News from the Votemaster
Barack Obama won a convincing victory over Hillary Clinton, 56% to 42% in North Carolina yesterday. She beat him in Indiana by just 2%, 51% to 49%, and that victory may be marred by the fact that the margin of victory may well be due to Republicans who voted for her at Rush Limbaugh's urging because he sees her as the weaker nominee against John McCain. Given all the controversy over Rev. Jeremiah Wright the past weeks, Obama came out of May 6 in better shape than many had expected. Here are the results by county from the Washington Post.
What did the exit polls show? According to the NY Times, in Indiana, 55% of the voters were women and they went for Clinton 54% to 46%. The men split evenly. However, among white voters, Clinton won decisively 58% to 42% and among white women even more decisively 63% to 37%. Obama pulled 92% of the black vote, men and women alike. Obama won overwhelmingly among 17-24 year olds, 61% to 39%, but also ran strongly in all age groups up to 40. The 65+ voters preferred Clinton by a massive 71% to 29%. Income didn't seem to play much of a role in Indiana, but education did, with Clinton winning the high school graduates 52% to 38% and Obama winning the college educated about 54% to 46%. Among Indiana voters in the Democratic primary, 68% were Democrats and Clinton took these 53% to 46%. Another 22% were independents, whom Obama narrowly won 51% to 49%. Among Democratic primary voters, 11% were self-identified Republicans and they went for Clinton 52% to 46%. There is no data on how many of these were just following Rush Limbaugh's instructions to wreak havoc and how many were fed up with George Bush. But it is certainly possible that Clinton owes her 2% win to Limbaugh, which taints it somewhat. Clinton also won strongly among voters saying the economy is the top issue and Obama won among those saying the war in Iraq is. Clinton also did well among gun owners. All in all, the picture is the same as Ohio and Pennsylvania, but not as pronounced. Low-education low-income people who are hurting economically like Clinton; high-income high education voters who want to end the war in Iraq prefer Obama.
In North Carolina, Obama won both men and women, largely due to the greater number of black voters, who gave him 91% of their votes. Clinton won white men by 14% and white women by 30%. Welcome to identity politics. As an aside, in the general election age may factor into identity politics, with older voters going for the old guy and younger ones going for the Democrat, especially if it is Obama. In North Carolina, Obama swept voters under 64 and Clinton won those 65 and older. In contrast to other states, Obama did better with voters making under $50,000 (+23%) than those making more than $50,000 (+7%) but this is undoubtedly due to the downscale voters having a large black contingent. In contrast to Indiana, Obama swept every educational group from high school dropouts to people with postgraduate degrees. Again, race was undoubtedly the key here, with black voters likely making up a large percentage of the high school dropouts and the people with college degrees going for Obama as usual (although it seems a bit odd since Obama and Clinton's educational credentials are virtually identical: Columbia/Harvard vs. Wellesley/Yale.) Obama won the Protestants and Clinton won the Catholics. Clinton's consistent support among Catholics is probably entirely due to class rather than religion. Obama's visits to his church have gotten him into some hot water but everyone now knows he goes to church; Clinton is not religious and is rarely spotted in church. Both are Protestants. Also her stands on the hot button issues like abortion and gay rights are diametrically opposed to the Catholic church's position and are indistinguishable from Obama's. So why do Catholics love her? Probably because ethnic Catholics on the whole are more downscale than Protestants and downscale voters remember the good economic times they enjoyed during Clinton 42 and are hoping for a repeat performance in Clinton 44.
So where does all this leave us? As of 10 A.M. EDT, here are the delegate counts.
Needed to win: 2025
Clinton had a chance to really damage Obama yesterday and didn't. Obama had a chance to eliminate Clinton and didn't. So we muddle on. But the math is increasingly clear. Obama's lead is probably about 156 delegates (although that could change later in the day), with 217 more pledged delegates yet to be chosen as follows: West Virginia (May 13, 28 pledged delegates), Kentucky (May 20, 51 pledged delegates), Oregon (May 20, 52 pledged delegates), Puerto Rico (June 1, 55 pledged delegates), Montana (June 3, 16 pledged delegates), and South Dakota (June 3, 15 pledged delegates).
In order for Hillary Clinton to catch up, she is going to have to win 187 of these 217 or 86% This is an impossible task given that the two candidates are expected to split the six remaining contests (Kentucky, West Virginia, and Puerto Rico for Clinton; Oregon, Montana, and South Dakota for Obama). Suppose Clinton gets an average of 55% in her states and 45% in his states. Then Clinton gets 15 (WV), 28 (KY), 23 (OR), 30 (PR), 7 (SD), and 7 (MT) for a total of 110. Obama gets 13 (WV), 23 (KY), 29 (OR), 25 (PR), 9 (SD), and 8 (MT) for a total of 107. All in all, she nets 3 delegates. If we add these numbers to the AP's totals, we get Obama 1947, Clinton 1794 with 308 supers yet to announce. Obama will also be ahead in the popular vote and in the number of states won. All Obama would need is 78 of the 308 supers (25%). Clinton would need 75% of them. Would the supers massively decide to overturn the preference of the voters? Considering that many of them are elected officials, they are very sensitive to what the voters want. A congressman in a district that voted for Clinton could support her on the grounds that his constituents wanted that (regardless of the national totals) but a congressman whose district went for Obama would be inviting a primary challenging by ignore both his own district and the national results.
What also may happen is that many supers may feel that Clinton's narrow victory in Indiana (with the help of Limbaugh drones who will be ordered to vote for McCain in November) means that the Wright affair has not made Obama damaged goods and a number of them may come out for him this week giving him a feeling of momentum. Of course Clinton's expected landslide victory in Kentucky next week could blunt that, but since it is so expected is is already discounted by many.
Historically, the real reason candidates drop out (despite announcing that it is for the good of the party) is that the money supply has dried up. This may have already happend for Clinton as the NY Times is reporting that Clinton loaned her campaign another $6 million in April. Her fundraising from here on out is going to be meager at best and Obama's will soar.
Former presidential candidate George McGovern announced a switch today from Clinton to Obama and called for her to drop out. Expect a drip, drip, drip of such calls all week, although it is doubtful that she will do so before June 3. Once the frame becomes "Hillary's goose is cooked. Why doesn't she drop out?" she's finished.
On the Republican side, in North Carolina, John McCain swept every county, getting 74% to Mike Huckabee's 12%, Ron Paul's 8%, and Alan Keyes 4%, with 4% having no preferences. In Indiana, McCain did a little better, getting 78% to Huckabee's 10%, Paul's 8%, and Romney's 5%. Considering that Huckabee, Paul, and Romney have formally dropped out of the race, the fact that about 25% of the Republicans weren't willing to vote for the person who is surely their nominee means that for the all the problems the Democrats are having, McCain still has not united his own party behind him. If a quarter of all Republicans refuse to vote for him, how is he going to campaign? Will he pick a right-winger as Veep to placate the Base (and drive off independents) or will be pick a moderate to go after the independents? A lot depends on who the Democratic nominee is. Against Clinton, McCain may feel that her support among independents is weak enough that he can pick a very conservative Veep to get the base to vote and still hang onto the independents. Against Obama, a right-wing choice would be fatal since the independents will all go to Obama. Basically, he has to decide if he wants to play traditional politics and move to the center in the general election or do it Rove style and try to get every last conservative to vote and to hell with the independents.
Newt Gingrich, architect of the Republicans historic takeover of the House in 1994 (which the Democrats had controlled most of the preceeding 50 years) wrote in his blog "Either Congressional Republicans are going to chart a bold course of real change or they are going to suffer decisive losses this November." Gingrich sees the twin GOP losses in IL-14 and LA-06 as the handwriting on the wall and is telling the party it better stand for something besides hating Rev. Wright or it's going to go down in flames. He then proposes the follow-up to his Contract with America that led the way for his 1994 victory. The nine points he proposes are:
Gingrich has mellowed. He thinks that conservatives can win by overhauling the Census Bureau and telling people that judges matter? Where's the fire? (with thanks to Political Wire for pointing this out.)
-- The Votemaster