Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Post-Super Tuesday Impressions

Today I want to focus on strategy from here on.

For the Republicans things are a bit more clear. McCain has a good sized lead in the delegate counts and if you listen to the talking heads, can shore up his support among conservatives by pulling Mike Huckabee into the fold. At least that's what the talking heads keep saying. It makes sense. McCain can't do well with Southern conservatives; Huckabee has proven he can. End of story, right? It's always a game of wait and see with politics.

On the Democratic side there were a few things that popped out at me. First of all, and I talked about this ad nauseam last night during the live blog, Obama does well in caucuses. He swept all of them last night. Even when he lost Nevada to Clinton, he still managed one more delegate than she did. The other issue on the Democratic side is performance versus region. Clinton does better (on the whole) in traditional Democratic areas (West coast and Northeast) and Obama has done well in the South (especially the Deep South) and the heartland--red states. So when Obama says that he can do more than Clinton as nominee to pull in Republicans and Independents, there is some truth to it. Sure these wins in red states are among Democratic partisans, but he can still argue that he has won in red states. What can Clinton say? "I won in New York and California?" Well, the Democrat would win those states anyway.

Given these trends (this model if you will), how do the Democratic candidates stack up in the immediate next contests? This weekend there is a Democratic caucus in Washington and a primary in Louisiana.

Washington represents the confluence of both factors mentioned above, so it is more difficult to peg. First, it is a caucus. Advantage Obama...apparently. Secondly, it is a "traditional" Democratic state. It has voted for the Democratic nominee every year since 1988. Advantage Clinton. So Washington is tough.

Louisiana, on the other hand is a Deep South state. Say what you will about how Hurricane Katrina ravaged Louisiana's African American population, this is still a Southern state and one that could break for Obama on Saturday (if we're keeping with the proposed model).

After that (on Tuesday February 12), there are primaries in Maryland, Washington DC and Virginia. Well, those are traditional Democratic, heavily African American and red state respectively. Clinton, Obama, Obama.

This is all speculation (and based on a simple model at that), and could change at the drop of a hat. Things have changed a time or two during this cycle. But it is a first pass at what to look for in the next week.


Robert said...

It is hard to speculate on strategy before we have a real good handle on the number of delegates awarded last night. I have heard everything from a 1-delgate advantage for Clinton from yesterday's contests to a 50-delegate advantage. These next contests seem to be critical for Obama. If he goes into Ohio and Texas with a deficit of 50 or less delegates, I would say that he is in good shape. If his deficit is more than 100 delegates, it is going to be difficult to see how he catches up. Obama appears to be more effective at using paid media and personal campaigning than Clinton and turning those advantages to gain more free media. Hillary does well in states where she has a strong grassroot organization. Hillary wants a debate a week to gain more free media, and the debates seem to work in her favor. It will be interesting to see how many debates he will take her up on, particularly to see if he is willing to go on Fox News.

Josh Putnam said...

Good points Rob. It is early to speculate on strategy before the delegate counts are official. But it isn't like Obama is going to drop out. He looks to be in good shape in the next round of states. But yeah, that Texas contest looms large.

Also, add the caucus in Nebraska as a contest for this weekend. Another caucus in a red state. Interesting stuff.

I don't think Obama can or will say no to that debate schedule. You can't pass up that free media. I think if the debates remain civil then the results are a wash. It is when they get nasty that Clinton really has the advantage.

Robert said...

I think he will do two debates, one the week after next and the one before Ohio he has already committed to. I think he will get into her head if he "finds he has scheduling conflicts" with some of the dates. HE should also be able to score big next Tuesday without another dbate before then. He actually benefitted from the nasty SC debate. In the upcoming debates, they will both be trying to provoke the other one to look nasty, while they stay civil. Obama had an interesting response to getting rough in his Newsweek interview:
I figure you and Paul will like the basketball analogy.

Ellen said...

Not debate related, but is anyone talking about the McCain ad that opens with the line "As a prisoner of war, John McCain was inspired by Ronald Reagan"? Honest conservative truth or pandering? Think it will work?

Josh Putnam said...

I haven't heard about it or seen it (Not saying much. I am out of the loop on the non-Chuck Norris ads.).

Now I'm off to YouTube to find it. Is it the one titled "Proud Conservative?"

I'm skeptical that his overtures to the conservatives will work. The talk radio set just isn't falling for it. And they won't no matter how many letters they get from Bob Dole.

Ellen said...

The Caucus has it as "A True Conservative":

Also, according to Drudge, McCain is going to have Reagan introduce him in a video before McCain's speech at CPAC. It will be interesting to see if that really happens or is just a rumor.

Ellen said...

Wow, that link didn't work at all. A google search for McCain "A True Conservative" will bring it up.

Josh Putnam said...

Here's the link to that ad on The Caucus. It looks like it got truncated when you copied and pasted it. This site does that in the comments section for some reason. Looks like Google will be getting an angry letter from me.

I got worried when I saw "The Caucus" in that link. I may not receive my pretend check this week for plugging their blog here.

It is an interesting ad. And it has been out there since at least last Friday (2-1-08), so I don't know that it will gain much traction. Huckabee's performance last night says it hasn't yet, but McCain has to be able to get the thing on the air and with his financial situation, that may prove somewhat difficult.

Thanks for the link and the contribution, Ellen. Good to hear from you.

Robert said...

Here are my thoughts on the Democratic nomination being over with the Ohio and Texas votes.

According to my calculations from yesterday's results and the current delegate count on Real Clear Politics, Clinton captured 753 delegates and Obama snagged 742. That leaves Clinton needing 1013 delegates and Obama needing 1092 delegates to be nominated. Right now she has a 4 % advantage over him. For Clinton to gain a 10% advantage over Obama by the time Ohio and Texas votes are tabulated she would need to capture 60 % of the delegates to be awarded between now and then. For Obama to get a 10% advantage over Clinton by that time, he would need to grab 68% of the delegates. He needs to get 54% of the available delegates between now and then to pull even with her. I think the chance of either candidate getting a 10% advantage in delegates by March 5 is highly unlikely. I think any margin less than 10 % in delegate count between the candidates will not be enough to declare a clear winner until someone actually has the delegates in hand. For comparison purposes John McCain has a 40% advantage over Romney and a 45% advantage over Mike Huckabee. Conclusion: it is mathematically unlikely that Ohio and Texas will settle the Democratic nomination.

Robert said...

Another followup on the afternoon discussion comes from the Cafferty file
who indicates that 14 plus million voted Democrat yesterday and 8 million plus voted Republican.

Josh Putnam said...

With the delegate distribution being proportional, it is going to be hard for any one candidate to run away and hide on the Democratic side. And that includes any scenario where one of the two puts together a string of victories.

These contests keep sneaking up on me. Maine's Democratic caucuses are on Sunday (Feb. 10). So that makes three weekend caucuses and another contest in the Deep South. Those are good situations for Obama. But Clinton will get some delegates too.

The 10% bar is arbitrary, but it's a low bar and even that threshold probably won't be surpassed. This thing is going to go on for a while.

...unless the Clintons run out of money. They may not be able to keep up with Obama in the fundraising game but they can pull from their own pocket. I'm going back and forth in my head about whether the media will spin this development negatively or not. Part of me says, "Clinton potentially being weak" is a story. Another part says, "Yeah, but this thing could go on for a while and that is a story that will sell into June and beyond."

That financial revelation doesn't look good on the heels of Obama's $32 million disclosure last week.

The hits keep coming.

Josh Putnam said...

Here's the link to the Clinton loan story.