Wednesday, 7 May 2008

The '08 primaries - not many left

On May 6th we had the primaries for Indiana and North Carolina. These states were incredibly important for Hillary as it was a chance to build up more late momentum (after her win in Pennsylvania). For Barack Obama, they were a chance to get an even bigger lead in the delegate count prior to the Democratic National Convention in June. As for John McCain, he was able to do more profiling and preparation for the general election portion of the election season.

Here are the Democrat results for the primaries that took place on May 6th:

North Carolina
Candidate Vote %age Delegates
Barack Obama 56 58
Hillary Clinton 42 42
Candidate Vote %ageDelegates
Hillary Clinton 51 37
Barack Obama 49 33
If you just look at who won, you would think it's 1-1. However, it's a bit more complicated than that. Obama won North Carolina by a significant margin (in terms of votes and delegates) and only narrowly missed out on a win in Indiana (2% behind Clinton in votes and a difference of four between the two delegate counts). In reality, this was a good night for Obama because he takes 91 delegates and Clinton only takes 79.

Naturally, Hillary tried to put a positive spin on the results by saying:
"Not too long ago, my opponent made a prediction. He said I would probably win Pennsylvania, he would win North Carolina, and Indiana would be the tiebreaker.

Well, tonight we've come from behind, we've broken the tie, and, thanks to you, it's full speed onto the White House."
This is a clever thing to say because the voters who aren't necessarily interested in the finer details may think she's still got a really strong chance of winning and then go and vote for her. The truth is that she has a chance, but it's far from strong.

This is what Obama had to say:
"You know, there are those who were saying that North Carolina would be a game changer in this election. But today what North Carolina decided is that the only game that needs changing is the one in Washington, D.C.

I want to start by congratulating Senator Clinton on what appears to be her victory in the great state of Indiana."
This was also a clever things to say. He is getting the people of North Carolina on his side and also pandering to the Hillary Clinton supporters. This will become increasingly important if he wins the nomination because he'll need all the votes he can get when he goes against McCain, who's had solid GOP backing for a while.

So, how can Hillary win? Well, according to the CNN Election Center, Obama has 1,836 delegates and superdelegates. Clinton has 1,681 (which means there is a difference of 155). In the remaining primaries, there are 217 delegates available. This is one of the reasons why I said Clinton didn't have a strong chance earlier. She would have to win nearly all the remaining primaries by significant margins.

Of course, it would be easier for her if some of the undecided superdelegates pledged their allegiance to her (270 available), but they might just go with the popular vote if they haven't made their minds up yet.

Michael Tomasky has an interesting point in this article. Even though he believes Obama has the advantage, he thinks that Obama has had multiple opportunities to "close the deal" and hasn't done that so far. He wonders if that is an indicator of what may happen.

Obama, like any candidate, can theoretically have a runaway victory providing there's enough positive publicity and decent early results. Obama certainly had that (e.g. Iowa). However, John McCain has proved that you can come from behind and finish strongly. Tomasky cites New Hampshire, California, Texas or Ohio and Pennsylvania as points where he could have won. I agree with Pennsylvania because of the significant number of delegates, but the others aren't good choices as they are too early on in the process (especially new Hampshire - that was the second primary/caucus).

This article states that some of Clinton's aides are now saying it's nearly impossible. That is something very important. If the people in your campaign team are losing faith in your chances, what hope do you have?

It gets even worse for Clinton because Obama seems to have survived the problematic issue of Jeremiah Wright - his former pastor. That could have (quite easily) turned into a public relations nightmare, but it hasn't.

So, what do you think?

Technorati tags: USA, Elections, Politics, Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton,


Alfred Thompson said...

I actually think that the most important thing going on is that they two candidates are appealing to different demographics. The democratic party is split. The message to me is that the VP candidate is going to be very important because they are going to have to be strong with which ever demographic the winner is weak in.
I think Clinton is really counting on the super delegates to put her over the top. This is old school, smoke-filled room party politics at its worst.
So even though I have strong disagreements on issues with both of them she worries me more. I think she worries most Republicans more. I do not see her as being more likely to win in November.