Monday, May 26, 2008

Not So Precious

Among Obama supporter's many claims is that he will energize and bring out new voters, and that the more they see him, the more they will flock to him. This argument is usually twinned with some argument that Hillary either cannot turn out the vote or else she may get usual voters, but she can't bring in new voters. No one wants to see her.

Here are a few facts to dash cold water on these unproven claims.

First, ARG has analyzed the election turnouts and has come to a rather starteling conclusion - Obama wins where turn out is low. I got the link to ARG via Suburban Guerilla, Unconventional Wisdom:

Conventional wisdom has it that Barack Obama’s primary victories are based on his ability to increase turnout.

A look at what happens when voter turnout increases in the primaries proves that this notion is wrong. In fact, Obama has had his greatest primary (and caucus) victories when turnouts have been low.

This comes as exactly zero surprise to those of us who actually follow the election, of course. It has been clear from the start that Obama's lead in delegates has come through low-turn out, unrepresentative caucuses where Obama's core constituency is overrepresented. When some of those same states also held primaries (Texas, Nebraska, Washington), he ended up losing the popular vote (TX), being only a bare 2% ahead (NB), or having his lead cut in half (WA). In short, the higher the participation level, the worse he does. His own constituents may have a higher percentage of new participants, but he is not energizing the base and bringing out long time supporters the way Hillary is.

Next I reference Paul Lukasiak's exhaustive analysis of voting preferences in the primaries since mid-February, Buyer's Remorse. The detailed analysis, with amazing charts and graphs, deserves a thorugh read. Even so, I think that Paul's findings can be summed up in a single sentence:

Obama peaked in February, and he is on a long downward slide.

By almost every measure in every category, Obama is failing to make the same level of gains as Hillary in in a number of key categories, and is actually falling behind in others. Which others? You'll just have to skeddadle over to the original post and find out. Even without Paul's amazing and detailed statistics, it is clear that Obama has failed to capture the support of voters in the swing states the Democrats must take and hold to win in November.

Which leads to some reflection on swing states themselves. As I have pointed out in recent posts, the reason why swing states decide elections is because they are evenly divided between parties and can be won when a candidate has enough pull to swing the undecided voters to her side, as well as to bring out her own supproters and keep defections to a minimum. Hillary is very competitive in the most crucial swing states, as the always insightful Jeralyn of TalkLeft documents in this post, Number Crunching With Past Five Elections as a Guide. Long story short, Hillary won four of the five swing states (Arkansas, Nevada, Ohio, Tennessee) that have always gone with the eventual Presidential winner, and was in a statistical tie in the fifth (Missouri). She remains strong in four of the five (AR, OH, MO, TN), all of which have larger EC vote totals than the fifth one, NV. Jeralyn also points out that 41% of Obama's wins are in states that have not gone Democratic in the last five contests.

Finally, I toss in my matter-of-fact observation that if he's doing all this new registration, GOTV, and bringing in new people, why is he not cleaning up in the elections? Ohio should have been a walk if he was so darn appealing. If he is a darling out "West", as BTD keeps bleating, then why didn't he take California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas by landslides? He won in Oregon and it seems by a good margin. Let's take a look at that.

His vote count was 366,421, 42% of all registered Democrats. Sounds good until you realize that Kerry won 39.7% of all Democrats in 2004, a primary that had no challengers and no national attention. Gore won 41.6% in 2000, while Bill Clinton won 46% in 1996, where he was the incumbent and there was no serious challenge. In short, Obama did not increase support in any statistically significant way, even when there was a competitive race, with national media attention and against an allegedly reviled opponent. Moreover, the total number of registered Democrats had increased by almost 140,000 new voters from the previous election cycle, yet he drew only 16,550 more voters than Bill Clinton had done 12 years before. So, where is the phenomenal turn out? Where were all these energized young and hip urban voters? The overall turn out was almost 74%, yet his share of Democratic voters was about the same as Gore's. If he got a lot of new voters, then they were balanced by the number of existing voters who preferred someone else to him. The increased turnout went to Hillary.

My argument here is not that he lacks delegates, but that he has nowhere near the popular support that is claimed. He has lost big states and swing states decisively, with margins getting worse as the campaign goes on. There is no need to reference his increasingly embarrassing poor showing against John McCain as he falls short of majority support within his own party.

Face it, Precious, they're just not that into you anymore, if indeed they ever were.



cal1942 said...

It should also be noted that 9 of Obama's 17 primary wins are in states with a percentage of African-Americans much higher than the national average and only two of those states, Delaware and Maryland, are reliably Democratic. In the other 7 states Democrats are a distinct minority and as many as half of each states Democrats are African-American.

Only 4 of his other primary wins are in reliably Democratic states. Two are swing states and one is deep red. The other primary win is Democrats Abroad. Yeah, I know.

I read somewhere that Obama's support among SDs is primarily elected officials not party officials. Since politicians are always in need of money (Mother's Milk as Tip O'Neill would say) it's my take that he's bought a significant number of SDs.

IMO this is hardly indicative of a compelling candidate.

In some ways this is nearly as thin as his scanty, yet padded, resume.

Palomino said...

BTD has now said--in a comment on a TL post by Jeralyn--that Obama has the nomination locked, but that Hillary would have been a GE lock. Now he tells us. Sheesh.

rainsinger said...

Just my own thoughts, stacking up all the pieces, I believe the nomination was locked in for Obama long before it began. The Party back-room deals helped to rig it, by removing FL & MI from play, amongst other things.

Its a hostile Party take-over, long in the planning, and which is the main objective of the game. That's the 'must-have', winning the GE would be a 'nice-to-have' as a bonus.

cal1942 said:"I read somewhere that Obama's support among SDs is primarily elected officials not party officials."

I think a scan on the Demcon watch shows that. Low-ranking elected congressional Dems, a number of whom might be in tight seats, can be easily bribed and/or threatened.

Perhaps some state Party machines *ditto* - especially in red-leaning states where the local Dem State Party is weaker, or leans more conservative anyway. Probably another reason why Florida's Dem Party, one of the strongest, had to be taken out.

Those officials in retirement, or no longer serving as elected officials, are the majority of the ones staying with Hillary or still sitting on the fence.

Such a power-grab is not going to want any of the Clinton-wing in positions of power, let alone Hillary.

The talk about VP posn, is to use her, then hobble and gag her. I can't see a political faction that has gone to such enormous lengths to gain power with bribery/threats, against states, of groups like NARAL etc,(the list goes on)will then stand by, and actually give Hillary any sort of power-base which might become a threat to theirs? Sorry, I can't see it happening.

It might be easier for them to win the GE with Hillary, but they seem confident of winning without her. As we have seen, Obama's pattern is to win when turn-out is low, so maybe they are going for the low turnout model. With all that money, perhaps they can buy just enough swift-boating of McCain, to suppress Repub turnout below that of Dem turnout.

gendergappers said...

Yes, it all makes sense now how frantic the BO-bobs have been acting. And why they focus on the delegate count and ignore the big GE picture.

p.lukasiak said...

the whole 'youth turnout' thing is a myth as well.

In the 2004 general election, the 18-29 year old cohort was 17% of the electorate -- but they constitute only 14.4% of the Democratic primary electorate.

Because "the youth vote" is turning out for Obama, the media and the Obama campaign hype them relentlessly, and focus on Obama's supposed ability to register new voters and get them involved in politics. But every four years a whole new group of young voters get their first chance to vote in a Presidential election, and millions of new "young voters" are always registered in the year that a presidential election is held

Murphy said...

"I believe the nomination was locked in for Obama long before it began. The Party back-room deals helped to rig it, by removing FL & MI from play, amongst other things. "

I agree jalc. The DNC powers, along with many elected officials, wanted to stop Clinton as early and decisively as possible. But they couldnt do it. Instead of giving up and accepting the will of the voters they've continued to wrangle and play games and do dirty tricks. It may have started out as pure political power playing and power grabbing, but it morphed into something uglier and far more destructive to the party as a whole. But, no matter what they do, they still can't beat her. they can cheat and take her out of the race by unfair means, but they cannot beat her.

It's no wonder they refer to her as the glenn close monster in "Fatal Attraction" who can't be killed. She scares the hell out of them for real.

pm317 said...

Both his delegate and popular count strength are inflated and completely masks his GE weakness. A little detail about the popular count has not been brought to light much -- his popular count lead from Cook County is about 420K and when you consider the registered voter numbers (about 1.2 mil) and the turnout (about 42%), that vote lead does not make sense at all. His and the DNC's strategy has been to hold the party loyalists hostage and force them to vote for him in the GE. How many of us find it acceptable?

Sherry said...

How many of us find it acceptable?

Certainly I don't find it acceptable but there doesn't seem to be anything us mere voters can do. We've made our will known. And we get a big Cheney-esque "So?"

I'm open to suggestions. I could cast a protest vote (Green, never McCain) but my state is going to go big for McCain anyway if Obama is the nominee, so I can't see anybody really noticing.

A write-in?

orionATL said...

i'm not sure i agree that the nomination was locked in for obama before the contests began.

from what little i know, it seems most reasonable to explain obama's ascendency as the result of a strategy to overwhelm the democratic caucus system with obama supporters led by trained agent provocateurs in every state where there was an opportunity to do so.

tales from the caucuses suggest orchestrated "manipulation" of the caucus process.

obama was a community organizer in chicago.

as for the preference of the elected superd's for obama,

bill clinton recently commented something to the effect that he had never seen the kind of "bullying" of delegates that the obama campaign was using.

as for dean's role, it may well have been a non-role. the one thing i am confident of is that this time around the democratic party has not has any serious, competent leadership at the top from anyone.

elsewise, we would NEVER have been given the choice of voting for an intolerably inexperienced candidate (sen obama) vs a highly experienced and politically capable candidate (senator clinton).

trainwreck coming



if senator obama is the nomineee,then i'm going to pull a few cross-ties myself.

at some point, the democratic party has to be reformed. it might as well be this year and next.

show me said...

I certainly agree that there appears to be a real lack of competence in the Democratic leadership. I wonder if any supers are even looking at the numbers? Maybe Rohm Emmanual but he is in a tough spot.

I would love to be a fly on the wall when Joe Biden says what he really thinks of this whole thing. He has really been careful lately but he is not in a swoon for Obama at all.

Another thing that maybe is too obvious but has not been mentioned here is the overwhelming money advantage he has had and has used on ads and mailings.What has it gotten him in the later primaries?

Maybe my eyes are jaded but to me every time he speaks he seems weaker and more clueless.Those worshipful rallys only take him so far and they are losing their novelty.

Anonymous said...

Obama will probably be the nominee. I hate that thought but I don't have any faith that the Superdelegates will do the right thing and give it to Clinton. So in the GE it's going to be St. McCain against the Chicago wonder boy. Who do you think independents and far to many disaffected democrats will vote for?

By August, for all intents and purposes, McCain will look identical to the democratic nominee on major issues. Well, you and I might see the obvious differences, but the media won't. Right now, today, as we make comments they're helping McCain recast himself as a moderate reformer who never, never supported any of the worst Bush policies.

McCain, the wife, a staffer, or his spiritual advisor knows that even conservatives are dissatisfied with current and future prospects for the country if Bush policy isn't reversed, or at least, tweaked a bit. He has to kill the impression that he's running for Bush's third term. So out comes the spin machine to dispense a huge cloud of rhetorical manure. All the promises he made in the Columbus Ohio speech are not credible coming from him. He's going to confess setbacks and errors in policy? Set a new standard for transparency and accountability? Seek the counsel of members of Congress from both parties in forming government policy? How much BS can one politician ladle out in one speech and not have his audience exploding in fits of laughter? No one having two brain cells to rub together, believes he would, or even could, run his administration in such a conciliatory manner.

He knows voters in swing states will vote for him over Obama if they think he really, really has their interests at heart and doesn't completely walk away from to many republican values. Of course the media will support the notion that McCain is great and good and the best thing for what ails America at this historical juncture.

If the Superdelegates give the nomination to Obama and he refuses to put Clinton on the ticket, I think she should scare the crap out of the DNC and threaten to run as an independent. Wouldn't that be fun.

I know that's unacceptable but I would like to see their faces turn green if she said she was seriously considering such a move.

Shainzona said...

Yesterday I was bombarded with people telling me that I will have the blood of this nation on my hands if I don't vote for Obama.

I am so sick of that line and tried to reply as best I can: I said:

"We're not buying it. YOU all have a chance - still - to select the most electable and experienced candidate. But YOU choose to drink the Kool-aide and sing Kumbaya while ignoring the facts that are in front of your noses.

So if there's any blood on anyone's hands, IT WILL BE YOUR HANDS, not mine.

I know who will end the war in Iraq; I know who will support pro-choice supremes (and I do NOT know that about BO); I know who will fight for UNIVERSAL health care; I know who will fight for equal rights and equal education for all of our children; I know who will come up with a sound energy policy (NOT Cheney's BTW...but I guess BO pressed the wrong button that day...again!); I know who will work to keep and create jobs in this country; I know who will NOT privatize SS; I know who will react with a calm head and a strong heart if we are attacked again. AND IT'S NOT BARACK OBAMA.

You still have a choice and a chance. Take it. Or look at the blood on your own hands when President McCain takes office in January, 2009."

Today I read a comment by Uppity at another blog that hits the Roe v Wade nail smack dab on the head:

"If my younger sisters lose Roe Wade it will be their own fault for taking the rights they have for granted, because they didn’t fight for them. They are complacent and can take the time to swoon over a sexy empty suit who has already set gender relations back a minimum of 30 years, and we haven’t even gotten to the General Election campaign yet. Serves them right. Not my problem. I know how not to get pregnant.

It’s my job to protect the rights I fought for that matter to me. This is a misogynist’s campaign and if younger women are too busy spawning over Leland Gaunt handing out Needful Things and discussing his vibrating phone when he leans on one of them, then they will have to learn to take the consequences of their own folly along with the consolations. Maybe then they will Get It. I have already done well in my life. Complacency is their enemy, not mine. Let em eat cell phones."


Hank Gillette said...

orianATL said:

elsewise, we would NEVER have been given the choice of voting for an intolerably inexperienced candidate (sen obama) vs a highly experienced and politically capable candidate (senator clinton).

If experience was what you wanted, you had the choice of several candidates: Dodd, Richardson, and Biden all have more experience than Senator Clinton.

The fact is, experience is seldom the deciding factor in Presidential elections. Otherwise, Bill Clinton wouldn't have defeated George H. W. Bush, FDR wouldn't have won over Hoover, and JFK wouldn't have beaten Nixon.

Anonymous said...

I appreciate and in debt to Anglachel and Paul L for the detailed statistical work that you guys did and do.

The blowing up of the myth of large turnouts and large youth vote has a mortal effect on the Obama's narrative.

The new coalition that decent, serious and lefties such as Digby and Roboret Borosage, bought into not only does really exist but the numbers tell us that it guarantees a landslide lose for Obama.

Obama's wins in redder than red states, he wins in caucuses and wins favorable demographics states are another sign of weakness for Obama.

Clearly, without Hillary's supporters he is yesterday's story. It's too bad that the numbers, as such, are late to come out. With more time to spread the numbers, many super delegates, who never want to lose, would have gone to Hillary.

Sherry said...

Some more interesting numbers from Jeralyn:

Caucuses vs. Primaries : A Report

Chinaberry Turtle said...

"Face it, Precious, they're just not that into you anymore"

hehehe ... oh, you are bad Anglachel. Bad as in AWESOME!

If Hillary doesn't get the nomination this time, she'll be an unstoppable behemoth in 2012, while Obama sits bashful-faced in the Senate lamenting over his inability to vote "present."

jangles said...

Let HRC know that she must take this fight to the convention. She will only lose if she concedes now. She must know we are with her and behind her to withstand the pressure of the msm, pundits, blogger boyz and DNC to quit now.

cal1942 said...

"The fact is, experience is seldom the deciding factor in Presidential elections. Otherwise, Bill Clinton wouldn't have defeated George H. W. Bush, FDR wouldn't have won over Hoover, and JFK wouldn't have beaten Nixon."

When people make reference to Obama's lack of experience they mean his exceedingly skimpy qualitative and quantitative governmental experience.

The comparisons you cite are in some cases inaccurate and in all cases unrelated to the current situation. All of the candidates you cite had considerable experience in government. JFK had served 3 terms in the US House, one full term in the Senate and had been elected to a second Senate term in 1958. He also had the sobering experience of combat in WWII.

FDR had MORE governmental experience than Hoover. Roosevelt was twice elected to the NY State Senate, elected to and served four years as Governor of New York, at the time the largest state in the union. His bold leadership as Governor foretold some of the New Deal. FDR also served 7 years as Assistant Secretary of the Navy the principle hands on administrative position in the department. In that capacity he was instrumental in working with Congress building up the US Navy for WWI. He dealt with Congress, labor and manufacturers. He instituted long standing administrative reforms. When Hoover was elected in 1928 it was his first run for public office. He had been Secretary of Commerce and had been an administrator of relief efforts following WWI. Overall FDR had more total experience.

Bill Clinton was a professor at UA, was elected Attorney General of Arkansas, elected Governor of Arkansas, serving a total of 12 years. He was Chairman of the National Governor's Conference for 2 years.

FDR, JFK and Bill Clinton had ample experiencwe and were qualified to be President. Barrack Obama served 8 years in a part time legislature, had no record until his last two years when he was gifted the work of others to make an appearance of having a record. Elected to the US Senate; after 2 years he began his run for President. He never was distinguished enough to run for the US Senate let alone the Presidency. He is perhaps the least experienced candidate for the nomination to get this far in at least the past century.

It's not that prior or current matchups should go to the MOST experienced. The criteria is enough experience. Obama fails miserably. Whatever the outcome he's just not Presidetial material.

orionATL said...


that badly needed saying.

and you said it well.