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    February 06, 2008

    The real Super Duper Tuesday results

    Posted by: Chris

    Obamasupertuesday Bill Clinton may be right that Barack Obama basks in largely positive media attention, but there is one area of coverage in which Hillary Clinton is the undisputed master: election spin. How else to explain the initial Wednesday press accounts that she emerged from Super Duper Tuesday having, as the New York Times put it in the lead paragraph, "cemented" her position as the frontrunner for the Democratic presidential nomination?

    Let's look at the facts: Obama won more states (13: Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Alabama, North Dakota, Utah, Kansas, Connecticut, Minnesota, Idaho, Colorado, Missouri, Alaska) than Clinton (8: Arkansas, Oklahoma, Tennessee, New York, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Arizona, California). While Hillary can claim the bigger state victories (like California, Massachusetts and New Jersey), Obama ultimately won more delegates (the Obama camp has it at 847 to 834, while NBC estimates it's somewhere around 840 to 830). The popular vote was essentially split between the two, with each receiving just over 7.3 million votes nationwide.

    Obama also proved in his landslide Georgia win that he could draw white Southern voters, taking a much higher percentage than he did in South Carolina a week earlier. He also won the white vote (and the overwhelming majority of black voters) in California. Clinton managed her victory in the state with large majorities among Hispanics and Asians, with solid support from white women.

    Clinton did win impressively in California, but Obama stayed close there. More importantly, the results reflect a dramatic surge in support for Obama in the week leading up to Super Tuesday. In state after state where Hillary had led by margins of 10 to 20 percentage points for weeks and months, Obama closed the gap almost entirely.

    Take Massachusetts, for instance, which the Clinton camp successfully spun as some sort of "upset" victory for Clinton. An upset? She led by double-digit margins for weeks and weeks, only to see Obama come from behind in the final days, no doubt aided by the Kennedy endorsements, and some exit polls even showed he won the state yesterday. As it turned out, the exit polls were wrong, as they had been in neighboring New Hampshire, and Clinton won. She deserves credit for ultimately withstanding Obama's strong comeback, but it wasn't an upset.

    Now that the average news consumer has available the wide variety of daily samplings of voter opinions, the only "upsets" anymore are the last-minute voter decisions, which were largely split between Clinton and Obama yesterday. That is significant for Clinton, since Obama had such momentum in the days before Super Tuesday, but it's not the day's headline.

    The real "upset" of Super Tuesday belonged to Obama. For the entire span of the campaign, Super Tuesday had been Clinton's firewall, when she was expected to amass an insurmountable delegate lead, much like John McCain managed among Republicans yesterday. Instead, Obama actually won more delegates on the day and built on his existing lead in the "pledged delegates" awarded thus far in primaries and caucuses, 908 to 884.

    Looking ahead, Obama is flush with a record-shattering January fund-raising haul of $32 million, dwarfing Clinton's $13.5. Today came word that Hillary has actually loaned her own campaign $5 million, a shocking move for a candidate who is supposed to be the frontrunner, backed by the party establishment.

    The upcoming contests also favor Obama, as Politico points out:

    In caucus states, Obama’s organizational strength shines: He has won seven of eight. Up next are three more caucus states, Washington, Nebraska and Maine.

    Obama also runs tremendously well in states with large African-American populations, another promising sign since next Tuesday’s three primaries are in the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia — all of which have significant percentages of black voters.

    Then comes another caucus state, Hawaii, where Obama is viewed as a native son.

    The bottom line is that it figures to be another month before Clinton hits a stretch of states — places like Ohio and Pennsylvania — where she will be strongly favored to win.

    Not surprisingly, the Obama campaign is loathe to claim frontrunner status, and the expectations that supposedly go along with that -- although Hillary manages to manage them remarkable well on Election Day. But there's no getting around the fact that Super Tuesday capped an impressive come-from-behind victory for Obama, and the Democratic presidential race now stands, after all this time, in a dead heat.

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    Comments

    1. Double T on Feb 6, 2008 6:10:22 PM:

      I would love to see Obama win this by taking the “high road”, but regrettably I don’t see that happening. Barack is going to have to get down in the mud with the Two Headed Siamese Twins known as Billary. He’s going to have to beat them at their own game.

      I have learned one thing from the 2000 and 2004 election, nice guys finish last.

      I mean, what's the problem? Obama can't hire someone to find something negative to say about Clinton?

    1. Joseph Kowalski on Feb 6, 2008 7:43:03 PM:

      Another obstacle facing Obama are the super delegates which may ultimately decide who wins the nomination. Who chose these super delegates? I'm sure Bill Clinton used his appreciable influence here.

      These super delegates should be done away with.

    1. Strict Scrutiny on Feb 7, 2008 12:53:50 AM:

      JK:

      Very good point. I'm afraid that, in the event of a tie game, Hillary is likely to get the nomination because of the super delegates. She and Bill are the head of an entreched politcal machine and they both have a lot of clout with party officials (including the super d's). I have this image in my head of Hillary Clinton as "the man behind the curtin" in the Wizard of Oz, pulling levers and flipping switches to control the outcome of this nomination process.

      Yes, I think she will call in every favor and cash every chip to get the nomination.

      I hope I'm wrong, but it is a concern. I am somewhat heartened by the fact that Mrs. Clinton is now loaning her campaign money to keep up with Barack, but there's still a ways to go.

    1. Tim C on Feb 7, 2008 9:05:30 AM:

      NPR pointed out a fact that appears to have helped Clinton in CA -- early voting. Early voting in CA began just after the New Hampshire primary when Obama had not yet expended a great deal of effort in CA, but where Clinton was a well-known name. Polling of early voters showed a large gap in favor of Clinton. Had voting in CA not begun until 6am on Tuesday, after the Obama campaign had been operating fully in the state for several weeks building knowledge of the candidate, the analysts on the story believe the outcome could have been very different. Now, I have not seen any exit polling results from election day, which would be a good test of this hypothesis (how interesting if Obama had won the election day voters), but it is an interesting discussion point. As I have pointed out before, I believe that voters do themselves a disservice through early voting.

    1. Craig Ranapia on Feb 7, 2008 4:24:25 PM:

      Another obstacle facing Obama are the super delegates which may ultimately decide who wins the nomination. Who chose these super delegates? I'm sure Bill Clinton used his appreciable influence here.

      Possibly, but if it goes to the convention and either Obama and Clinton are ahead on the "popular vote', but lose thanks to the superdelegates...

      Well: Welcome to the Democrat's Own Private Florida.

      Obama's the nominee, expect Steinem and NOW to really go balistic about another glass ceiling being dropped on the head of another woman by patriarchal arseholes. The law of the jungle is 'bros over hos' and don't you forget it.

      Flip it, and you're going to have a lot of blacks and young people muttering that the party machine was obviously going to go for the white establishment figure, oover the relatively young black man.

      Either way, both Obama and Clinton better home someone comes into the convention with a majority that doesn't depend on unelected supers.

    1. Craig Ranapia on Feb 7, 2008 4:38:37 PM:

      I'd also warn the Clintonistas to resist running the 'small states don't really matter' line too hard, either.

      In 2000, Gore won California, New York and most of the "big" states (with the unsurprising exception of Texas) by handsome margins. That doesn't change the rather delicious irony that if he'd carried Tenneesee or Arkansas, it wouldn't have mattered who won the 'big' state that ended up really counting -- Florida.

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