In a former life, I was a pollster …

Returning to my party of choice for the moment, the Democrat race for the ticket is beginning to shape up as a do-or-die situation. What does this mean? Well, I’ll let some poll data do the explaining first.

Cook/RT Strategies have Clinton with only a 13 point margin lead on Obama (36 : 23) winning the overall primaries. Gallup has the margin at 22 points (47 : 25). Taking in a few others I read, on the average Clinton has a 17 point lead on Obama, and near to double on Edwards (21 point lead for Clinton over him, 10 point lead for Obama). So, on holistic polls, Clinton has a comfortable lead.

However, we need to look at the early states in the race to gauge what possible momentum could arise. Let’s take Iowa; the first state in the process. If Clinton had a similar lead to the above polls there to, you would write off Obama as a distant second. However, Newsweek has Obama with a 4 point lead there, Strategic Vision (a ‘Republican’ poll) has Clinton with a 2 point lead ahead of Edwards, and LA Times/Bloomberg has Clinton ahead by 5 points, again ahead of Edwards. It’s a very tight race there, especially considering the difference between Obama and Edwards in all of the aforementioned polls that they trail Clinton is between 1 and 4 points.

For anyone who wins an early state, you have to consider the momentum that can be gained from that. If Obama were to win that, that would put him in a very good position to peg back those double-figure leads Clinton has on him. I would say Edwards is positioned too far behind for the momentum to do anything, but never say never. Of course, if he loses Iowa, he may as well just pull out then and there.

Nevada, the second early state, has Obama, on average, behind by 17 points. If he could make ground, and grind that figure down to something like that of 12 or less before voting starts, then there’s a distinct chance that he has picked up his second early state, and could more easily go onto South Carolina (the fourth step, and the next paragraph), getting more momentum and more of a swing than anticipated nation-wide.

In New Hampshire, the third in the process, Clinton has a 21 point lead on Obama by the averages, so taken now, she would win. And that is a hefty lead to peg back from winning Iowa or Nevada (or both). So, instead of focusing on, what is in all likelihood, a lost race, Obama may well head to South Carolina to pick up the votes there. There Obama trails by between 18 and 8 points to Clinton. Take the average of 12, and the Iowa momentum could propel him toward real close single figures early, and a lead towards the day.

And here’s where it all helps Obama the most. He trails Clinton, on average, by 24 points in both Florida and California. If he is able to peg back the 12 votes in South Carolina, the 17 points in Nevada, and come out with a strong vote count in both these states, and having won three states early on, there’s a very good chance he could move to within single figures in both of these voter-rich states.

Pennsylvania, a later state, has Obama behind by 17 points, on average, since July of this year (lower if you go further). Winning Florida or California would put him into a position where he could take this big state as well, and I believe he will move to 15 points or lower before the vote starts there anyway. He’s set up for a similar fight in Pennsylvania as with Nevada and South Carolina, but with the added benifits of time and momentum from the starts of the race.

In Michigan, Clinton has a 16 point lead on Obama, so it’s an identical race there. And a lot of votes. Need I bring it up again? Momentum?

So, at the end of the day, what are my ramblings meant to say? Well, two things really. One, that the holistic polls don’t reflect momentum that could propel an early winner to the lead. The next thing, that my man Obama, while there were some doubts about him last month (something that I should have blogged about), is still in a very good position to make a showing of himself. Oh, and don’t write off Edwards, though do get out the pens.

I’m in the mood for this sort of stuff at the moment, so expect a post about presidential head-to-heads in the next few days. I suppose it might be because a whole bunch of data was released over the past few days, and there was a lot through September.

Thomas.

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2 thoughts on “In a former life, I was a pollster …

  1. Pingback: Looking back at September « Deus Lo Vult

  2. Pingback: South Carolina - Democrat results « Deus Lo Vult

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