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Strange Days

If the latest SUSA poll from North Carolina [1] is to be believed, Clinton has an outside chance of winning there, leading McCain by six, while Obama trails by eight.  Along with Missouri [2], in addition to the rest of the “Casey belt,” this would be yet another state where Clinton appears to be more competitive.  Her North Carolina advantage seems to come almost primarily from white women Democratic voters.  While Obama hemorrhages 28% of Democrats, she cuts down that crossover to just 17%, and she improves among women by 10 points over Obama; she also wins independents, while Obama loses them by 9.  This suggests that North Carolina can be had, but not necessarily by Obama, which is a bit ironic considering that it has been the Obama campaign that has talked the most about being more competitive in the South.

This ties in to the Electoral College math [3] discussion [4] that has been [5] going on [6].  Rasmussen shows Obama running much better in Colorado [7], to be sure, but in the trade-off between the states he can win and those he is likely to lose he ends up with far fewer electoral votes.  Interestingly, North Dakota and Nebraska seem to be more competitive than I had thought, but if the rationale for an Obama nomination becomes, “He might flip Virginia, North Dakota and Nebraska!” it doesn’t seem very compelling because it still seems so far-fetched. 

What is really remarkable about all of this is how closely contested the presidential race seems to be despite the immense structural advantages that the Democrats undoubtedly have.  Then again, the first post-Watergate presidential election [8] was extremely close and the badly damaged incumbent party’s candidate made up an enormous deficit over the summer and fall and almost pulled off a comeback.  Arguably, the GOP’s reputation was not as badly damaged in 1976 as it is today, and the close result in 1976 might owe a lot to having an incumbent President on the ticket, but ’76 is a good example of a Democratic victory that almost wasn’t.  For the longest time I assumed that structural advantages, the war and anti-incumbency would doom the GOP nominee, and I pushed that view for months in 2007.  It made sense, and it still makes a certain amount of sense, but the public is not cooperating with this scenario when it comes to the presidential race.  Given how close the race is in this extraordinarily pro-Democratic year, you have to wonder how much worse Clinton and Obama would be polling in a more normal presidential election.

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10 Comments To "Strange Days"

#1 Comment By John On May 21, 2008 @ 11:39 am

One delicious bit of poetry in all this chaos that just as the “undemocratic” aspects of the Democrats’ primary – the caucuses, the underreliance on the popular vote, and so on – were part of what enabled Obama to grab the nomination, it could be the Electoral College that ends up bringing him down.

#2 Comment By John On May 21, 2008 @ 11:40 am

*There should be an “is” before that first “that”.

#3 Comment By Benny One Six On May 21, 2008 @ 12:40 pm

Given how close the race is in this extraordinarily pro-Democratic year, you have to wonder how much worse Clinton and Obama would be polling in a more normal presidential election.

That’s the lede right there!

My take is that the disatisfaction is over gas prices (there is a strong strong correlation btwn the price of gas and presidential approval… where was gas when Bill Clinton was in trouble? Low low low) and that the country is generally satisfied with Bush’s domestic/foreign policy and want a continuation and see McCain as most likely to deliver that….

#4 Comment By Adam01 On May 21, 2008 @ 12:54 pm

“My take is that the disatisfaction is over gas prices.”

Bush’s approval ratings dropped to under 50% in early/mid 2005, IIRC, when gas prices were substantially lower. Katrina, Foley, Abramhoff, Iraq, etc. It’s probably misleading to grab one issue and say “that’s the reason” when there is a whole galaxy of issues/concerns people are upset about.

#5 Comment By Adam01 On May 21, 2008 @ 12:59 pm

On a completely unrelated note, These “Peak Oil Alarmists” obviously didn’t get the memo that there is 100 more years of cheap oil to be had:

[9]

#6 Comment By conradg On May 21, 2008 @ 4:30 pm

I have always assumed that the Dem advantages this year are overrated, that people end up returning to their basic political orientation, and that a Dem win of no more than 4-5 pts is about the most that can be rationally expected. Anything can happen, of course, but I think this is the rational mean.

#7 Comment By markroge On May 21, 2008 @ 5:06 pm

People are satisfied with Bush’s domestic/foreign policy, Benny by One? What planet are you on? His approval is 30%. Gas prices are not the only reason for that. Iraq continues to be unpopular despite some recent declines in violence.

#8 Comment By General Mobius On May 22, 2008 @ 6:04 am

I keep coming back to the same point: Clinton and Obama have been battering away at each other for at least three months, while nary a soul pays a bit of attention to what McCain is doing. As soon as they’re actually a general election campaign going on and Democrats start pointing out that, contrary to popular belief, John McCain is a liar and a maniac, this thing will realign.

Also, that North Carolina poll floored me. I have no real analytical thoughts about it. Just whoa.

#9 Comment By General Mobius On May 22, 2008 @ 6:05 am

“they’re” = “there’s”

Oy.

#10 Pingback By Eunomia » Strange Days On May 26, 2008 @ 10:12 am

[…] Maybe those overwrought Kentucky Derby analogies were premature.  According to Rasmussen, Clinton leads in Kentucky by nine (51-42), Obama trails by 25.  (His unfavs are at 61%)  Together with West Virginia, Missouri and Arkansas, this would be yet another state that Clinton seems capable of winning that Obama would lose and lose badly.  That makes for a fair number of electoral votes (45), if North Carolina is also included, that seem to be obtainable by Clinton and are much harder for Obama to get.  […]