Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Pennsylvania Poll-ka

I took the early train from New York Penn Station to my mother's local Exton Station in Chester County, PA today. Over the years, I've spent a fair share of time down here working and visiting and I know the vibe fairly well. Likewise, I spent a year living in Center City, Philadelphia in the late-90s and keep my legal US residence in Pennsylvania while I live in Japan. My heart belongs to New York, but my vote resides in the purple state of Pennsylvania.

When I arrived at the polling station around lunchtime, it was very quiet. As I cast my ballot, only 2 other people were present among the machines and the dozen or so volunteers. I filled in all the little black circles and tallied a vote for Barack Obama. All afternoon and evening I've been tuned in to the election coverage hoping for a 5 point loss for Obama, knowing that it would mean a practical defeat for Hillary Clinton. However, back on April 10th I wrote the following here at Communicative Action:

"My impression of the polling in Pennsylvania leaves me cold about Obama's chance to win PA, let alone close to within 5 points. It's sexy for the networks and for Obama supporters to imagine Obama winning the state or coming within 2-3 points of Clinton, but it ignores the fact that her baseline support has changed very little in his overwhelming spending. She has been sitting at around 50% for virtually the duration of the campaign in PA, and while Obama has stolen a couple of point from her, and vacuumed up most of the undecideds, her 50% has held firm. My guess: Clinton 55% Obama 45%"

With around 95% of precincts reporting, the tally now stands at Clinton 55% and Obama 45%. There are times when you are right and you really feel bad about it. This is a very bad defeat for Barack Obama. In fact, I actually think it's made worse by the excellent speech that Hillary Clinton made in celebrating her victory. By my estimation, it was her best, most inspiring speech of the campaign and the kind of speech that may have locked up the nomination in February had she gone inspirational rather than safe/shrill. Obama was fair in his Indiana speech tonight, but I thought it was flat by comparison. It was sort of a hollow rally in light of the defeat and in fact it seemed a bit like he's phoned it in half-heartedly.

The interesting swing in perception for Clinton probably rescues her campaign from true bankruptcy and allows her to at least hang on for May 6th. It holds the superdelegates frozen in place for at least another 2 weeks. In the end, she can't come close to evening the pledged delegate count, and has a huge uphill battle to close the popular vote. For whatever money boom she gets from the PA victory, it will still pale in comparison to the Obama take and she still has a huge debt to pay off. The numbers advantages, the money advantage, and the time advantage are all on his side. This bad night for Obama will wash away with a big victory in North Carolina and will cripple her with a win in Indiana. If she tries to compete beyond Indiana, there will be bigger money issues and less delegates and votes to catch up. By most metrics the Clinton campaign is a "dead man walking." For at least one night, and maybe 2 weeks, she is the hot political property again.


mike's spot said...

you called it mike- what is the actual delegate count from the states right now, and what do they need for the victory again?

Mike Plugh said...

They need 2025, but neither of them can get it. I think, including supers, Obama has a 130-140 delegate lead (check the sidebar of the blog for the accurate #). She can't catch him since he's almost certainly going to win NC, MT, SD, OR, Guam, and maybe Indiana. She'll win WV, KY, and PR.

Even if you factor in FL and MI as they are, she still can't win and she still can't win popular vote. She's almost broke. The big hoopla about PA is over and we're on to Guam, NC, and IN. He'll erase her gains, flip the script on the media again and if he pulls off IN, she's through.

mike's spot said...

Did I ever tell you how much non-state voting annoys me? I understand they are commonwealths- but ya know what PR? you said you didn't wanna be a state. Eat it and don't vote.

Mike Plugh said...

I have mixed feelings about non-state voting. They pay taxes so they should have the right to representation in the political process. No Taxation Without Representation, right?

They also fight in our military, so they help to defend the nation and wage our wars.

They should get something, but I'm not exactly clear what. It doesn't seem right that Puerto Rico gets 55 delegates to the Democratic Convention and Kentucky gets 51, for example. Huh?

mike's spot said...

I agree no taxation without representation- but by no means should they ever out weight any state. who ever has the least delegates the commonwealths get 1 less than that.

why? cause your not a state. Don't like it? take your ball and go home or join up.

yankz said...

Don't worry man, she can't win. Not without guaranteeing that black people and the new/young voters brought into the fold sit out politics for a generation, guaranteeing a November loss. Superdelegates aren't that dumb.

I'm more worried about pressure increasing on Obama to take her as VP.

Peter Chu 朱澤人 said...

What will happen if nothing can stop Clinton from keeping her campaign alive? Is this primary contest going to lead to a divided Democratic Party in November?

Mike Plugh said...

She can't win. She can't keep up with Obama in finances and will probably be broke again after May 6th. If Obama wins Indiana it might force her to quit. It's my guess that she'll be forced out of the race if Obama wins Indiana, even if she wants to continue, because the superdelegates are waiting for him to finish her off. A win in Indiana does that.