Some overall impressions and things of interest to me:
- When asked who is most likely to win the general, Obama supporters in West Virginia are not very hopeful for their candidate. Only 79% of his supporters think he can win in the general, whereas 93% of Hillary supporters say she can.
- Hillary supporters are not going to back down. They know the magic number is 2209, not 2025, and they are perfectly happy to wait this out until August and the convention. In other words, they know it's the Super Delegates doing the deciding and that the campaign will go on after June. When there isn't any voting going on, Obama begins to lose ground.
- As for the meme that Hillary's support of a gas tax hurt her at the polls, not according to these voters. 63% think a gas tax holiday is just fine. The sneer that these people just don't understand the bigger picture ignores the fact that small amounts of income when you are already low has a bigger impact on a finite budget, and, thus, it is in the material interests of low income voters to want a tax holiday. Balancing short and long term economic interests will always produce a different calculus for lower income than higher income people. UPDATED: Please read CMike's comment on the details of the gas tax. Very interesting.
- Hillary's trust factor is steadily rising.
- When it comes to feeling satisified with a particular candidate, the notable number is the way Obama's popularity is plummeting with traditional Democratic voters. Only 64% of Obama supporters say they will be satisfied if he is the nominee, vs. 80% of Hillary supporters. Even if the number of people turning out for one candidate is greater than for another, a candidates own supporters should have much higher levels of satisfaction with their own candidate than this.
- The lack of large cities in West Virginia reduces overall levels of income, the percentage of college educated as a proportion of the population, and other signifiers of upper-middle and upper class lifestyles. WV voters are reporting a high number of people affected by the recession, 89%, over half of whom, 46% say they have been affected greatly by it. This group of people voted for Hillary in even higher proportions than her overall margin of victory. People saying the recession had not affected thm very much were one of the few groups to give Obama a slight majority.
- Hillary won all age groups. Again, the lack of a large body of free floating college students removes a screen on the "youth" vote.
- John Edwards is getting 7.2% of the vote, according to the New York Times.
Now let's dive into the forecasts on whether Hillary can get Obama's supporters vs. McCain and vce-versa. The percentages can be misleading, especially when you are talking about percentages of percentages, so I'm going to do some calculations with a baseline of 100,000 voters. There are some rounding errors and numbers that don't quite match because of missing data from the exit poll itself. I hope some real numbers will help put the post on swing state voting, Percentages, Preferences and Defections, Oh My!, into better perspective.
Given a sample of 100,000 Democratic voters, this is how they claim they will vote in November if the match up is Hillary vs. McCain. The overwhelming majority say they will vote Clinton. Even Obama supporters will provide her more votes than they would for McCain. Think back to my post about swing states and defection voting - this is how a calculation is made. Given a large enough sample, what are the overall effects of support? There is a small number of people saying they will abstain from voting. This is good if you are Clinton because abstainers can be seen as stand ins for undecideds. The smaller the pool of undecideds, the less you have to worry about additional defections.
Obama provides a picture of where you do not want to be in a swing state. Not only is his overall support suffering an 21 point deficit in comparison to HRC, his own supporters are not providing much greater number than his opponent's supporters. In short, he is heavily dependent on voters who will have to switch loyalty in order to support him in a way that Hillary is not. His percentage of defections are less compared to his overall numbers (5.6% of his own supporters will go McCain over him vs. 8.5% of Hillary's supporters will go McCain over her), but the numerical advantage of her support overcomes the slightly higher percentage. There are almost as many Democrats who say they will vote for McCain as there are of Obama's supporters who will vote for him. Worse, most of that comes in a very lopsided manner from his opponent's supporters. This can indicate that McCain is more appealing to this group and/or that they are voting punitively. Most disturbing is the large mass of voters who say they will not vote rather than vote for Obama. More Obama voters are willing to vote Hillary than the number of voters who cannot bring themselves to vote Obama.
With Clinton as a candidate, West Virginia is a swing state leaning blue. With Obama as a candidate, West Virginia is a red state.
Overall, West Virginia provides a picture into the opinions and preferences of a particular slice of Democratic voter. WV is as skewed in its own way as South Carolina beacuse it over represents this part of the electorate; even so, it is an accurate reflection of how this state will impact the Electoral College vote in November. I think that the defection and abstention numbers can be cut in half for measuring the November vote, but even that allowance still spells disaster for the Obama campaign in what should be a blue state.