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Strange Days

Maybe those overwrought Kentucky Derby analogies were premature.  According to Rasmussen, Clinton leads in Kentucky [1] 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 [2] is also included, that seem to be obtainable by Clinton and are much harder for Obama to get. 

The remarkable thing about the Kentucky numbers is the age of the people that do support Obama most often: it is not young voters, but voters 50-64 and 65+ who are more likely to back Obama than their children and grandchildren.  Just 27% of 18-29 year-olds back Obama, while 68% back McCain, and the same is basically true of 30-39 year olds (60-29).  Obama’s support peaks among 50-64 year olds at 36%.  Clinton runs 15 points ahead of Obama in his supposedly core demographic of 18-29 year olds, and she wins every other age group.  She wins a higher percentage of Republicans than he does, and she wins over a higher percentage of Republicans than she loses from the Democrats.  Oh, and she runs even with McCain among independents, while he loses them by 28, but why worry? 

P.S. Looking at the Kentucky crosstabs more closely, I see that the least surprising and most significant shift of votes comes among Democrats and women: 48% of Democrats support him, 78% support her; 57% of women back Clinton, 34% back Obama.  Clinton gains 15 points more than Obama among men as well, but the biggest changes are found in these two groups.  About one-third of the Democrats who would support Clinton but won’t back Obama seem to be ripe for the taking by a third party candidate, because they won’t support McCain, either.  In an Obama v. McCain race, 13% of Democrats opt for a third candidate compared to just 2% of Republicans and independents.  Possibly the best scenario for Barr and Nader is to have an Obama v. McCain race that drives disaffected Democrats away from both candidates.

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5 Comments To "Strange Days"

#1 Comment By General Mobius On May 26, 2008 @ 6:46 pm

Take a look at this:

[3]

#2 Comment By Daniel Larison On May 26, 2008 @ 6:54 pm

Sure, that’s been the pattern. People in both parties traditionally tend to rally to the nominees in the fall. I do find it intriguing that whenever past patterns vindicate Obama’s chances, past patterns are relevant and are considered likely to be repeated, but when they point towards the opposite someone is always there to remind us how atypical and strange this election cycle is. In any case, it seems clear that this claim that Democrats will rally back to Obama does not undermine the larger point that he appears to be the weaker general election candidate relative to Clinton. He has more rallying of his own partisans to do, which takes time he should be using for winning votes outside his party.

#3 Comment By General Mobius On May 26, 2008 @ 7:33 pm

Yeah, I don’t buy that. He has been taking broadsides both from McCain and Clinton for months now, while Clinton has largely been left alone to do whatever she wants. In an environment where Obama is being painted by Clinton as an enemy of the working class and is largely not fighting back because he’s trying to take aim at McCain, I don’t think there’s anything weird about the fact that she appears stronger right now. But if she were the nominee, every Vince Foster/Whitewater/whatever story would bubble right back up and torpedo her just as effectively as she is torpedoing Obama right now. She’s appears to be a stronger general election candidate right now largely because she’s incapable of becoming one.

The problem with trying to read these pattern tea leaves is precisely that it’s hard to figure out which ones matter and which ones don’t. Will Obama rally his troops or does his race matter in a way that destabilizes that? Do Democrats need to win West Virginia or is it okay to abandon people who are avowedly racist and twice voted for George Bush because he’s so good at playing a rube on TV?

Obviously I’m an Obama fan and am inclined to read the tea leaves in his favor, but I honestly believe John McCain is such a disastrously bad candidate that there’s no reason to get so worried. If Obama doesn’t clear 300 electoral votes in November, I will be extremely surprised.

#4 Comment By General Mobius On May 26, 2008 @ 7:40 pm

It may be worth noting that Intrade still has Obama at about 58% to win. McCain’s at 37% and Clinton’s at 6%. That may or may not mean anything at all, but current polling also may or may not mean anything. There are a lot of data points here.

#5 Comment By davegnyc On May 27, 2008 @ 3:31 am

If Obama doesn’t clear 300 electoral votes in November, I will be extremely surprised.

I agree. It will not be close.