERMALINK

The answer is that on Sunday, having flirted with the possibility of Obama, and having taken his measure, people fell back on their original choice, Clinton, because they began to see something wanting in Obama. Obama just came off the best press in his life, and that press encouraged every Democrat to take a look at him. Not everyone saw a president there. Some did, and some saw nothing they wanted, and still more saw a Vice President.
If Super Tuesday were Super Wednesday, you'd have seen the movement to Hillary on Monday. The impending election has a way of compressing the mind.
I thought one of the most interesting things I read today was Kevin's admission that, having voted for Obama, he started rooting for Hillary. Kevin that was the drugs wearing off. Come back, come back . . .

Posted by: juliet72 on February 7, 2008 at 4:41 AM | PERMALINK

As I have said before, ignore the pundits and the polls. These are atypical candidates in an atypical election year.

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on February 7, 2008 at 5:51 AM | PERMALINK

Posted by: robbymack on February 7, 2008 at 2:38 AM

Understand something please, I was not saying that all of Obama’s supporters fall into the cult of personality trap, you clearly do not by virtue of the comment you left in the referenced cite at the top of this comment. However, it has been my experience/observation from lurking at many major progressive blogs, both Obama and Clinton supporting/leaning, that the majority of Obama supporters will defend their guy from anything no matter how factual/true/reasonable a criticism/concern it is, no matter how bad the double standard they apply between his message and actions, and then attack the personal credibility of the person making the criticism exactly like the GOPers did with/for Bush.

I evaluate the behaviour of the supporters (and the percentage of those exhibiting this behaviour) to determine whether I think it is a cult of personality versus a movement, and one of the key differences is the ability to tolerate dissenting views, and on this I have found the Obama supporters in general to be FAR less tolerant of such. Worse, too many of them go out of their way to attack those dissenting views not on their substance but by attacking the credibility of the messenger, which is another sign for me of a cult of personality. The refusal of many to support other than Obama if he loses being yet another example/criteria as is the willingness to take all his virtues on faith and to expect everyone else to because they are so obvious to the believer/supporter and all his criticisms as gospel regardless of the actual facts/chronology of events because he is such a paragon of virtue and the tendency to view anyone that opposes his aim of becoming the nominee and subsequently the President is somehow evil/corrupt/shill/propagandist/etc. Heck I have gotten that from a few people at this site myself.

So as much as you may disagree with it, even though you clearly are not one of his supporters caught in that trap, I cannot in good faith take it back/reconsider it as being too harsh a comparison, sorry. The problem is from what I have seen too widespread within his base online for me to view it any other way. Indeed, I was looking for signs that this was a movement committed to principles first instead of a leader/figurehead personality, but what I have seen shows me that is not the case in general. I am sorry if you feel I am being too harsh here, but it is what I see, and all I can say is what I see. Thank you though for the kind assessment of the rest of my “diatribe” (at least you didn’t call it a screed…*chuckle*), I rarely get that from Obama supporters, which again separates you from the majority of Obama supporters in my experience and shows yet again why you at least are clearly not in the grip of the cult of personality which I see as having formed around Obama.

Posted by: Scotian on February 7, 2008 at 6:18 AM | PERMALINK


Well-said, Scotian. I agree with your assessment. I have found many of the Obama supporters(who post on blogs) to be intolerant and insulting. I figured that a lot of them were pretty young, and that, well, when you can't argue on the merits of your candidate, insults are your only option. It is really off-putting. I don't dislike Obama-although I am not voting for him next month-but many of his supporters are just obnoxious.

Sullivan links a post on TPM muckraker about this. It's worth reading.

Posted by: Susan on February 7, 2008 at 7:04 AM | PERMALINK

nepata:

See my response to robbymack as to why I cannot call this a movement. I understand why you see it that way, and I understand why you would disagree with my characterization, and I do not hold it against you as you like robbymack are one of the few Obama supporters who has not acted as if in the thrall of such a cult of personality when responding to my concerns/questions regarding the Obama candidacy. As I keep mentioning I am emotionally detached from this since for me there is nothing to get partisan about, and that detachment allows for a perspective that is not so easily gained when one is within the dynamic themselves. You know, very much like not seeing a forest (let alone its shape) because of all the trees when you are in the forest but it being very easy to see the whole shape of the forest from the outside.

Please understand, I don't think almost everyone that supports Obama is a cult of personality victim, but in my observations over the past several weeks I would have to say the majority of online Obama supporters do alas fall into that description. If there was a loyalty to core principles first or an ideology or even just the Democratic Party needing renewal then I would be more willing to consider this a possible movement. However, the focus is not on any of these things but rather how Obama will save the nation and bring peace to the wars domestically and if he has to say break the core principles of not using old style attack/negative politics is necessary well it's in a good cause for the right person and therefore excusable when if anyone else did the same thing it would be seen as a heinous act/sin, as I have seen done to HRC and her campaign more than once. I do think the possibility for a movement to grow out of his candidacy is there, but as of this point I don't see it, otherwise I would not be calling it this way.

I try not to use such descriptors unless I am truly comfortable that I am using them fairly and with reasonable basis, unlike some people I am not into being a rhetorical bomb thrower, perhaps it is my inherent Canadian niceness/politeness factor, but it really isn't my style. I prefer to offer my conclusions after showing why I have come to them and upon what basis I am deriving them from and then applying a negative/positive description of it, I really dislike those that throw out wild/serious accusation in simple declarative sentences as if the fact that they say so is enough to treat it as fact. I also take politics very seriously and do not treat it lightly, so when I offer an opinion/observation I am doing so with all serious consideration first. I know I will be wrong at least some of the time, after all I am human and we all get things wrong periodically, but I do try to limit how much I will pile assumption onto assumption so as to at least limit my exposure to massive error. Indeed, one of the things I really find worrisome in modern political dialogue is the willingness to presume the motives/thinking of people as if one can read their minds and know for sure, be they public figures or anonymous commentators on a blog, which is one of the reasons I tend to get a little irritated with people treating their belief in the motives of say the Clintons as proven fact when there is no way anyone can reasonably do so, especially when those assumptions are built one on top of another.

In any event I hope you are able to understand why I cannot agree with you and accept to agree to disagree on this point. That we can both recognize in the other someone of good faith in their position even when we disagree sharply on such points. Which from what you have shown me in the past I certainly have no problems extending to you, and I would like to think judging by your conduct in the past would be equally doable for you.

Posted by: Scotian on February 7, 2008 at 7:04 AM | PERMALINK

I heard Tom Daschle say it was thrilling to see people giving their "hearts and souls" to Obama. I heard (forget her name - former head of NARAL) say that Barack would change the country in a "cosmic" way. I've heard many similar statements from Obama devotees.

I've worked in politics many years and I've known some politicians I truly admired but, give my heart and soul to them? To me, this is the stuff of cults and it disturbs me. Admiration is one thing but reverence is something else altogether, something that should not be extended to any human being because no one can be perfect enough to live up to it and means that worshippers have to delude themselves to continue to believe.

I distrust the "movement" aspect of Obama's campaign because it isn't directed toward a cause but a person.

Of course, I'm a "lunch-bucket" Democrat. I'm on the lower end of the middle class. The pie-in-the-sky rhetoric leaves me cold. I want the deficit brought down, everyone to get health care - the ordinary problems of ordinary Americans solved. So, give me Hillary. She's paid her dues, learned her stuff and will work hard every day. And the Clintons have a proven track record on the economy.

As Maxine Waters said, I don't want hope, I want help.

Posted by: Vicki Williams on February 7, 2008 at 7:11 AM | PERMALINK

We received 2 content-less, direct mail pieces from Obama last week. The last one attacked the Clintons in a really stupid way.

We caucused for Obama, and we will stay in his camp, but the content and tone of the mailings pissed us off (even more than having dinner interrupted by robo-Hillary's phone calls.)

Posted by: Mark on February 7, 2008 at 7:26 AM | PERMALINK

Vicki Williams, Hillary fought hard against the deficit hawks such as Robert Rubin, in Bill Clinton's administration..Hillary wants more expansive defence policies, more expensive healthcare, and deeper tax cuts than Obama, the consequences unintended or not will increase the deficit.

Brad DeLong, professor of economics at the University of California, Berkeley and former Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the Clinton Administration, who worked on his srong deficit reduction 93 budget and wants a return to prudent fiscal management, on his blog Tuesday called Bush's budget proposal 'a clown show'..On Wednesday, he said he just voted for Obama and explained why.

Posted by: Steve Crickmore on February 7, 2008 at 7:43 AM | PERMALINK

So what makes you think gallup is such a "reliable" operation. They had dur chimpfurher WAY TOO HIGH in 2004, providing cover for that STOLEN ELECTION.

What makes you think they are any more honest today?

Posted by: littlebear on February 7, 2008 at 7:59 AM | PERMALINK

easy to understand bump - HRC's persona is defined by press caricature, much of it hostile and dishonest. When people actually get to 'meet' her, whether virtually through debate format and ads or actually in person, they're surprised, often pleasantly by what they see. In the super Tuesday push a lot of people got to 'meet' her for the first time - the bump is the result of that. The same thing works in reverse for Obama - the press loves him, left wing intellectuals love him, the Daily Show loves him - but when average working stiffs actually get to meet him they realize the hype is hype, the image created divorced from reality, he's not actually the second coming of Christ, or JFK for that matter, and there's no real reason to immediately prefer him over Hillary.

Posted by: ex on February 7, 2008 at 8:00 AM | PERMALINK

I disagree with some of the statements here (bit surprise!)

I do not believe that the rich are going for Obama or that Hillary has a lock on the economy.

The war is ruining the economy. How many more years of war til we are totally bankrupt? Iraq is totally tied to the economy.

And all of the folks, including me, who are for Obama are educated, yes, but sure are not rich. Or young even!!

I think Obama's big problem is with Latinos. Do not know even ONE who is for him.

Posted by: Clem on February 7, 2008 at 8:03 AM | PERMALINK

I thnk the new support for Hillary comes from Edwards supporters. Everyone seemed to assume that Obama would pick up all of Obama's supporters, don't know why. As an ardent Edwards supporter, I switched to Clinton because I think he is a rock star and I value hard work. I am a rural, white single mother.

I resent hearing Michelle Obama and Barack Obama suggest they won't work for the Democratic nominee unless it is him. Screw that. I kow for a fact that Hillary Clinton and Bill Clinton AER loyal Democrats. I refuse to vote for someone that childish.

Also, Obama is walking around with blinders on if h thinks the Republicans will not go after him as hard as they will Hillary. He seems to think that there is some contstraint in the Republican smear machine that requires they tell the truth. Hillary has dealt with their vicious lies and attacks for years. Republicans feel no opbligation to use attacks that have any basis in truth and believe me they will come with the same kind of lies to use against him as they have against the Clintons for years. You all seem toforget that most of what the CLintons have been accused of was not true.

Obama better get some thicker skin.

Posted by: apishapa on February 7, 2008 at 8:18 AM | PERMALINK

It looks like on the positive side a lot of people were originally attracted by Obama's clear political skills, his great rhetoric and his promise to bring a new, non-confrontational attitude to American national politics. Obama also semed to offer a safe harbor from the threat of the media-demonized "Clinton." It all looked good on a general basis, but when it came to crunch time and they actually had to decide who to vote for, enough Democrats were turned off by the uncertainty and went with the know quantity, Hillary.

What Democrats are turning out for this year is to get back a government that works and to remove the conservatives from control. Bush has proven that politics has real effects on the every day life of a lot of Americans, and competence and reliability in the Presidency is very important to Democrats. Obama's rhetoric and promises simply don't explain how he will accomplish those things, while Clinton does explain (sometimes in excruciating detail) how she will accomplish what she proposes. Then, in the last debate, the demonized "Clinton-devil" simply wasn't there.

So Clinton offered what the voters were looking for and offered a reasonable way to get there, while all Obama has offered is sweet words and empty promises. Sort of like Bush did in 2000, in fact.

That leads to a Hillary tendency - small, but sufficient.

I think Armando has it right. Obama has peaked. For his promise, Obama simply can't take "... women, Latinos, older voters and lower income non-African Americans" away from Hillary. Since Obama did not get California, Massachusetts, New Jersey or New York he has peaked in the Democratic-leaning big states. For delegates, he has even less chance of getting Texas, so the primaries are going to give roughly a tie in delegates, with the party professionals (Superdelegates) deciding at the convention based on who they think will have the strongest coattails.

A small majority of people are deciding to go with the candidate they know better when they get down to the final decision to vote, and my bet is the superdelegates (party professionals) will do likewise. That's all it is. There's still too much uncertainty in Obama for him to be able to defeat an almost equally attractive and much better known candidate, Hillary. Since most of us will take either one of them over any Republican, that's enough margin to give the final nod to Hillary. She's a safer decision.

The reason why the final decision is being made at the last moment is that the two candidates really are so nearly equal in attractiveness to most Democrats.

Posted by: Rick B on February 7, 2008 at 8:22 AM | PERMALINK

I think Obama's big problem is with Latinos. Do not know even ONE who is for him.

Here's what he should do--divorce his wife, and marry a Hispanic woman, someone cute and fun. He might be able to marry a gal with charisma who's good on the campaign trail, but, barring that, if he marries a woman with the surname Rodriguez, he skates to the nomination. Is J Lo available? I haven't followed celebrity news for quite a while.

When people actually get to 'meet' her, whether virtually through debate format and ads or actually in person, they're surprised, often pleasantly by what they see.

I cannot dispute this. I met her in 1993 and I thought she was a charming woman. This was when she was having trouble figuring out what to do with her hair. I can't remember who my wife was at that point, but she ended up adopting her hairstyle before everything flamed out for her in early 1994.

Posted by: Norman Rogers on February 7, 2008 at 8:26 AM | PERMALINK

Many posters are missing the point. You cannot explain this as some sort of genuine movement away from Obama and toward Hillary. The VERY SAME DAY that Gallup had Hillary up 13, voters across the nation supported Obama and Hillary EQUALLY. This is as far off as the pro-Obama polls were before New Hampshire. This poll is flatout WRONG, whether you support Clinton or Obama. You cannot claim to measure voter intent on the day of the election (and the three days leading up to it, for that matter) and then get the actual election results completely wrong. What did Gallup do?

Posted by: Elrod on February 7, 2008 at 8:28 AM | PERMALINK

Jonathan has a post upthread at 2:04AM that ends with a point well worth thinking about:

Caucuses are undemocratic and the reason Super Tuesday didn't correspond with the national Gallup poll was because Barack scored big on the Caucus votes due to a large showing from some of his diehard supporters.
What does it say about Obama that he scores so very many of his delegates from the most undemocratic process in the the primaries?

Why should we believe that Obama is anything more than a hot house flower candidate, who can't manage to win big states with diverse populations in actual elections, without something tilting things in his favor (such as the endorsement he got in Missouri and the fact that Missouri neighbors Illinois).

Posted by: frankly0 on February 7, 2008 at 8:34 AM | PERMALINK

Lots of undecided voters broke for Clinton at the last moment in New Hampshire. I'm wondering if that's a larger trend. The question I'm wondering is how many people making a decision on the last day are going to Clinton and how many for Obama?

Posted by: Lilybelle on February 7, 2008 at 8:34 AM | PERMALINK

I'm from Minnesota, and I wish you'd quit knocking our caucuses. This was the first time in my memory that our caucuses came before the race was decided, and our turnout was big. Bigger than we get in some primaries. Lots of excitement, lots of first-timers.

I just like the fact that the reality of this primary election is outrunning the press's ability to compose a narrative. Fabricated, journalistic narratives that supposedly explain election outcomes are no better than the bogus explanations we get from business news outlets, telling us what the "market is thinking" every time the Dow moves 50 points.

Posted by: Mark Gilbert on February 7, 2008 at 8:36 AM | PERMALINK

I'm from Minnesota, and I wish you'd quit knocking our caucuses. This was the first time in my memory that our caucuses came before the race was decided, and our turnout was big.

Oh, I poo-poo your caucus going ways. What an asinine way to conduct affairs. This country was built on the principle of the ballot box, not the potluck dinner where everyone sits in grumpy little groups.

The last time I was in Minnesota, it was a hundred degrees outside and the humidity was through the roof. I was wearing a sweater and heavy pants at the time, because I anticipated some brisk weather. I've never been so disappointed in a climate in my life.

Posted by: Norman Rogers on February 7, 2008 at 8:42 AM | PERMALINK

Cut Michelle Obama some slack, too. Of course she will support the Democratic nominee - it was a dumb question to ask her. Right now, we're trying to decide who the Democratic nominee will be, and she's focused on that.

The correct thing for her to do was to say something like, "Of course we all want a Democrat in the White House, and I think the best way to get one there is to support Barak." That would reaffirm that she's a Democrat while bringing the focus back to the concrete present.

Her problem isn't that she's not a loyal Democrat, it's that she isn't yet practiced enough at handling stupid and distracting questions. Her husband is a genius at it.

Posted by: Mark Gilbert on February 7, 2008 at 8:47 AM | PERMALINK

I'm so tired of the experience arguments. None of the candidates has any Presidential or Vice Presidential experience. None. So they're all inexperienced. Now, make a real argument.

Posted by: hollywood on February 7, 2008 at 8:49 AM | PERMALINK

Amidst the torrent of petty arguments going back and forth, one point stands out: Hillary Killed at the last debate. In fact, it's fairly obvious to me that not only is she the better debater (everyone says this and I agree) but HE'S the better speech giver. Obama should resist the call to more debates. It's good strategy.

- His stump speeches are what got him where he is
- Her stump speeches are fairly tired and uninspiring
- She is a great at debates as she laundry lists the wonk bullet points
- He stutters and stumbles in the debates
- He has more money
- Debates are free advertising for her cause

Bottom line: Obama needs to limit his exposure in the debate format. That will cover his weakness and require HRC to spend precious dollars on getting her message out. Tactically, this is his only move.

Addendum: I think, based on Obama's speech from Tuesday night, that we're going to see a repositioning of his campaign toward the economy. He won't ditch the Iraq issue, but obviously the economy is coming to the fore.

Posted by: Nobcentral on February 7, 2008 at 8:57 AM | PERMALINK

I'm from Minnesota, and I wish you'd quit knocking our caucuses. This was the first time in my memory that our caucuses came before the race was decided, and our turnout was big. Bigger than we get in some primaries. Lots of excitement, lots of first-timers.

Please. No one can compare the legitimacy of caucuses as opposed to that of elections as far as representing the will of the people. Imagine how much outrage there would be if someone proposed that we change the Constitution so that we could use caucuses to vote in the general instead of actual elections. I mean, no secret vote, all kinds of nasty social pressures being applied, a selection factor for people who can't or won't attend such social events, etc., etc. Democracy it ain't.

Caucuses favor hot house flower candidates. Your guy is such a candidate, and that's why you love them so much.

Posted by: frankly0 on February 7, 2008 at 9:00 AM | PERMALINK

Gallup is truly not good. In 2000, they showed Gore with a big lead less than a month before the election and then Bush with a big lead. Their methodology is very limiting without proper weights. If recall correctly, they just call people and report their numbers; if some demographic is oversampled, they don't care. Their reason of being is more for excitement than scientific accuracy. They create headlines and thus they get subscribers. I bet people in the industry laugh at Gallup all the time.

Posted by: Raoul on February 7, 2008 at 9:00 AM | PERMALINK

Now, don’t everybody get excited! I am NOT in the least suggesting that Obama and Hitler have anything in common (except maybe a penchant for rousing speech-making).

Thank you for elevating the discourse at Political Animal. Protest much?

Posted by: Lucy on February 7, 2008 at 9:00 AM | PERMALINK

I'm glad others are noticing the one thing that has always bothered me about Obama. The fact that the last time this country elected a political neophyte with a message for 'change' and had this sort of weird cult following based on his persona (aw shucks!), not his policies - our country imploded.

While there may be no similarities between The Shrub's policies and Obama's - there are way too many in terms of the cult of personality and political inexperience. I'm not willing to take that risk again.

Besides - who cares what Obama thought about the Iraq war in 2002? He didn't have to vote either way so it was easy for him to oppose it at the time. Comparing his pre-Iraq views with Hillary's when she was an active serving senator are apples and oranges.

Posted by: NC Dem on February 7, 2008 at 9:02 AM | PERMALINK

I meant above,

a selection factor against people who can't or won't attend such social events

Posted by: frankly0 on February 7, 2008 at 9:03 AM | PERMALINK

Oops, credit where credit is due.

Erika S. made the contribution cited above, and she thought so well of it that she posted her insight in two threads.

Thank goodness we have Erika S. to alert us to encroaching fascism in the US!

Posted by: Lucy on February 7, 2008 at 9:07 AM | PERMALINK

If you look at Pollster (http://www.pollster.com/08-US-Dem-Pres-Primary.php) just since August, there are several data points similarly distant from the long-term trend. This is what happens when you perform a measurement hundreds of times. Some of those measurements will be far from the mean. At any given time, support for Clinton and Obama looks to have a range of at least +/- 5%. The 39 for Obama looks like the lower bound of his distribution of support, the Clinton number looks like the way upper bound of hers. Looking at the Gallup poll in comparison to current trends and variance, I doubt that it will hold up. At the very least, I wouldn't read to much into it given contradictory polls, unless of course we start to see the pattern repeated elsewhere.

Posted by: Jim on February 7, 2008 at 9:08 AM | PERMALINK

The debates are the only time I ever learn anything about the candidates. The commercials and the Hallmark channel events just don't do it for me.


Posted by: B on February 7, 2008 at 9:09 AM | PERMALINK

Agree--why are we even looking at "national" polls if they are drawing respondents (maybe half of respondents) from states that have already voted. Even if if there is a massive backlash among those voters, they don't get a do-over. Question. will these polling companies continue to do "national" polls at this point? Why bother?

Posted by: JMS on February 7, 2008 at 9:10 AM | PERMALINK

I'm disregarding all polls. National, state, whatever. It's all a bunch of hooey. Fodder for slow news days.

Posted by: Quinn on February 7, 2008 at 9:18 AM | PERMALINK

Sweet Jesus.

I know the Circular Firing Squad is an annual Democratic tradition, but could everyone here please -- please -- just grow the hell up?

Snide comments, complaints of victimhood, paranoid conspiracies and all the rest aren't going to win people over to your side and aren't doing your candidates any favors.

We're all going to come together for the Democratic nominee this year. But the infighting like this is going to make that harder in the fall.

So please, please, please -- grow up and shut up.

Posted by: TR on February 7, 2008 at 9:19 AM | PERMALINK

People have to stop overreacting to one day's polling. Clearly the number was enormously different if it was to move a rolling average that much. Let's wait and see if there's a true trend.

And, why the way, why should we care about national polls when some of the biggest states have already voted and the remaining contests are more state by state?

Posted by: Sue on February 7, 2008 at 9:22 AM | PERMALINK

I'm from Minnesota, and I wish you'd quit knocking our caucuses. This was the first time in my memory that our caucuses came before the race was decided, and our turnout was big. Bigger than we get in some primaries. Lots of excitement, lots of first-timers.

Pioneer Press:

Smashed. Obliterated. Decimated. Broken into pieces.

That's how Minnesota voters left any previous caucus attendance records Super Tuesday night. Some 300,000 - about 10 percent of eligible voters - cast presidential preference ballots at the state's precinct caucuses.

"It was astronomical," said Secretary of State Mark Ritchie.

---------------------

Wowsers! That's huge! Granted it probably did snarl traffic as there is only a short window to vote in a caucus system.

Reality check on 10%: That's a third the turnout in the Florida primary (where the GOP delegates were discounted and the Democratic delegates were blocked) and a half the turnout in Michigan (where most candidates weren't even on the ballot) . A quick survey seems to indicate your turnout was at least doubled by every primary held so far.

Posted by: toast on February 7, 2008 at 9:30 AM | PERMALINK

Scotian, regarding the "cult of personality", I think that your concerns are not without merit, but you sample of observations is not likely to represent Obama supporters as a whole. The number of folks hanging around political blogs and commenting is likely to be miniscule as compared to the rest of the group.

Where I am concerned is if HRC is the nominee, that many young or inexperienced Obama supporters will be discouraged and not show up for the general. I also suspect that McCain will peel off some independents running against Clinton.

Posted by: AK Liberal on February 7, 2008 at 9:43 AM | PERMALINK

Apishapa:

Where in the world did you hear that Barack Obama said he wouldn't work for the Democratic nominee unless it was him? I've only ever heard that urban myth about Michelle, and it was explained just a few comments above you in the thread. Unlike Bill and Hillary Clinton, Michelle Obama is not a professional politician. She's a private citizen and mother who is supporting her husband's candidacy. She's said she'll get behind whoever the nominee is. But if she chooses to return to private life instead of actively campaigning for Hillary, I think that would be perfectly understandable, and Hillary probably wouldn't lose much by it anyway.

Regarding caucuses, I think there's more than one way of measuring the "will of the people" when it comes to choosing the nominee of a political party. Primaries make it easier to participate, and get more people involved, but that low cost of entry means that the preferences expressed in primary votes are likely to be less strongly held. People make a zero-sum choice between candidates on the strength of inanities such as what they heard the candidate's wife may have said about a non-issue in response to a gotcha question in an interview. Many of these people would not participate in the nominating process if the cost of entry were a little higher: i.e., they value their own participation less. On the other hand, the people who show up to a caucus value theirs more, as is shown by the fact that they pay the higher cost of entry. (Now, there are also some people who value their participation just as much but can't afford the cost of entry; single mothers who have no childcare, seniors who aren't as mobile, etc. Some but not all of those people will be represented by a friend or family member who attends the caucus, but those who are disenfranchised are a genuine casualty of the system.) Caucuses therefore tend to measure which candidate has deeper support, rather than wider support. So a blend of caucuses and primaries might best express the "will of the party" -- by which I don't mean to justify the current haphazard geographic distribution of that blend, but just to say both systems have something to contribute.

Posted by: The Fabulous Mr. Toad on February 7, 2008 at 9:44 AM | PERMALINK

Obama refusing to debate with Hillary - what's that about. What an open, fresh, candidate he is. Sounds like a GW tactic with Al Gore in 2000.

Posted by: LS on February 7, 2008 at 9:45 AM | PERMALINK

Umm...let's see. A national poll covering the three days ending on 2/5 shows Clinton up 13. The actual primary voting (ignoring caucuses) which took place in an enormous swathe of the country on 2/5 shows Clinton and Obama virtually even.

This means either a) Clinton has an enormous (much bigger than 13 points) lead in the states that haven't voted yet and in the caucus states that Obama overwhelmingly won; or b) the poll is wrong.

"a" seems unlikely. So I'll go with "b", especially if Rasmussen shows nothing of the kind.

If this were a poll coming out before the election, that'd be one thing, but it makes little sense to worry about this given that the actual vote on 2/5 was so close.

Also worth noting is that national polls from here on out are basically useless, since half the country has already voted.

Posted by: John on February 7, 2008 at 9:47 AM | PERMALINK

Toast - I assume that what was meant about caucus turnout was that a larger absolute number of people participated in the Minnesota caucuses than voted in, say, the New Hampshire or Delaware primaries, rather than that participation levels were higher.

Obviously a caucus is going to get lower turnout than a primary. 10% is pretty huge for a non-Iowa caucus, as I understand it.

Posted by: John on February 7, 2008 at 9:51 AM | PERMALINK

REPUGS are making a huge fuss about NOT wanting to run against Obama because they really do want to(it's the Brer Rabbit fake-out)...DUH...their aim is to have all their poison pen friends and buffoons on TV destroy the Clintons by characterizing them as ambitious evil people (gee that sound like another group now in power!) and then wipe the floor with Obama...the ONLY way for DEMS to be successful is with BOTH of our candidates on the ticket...but won't be happening I bet!

Posted by: Dancer on February 7, 2008 at 10:01 AM | PERMALINK

"Obama refusing to debate with Hillary - what's that about."

Hillary wanting to debate all the time - what's that about?

Could be that that's the one way she can get publicity cause she's run out of money cause her supporters haven't...

Posted by: coughed up enough on February 7, 2008 at 10:08 AM | PERMALINK

Seriously, does ANYBODY think that caucuses, rather than elections, better represent the will of the people?

I can understand why Obama supporters would want to insist that caucuses are the bees knees, because they have a hot house flower candidate, and caucuses are the hot house.

But, again, what do caucuses have to do with the will of the people or genuine democracy?

Posted by: frankly0 on February 7, 2008 at 10:22 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin needs to get out more. He's been hanging out with the "establishment bloggers" too much. Talk about a "herd mentality," they're all for Obama.

This is no surprise. Hillary wins poor people, working people, and, except for African-Americans, she wins minorities too. There's a reason for that. They--correctly--perceive that a vote for Hillary is in their interests.

Posted by: John Petty on February 7, 2008 at 10:23 AM | PERMALINK

Frankly0,

If you want to engage in a real discussion, rather than just posing rhetorical questions and accusing people of being partisan, you could read my post at 9:44 and respond to the actual points I made.

Toad

Posted by: The Fabulous Mr. Toad on February 7, 2008 at 10:24 AM | PERMALINK

*

Posted by: mhr on February 7, 2008 at 10:37 AM | PERMALINK

The weirder thing is that Obama's number is well-below his popular vote percentage yesterday. So either he's got some folks moving to undecided from him or it's simply an outlier.


Take your polls and shove them. Look at your pretty graph and then consider that Clinton and Obama got almost exactly the same number of total votes on the 5th- over 7 million each. How do you justify this 52-39 Clinton surge? When will people learn that polls are a waste of time and money? - people tell you what they think you want to hear.

I am in general sympathy with these comments -- if Gallup is right, I would have thought Clinton would do much better. Perhaps the caucus factor is significant -- Obama's voters are better organized folks who attend caucuses in greater numbers. What's the popular spread in primaries alone? Anything like Gallup?

Posted by: David in NY on February 7, 2008 at 10:38 AM | PERMALINK

Please check out Rasmussen's poll. They show a tie - with a four-point swing in Obama's favor.

'Tis only one poll.

Posted by: TedL on February 7, 2008 at 10:42 AM | PERMALINK

Hillary wanting to debate all the time - what's that about?

She's out of money and she thinks she's good in debates.

Posted by: David in NY on February 7, 2008 at 10:43 AM | PERMALINK

Obama refusing to debate with Hillary - what's that about. What an open, fresh, candidate he is.

Is this in reference to Clinton's announced desire to debate on Fox, which I can see Obama turning down on principle, or debating generally?

Posted by: Davis X. Machina on February 7, 2008 at 10:47 AM | PERMALINK

I'm confused at the comments that President Clinton the second will be better on the economy. I'd hope that she or Obama would redistribute the tax system so more of the burden is borne by people who can afford it, but how much can a president do to energize the economy? I know, I know, the Republicans are trying to get more money in the system by opening up the federal treasury and issuing rebates . . . but that seems like sheer superstition to me, like treating arthritis by wearing magnetized jewelry.

I suspect President Clinton I got lucky on the economy by being in the right place at the right time. He didn't screw it up, to his credit, but I don't think he initiated the dot.com economy - and taking credit for it is a political move. I appreciate that he worked on lowering the deficit, but my understanding is that the person responsible for making that a priority was Al Gore.

I'm afraid I think economists are witch doctors and cranks, however. Have either Clinton or Obama mentioned any specific plans they have for juicing the economy? I'm afraid that with either candidate, slogans substitute for substance.

Posted by: blogthemagnificentferret on February 7, 2008 at 10:55 AM | PERMALINK

Mark Gilbert: "I'm from Minnesota, and I wish you'd quit knocking our caucuses. This was the first time in my memory that our caucuses came before the race was decided, and our turnout was big. Bigger than we get in some primaries. Lots of excitement, lots of first-timers."

I'll second that, Mark Gilbert. And I don't think the voting was skewed by partisans who came versus those who were turned away. At least in my precinct, everyone who showed up was able to vote. I knew people who couldn't come--because of work or family commitments--were representative: One Hillary supporter, three Obama supporters. I think, if anything, that primaries allow the ignorant voter as much voice as the informed voter and I'm not so sure anymore, after 2004, that is such a good idea.

As for Hillary's "surge"...I think the explanation is the sudden absence of Bubba from the picture.

From my point of view Democrats have two risky candidates. In this corner, the groomed and polarizing female candidate, the legacy with a history of bad judgment; On this side, an African-American who inspires his audiences but who may not have solid policy positions and operational savvy. For years, conservatives have criticized the Dems for pursuing identity politics, for favoring anyone but a white male, that is, for being more concerned about the color of our candidates skin and their reproductive organs, than their character and experience. Our finalists for the 2008 nomination support their accusation.It's a fair cop, imho, and it does make the choice more complicated. For everyone who is thrilled that we may have a woman president, someone else complains about the restoration of the Clinton WH. For everyone who is thrilled at the prospect of a post-partisan America, someone else worries that America isn't ready for a black president. So, the Dems have to win this election with the candidates that we have.

I figure, if Hillary wins, we'll survive four years of icky Clinton dynamics. If Obama wins, we'll have some things to work through before America can jumpstart. If McCain wins, the Republicans have a chance to clean up their own mess but will probably just go on being Destructor-bots.

Posted by: PTate in MN on February 7, 2008 at 10:55 AM | PERMALINK

Toad,

Your argument is nothing more than, "Caucuses therefore tend to measure which candidate has deeper support, rather than wider support," along with the presumption that the "deeper" support is for some unspoken reason to be weighed greater. You mostly dismiss elections as being problematic, on the ground that people are so ignorant -- the classic complaint about democracy for all those with a limited respect for it.

Now, the principle of weighting the votes of some people more than others is inherently pretty much anti-democratic, right?

Yet let's just assume anyway that it's OK that there are some anti-democratic principles guiding the the nomination process. Then, I should think, there should be no difficulty if super-delegates choose a candidate other than the one with the largest number of pledged delegates, right? Since the votes for the pledged delegates will be distorted by anti-democratic caucuses, it should be no problem if the super-delegates go with the results of actual elections, right? Since the principles of democracy have already been violated in the process, why shouldn't super-delegates be afforded this choice? And if super-delegates think that they don't want to choose a candidate who can't seem to win decisively major swing states in actual elections, that should be OK by your lights too, right?

And can we agree at least that the delegates for both FL and MI should be seated, and should be made to correspond as best they can to the will of the people? Or are you someone who thinks that voter disenfranchisement is such a trivial matter that one can ignore completely the clear intent of millions of voters in major states?

Posted by: frankly0 on February 7, 2008 at 10:55 AM | PERMALINK

When Sen. Clinton is being disparaged for her womanliness, it rallies support for her. When Sen. Obama is being maligned for his race, it rallies support to him.

When it looks like Obama's support is surging and going to eclipse his rival, it rallies support to his rival. Democrats have a conflict between pragmatism and inspiration. When it appears inspiration is going to dominate, pragmatism becomes more important. When it appears pragmatism will dominate, inspiration becomes more important.

The two presidents invoked in the campaigns reflect this difference. John Kennedy is recognized as an inspirational president and is revered for it. LBJ is respected for his civil rights work and the political practicality he used to accomplish this important, but unpopular, work. Kennedy did not accomplish much, using the missile gap scare to beat Nixon on national security and belligerence to almost start a nuclear war with the Soviet Union, but is still considered a great leader. LBJ understood the legislative process and used his political skills to enact needed civil legislation, but used those same skills to escalate Vietnam's civil war into a killing field. Americans should be skeptical of its leaders, both inspirational and pragmatic. They usually do not perform up to expectations.

A pragmatic and inspirational solution will be required to select the nominee without alienating one or both of the hemispheres of this set of emotions.

Posted by: Brojo on February 7, 2008 at 11:01 AM | PERMALINK

I used to watch the stock ticker all day but that got too depressing, so I went to the local carnival and watched the game where you shoot water at a target and pop the balloon. The one where you win a little prize but can trade it up if you win again? Then I noticed it was sometimes rigged, and everyone was so intent on looking at their target they didn't notice. Besides it was outside and the weather was turning so now I watch the political polls. It is just as much fun and just as meaningful.

Posted by: Tripp on February 7, 2008 at 11:06 AM | PERMALINK

Seriously, does ANYBODY think that caucuses, rather than elections, better represent the will of the people?

I haven't read everything upthread, but I've voted in primaries and attended caucuses and I'd say the EQUALLY represent the will of the people. Primaries are often plagued by low turnout, as are caucuses. But both represent the will of the people who showed up, which is what an election is, unless you want to bring in the Supreme Court.

I live in Minnesota. I'd rather have a primary than a caucas, but I don't think either is illegitimate.

Posted by: tomeck on February 7, 2008 at 11:06 AM | PERMALINK

"Hillary wanting to debate all the time - what's that about?"

What's the mystery? Because she wants to demonstrate that Sen. Obama is long on charisma and soaring rhetoric and short on almost everything else: experience, policy details and plans, an adult understanding of how things in Washington work.

Posted by: Pat on February 7, 2008 at 11:10 AM | PERMALINK

Obama refusing to debate with Hillary - what's that about.

Maybe he feels eighteen debates was enough? I know I do.

Maybe he realizes that the debate format works to Hillary's advantage, while the personal meeting works to his? (And maybe, just maybe, Hillary realizes that too, which is why she's suddenly asking for more debates?)

As for your bizarre comparison to GWB, let me echo what an earlier commenter said -- you're not doing your candidate any favors.

I'm a longtime Edwards supporter still trying to make up my mind as to which one of the others I should support when it comes around to Ohio. I find things I like in each, things I hesitate about in each.

But reading the snide stuff from the Clinton backers here is really souring me on her.

Posted by: Henry on February 7, 2008 at 11:11 AM | PERMALINK

Norman,

The last time I was in Minnesota, it was a hundred degrees outside and the humidity was through the roof.

Thank goodness you avoided the turkey-sized mosquitoes. You did, didn't you? I'm not sure yet if they have a cure for West Nile disease. By all means avoid Minnesota in the future!

If you do make it back please remember that we do NOT have potluck dinners. We have a hotdish dinners where everyone brings a casserole, don'tchaknow.

Posted by: Tripp on February 7, 2008 at 11:12 AM | PERMALINK

Holy s---.

As a Clinton supporter, this is cool. I hope it keeps up. Wish I got in at the top of the thread.

I think the good arguments (really obvious ones, actually) are spreading around, and cutting through the pro-Obama mass-media fog.

Go Hillary!

Posted by: Swan on February 7, 2008 at 11:13 AM | PERMALINK

Er, good arguments in favor of Hillary's candidacy- Sorry!

Posted by: Swan on February 7, 2008 at 11:15 AM | PERMALINK

There is a trend of giving funny answers to pollsters.

Posted by: Luther on February 7, 2008 at 11:18 AM | PERMALINK

But reading the snide stuff from the Clinton backers here is really souring me on her.

Same here. Sheesh.

You folks are incredibly tone deaf. "Why don't you assholes vote for my candidate?!?! YOU MORONS SUCK!!!" is not really a winning campaign pitch. It's not working on your fellow Democrats, and it certainly won't work on independents we'll need to win in the fall.

There's a real case to be made for Hillary Clinton's candidacy. I've heard it made persuasively elsewhere. I've not seen it here.

Posted by: Marc on February 7, 2008 at 11:18 AM | PERMALINK

"This is inexplicable. Gallup is obviously a reliable outfit, and these numbers are far too big to be merely a fluke. What the heck is going on?"
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Maybe Diebold tabulates their raw polling?

Posted by: steve duncan on February 7, 2008 at 11:28 AM | PERMALINK

FranklyZero,

You write: Your argument is nothing more than, "Caucuses therefore tend to measure which candidate has deeper support, rather than wider support," along with the presumption that the "deeper" support is for some unspoken reason to be weighed greater.

Not true. My argument is not that deeper support should be given more weight than wider support. My argument is that both are important in the party's collective decision.

You write: You mostly dismiss elections as being problematic, on the ground that people are so ignorant -- the classic complaint about democracy for all those with a limited respect for it.

I don't know where you got this. I don't say people are ignorant, I just say that many people vote for a candidate in primaries based on relatively weak preferences, who wouldn't be committed enough to caucus for that candidate. That's what I mean by caucuses showing deeper support.

You write: Now, the principle of weighting the votes of some people more than others is inherently pretty much anti-democratic, right?

Not to the extent that it's based on the voters' choice. Choosing whether to vote is part of democracy, at least this one. I don't defend caucuses to the extent that they actually prevent people from voting who would "pay the cost" of entry but just can't "afford" it.

You write: Yet let's just assume anyway that it's OK that there are some anti-democratic principles guiding the the nomination process. Then, I should think, there should be no difficulty if super-delegates choose a candidate other than the one with the largest number of pledged delegates, right?

The analogy doesn't hold. If superdelegates trump the decision that emerges through the allocation of pledged delegates, they are trumping the expressed will of the rank-and-file voters of the party who chose to participate in the decisionmaking process. But when rank-and-file voters decide how to allocate delegates in their primary or caucus, they are only trumping the will of people who didn't participate. I agree that's a problem to the extent that people actually are unable to participate, but not to the extent that they just aren't committed enough to participate.

You write: Since the principles of democracy have already been violated in the process, why shouldn't super-delegates be afforded this choice?

This fallacy is called the "slippery slope."

You write: And can we agree at least that the delegates for both FL and MI should be seated, and should be made to correspond as best they can to the will of the people? Or are you someone who thinks that voter disenfranchisement is such a trivial matter that one can ignore completely the clear intent of millions of voters in major states?

I don't have a strong opinion on this, but I think that if the delegates aren't seated, voters in FL and MI should blame their state party leaders who decided to hold early primaries in violation of party rules.

Posted by: The Fabulous Mr. Toad on February 7, 2008 at 11:30 AM | PERMALINK

A few quick things:

As has been mentioned, Gallup in 2000 had wild swings in the general election polls -- Gore up 14, Bush up 10. Other pollsters started calling it The NASDAQ -- and ignoring it.

To say It has to be meaningful because it's three days is, as I understand tracking polls, completely counter-factual. Tracking polls are a three-day average. Obviously, to move the numbers from practically even to just a 4-6 point spread required a day that was dramatically pro-Hillary -- probably double-digit, maybe even high-teens. These things happen in polling all the time, and the poll will retain the effect of it until that initial day is out of the rotation. All of which is to say, if Hillary still has a huge lead two days from now, it would be significant, but, for now, it could all be resulting from one fluky sample.

Re: the person above who was purveying Did Michelle Obama say she would have to think about voting for Hillary?, and seemed to think the actual quote, about Working For Hillary, was roughly the same -- you do realize that's the same paraphrase technique that the Pubs and press used to crucify Gore, don't you?

Posted by: demtom on February 7, 2008 at 11:31 AM | PERMALINK

I'm wonder if the split here can be explained by how much people are invested in a particular view of the political process. It seems to me that people who are arguing on the side of President Clinton II are heavily involved in the current paradigm - we've taken years of Republican abuse, and we know they'll stop at nothing to get their candidates in office and that their stated goal is to completely destroy any opposition party and reconfigure districts so it's virtually impossible for anybody who's not a Republican to get elected. And so we need a tough candidate who can take them on and face them down and completely obliterate them from the map. Because they're completely evil and impossible to destroy.

Obama supporters, I think, are people who have political fatigue. They think the extreme partisanship we've seen over the past couple of decades is not productive. It doesn't make the country better, and it may even play into the hands of conservatives, who would rather see people speechifying against each other than working on legislation. If you've heard people railing against the opposing party for the past twenty years, isn't it kind of refreshing to have a candidate who talks about hope, about what unites us rather than what divides us?

Of course, to someone whose political instincts were formed during the Clinton/Bush years, this sort of approach seems hopelessly naive and nowhere near tough enough. The Republicans are going to eat any candidate like that alive.

That may or may not be true. Talking against partisanship can give a candidate a strategic advantage - when somebody attacks you, you can point to that as another example of what you're running against and say, "Isn't it sad how bitter and angry our opponents are? They'd say anything to win an election. That's why I'm running against the status quo."

Is it going to work? I guess I'm just glad Obama is doing as well as he is. I suspect the hyper-partisan approach is alienating people who ought to be involved in the political process and that it favors conservatives. I think we do need to find a better balance between idealism and cynicism. And it would be nice to present a presidential candidate who is likable, who appeals to people on some other level than "I think this person could take on the Republicans." I'm starting to think an old school candidate doesn't take us far enough - we need a candidate whose appeal can put us up by enough votes that we can overwhelm the petty numbers that get distorted by Republican dirty tricks. At the very least, Obama strikes me as a step in the right direction.

Posted by: blogthemagnificentferret on February 7, 2008 at 11:33 AM | PERMALINK

I couldn't agree more with The Conservative Deflater. You have a young Black man who is an excellent orator running against a White woman party apparatchik who's the former first lady. It's been shown time and again this election that the polls are wildly unreliably; arguing about their "meaning" when they "shift" strikes me as silly.

Random thought: Tweety?
Random thought: Marry a "cute, fun" Hispanic woman? What a shame J-Lo is off the market then, eh?

Posted by: Douglas Moran on February 7, 2008 at 11:35 AM | PERMALINK

Fabulous Mr. Toad: I don't have a strong opinion on this, but I think that if the delegates aren't seated, voters in FL and MI should blame their state party leaders who decided to hold early primaries in violation of party rules.

Give that Toad a cigar.

Posted by: Lucy on February 7, 2008 at 11:40 AM | PERMALINK

You're living in an Obama fanboy echo chamber on the Internet. Other people are sick of having him shoved down their throats. And when voters see what happened on Tuesday, they know that they are not the only ones who reject the hype.

He's got a boatload of money but I think he's overplayed it. He's Mr. Perfect now, the messiah. As JMitchell said, "just when you're getting that taste for worship they start bringing out the hammers...and the boards...and the nails."

Posted by: uhoh on February 7, 2008 at 11:41 AM | PERMALINK

He's got a boatload of money but I think he's overplayed it. He's Mr. Perfect now, the messiah. As JMitchell said, "just when you're getting that taste for worship they start bringing out the hammers...and the boards...and the nails."

Thanks for stopping your hammering long enough to let us know.

Posted by: TR on February 7, 2008 at 11:45 AM | PERMALINK

Rasmussen's latest poll:

BHO:44
HRC:44

Seems about right. Or they weighted it to look right ;-)

gObama!

Posted by: Manfred on February 7, 2008 at 11:47 AM | PERMALINK
This polling was all done before the election, so it has nothing to do with last night's results.

Well, clearly its not a result of Tuesday's election results, barring a time warp. It might have something to do with them, since there are a number of places Obama did less well than expected given some other pre-election polling.

And why didn't it show up in Tuesday's election?

Since there were places Obama underperformed polls conducted a few days earlier than the Gallup poll reported here, its not entirely clear that the Clinton surge didn't show up in Tuesday's election. Of course, the popular vote ratios on Tuesday weren't the same as the national results of the Gallup poll, but then you don't expect support for Clinton and Obama to be perfectly uniform across all states, so you wouldn't expect it to.

Was her surge concentrated in states that weren't voting?

Why would you say that? I heard of numerous states (incl. California) where Obama fell below pre-election polls, and I didn't hear any of that about Clinton. Seems to me that her surge may well have been manifest in the states that were voting, even if her overall support in the states voting Tuesday was less than her overall support in the poll.

Of course, its also possible that, since its a national poll and Clinton won more states than Obama, at least part of the apparent surge is due to the well-established effect that the number of people who claim to support a person who has won an election they were eligible to vote in climbs above the number who actually supported them (and the reverse for someone who lost such an election) after it occurs. Since its a national poll, it includes results for places that Clinton already won, where people who were undecided and didn't vote, or who voted for other candidates, may have flipped to Clinton after the election based on what other people in their state did. Its an observed electoral phenomenon, so there is no reason not to expect it here.

This is inexplicable.

Far from it.

Gallup is obviously a reliable outfit, and these numbers are far too big to be merely a fluke.

There are no such thing as polling results that are too far out to be a fluke. That being said, as discussed above, there are other explanations here.

Posted by: cmdicely on February 7, 2008 at 11:49 AM | PERMALINK

Erika S is right. There is something scary about cultism and faddism in politics, whether it is on the right or the left. There is also something deeply undemocratic about this cultism and faddism. We are supposed to be grown ups electing women and men who are our equals not our betters, not children electing some superior to watch over us and tell us what to do and for us to idolize. Obama supporters, like cultists base their support on a mixture of gooey, saccharine adulation for their empty leader and anger towards people who see through him.

Posted by: Chrissy on February 7, 2008 at 11:56 AM | PERMALINK

I don't have a strong opinion on this, but I think that if the delegates aren't seated, voters in FL and MI should blame their state party leaders who decided to hold early primaries in violation of party rules.

I don't know how it came about in Michigan, but I'm pretty sure that in Florida, the Republican controlled state legislature moved the date of the primary up, over the protests of the national party.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on February 7, 2008 at 11:58 AM | PERMALINK

I don't see any reason to believe that Hillary will be effective against the Republicans. After all they were able to shut down Bill's presidency and impeach him.
And for everyone who says Obama is being shoved down their throats, I will point to the Hillary supporters who say she "deserves" the nomination.
Nice to see how we've internalized the attack politics of the other party. Nice going, folks.

Posted by: Chester on February 7, 2008 at 12:01 PM | PERMALINK

D'oh - typing on auto pilot. I meant "over the objection of the state party, not national.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on February 7, 2008 at 12:01 PM | PERMALINK

Obama supporters, like cultists base their support on a mixture of gooey, saccharine adulation for their empty leader and anger towards people who see through him.

Wow, could you try to be more condescending here?

I was an Edwards supporter, but I'm moving to Obama. Why? I like that he had the guts to stand up against the war in Iraq when many in the party, including Hillary, just rolled over. I like his health care plan more than Hillary's. I like his education proposals, especially "Zero to Five" and the teacher recruitment proposal. I like his economic program, especially affordable housing trust fund and the community development block grant.

And yes, I like his inspirational rhetoric. It reminds me of past great Democratic presidents like FDR and JFK. I believe he has the ability to broaden the Democratic base, to break us out of the trench warfare of the past thirty years of Democratic-Republican fighting, and to help elect vast new numbers of progressive Democrats to both houses of Congress.

That's what draws me to him.

And people like you repel me from Hillary.

Posted by: Marc on February 7, 2008 at 12:04 PM | PERMALINK

What happened was Oprah. A lot of independent minded voters resent her presence in the race in the same way they resent the news media coronating winners too early. She's the most powerful media person in the country, and no matter how well intentioned she may be, a lot of people resent the media influencing the race too much.

Posted by: Glacier on February 7, 2008 at 12:06 PM | PERMALINK

As it was pointed out, none of this showed up on Election day so it probably wasn't real.

If Hillary saw a gigantic jump in her numbers, it would almost HAVE to be reflected in her NY and CA strongholds. She did too well in absentee/early balloting in CA to have done spectacularly on Tuesday and still only be 10 points ahead. We know for a fact that she underperformed in NY. Not only that, but she lost 5+ states where she was AHEAD in polling, including Alabama. It's either a faulty sample or a technical error.

Blue Girl, Red State: Though Florida is controlled by Republicans, the Democrats ALSO voted to move the primaries up. Regardless of who runs the legislature, they likely had the power to block this if they wanted to. The Republicans in Florida would have been a LOT less likely to move the primaries forward if they didn't have cover from the Democrats to go along with it.

Posted by: soullite on February 7, 2008 at 12:08 PM | PERMALINK

Chrissy,

How can you say that Obama is an empty leader? You know, I'm an Obama supporter and I think he is far from empty. Is this just because he is capable of giving great speeches? Would you like him more if he simply spelled out his policies and was a bad public speaker? Everyone who has worked with him on anything comes out saying what a great communicator and negotiator he is in a small group setting. Compare that with the experiences of those who have had personal experiences with HRC at close quarters. Oh and that thing about being the most liberal Senator - more evidence of emptiness I'm sure.

The person being unreal and fictional isn't the Obama supporter. If you are looking for that, you might want take a look in the mirror. Seems to me you are trying to convince yourself of a supposed fact that has no basis in reality.

Posted by: Manfred on February 7, 2008 at 12:12 PM | PERMALINK

I'm an ex-Edwards supporter who will vote for the Dem who gets nominated.
But I don't think Hillary's "experience" will win against McCain's and I also think her Iraq war vote was either a case of bad judgment or cynical politicking. And like Bill, I can see her bombing more countries around the world than I think Obama will.

Posted by: Chester on February 7, 2008 at 12:12 PM | PERMALINK

Probably a lot of Obama supporters who maybe even already voted in their states' primaries before Super Tuesday later on noticed that the mainstream media was pushing Obama pretty hard in the run-up to Super Tuesday, and it creeped them out.

As has been well-documented (by the Media Matters website, and many liberal bloggers), there is plenty of reason for that kind of bias in our modern American MSM to creep a person out.

Posted by: Swan on February 7, 2008 at 12:17 PM | PERMALINK

Late to the thread and I've only read about 3/4 of the comments, but no one mentioned the heavy news coverage of McCain finally locking up the Repub nomination during this period - couldn't that account for some reassessment by the Democratic voters?

Posted by: bukarin on February 7, 2008 at 12:31 PM | PERMALINK

BGRS:

Thanks for the clarification. (I like your comments here, by the way.)

On doing further research (read "Googling"), I discover that the situation on the ground in Florida may have been more complicated than a person might think if they just looked at the nearly-unanimous vote to move the primary forward. Among other things, the Republicans apparently bundled the primary date provision with one that provided a paper trail for Florida elections. That might be a pretty tough thing for Democratic legislators in Florida to vote against, although it also might be political cover for Democrats who wanted the early primary (and were for it before they were against it, as it were). I don't know.

Posted by: The Fabulous Mr. Toad on February 7, 2008 at 12:32 PM | PERMALINK

I've characterized him as a "Pop Celebrity" riding a "wave". We all know what happens to wave. The trouble with too much rhetoric is that it becomes boring. You gotta have substance. He doesn't.

Posted by: fillphil on February 7, 2008 at 12:33 PM | PERMALINK
We know for a fact that she underperformed in NY….….soullite at 12:08 PM
That is all a matter of opinion, but much of this voting has been the overwhelming support of African-Americans for Obama. I think that is great, but it skews primary results. In the general, they, like everyone, will vote for the party nominee. Clinton did pickup a lot of support among last day deciders.
…I think he is far from empty….Manfred at 12:12 PM
Of course you don't. You're a member in good standing of the cult. I can't speak for anyone else, but yes, I much prefer policy drones like Al Gore to lofty rhetoric, which sounds of high ideals while providing little content. Your candidate is mocking Edwards supporters, and mocking universal health care by silly analogies. That shows a decided lack of serious interest in progressive ideals.

The rating as liberal senator is phony. The same group did the same to John Kerry in 2004 and was a constant attack point from the right.

Posted by: Mike on February 7, 2008 at 12:46 PM | PERMALINK

Could it be that the Shriver, Kennedy endorsements did more to hurt his campaign as well as "being the most liberal" senator in congress? Looks compelling to me.

Posted by: DA on February 7, 2008 at 12:48 PM | PERMALINK

its the dates stupid. Rasmussen has same Hillary pulling away through Feb 5, just as Gallup does through Feb. Rasmussen has them coming back to tied for Feb 6 & 7. Gallup has not updated since the the 5th.

Posted by: dr.steveb on February 7, 2008 at 12:54 PM | PERMALINK

There are many reasons to support Obama, but one of them is fear. Fear of the right and their "Hillary is a cunt" operation. Fear of vicious nastiness.

The polite way of putting this is that Obama is more "electable". That Hillary has strong negatives.

The thing is, fear fades with time. It also fades when you see Hillary not taking shit off of anyone in a debate. Or on Meet the Press.

I can't tell you what a joy it was to watch her push back at Tim Russert about Bill's "fairy tale" statement.

Frankly, it reminded me of what a joy it will be to watch her for eight years, both pushing back at attacks from the right and reaching out for common ground, like she's done as a senator.

It's about time that they got told to shut up and sit down, and I just don't see Obama doing that. Both points were illustrated in the last debate. So yeah, I think it was the debate.

Posted by: Doctor Jay on February 7, 2008 at 12:56 PM | PERMALINK

Who is Oprah's constituency? Many people think she is such a wonderful person and she attracts millions of viewers, but advertisers are the ones who made her rich. Oprah's interests lie with Proctor and Gamble and GM more than any single parent viewer who never misses an episode of her program. Oprah relies on big business to purchase the eyeballs that she attracts. Without the big business advertising dollars, Oprah is not the fabulously wealthly woman we all know and love. Oprah is not just endorsing Obama, she endorses all of the wretched products her program advertises. Can her endorsement of Obama be considered anything more than her endorsement of Glade?

Posted by: Brojo on February 7, 2008 at 1:37 PM | PERMALINK

Whoa, too much noise, venom and circular logic here.

Posted by: Keith G on February 7, 2008 at 1:47 PM | PERMALINK

I'm no member of a cult, Mr. Mike.

I have carefully examined the case for Obama vs. Clinton and have made my choice. I'm no spring chicken either, note that, all you sexy young Obama fans out there.

If Clinton gets the nomination, she would do well, and the party would do well, to beg Obama to join the ticket. A McCain-Huckabee ticket will be very strong and will need the full enthusiasm, clearly evinced in primary turnout, of all Democrats. If we can maintain the ratios we have seen in primary voting we can also expand what we have in Congress.

I will vote for the Dem nominee whoever that is and urge my fellow Obama fans to do the same. Either of them will be orders of magnitude better than the Rethugs.

Posted by: Manfred on February 7, 2008 at 2:17 PM | PERMALINK

The polling period for the Gallup Poll included Super Bowl Sunday. This would have increased non-responses from male and younger voters, who generally supported Obama on Super Tuesday.

Posted by: jonp72 on February 7, 2008 at 2:49 PM | PERMALINK

It is fun to see frankly0 and others suddenly discovered high principles in attacking caucuses. They doth protest too much.

Little was heard in these quarters about such problems before the Iowa (and especially the Nevada) caucuses until Obama demonstrated some ability to win. In fact, little was heard before HERE's Culinary union endorsed Obama, and Clinton surrogates glommed onto a misguided union-initiated - and subsequently dismissed - court case.

Primaries, caucuses, conventions are simply not meant to test the "will of the people." They are means for selecting a party's candidate to run for office. You make a categorical mistake by applying the standards that we would expect in a general election that determines who holds public power.

But even if you were right, that the standard to be applied in candidate selection should come as close as possible to those we use in general elections, the time to have raised these concerns was when the Democratic Party in the several states established them - i.e., last year. It looks rather unprincipled to be raising the concerns about the rules only when they seem to be favoring one candidate over another.

Moreover, it looks rather unprincipled to be raising concerns with only one aspect of the rules - caucuses - as oposed to say, super delegates (which some say favor Hillary over Barack). Perhaps the operative democratic principle is "one insider, one vote"?? I'd be more interested in your argument if you were more even-handed in its application!

Empirically, your argument that caucuses favor "hot house" candidates seems misplaced. Last time I looked, Hillary won the Nevada caucuses, and actually outpolled Obama in the disputed caucus sites along the Strip.

Caucuses did little to bolster the "hot house" candidacy of Howard Dean. Or Bill Bradley. Or Gary Hart.


Posted by: Chill out` on February 7, 2008 at 2:50 PM | PERMALINK

Who are you going to believe the poll or the election. Which had the larger sample?

Posted by: corpus juris on February 7, 2008 at 6:08 PM | PERMALINK

If the commentary coming from the Pro-Clinton camp in this thread are of any indication, I smell serious blood from her campaign. Good. See you guys after Louisiana.

Posted by: Boorring on February 7, 2008 at 6:08 PM | PERMALINK
"Erika S is right. There is something scary about cultism and faddism in politics, whether it is on the right or the left. There is also something deeply undemocratic about this cultism and faddism. We are supposed to be grown ups electing women and men who are our equals not our betters, not children electing some superior to watch over us and tell us what to do and for us to idolize. Obama supporters, like cultists base their support on a mixture of gooey, saccharine adulation for their empty leader and anger towards people who see through him." Chrissy

You again? I seem to remember this poster giving outdated polling information, and harping it as the latest. Seems to me that she hasn't learned from that experience. In any case, it works both ways, Chrissy, and let me demonstrate by using the lazy logic performed so well by other posters here. What do people find appealing regarding Hillary Clinton? Bill Clinton. Why? They want to go back to the 90s.

This claim on the cult-of-personality regarding Barack Obama is a vague charge, and can be applied towards any candidate. But the hope to vote for candidate because she was married to a previous candidate who did good for the country in a different environment reveals an embarrassing tendency: a wanton desire to go back. It almost mirrors the desires of many on the Republican Party, with their incessant need to return to the 50s, except this time it is the 90s. This cult-like devotion to return to the good time of the 90s throws aside such messy details as the war on terrorism, the increasing globalization of the world, the rise of China and India, etc etc. No, no, no: Bill Clinton, the great fundraiser from Kazakhstan, can take care of it! He'll be in office, and even though he supported NAFTA and Hillary didn't, he'll have the sway to bring our country back into the economic powerhouse it was in the 90s...when it was a divided, uh, government that helped, uh, bring out, um...moderate proposals. Arguing about a President's influence on an economy is tough work, and arguing about Bill Clinton's ownership over the productivity improvements by the Internet, for example, is another matter. But no, we don't want to hear that! If Hillary goes in, Bill goes in, and it'll be like an ADT commercial, except this time it's Bill's, uh, magic power that will flow (ahem) from the White House and spew (cough) onto every corner of this country, flooding (blush) everyone with...good stuff? I'm being unfair, and I know it, but it works both ways you guys. Let's go back in the booth this November, and vote to return to the 90s! We can bring grunge back, and maybe Arsenio too!

Posted by: Boorring on February 7, 2008 at 6:30 PM | PERMALINK

As a great compliment to Hillary Clinton the candidate, a majority gain assurance from the potentially first woman President by her close proximity to her husband (the message is: never-mind Hillary, her husband will take care of things if it gets too ht). It seems she really wants to be the first woman President in name only, and the pride in seeing others see Hillary break the final glass ceiling is not affected by the fact that she can crack that high plateau while standing on Bills high shoulders. You've come a long way, baby.

An additional compliment to the office of the Presidency is her strength of experience by a few years more in the United States Senate. Oh, I forgot, being the First Lady counts. For example, when Bill was in the danger room, Hillary was taking notes. When Hillary was performing White House functions, she wrote footnotes on the conflict in Kosovo. Accepting this would also accept the fact that she was intending to run for President from day one, and accepting this realizes to an observer her push to run for Senate in a state that wasn't her home: to gain credibility. That's what it's always been about, come hell or highwater. And her campaign has been exemplified by that one tear, that one, fake, tear in New Hampshire, which seemingly brought about an honest plea by Hillary that it wasn't about "who's up, or who's down", lines that she repeated during her Super Tuesday speech. She found her voice, was it? As I saw it, she was reading a prepared speech.

and so on, ad nauseum. I smell blood from the Hillary camp, and let's see where we are after Louisiana.

Posted by: Boorring on February 7, 2008 at 6:32 PM | PERMALINK

The explanation for the apparent discrepancy of the Gallup poll has been written in the posts above, but discounted.
Caucuses are not democratic. They represent the most committed and energized portion of the party - in this case, supporters of Sen. Obama. How many people were NOT at the caucuses because they didn't have a babysitter or transportation or for some other reason? How many Democratic voters would vote for Sen. Obama, but prefer Sen. Clinton? How many of them were in the poll? And we have to consider that many Democrats aren't as interested in politics as those posting here.
The Gallup poll was national. There are several very populous states that did not participate in Super Tuesday. And there are Michigan and Florida; who may not have any delegates, but most certainly will vote in November 2008.
Adding all these together and there is no reason not believe that the poll represents the feelings/intentions of those polled for that period. That can change very quickly.
All this poll demonstrates is that Sen. Clinton is still ahead in the national polls as of 5 February, 2008 and that Sen. Obama is still very competitive.
Anything else is hot air.

Posted by: Doug on February 7, 2008 at 6:39 PM | PERMALINK

With respect to Michelle Obama's comments about whether she would work for HRC if she were the nominee...

Had she followed her "I don't know, I'd have to think about it," with something like, "my first priority is my children and after all of the sacrifices we've been making, I just don't know if I could commit to that," I could buy the explanation most Obama supporters want to give.

What followed her "I don't know, I'd have to think about it," was "her policies, her approach, her tone," which questions HRC as the nominee, not whether Michelle Obama would have the time to work to help get her elected.

Most of us knew immediately what she was really saying.

Posted by: Anne on February 7, 2008 at 10:02 PM | PERMALINK

Anne,

Aren't those the same things that all of us consider when deciding whether to work on a campaign? Aren't they the same things people up and down this blog are considering in forming their opinions and trying to persuade others? Then why is it somehow illegitimate for Michelle Obama to consider the same factors?

Note also that she did say immediately that she would get behind the nominee, whoever it was.

Toad

Posted by: The Fabulous Mr. Toad on February 7, 2008 at 11:02 PM | PERMALINK

Sheesh, Hillary's die-hard supporters are getting nervous. Pulling out the long knives. They've gone from reasoned debate regarding policy points and relative experience to implying that Obama is some sort of frightening something-or-other because he incites -- gasp! -- enthusiasm. Something Hillary's supporters are blissfully immune from, I gather.

News Flash: Enthusiasm, like statistics and money, is amoral. It's mere presence is not cause for alarm. It's how it is used that should be considered.

In fact, most -- not all, but most -- political movements actively encourage enthusiasm, and are delighted when it appears. True, you could try to take the high road and depend solely on decorous teas and some sympathetic nodding of heads. But most political parties are vastly encouraged when they have a candidate that inspires chanting and unprecedented turn out and new voters and the feeling that something is really happening.

Not us Democrats, though. We have a plan, and we don't want anything truly significant to come between us and the plan. Reality and new developments are just going to have to get in line until the plan is enacted. We've been waiting so long to enact it, after all. What a pity if all that planning went to waste just because something better came along.

Sheesh. Sad. Sad, sad, sad. When did Americans become such ideologues?

Posted by: J. Myers on February 7, 2008 at 11:09 PM | PERMALINK

Keith,

When you say "Whoa, too much noise, venom and circular logic here" what kind of political campaigns are you used to?

I am a long time Democrat who voted for LBJ in 1964, and I watched Nixon and Joe McCarthy in black and white on TV. I've seen it go downhill since then. This is the best I have ever seen.

Right now the Democrats have two really fine candidates (unfortunately, I though it was three but my favored candidate, Edwards, is gone) and the question now is which of the two will we support. I see Hillary stronger at getting stuff done (at my age, I have learned that experience counts and Obama hasn't got it on the national level), was well prepared to start the campaign and has responded really well to roadblocks. She is also a known quantity. She has also done a masterful job of dealing with the anti-Hillary Press. She knows the Democratic Party nationwide in a way Obama will take years to achieve.

Obama has great rhetoric and he appears to have really good organizing and fundraising abilities. Plus the media likes him (today only - they hide the expiration date.)

I preferred the policies that Edwards promotes to what either Hillary or Obama has announced, but both of them are very bright and educable. The real key on policies is still the 7,000 political appointees the incoming President will appoint to the Plum book positions anyway. As long as Democrats replace the Republican cronies, incompetents and Cheney's made men, either candidate will be a major step forwards for America. It'll be nice to see political appointees who have read and understand the Constitution, unlike the unAmerican slime like John Barton and David Addington. That's much more important than which to the two otherwise very similarly qualified candidates the Democrats nominate.

Will Clinton's nomination energize the Republicans to oppose her? I live in Texas. Believe it. The Republicans are haters to begin with, and they make a fetish of Hillary-hating. But if you think they won't come out equally to defeat a Black man, you are living in a fantasy world. This is going to be the nastiest Presidential campaign I have ever been aware of, and that goes back to 1960.

As we make our choices for the Democratic nominee, we have a real wealth of opportunity. The reasons to choose one over the other are miniscule compared to the many, many reasons it is so difficult to actually decide. For a while I thought that Obama would shake up the D.C. establishment more than Hillary, but as I watched Hillary in last Sunday's debate, I realized she already knows how to make the changes and Obama has to learn it. She may not promise as much change as Obama does, but that may be because Obama doesn't know how difficult making all that change is going to be.

I can't even use identity politics to decide. First Black President vs. First Woman President? Both outstanding steps forward for America, and neither significantly MORE important than the other. And still, I have to decided which to choose.

My choice is down now to the fact that Hillary is a known quantity, and Obama is too new on the scene for me to believe that he is capable of doing what he promises, of even understanding overall America well enough to know which way to jump when the decision has to be made rapidly.

So as I run my precinct primary election on March 4th and then run the caucus to choose delegates to the county convention, I'll go as a Hillary delegate.

Noise, venom and circular logic? The old saying that politics in academia is so nasty because there is so little at stake really applies here.

I really think it is coming down to an effective tie when the voters and caucus-goers are counted, so the final decision is going to the 20% Superdelegates, and they will choose the person with the greatest likelihood of coattails. Since that will have the greatest power to build the Democratic Party, that's the way the decision needs to be made. Forget infantile complaints that it is less democratic, it is better for the party and for the nation in the long run. If it's not, and the superdelegates get it wrong, then the time for real purist democracy is the first Tuesday in November.

My bet is that Hillary will get the nomination. If so, I would hope she offers the Veep to Obama, and since he is young and desperately wants to become President someday, he'll take it. He'd be a fool not to. I remember the shock when Kennedy chose his bitter rival, LBJ and no one thought it something they could do, but they did it. This nomination hasn't been nearly that nasty.

On the reverse side, though, if Obama gets the nomination, then I'd love to see Hillary stay in the Senate and replace Harry Reid. I've seen reports that he isn't wild about the job and would be happy if Hillary took it. She'd be superb. (Obama doesn't have the experience yet.)

An Obama, Hillary, Pelosi government would be an outstanding opportunity for the Democrats to bring democracy back to the U.S. and break the stranglehold of the conservative movement, allowing America to work on the problems of the American people instead of the International corporations and the wealthy.

What it all comes down to is that the Democrats need to get back into control and start to work to repair the damage done by thirty years of the Reagan Revolution and the conservative movement. Either of the two current candidates for the nomination can do that. We simply have to decide which one, then all of us support that person. And we will!

The disaster of conservatism is about to be lifted from America's neck. We just have to decide which road we will take to get there.

Posted by: Rick B on February 8, 2008 at 12:13 AM | PERMALINK

Thanks, Rick. You're the man.

Posted by: James R MacLean on February 8, 2008 at 1:13 AM | PERMALINK

The sudden movement in Hillary's direction is probably mostly an illusion created by a combination of sampling error and the vagaries of 3-day rolling averages..

1) First, Kevin repeatedly underestimates margin of error on this blog, but there is considerable margin of error in this poll, so there may not be as much movement as it seems. Hillary's number went up about 5 while Obama's went down about 3. If the sample size was 1000, this means +/-3.1 point MOE. That could fully explain Obama's 3 point drop and most of Hillary's 5 point increase.

2) There is another factor that can lead to misleadingly large swings in these kind of tracking poll results. Assuming Gallup is doing rolling 3-day averages, you can have a situation as follows:

Imagine 4 separate days of results. On Day 1 Obama does really well, Day 2 Obama and Hillary tie, Day 3 Hillary does real well. Those 3 days averaged together will show a close race. But then imagine that on Day 4 Hillary continues with the good numbers she had on Day 3. If you do a new 3-day average with Days 2-4, you are dropping good Obama Day 1 and replacing it with good Hillary Day 4 instead. This produces a large swing in one day.

Here is a list of days to illustrate my example

Day 1 - Obama 48, Clinton 42
Day 2 - Obama 45, Clinton 45
Day 3 - Obama 42, Clinton 48
Day 4 - Obama 42, Clinton 48

If you average Days 1-3, you get a 45-45 tie. The next day on Day 4, if you do a new rolling 3-day average of Days 2-4 you get Obama 43, Clinton 47, a net change of 4 points in 1 day. And most of the hypothetical change shown in this example could be simple sampling error.

Posted by: Junius Brutus on February 8, 2008 at 2:33 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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