Tuesday, May 13, 2008

20%!?! That's the Bar in West Virginia?

You have to love the expectations game. One week you're winning North Carolina and doing better than expected in Indiana. The next? You're hoping for twenty percent in West Virginia. How far the mighty have fallen. Well, not really. But when the outcomes of the remaining contests are clearer than North Carolina and Indiana were a week ago, it is easier for a candidate to fend off a poor showing; even if that showing is 20% of the vote for the presumptive nominee/front-runner for the Democratic Party. There Barack Obama was yesterday, shooting pool in West Virginia and claiming that he'd accept anything higher than that mark in today's West Virginia primary.

So the Obama campaign is setting the bar low and driving down national attention to the race in the Mountain state. What's on the table for today's contest, though? 28 of the states 39 delegates are at stake in West Virginia's semi-open primary (the other eleven are superdelegates or add-ons). Independents can vote but Republicans can't. Are those on the right tempted to switch sides and take "Operation Chaos" to another state? Well, the GOP held a convention in February to decide on delegate allocation for its presidential candidates. Two thirds of the state's delegates were decided upon then and the rest will be at stake today. There is also a gubernatorial election in West Virginia this year, but only one Republican is vying for the opportunity to take on incumbent Democrat, Joe Manchin. With only congressional and local candidates on the ballot then, Republican identifiers in the state may be motivated to change registration and bump up Hillary Clinton's vote percentage in the Democratic contest. I haven't seen any reports of this, but you have to think it is a possibility with no serious action on the Republican ballot. The question is how widespread it would be. Not enough to swing the contest; Clinton already seems to have that in the bag. However, it could help her secure more delegates from the state. And in her position, where every single delegate counts, any extras would be beneficial.

Polls close at 7:30p.

West Virginia Preview: Clinton by 39 points, 105,000 votes (via fivethirtyeight.com)

Recent Posts:
Would McCain Have Won Under the Ohio Plan?

Tales from the Kennedy School Symposium on Presidential Primaries

The Delegate Race: Is Obama There Yet?


Mark Bullen said...

"And in her position, where every single delegate counts, any extras would be beneficial."

Grasping at straws much? It doesn't matter a lick how many votes Hillary gets from here on out. It's over mate.

Hillary will stay in the race only to try and recoup the 11 MILLION dollars she has donated to her own campaign.

It's all about donations now for Hillary. Votes? Utterly irrelevant.

Josh Putnam said...

If anyone is grasping at straws, I suppose it would have to be the Clinton campaign. I'm not, but as long as they publicly maintain the argument that they are fighting for the nomination, it is useful to examine the ways (extremely limited at this point) in which they can go about achieving that goal. Is it likely that she gets the Democratic nod? No, but there's still a chance and however small it is, a huge victory in West Virginia would have to be a part of the equation.

Robert said...

I agree that it is over and that Clinton needs an exit strategy. The number may not be the % difference as the actual difference in votes. If she can beat him by 200,000 as Terry McAuliffe indicates, she may be able to claim the popular vote total.


The big thing is negotiating a truce between Clinton and Obama.

Josh Putnam said...

Here's that link from Rob.