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Indiana & North Carolina

It’s Election Day (again), and the initial exits [1] point to some potential problems [2] for Obama as far as the makeup of the electorate is concerned: there is relatively low black and youth turnout in both states.  Other exits show [3] that Wright has had a significant influence on these primaries, and this has obviously worked to Clinton’s benefit.  A Clinton win in Carolina no longer seems so far-fetched.  I still doubt it will happen, but everything appears to be breaking her way. 

Rasmussen [4] has some Wright-related polling that has a finding that seemed counterintuitive to me: more people were less likely to vote for Obama after he denounced Wright than before, and this was concentrated most among Republicans (38% v. 15%) and white voters (32% less likely v. 20% more).  Overall, 24% were more likely, 27% less likely, but Obama’s disowning of Wright bizarrely seems to have hurt him most among those people to whom the disowning was supposed to appeal the most and it helped him most among black voters (43% more likely v. 12% less) who might have viewed the disowning more negatively.  In short, his damage control does not seem to have worked.  This makes me wonder what would have satisfied these white voters, or if there was anything Obama could have done then or earlier that would have made any difference.

Update: According to CNN’s North Carolina exit polling [5], Obama should end up with about 54% to her 46%.  Networks have called the state for Obama.  It appears as if the almost worst-case scenario for Democrats has developed, in which Clinton will eke out a narrow victory in one state, Obama wins one by a reduced margin, and it will be as if these elections never took place. 

Correction: Updated exit polls show a larger Obama win in North Carolina, more like 60-40.  However, with 34% reporting Clinton holds a sizeable 14-point lead in Indiana.

Second Update: So it seems as if Clinton’s lead will keep shrinking to a very narrow margin, while Obama’s keeps growing by leaps and bounds.  With 15% reporting, he’s up by 28 in N.C.  At this point, her Indiana win is going to appear so much less important than his win that it could bring things to a more rapid close.  Now the Democrats really have marched themselves off a cliff, and nothing that happens in the next month can change that.

In case I hadn’t made it explicit, the margin of Obama’s victory seems to make my statements earlier in the post look pretty stupid.

Third Update: Obama’s gaudy 20+ point margin has been shrinking into the mid-teens.  It’s beginning to look as if that Rasmussen 9-point margin might not be so far off.  Meanwhile, Clinton leads by just four.  The hilarious thing about the entire night is that Obama will come out of both primaries with a net gain of perhaps 7 pledged delegates.  They have got to fix their ludicrous system.

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9 Comments To "Indiana & North Carolina"

#1 Comment By M.Z. Forrest On May 6, 2008 @ 6:14 pm

I wouldn’t be surprised if tomorrow the argument starts implictly being made that Republican efforts to sabotage the Indiana primary are the only reason for Hillary’s win. There probably isn’t enough truth there to make the claim officially, but there is enough there that it provides cover for the super delegates who want this thing over.

#2 Comment By Grumpy Old Man On May 6, 2008 @ 6:19 pm

HIllary will win ugly in Indiana (68% of votes in and she’s up by 6%), and Obama will blow out NC, thus racking up more delegates and popular votes.

By beating the spread, Obama wins the night. And he was more honest about the gas tax holiday than Hillary or McCain.

She may not quit yet, but she’s toast–supposedly lent her campagin more money.

#3 Comment By M.Z. Forrest On May 6, 2008 @ 7:29 pm

Boy did I call that one:
[6]

#4 Comment By Grumpy Old Man On May 6, 2008 @ 9:13 pm

They might just find enough absentee ballots in the back of a closet for BHO to eke out a victory.

Imagine that.

#5 Comment By LMaggitti On May 6, 2008 @ 9:24 pm

Off a cliff? I know you have expressed some skepticism about Obama’s electability, but you’ve acknowledged, correctly, that Hillary has her electability problems as well. Factor in the advantage of ending this now rather than 3 months from now … well, even with your doubts, I think that this result is hardly bad news, let alone a disaster, for the Dems.

#6 Comment By Daniel Larison On May 6, 2008 @ 9:32 pm

It’s no more nor less of a disaster than it was three months ago after he had won Wisconsin. I assumed that they had gone over a cliff back then, and I still think that’s true. It probably is better that the nomination contest ends now rather than later, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t still a big problem.

#7 Comment By LMaggitti On May 6, 2008 @ 10:07 pm

But do you really think that Hillary would have had a better chance in the general? Really? It just seems to me that she has electoral weaknesses as serious as Obama’s without his compensating electoral advantages.

#8 Comment By Daniel Larison On May 6, 2008 @ 10:30 pm

Maybe. The more I look at both of them, the less clear it is that either of them is really competitive. However, Clinton doesn’t get blown out in Kentucky and West Virginia, among other places, and he does. Maybe that doesn’t matter, but I think she may be relatively more competitive.

#9 Comment By kitstolz On May 7, 2008 @ 7:29 am

Neither Obama nor Clinton is competitive? Daniel, it’s time to take off the blinders. You’re willfully ignoring two major developments, one that took place over the last week, and one that has been building over the past two years.

This past week Obama had the nerve to take a stand against a popular-but-stupid idea, the gas tax “holiday,” proving his point about telling the truth against two would-be Panderers-in-Chief. Voters who believe in character won’t forget that.

Second, this is a Democratic year likely to swamp the GOP. Newt lays out the argument succinctly in a recent column:

“The Republican brand has been so badly damaged that if Republicans try to run an anti-Obama, anti- Reverend Wright, or (if Senator Clinton wins), anti-Clinton campaign, they are simply going to fail.

This model has already been tested with disastrous results.

In 2006, there were six incumbent Republican Senators who had plenty of money, the advantage of incumbency, and traditionally successful consultants.

But the voters in all six states had adopted a simple position: “Not you.” No matter what the G.O.P. Senators attacked their opponents with, the voters shrugged off the attacks and returned to, “Not you.”

The danger for House and Senate Republicans in 2008 is that the voters will say, “Not the Republicans.””