Wednesday, February 06, 2008

It's All A Blur

It's All A Blur

Even my overrated capacity with numbers is overwhelmed by last night. Too much to read and absorb. I have just a bunch of random impressions that just maybe, as they used to tell me in that long-ago aborted time in grad school, will contribute something original to the literature.

  • Who won depends on how you keep score. NY Times has a nice handy dandy map but at this relatively early hour no one, not one anywhere, has a comprehensive look at the delegates. Arbinder: "Thanks to Obama’s margins in Georgia and Illinois and his competitiveness in New Jersey, he may wind up winning more delegates than Clinton."

  • Even though he gained huuuuge amounts of ground and the night's delegate split is dead even, the spinners will give the night to Clinton because of Massachusetts; people expected miracles because of Ted Kennedy.

  • Another spin factor in Hillary's favor is the early call in California. No one even mentioned the John Edwards factor last night, even though he took about 10% of the California early vote as people marked their ballots before he quit. That Edwards percentage dropped to about 4% of the total vote as of now with 95% in. Edwards was also at 5% in Arizona, another Western, heavy early vote state, but he was at a 1-2% protest/loyalty vote in the more traditional election day voting states.

    That early vote margin gave the impression of a 20 point Hillary landslide on first glance, when you were only looking at the Clinton-Obama numbers. That gap has now closed to about 9 points, but it's that first impression of a fast California call that lasts.

  • Obama won by bigger margins -- 2 to 1 in Georgia, 3 to 1 in caucus states, while Hillary's big wins were in the 55-40 range (the Edwards factor again...) And he did better in New York than she did in Illinois. But the night's biggest margins of all went to the Mitt in Utah where he was in the Soviet-like 90+ zone.

  • Arbinder again: "Obama won all six caucus states by huge margins, evidence of a failure of will on the Clinton campaign to do any organizing there." Which 1) meshes with what I saw in Iowa, where Obama organized, organized, organized and Hillary did imperial events; and 2) has implications for what kind of campaign each would run in the fall.

  • But here's a good sign for the fall: Democrats shatter turnout primary season records. Dem turnout topped the GOP in almost every state, another factoid most folks didn't note last night.

  • Obama still needs to close three significant gaps: seniors, white women, Hispanics. He won the anyone-but-Hillary netroots overwhelmingly the minute Edwards quit, but the net skews young, white, and male, and seniors just don't get his post-boomer sensibility. They're also more focused on details of health care, which seems to be Clinton's strong issue card. (Clue: the guy with the good health care plan just went home to Cleveland.)

  • This is touchy, but a commenter at Talking Points Memo notes:
    Obama seems to do well in states where there are either a huge number of black voters or virtually no black voters at all. In states with large urban populations, and ethnic suburban populations, he doesn't do as well. In other words, either a state needs to have white voters who have very little experience with ethnic or racial politics, or it needs to have an extremely large black population, in order to vote for Obama.

    This one reminds me of waaay back in college, where guys like me from lily white parts of outstate Wisconsin were innocent-clueless about race and the guys from midtown Milwaukee had a bunch of black best friends, but the guys from the suburbs had a bad attitude. In any case, that wouldn't bode well for Obama in places like Pennsylvania or Ohio.

  • Hillary wants a debate a week and I say great; the more Barack can make her squirm on the war the better for him. But I think the plan will be scuttled because she wants to do one on Fox and he won't.

  • Late in the night there was a Mitt Dropping Out? buzz in the air. The relatives are probably begging him not to spend the whole inheritance at the rate of a million bucks a delegate, "a rate that would cost him $1.33 billion to win the nomination."

  • There's also a Ron Paul Quitting? story, for the Dennis Kucinich reason: congressional primary challenge back home.

  • All five of the major contenders (sorry, Ron) gave some form of victory speech. Hillary blatantly hammered the gender gap with the "my mother was born when women couldn't vote" line; Obama made no similar references to race. Mike Huckabee was more subtle with his Biblical references to 'widow's mite' and 'smooth stones' (that's David vs. Goliath, I had to look it up). Classic dog whistle politics that no one at MSNBC caught, but every evangelical did.

  • Despite all the buzz that the GOP roots hates McCain, I just don't see Mike Huckabee taking him out. A two-way race is a zero sum game, and Huckabee would have to abandon the nice guy persona and go on the attack against McCain. That plays against both his message and his back-up plan for number two on the ticket.

  • I also think the Roots Hate McCain thing is overrated. Talk radio hates McCain, activists on certain issues hate McCain (immigration, of course, plus anti-choice because of campaign finance). Rank and file voters, however, respect McCain for his military service and think he's their most electable. The better Clinton does, the better McCain does: talk radio may hate McCain but they reeeeeeally hate Hillary.

  • And maybe my long-forgotten principle, that the GOP nominates the guy whose turn it is next, is still alive after all. That principle may be in play for Romney; there was a lot of talk last night that he might want to keep his powder (and $$$) alive for another run. It's almost like he's staking his claim on the next Turn and betting on a McCain loss to Hillary followed by a big GOP year in 2012.

  • You get the sense that bootstrap boy Mike Huckabee, an economic populist who's come to all the wrong answers for all the right reasons, genuinely resents Romney's inherited privilege.

  • In the nation's first congressional primaries, a netroots disappointment in Illinois. Conservative Dem Dan Lipinski, who got the seat in 2004 on a perfectly executed smooth handoff -- longtime incumbent Dad retired post-primary and got the party leadership to name Son as the replacement candidate without a special primary -- held on for a 53% win against split opposition.
  • No comments: