Sunday, February 03, 2008

Down to the Wire

I've been ignoring politics all day. Instead, I've been running errands and packing boxes, getting ready for my move into my new house at the end of the month. It was a good break. I've returned to find a few shifts in the polls and a lot of wailing and gnashing of teeth all around. So, what do I see?

First, Harold Meyerson is a lying son of a bitch. It's looking more and more like he simply made up a story about the "racist" phone call. He tried to soften the statement, he kinda-sorta walked it back, but not really. What he is doing is trying to keep "Hillary is a racist" meme out there to discourage Blacks from voting for her. This is just disgusting. I am waiting (NOT!) for Obama to distance himself from this "surrogate". What Meyerson has done is revolting, as it is a crude, personal attack on Sen. Clinton directly, done solely to exacerbate racial tensions in California. Kudos to Taylor Marsh for breaking this story.

Overall, there appears to be problems in a lot of the polls where the percentages don't come anywhere near 100%. I think there are a number of them out there who have simply taken Edwards out of the picture without trying to repoll or refactor their results. Rasmussen in particular is reporting numbers that do not have any solid reallocation of Edwards supporters. Always look for the dates of the polls (Do they date on or before January 30th, for example) and/or do the percentage totals give you 95% or more? If you can find some methodology notes, read them to see what they did about Edwards.

Next, the Gallup tracking poll today shows a sharp downtick in HRC's support and a balancing uptick in BO's. Without Edwards' presence, there now is a direct relationship between these two. Undecideds are deciding.

Here is another interesting report from Gallup, Clinton and Obama Tied: Both Are Satisfying to Democrats. There is a lot of polling goodness in this report, so I recommend you go read it. Hillary remains preferred by Democrats, though the difference is statistically meaningless. More than 50% of Democrats and Dem-leaning Independents enthusiastically support either candidate. Overall, more of this voting group say they will support Hillary (77%) than will support Obama (75%). The voter intentions break out this way:

Party Vote24%20%
Vote Rep.09%07%
Not Vote10%13%
No Opinion04%05%

Enthusiastic means the voter has no problem voting for that candidate at all. Party vote is more a vote cast for whatever Democrat is running, just to keep the Republicans out. Vote Rep. means the respondent will vote for the Republican rather than this candidate. Not Vote means they will stay home and No Opinion is just that. I look at this table as the refutation of the Hillary-hater claim that she's unelectable. More respondents say they will vote for Hillary than will vote for Barry, though it is a huge majority who will vote for either. More people say they won't vote at all rather than vote for Barry than say that about Hillary, which I think shows the disparity (and danger) of their appeals to the part loyalists. Why would an Independent care about voting along party lines? An interesting number is those who say they will go Republican, which to me points at the number of Republicans who prefer Barry to be the Democratic nominee. Even so, the number is tiny. In short, the majority of people polled will vote for Hillary, completely demolishing the claim that she can't mobilize support on the left. I read the poll to say that more people will vote for Clinton, especially if they are committed Democrats.

Rasmussen's daily tracking poll shows HRC gaining considerable national support. My guess is that they are now seeing the bump that Gallup caught the day before. Again, what I see in these polls is that Hillary is eminently electable, and al the screaming and temper-tantrums by Kos and Josh won't change the facts on the ground.

The California polls are mostly unreliable at this point. Never believe anything that comes out of Zogby, period. The Field poll is probably accurate, but is spread across a long period of time and most was done before the Florida primary and Edwards' departure. Rasmussen's latest shows fewer undecided voters than the other recent polls (5% rather then in the mid/high teens); instead, they report that 24% of those polled say they could change their minds. The Mason-Dixon poll may be most pleasing for me as an HRC supporter to read (Clinton 45%, Barry 36%), but the number for Obama just seems way too low for Califonia. I don't expect a New Hampshire style upset by either candidate in California. The final result will probably be less than a full percentage point of difference between the candidates.

If there is going to be an electoral surprise on Tuesday, my bets are on Georgia. I think HRC is closer there than the polls are showing, though I still think it will be an Obama win. The reason I think this are two recent polls (Mason-Dixon and PPP) showing her above 40% and because neighboring Alabama is consistently polling for her. Here is one part of the country where Edwards voters appear to be going strongly to Hillary. Still, I don't think she will win Georgia.

It seems I ignored my own lectures about comparing apples and rutabagas and read too much into an Illinois poll showing HRC going up strongly. Rasmussen's recent poll shows BO with a still commanding lead. However, they also say (in the fine print) that it was conducted before Edwards left the race, and that they have not tried to account for those votes, so I do expect to see Hillary's numbers improve in Illinois, and the vote balance will look more like an inversion of New York. Just as interesting is the news from Illinois that 68% of those polled view Hillary favorably (Darn, there goes that old canard about her negatives being so high!) and that "Half (51%) of Illinois voters think the economy is the most important issue in the upcoming Presidential election. The War in Iraq comes in at a distant second with 23% who find it to be the most important issue. " Why is this good? Because it blunts McCains appeal, which is on security, not the economy.

I don't think the rest of the number have either changed that much or else aren't reliable enough to be worth commenting on. Don't believe anything a Zogby poll says and take all ARG polls with half a shaker of salt. They may show Hillary ahead, but they are rarely accurate.

Overall, my take away from the polling, the crosstabs and the specialty reports is that the myth that Hillary Clinton couldn't get the solid and strong support of the Democratic voters has been shown to be hogwash. Given the reports of the block-buster crowds she has been getting at her appearances, the strength of her hold on her share of the polls (compare, for example, to Rudy Guiliani, who had a better numbers all over than HRC six months ago and who dropped like a rock in actual voting), and the way in which the attacks on her are not having the desired effect, I think this proves that HRC is more than holding her own. One can only exclaim in wonder at what her numbers and support would look like if she didn't have every corner of the MSM and the blogosphere screaming invectives and throwing out smears every 10 nano-seconds. If she had the positive coverage that Barry has been coasting on, her numbers would be in the high-70s.


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