Monday comes to an end in the U.S., and the latest rounds of polls have been released concerning the major races that are likely to decide the future of the Democratic race. Texas and Ohio, with their large delegate counts, are the two states that will determine if the Democratic primaries will continue past March 4th or not. The theory goes that if Hillary Clinton doesn’t win both Texas and Ohio, and by significant margins of 10% or more, then she should drop out of the race because no one can foresee her catching Barack Obama on the delegate count. If she loses one, or both, everyone is saying she should (and will) pull out. That’s why the states will decide the future of the race.
There are two other states voting on the same day – Vermont and Rhode Island. Since South Carolina, when Obama became a main player in the race, Vermont was ruled his, and Rhode Island Clinton’s. Nothing’s changed from the looks of things in the latest polls. The latest polls for the state show big leads for their expected winners. Rasmussen has Rhode Island reporting in with a 15% lead for Clinton – 53% to Obama’s 38%. As for Vermont, Rasmussen has Obama up by a huge 24% – 57% to Clinton’s 33%. Expect both candidates to come out even when only these two states are added together. Vermont has 15 delegates tied to the vote, Rhode Island 21. Taking the numbers in the polls, Clinton wins Rhode Island with 12 delegates, leaving Obama 9, while Obama wins Vermont with 9, leaving Clinton 6. That’s 18 a piece.
So we return to Texas and Ohio to make the real and substantive difference for the day. Remembering that Clinton needs to win both by large margins, we turn to the polls. Ohio is up first. And it’s a confusing race going on there. A blue-collar worker state that favours Clinton more than Obama. From the 28th of January, 2007, to the 13th of February, 2008, Clinton had posted double-digit leads on Obama in every poll to be taken in the state. No if’s or but’s. Then it slowly started to get pegged in. 9%, 8%, then 7% leads were the trend. Now her average lead is at 8.3% – Clinton on 49.6%, Obama on 41%.
American Research Group conducted a rather in-depth poll on Ohio voters for the upcoming vote. They had Clinton up by 10% – 49% to 39%. This lead came off the back of women voters by their numbers, in which Clinton was leading 56% to 31% – a big lead in that demographic this late in the race. Obama was still leading among the men though – 49% to 37%. Contrast this to PPP’s latest poll in which that company puts the race at a much closer juncture – 50% for Clinton, 46% for Obama. That, in terms of delegates awarded, is a tie.
Quinnipiac has the race at an 11% Clinton lead in the state – 51% to 40%. But the rundown of their poll felt the need to stress that Obama has been making significant progress in Ohio. They pointed out that the numbers on February 14 were 55% to 34% (a 21% lead) Clinton’s way. Effectively, they say, Obama has cut his deficit in half, and if the current trend continues, then it could turn out a delegate tie. On the whole, they are preempting the poll PPP released – a 71 to 70 delegate split either way. If that’s what happens, then it might be redundant to take a look at Texas.
But I’m going to anyway. Why? Because in the latest rounds of polling has Obama winning! Winning in the biggest Southern state available. Winning in Texas, where he has only led in one other poll, that being back on the 14th of February. The first poll released was by Rasmussen again, and that had Clinton up by 1% – a statistical tie when the error rate is +/- 4%. The raw numbers for that were 46% to 45%. This follows up Rasmussen’s poll released over the weekend that had Clinton up by just 3%.
Then the polls started coming in that had Obama up. CNN had Obama up by 4% – 50% to 46%. CNN listed that main factor of change (a 6% difference from their last poll, where Obama trailed by 2%) as the Democratic debate in Austin last week. American Research Group then had Obama up by a huge 8% – 50% to 42%. Apparently, too, these numbers haven’t calculated in the early voting that Texas has. It’s hard to understand, but in essence, you can vote early on paper, and then turn up to the caucus meetings that are being held on March 4 and vote for Obama again. For this early voting, the numbers, so far, and rumoured to being going heavily Obama’s way. Some polls indicate as much as 30% of the prospective voters have already voted early, and that number can still grow. Obama has also romped home in: a) caucuses; b) red states, and; c) red states with caucuses. His chances, then, of turning Texas into a large delegate win without a vote percentage lead that reflects it is good.
The American Research Group poll, that has Obama up by 8%, says that his numbers come from demographics. While Clinton has a narrow lead among Democratic voters in Texas, Obama absolutely walks it in with Republican voters (who can vote in the Democratic primaries) and Independents – 71% to 25%. Also, Clinton’s lead has narrowed among the Hispanic voters – down to 40% from 50%. Number-crunchers say that she needs to get well past the 60% mark with the ‘Latino’ vote if she is to stand any chance in Texas. This is because Obama’s numbers among African-America voters stands at an unprecedented 83% to 9%. Seeings as how this is the first race of its kind, no one really knows how to predict the ‘Latino’ and ‘black’ votes. The size of the demographics can swing the polls, and thus the vote, should one come out and the other note. While the African-American population in Texas is put at 11%, the Hispanic or Latin-American figure is at 32%, with 54% reporting as ‘White’. The groundwork is there for Obama to win, but it will be contingent on a few things.
Because of these numbers, it will be easy to predict what Obama will be doing in terms of campaigning. Knowing that he currently has enough votes in Ohio to force a ‘tie’ (or at least not a substantial gain of delegates for Clinton), will lose Rhode Island, but win Vermont anyway, he may focus everything on Texas to turn that into a delegate win for him, and put the final nail in Clinton’s campaign. Similarly, if he doesn’t think he can turn Ohio into a win, but can enforce the tie, then he may just camp out in Texas until the 4th to ensure the final blow to Clinton. Splitting the day in terms of states won, but winning on the delegate count, will receive a lot of media coverage. And with speculation already running rampant that Clinton is close to conceding, this will put even more pressure on her to drop out the race.
And that’s nothing compared to the pressure the Democratic party ‘elders’ will put on her to drop out should she lose March 4. Because anything less than double-digit wins in Ohio, Texas, and Rhode Island is a loss for her.