Super Tuesday X – The summary, and the next steps

So this will probably be my last post about Super Tuesday. It will would be desperate to blog about it further. But considering I spent most of last night thinking about how the whole day played out, and how it’s going to impact things down the line, for Obama, I thought all that brain power could be put to use in a post.

So here we are, days after the votes were cast. Who is the winner? Who is the loser? Given the shape of the race, who the candidates are, and what the results were, Barack Obama was the winner. Slightly, but he was still the winner. Remember that Hillary Clinton was the presumptive nominee through all of 2007, and then again after she won New Hampshire and nearly won Nevada. Also remember than Hillary is a Clinton, and the political and people weight that that name carries. Keeping all this in mind, for Obama to win the majority of states and lose (in the total vote) by only 0.4%, I’d say Obama did a damn good job of keeping the race close and tight. He won more states, he won some by huge margins, and he pulled off upsets. That’s only possible if you’re a real contender, and not a hanger-on.

Didn’t you hear? The difference between votes was 0.4%:

By midday Wednesday, 14,645,638 votes were reported cast for either Obama or Clinton on Tuesday. Clinton had won 7,350,238 of those votes (50.2 percent) while Obama captured 7,295,400 votes (49.8 percent).

That, my friends, is a very tight race for someone who was supposed to have the nomination stitched up by midday Wednesday. Don’t believe anything that’s being said to the contrary – the Clinton campaign was expecting to have the nomination the bag bag by today. Or, when things started looking tight, at least have Clinton as the obvious frontrunner. By the close of the day though, all she had done was do the minimum that she had to do. She kept her home states and won California. But New York and California weren’t as big wins as the campaign had expected just a few weeks ago. Had she not delivered on these, then she would have taken a step into 2nd place, become the underdog, and would have handed the nomination over to Obama then and there.

Why would Obama have been the clear nominee had Clinton lost, say, New Jersey or California? Because the news cycles would have been covered with Obama’s face, and then all the stories would have been about ‘giant killer’ Obama. The media would have tossed Clinton aside and written her off. Obama would have obtained so much momentum that there would be no stopping him. Now though, what we have is a tight race that is going to go on for months – and that’s what the media is saying now too. Of course, the Obama campaign has known that if he was to stand any chance, he would have to run a very tight Super Tuesday, split the delegates, then continue through the rest of the schedule that really favours him. The schedule favours him because all of Clinton’s fortresses are out of the way. Where is the next state that you can say “Clinton will walk that in”? Now where. New York, New Jersey, California, Arizona, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Arkansas. They were all Clinton locks and supposed to be the ammo she used to throw at Obama and put him out of the race.He’s weathered them all and survived quite well. She couldn’t even get the upper hand with them. So now what does she have? Nothing in the immediate schedule.

The schedule, through February, is as follows:

  • 9th – Louisana primary, Nebraska caucus, Washington caucus;
  • 10th – Maine caucus;
  • 12th – Virginia primary, Washington, D.C. primary, Maryland primary;
  • 19th – Hawaii caucus, Wisconsin primary

There’s a very good chance that Obama can win all of those. That’s not based on polling data, it’s based on looks at the state. Louisiana has a huge ‘black’ vote voter block which really favors (75% or higher) Obama, while having and a very small ‘Latino’ vote, which will hurt Clinton’s chances. Nebraska, Washington, and Maine are all caucuses. Obama has done extremely well in caucuses (won the Iowa caucus, won all six on Super Tuesday). D.C. too has a huge ‘black’ vote, while also having a comparatively small ‘Latino’ vote. And again, Maryland also has a big ‘black’ vote. Hawaii, another caucus, is Obama’s birth state. Maybe there will be something there for him along that line of approach? Virginia’s primary will have a lot of voters that have regularly come out in support of Obama – educated, higher income voters. Wisconsin is, really, the only state in the process that could go to either candidate, looking at its demographics.

The Clinton campaign hasn’t even taken a serious look at these states though. While Obama is well organised in all of these states, Clinton’s website doesn’t even have a page devoted to the next states. The campaign has completely ignored them, absolutely reinforcing the fact that they thought they would have the nomination sewn up by then. And it’s when this inevitability is removed that Clinton will really begin to suffer. She polls so high on name recognition. If people recognise her name, but are hearing that not only is she not a lock to win the nomination, but her opponent who you haven’t heard of is beating her, then you’re not likely to turn out for her. Maybe you won’t turn out at all, maybe you will go vote for the other guy. But it’s when Clinton is no longer seen as the presumptive nominee that it starts to hurt her, and hurt her bad.

And with all of those states favouring Obama, can you imagine the momentum he would gain posting victory after victory through an entire month, without letting your opponent eve get a shoe in? The momentum will work two ways as well. It helps the chances in the states, sure, but it also sures up superdelegates who want to get onto the ‘winner’. If tere’s a nominee who is going strength to strength and looks unstoppable, then the superdelegates are going to get behind him. Momentum gets superdelegates, and with a lot of superdelegates out, momentum is coveted. A couple of big wins in the February states too, and the delegate count begins to look overwhelming as well. The Clinton campaign has seen this on the horizon for some time, and done nothing about it. Why? Because they expected to have the nomination by now. But now that they haven’t, well, I expect there is a bit of panic around town.

Creating more panic for the campaign I expect is the latest issues surrounded money. Through January, Clinton raised something around $13 million. That’s a good effort in any normal primary race through the first month of voting. But Obama managed to raise a whopping $32 million! Obama’s grassroots are really thriving, while Clinton’s attempts at raising money are faltering. And money is going to be a big issue moving forward.

Let me explain some contribution rules. A donor can only contribute only $2300 to a campaign. Clinton managed to get many $2300 donors early on. But they are instantly maxed out, so they can’t donate again. Obama, either knowing that his supporters wouldn’t be able to give in $2300 hits, or knowing that going about raising money that way was stupid, actually focused on equaling Clinton’s donation by getting 23 $100 donors. Now, come the crunch, Obama’s donors can still donate. They can all donate another $100 for February. Then again in March. They can continue to donate through to the very end. The Obama campaign has said that only 2-3% of their donors have maxed out the $2300 limit. And one third of donors who gave $200+ (the sorts of people that would continue to give significant amounts) have maxed out. Apparently 10,000 people gave amounts of $5-$10, and 90% of his money came from donations of less than $100. They raised $28 million through internet donation in January – more than Howard Dean managed through his entire 2004 campaign. Over 70% of Clinton’s donors are maxed out. That’s how Obama’s going to win the money wars, and Clinton will lose. She has tapped all her big donors, has no small donors. Obama has many small donors who can continue to fund him. Genius.

What wasn’t genius was to get a heap of money fast, and then not be prepared for what happens after Super Tuesday. Again, this supports the fact that Clinton thought they would have the nomination by the end of Super Tuesday.

With that news coming out in January – that Obama’s campaign was raising record amounts – Clinton had to ‘donate’ $5 million of her own money to her campaign. Last month, in that $13 million, was $5 million of her own money.The Clintons are rich, but they aren’t Mitt Romney rich (who has put in something like $35 million dollars of his own money to his campaign), and at some point they have to stop handing over their own money.

On an ironic note though, the Obama campaign announced that they raised $2.2 million in less than 24 hours! They nearly raised half as much as Clinton had to contributed herself in 24 hours.

Why does money matter? In the ‘big’ states to come (like Texas, Pennsylvania, and Ohio) advertising is very expensive. They both need to get it out there too. Obama will be able to, simply, advertise more. These big states aren’t for a while away, and if she saves her money for them, then she will lose all these ‘middle-to-small’ states in February. And if she does, it won’t matter how much money she has.

Estimates now say she will be ok, at current spending levels, through to early March. But if she doesn’t pick up big bucks soon, she will be broke by then. And everyone is expecting the race to go through April, May, and June. That’s a lot of thin butter. Similarly, there are reports out saying that staffers are now working without pay. The last campaign to try that was Rudy Giuliani’s, and what happened to that? Died, and was ruled a failed campaign. It’s not like the Clinton campaign is about to die tomorrow, but it’s not looking good when your staff is working without pay. It suggests problem.

The Obama campaign, The Clinton campaign, and every pundit knows that the more time Obama spends in a state, the better he goes. It shows in the votes. He won Iowa – a state he spent a lot of time in. Then the gap between Nevada and South Carolina allowed him to spend a heap of time in S.C. and he walked it in there. The same goes for some of these Super Tuesday states. That’s the next factor that comes out of Super Tuesday – there’s no big clusters that doesn’t allow for extended face time. On the 9th, there’s 3 states. Then 1 state, then three states, then two states. With the demographics on his side, face time can be reduced in some areas, extended in others. After the 19th of February, there isn’t one the 4th of March – and that’s the ‘big’ Ohio. He has weeks to show himself to the people of Ohio. And everyone acknowledges that time helps Obama, and hurts Clinton. Then, after March 11, there isn’t another primary until April 22! A huge gap. The schedule is on Obama’s side.

To wrap this up: I said a while ago that Obama just needed to see Super Tuesday out and not let Clinton have established a lead of any serious kind. He did that. That means Super Tuesday is his win. Splitting the delegates was a win, and split them he did. That was the step of Super Tuesday for him. The first step after it is to go very well through the February primaries and caucuses. It’s favourable to him, and the demographics are leaning towards him. The polls will start to come out, the media will get on, and the news cycles will start to propel him further. Can Clinton handle what will become Obamuary? Can she stay in it with money, with states, with votes, and with delegates? Or will her loss at Super Tuesday be the first step towards her dropping off, and eventually dropping out? February will be the biggest month of the primary year I suspect, and not just because of Super Tuesday. It stands as the month that Obama can establish himself as the frontrunner and the Democratic nominee. He just has to play it all right, and work hard at it.

Thomas.

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5 thoughts on “Super Tuesday X – The summary, and the next steps

  1. Thomas, I thought that Clinton did better than the most recent forecasts.

    She maintains her majority position among women, did well with hispanics, scored remarkably well with Asians. Have I missed something?

  2. That’s one way of looking at it. And there’s no way I can say you’re right or wrong until the Convention. But this is my way of viewing the results:

    Clinton did well with Hispanics in *some* areas. New Mexico, a *very* Hispanic state (60% white, 29% Hispanic), was a split vote (difference of 1,100 votes). If Clinton was the Hispanic candidate of choice, the results would have been much more favourable to Clinton I would have though.

    With women in New Mexico, Obama split them too (47% a piece), while winning the men (with 53%). He won all age groups, other than the 60+. He won the not-so religious (and considering that the *very* religious vote Republican, that’s quite a few).

    That’s just New Mexico. But in a Democratic primary there, where the women vote and the ‘Latino’ vote are the two biggest, it’s a split state.

    Missouri, the bell weather state, has a split down the middle for the men and women, Obama winning the young vote, splitting the 45-49, losing the 60+. He *very much won* the ‘black’ vote (82%+), won all religious groups (though most a close call). Now, Clinton, who was expected to be the nominee by now, didn’t win here. It was very close, but if she has the majority position among women, who made up 56% of the Democratic voters, and the majority position among the ‘senior’ vote (56% were 40+), how come she couldn’t win here?

    The thing is, you can’t find a state where Obama didn’t win the ‘black vote’. Even in New York *and Arkansas* he won it. And convincingly, especially in Arkansas.

    It was in California that her ‘hold’ over certain demographics was made out to be something more than it actually is. Yes, she won the 8% ‘Asian’ vote there, and the Hispanic vote. But Obama won the men there, ran *extremely* close in the young age groups (he won the ‘white’ young vote), and the Edwards voters. Here it was the ‘Latino’ and ‘Asian’ vote that got her over the line. But guess what? Both of those demographics are over-represented in California than when compared nationally. The ‘black’ vote doesn’t constitute 5% nationally – but it does in California. Compare this to the 36% ‘Latino’ vote that is in California. Much much higher than what it is nationally. And the ‘other’ category (which includes the ‘Asian’ vote)makes up 11% in California – again, very high. And then you look at the white vote – 43%. A bit low, don’t you think?

    I guess what I’m trying to point out is that Clinton was the presumed winner before all this started. And for a party that is more than 55% women, representative of minorities more than the other party, and enamored with Bill’s presidency, why didn’t she win more on Super Tuesday? It was *expected* that she would – and now she hasn’t. On the other hand, Obama was *expected* to be dead in the water by now, and he isn’t. And the fact that he managed to keep the contest down to no real gains for Clinton, and her best states were in the contest, I guess I see that as a win for him. It’s sort of like seeing a hopeless sport team face the #1 team on the table. There’s no serious chance that they will be the #1 team, but a draw would be as good as a win because there’s points gained on both side, plus the added bonus of saying “We drew with the #1 team”. That’s what this was – a draw was a win for Obama.

    Referring to recent forecasts is what is going to distinguish our views here I think. What I see now is that the polls suffered from the ‘Iowa syndrome’. When Obama won Iowa, the polls said he would win New Hampshire by 20+ points. He didn’t even win the state. The polls were suddenly inflated with numbers, and pundits read into this far too much. The caution wasn’t there. So yes, the recent opinion was to write Clinton off *if* she lost California or New York or New Jersey. And, by the polls, there was that chance. And everyone believed it. The same things were being said, mind you, that if Obama lost Illinois, he could give up. But the polls were never suggesting a Clinton comeback there. It was that Obama was pegging back points to reduce the delegate losses that was the most shocking in these states. What we all should have said was “Wow, Obama might actually run close in some of these states,” *not* “Obama might actually win in these states.” A misinterpretation of the polls is what I read it as.

    Of course Jim, everything you just read, the post too, could be read as spin for the Obama results. But what you cited was spin for the Clinton results. The results show two things – numbers, and what we want to read into numbers. And what I see in the numbers is that Obama came out ahead, as I said in the post, slightly.

  3. Thanks, Thomas, very interesting indeed. At a personal level, I’m not sure who I think is best out of the two, although the kids are pro Obama. At a professional level, it’s all very fascinating.

    So what I really missed in all this is simply the complexity of the vote taking on-ground conditions into account. As I read it, Clinton is still slightly in front on the delegate count. But once you take your now famous super delegates out where you pointed to Clinton’s early lead, Obama would appear to have won a clear majority to this point in the delegates from primaries etc. Or am I wrong here too?

    Your hit numbers are well deserved, by the way.

  4. You’re 90% right. With superdelegates, Clinton is 96 delegates ahead of Obama (1033 to 937). Without the superdelegates, Obama is just 9 behind. So, it’s a tie. And she has pulled out all her big cards, and still only managed a tie.

    Obama has won 15 states on the popular vote, Nevada and New Hampshire on the delegate count too. So, all-in-all, Obama can claim to have won 17 states, with 1 home state. 26 states have voted, not counting Florida and Michigan, and New Mexico doesn’t have a winner still. So Clinton has only made herself electable to 8 states, 2 of which are he home states (New York and Arkansas), so she has really only won 6 states on her campaigning. 3 of these states were by 10% or less, and in states where she should have won bigger assuming that she is strong in her voting groups: New Jersey, California, and Arizona. California and Arizona because of her ‘Latino’ vote, New Jersey because of the women, ‘Latino’ and class combined. But she could only managed 10% or less in these three.

    So electability on the ground is very important here, and Obama would have won a majority of delegates if Clinton had lost one of her ‘big’ states. That’s what the buzz was about. She managed to hold onto her ‘big’ states, but lost every other state really. But she’s won states that *always* vote Democrat anyway – New York, California, New Jersey, Mass. – while Obama is getting record turnouts in states that are swing states, or Republican states. That’s what the primary process is about – who is the most electable candidate. And Obama is showing that with his performance.

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