The democratic party is polling tomorrow in Pennsylvania. The conventional wisdom says that there is a number of percentage points reflecting Clinton’s expected win above which this would truly count as a win for her, and below which it could be perceived as a victory for Obama. If Obama “wins” in this election, things could change quickly with Clinton being seen as heading for the door. However, a win is a win, and even a small margin for Clinton may be seen by the Clinton campaign as, well, what it would be, to be fair: Winning Pennsylvania. Were Obama to actually, numerically, win the primary, that would be a huge victory for him.

Well, I’ve analyzed the data and I have a prediction or two to make.

Most of my polling data comes from RealClearPolitics.com, which in turn assembles data from other sources.

Certain polls they report I’m ignoring because they are outliers and otherwise look funny. Two polls look funny but I won’t ingore: There is a Democratic party biased poll and a Republican party biased poll. The Dem-symp poll predicts a Clinton victory of negative 3 (i.e., Obama wins) and the Rep-symp poll predicts a Clinton victory of 7. So, these polls predict, on average, a Clinton victory of 2%

A 2% victory by Clinton would be a blow to her campaign (but still a win, technically).

The other polls that I accept as valid average out to a Clinton win of 5.5%.

So, we have two hypotheses, two numbers well within each other’s margin of error, and thus not scientifically testable. But the polling is tomorrow, so we have no time for science! We must go with some dead reckoning on this one.

Now, here’s the deal. There are about 8,250,000 people expected to vote in this primary tomorrow. There are undecided between 7 and 8 percent, and a few more percent of people who are “maybe going to switch.” So the slop factor is actually fairly large.

There are also approximately 350,000 young people with cell phones (which confounds polsters) who are likely to break towards Obama.

So, I”m going to present two models, one moderately favoring a shift towards Obama, and the other strongly favoring a shift towards Obama.

In the first model, the undecided voters split evenly, pro-rated, across the candidates, and the cell phone kids split 60-40 in favor of Obama. In the second model, the undecides split at 60-40, and the cell phone kids flock to Obama. What the heck, let’s make it 100%.

In the Moderate-Mo model, Clinton gets 52.7 percent to Obama’s 47.3 percent, and thus a split of slightly under 5.5%, no big change.

In the Major-Mo model, Clinton gets 51.9 precent to Obama’s 48.1, and thus a spread of 3.75%.

So, I predict that the outcome will be between these two numbers.

A bigger question is this: Does this range include the magic “Clinton Looses/Wins” number, or is that number above or below that range? (Since we are apparently not talking about Zero any more as the key threshold.)

My answer to this is: No.

There is not a magic number above which a Clinton victory is a real win, and below which it is not. There are two. Above X, she kicked ass, below Y, she bombed, such that X is greater than Y by art least a few percentage points. Indeed, I think X is around 6 and Y is around 3, bracketing the outcome I predict.

In other words, it’s ain’t over, and I don’t see no fat lady a commin’, neither. (That was for all you hicks that James Carville says live in Pennsylvania.)

Comments

  1. #1 Kevin W. Parker
    April 21, 2008

    I think that the real point is that Clinton needs a huge win in Pennsylvania in order to have any chance of cutting into Obama’s lead in pledged delegates and/or the popular vote. That seems exceedingly unlikely at this point, which means her odds of earning the nomination are slim to nil.

  2. #2 Bob
    April 22, 2008

    And to follow on to Kevin’s post, unless Clinton wins huge (65% of the vote – not likely unless Obama is caught in bed with both a live boy and a dead girl in the next 18 hours or so), Hillary is just buying McCain time and burning Democratic goodwill, time, and cash. Simply to stroke her ego.

    Don’t believe me? Plug your own numbers into Slate’s delegate counter and see Hillary’s chances yourself. Shuffle the deck chairs on Hillary’s Titanic (Campaign) all you like, that ship is not making it back to port.

    It’s disgusting, but par for the course for the regressive, Beltway business-as-usual McCain/Lieberman/Hillary set.

    Confession: I was more enthusiastic about Edwards than the rest of the candidates, but the media effectively ignored him out of the race. Obama struck me as a cipher (what precisely has he done?) and Hillary had a record of sticking close to Lieberman and voting for cretinous crap like censoring violent videogames (didn’t that crap go out of style with Tipper Gore and parachute pants?), plus her acting like an elected or appointed or confirmed member of government back in ’92 (I make no comments about her ability, just the role of First Lady. Eleanor Roosevelt she is not.) At least Obama can write and deliver a decent speech and get the electorate off it’s sedentary ass. That more than anything is what has pulled (not driven) me further into the Obama camp – his ability to engage and excite the voters in a way that Democrats have not been able to for decades.

    Regardless, in my mind I vowed to support the nominee most likely to defeat the Republican candidate, be it Hillary, Obama, or whoever. That position has taken a real beating as Hillary has stretched out her losing campaign beyond any point that she could reasonably expect to win. If she’s vying to be Obama’s running mate, she’s using a novel strategy I can’t comprehend – it looks all the world like a petulant temper-tantrum.

    It’s really sad because I would have voted for her if it came to that; her behavior of late has made me so glad that I won’t have to. I guess that’s what happens when you hang around with Joe Lieberman too much. Or at all.

  3. #3 Greg Laden
    April 22, 2008

    I completely agree with both of you, but the other factor is what will it take to get Hillary to go away?

  4. #4 csrster
    April 22, 2008

    From my transatlantic perspective, I _suspect_ that Obama will be inside-the-beltway business-as-usual. I’m _certain_ that Clinton will be business-as-usual.

    Commentator on TV last night: “Hillary will drop out when she drops dead”.

  5. #5 Bob
    April 22, 2008

    I’m not sure running out of money will stop her. She’s already in the red and I doubt she’ll get much grassroots support after being so negative and so far behind.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if Howard Dean isn’t quietly reiterating to the superdelegates how seriously it would hurt the party’s chances in November if they voted against the will of the electorate. Hillary has already called on donors to threaten to withhold cash from the DNC unless the (properly voided) Michigan and Florida delegations are seated or do-over primaries are held, so she’s not making friends with Dean and the DNC.

    I’m afraid it will come down to the convention, Hillary’s crew will do their best to game the process, and a lot of strong-arming will happen behind closed doors. With any luck we’ll see her teary concession speech and Obama will get a different, better running mate. I can’t see her getting cut into the action after being such a royal pain in the ass. Her way or the highway, so the highway it shall be.

    I see her behavior as another reason she should not be at the helm. One needs to know when one can’t win and look for a graceful exit strategy that salvages as much as it can. Compare her behavior in the primaries to the neocons’ adventurism in Iraq. There isn’t even a moral victory in persisting to the end, just a selfish willingness to destroy everything in a failed, delusional quest to avoid losing.

    As to Obama being a business-as-usual president: I’m not so naive as to expect him to be immune to DC culture, but I’m not so cynical to see him as identical to McCain or my favorite turncoat opportunist. Joe Lieberman. With Obama, there’s a glimmer more of a chance he won’t suck so bad. He’s already way ahead of our current “president” in terms of pronunciation, diction, composition, comprehension and literacy, not to mention tact, sensitivity, and dignity (you know, all those qualities once expected of statesmen.) He’s not as obvious an authoritarian as Hillary. And thankfully, he’s not furiously batshit crazy as McCain.

    Also, please pardon me if anyone’s offended by my characterizing Obama as “articulate”; Koko the gorilla is an orator on par with Col. Robert Ingersoll compared to Bush.

  6. #6 sailor
    April 22, 2008

    Well we will get either a woman or a (somewhat) black man as candidate. Hopefully the latter. That one of them has a very good chance of becoming president is the upside of the Bush presidency. Without him I doubt this could have happened.

  7. #7 Greg Laden
    April 22, 2008

    I kind of think that the business as usual concept is on one hand overplayed and on the other hand a necessary evil. For the latter, there are ways in which the system is bigger and more intractable than any person or party. For the former, I think there have been huge differences between the ways in which presidents have operated (where that is possible), so if “as usual” means “as per average” that would be wrong.

    I’m not saying that I have any particular expectations, though….

    Yes, this could go to the convention! Even though I originally supported Clinton, I would really like to see Obama win by a few percent causing an upset and ending it.

    On the other hand, a part of me would like to see this go to the convention simply because people would then have to stop saying “The conventions are just a show”.

  8. #8 Eliza
    April 22, 2008

    As a “kid with cell phone” I have to say that having spoken with some of my fellow kids with cell phones around town during my hour and a half commute across Pittsburgh (a fairly hickish city, quite honestly), I haven’t met a single one who’s remotely interested in Clinton. As one of my bus buddies –a youngster of about 24– said, “I keep forgetting about Hillary until SNL or the Daily Show reminds me. Is she still around?” I haven’t really talked to the “kids listening to ipods” group though, but Hillary seems more like a PC sorta person than a Mac, to me. ;)

  9. #9 negentropyeater
    April 22, 2008

    I just hope that the result will help kill the wingnut’s main talking point of the day, that Obama is “elitist”.
    This bittergate thing, completely spinned out of proportion by the usual noise making machines, has given them this new attack, that he is “elitist” (wooooo the bad word).

    If the results of this election are such that Obama wins or that Hillary wins with a small difference, that will kill this new favourite of theirs. If Hillary wins with a big difference, rest assured that they’ll claim that it’s because Obama is now seen as “elitist”.
    That is, in my view, the main important aspect of this primary.

  10. #10 Kurt
    April 22, 2008

    In relative terms Clinton has already lost in Pennsylvania. After Super Tuesday her poll numbers in PA were 15-19 points ahead of Obama. Now, approximately six weeks later, a ten point decline in that lead is being considered a “victory”.

    I wasn’t a great fan of either candidate, but the behavior by the Clinton camp has done nothing to make me think that they would really make much of a change in Washington. Same general policies, just different names on the office doors. Like the earlier poster said, Obama might prove out the same, but he’s the only one offering a glimmer of a chance at generating a sea change towards the better.

  11. #11 the real cmf
    April 22, 2008

    I’m with Eliza up there, and all across the nation it will take those “young people with cell phones (which confounds polsters) who are likely to break towards Obama.” to get Hillary out of there.

    One thing pollsters and pundits haven’t figured out or commented on is the fact that these cellphone kids watched their fathers uncles and other male figures in their lives struggle in places like PA aginst lies, and less than truthful characterizations of men, and ‘whitemen’ that so-called feminists used to ruin families, and gain political power.Hillary is the face of faux feminism–fauxminism.

    It isn’t ‘backlash’ so much as it is the effects of buttrash from all the so-called feminist pandering.

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