February 11, 2008

Dems 2008: Predictions and number-crunching, full of sound and fury [Karl]

Former Clinton pollster Dick Morris believes that Sen. Barack Obama will defeat Sen. Hillary Clinton and win the Democratic presidential nomination.  Tucked into his commentary was this:

March 4th will, at worst, be a wash for Obama with his probable wins in Ohio, Rhode Island and Vermont offsetting his probable defeat in Texas. (Although in Texas’ open primary, Republicans and Independents may flock to the Dem primary to beat Hillary).  And then come a list of states almost all of which should go for Obama, including likely victories in Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and Indiana. By the convention, he will have more than enough delegates to overcome the expected margins Hillary may rack up among super delegates.

Morris, however, provides no data or argument for these predictions.

Bill Kristol claims that Obama will take Ohio, apparently based on a regression analysis at the Daily Kos.  However, Josh Patashnik at TNR notes that this model did not fare well in last weekend’s contests, suggesting “overfitting” in the model.

Patashnik, meanwhile, gets his own comeuppance in his suggestion that Clinton has a shot in Virginia tomorrow:

No polls have been taken in the state since October, when he trailed Clinton 49 percent to 25. Needless to say, those numbers are no longer accurate, but they do suggest a strong base of support for Clinton in the state–especially given that in 2004, 56 percent of Democratic primary voters were women. And even if Obama wins the statewide vote, the delegate count might not break his way, since his strongest supporters, African Americans, are packed heavily into two of the state’s eleven congressional districts.

In reality, there have been several new polls in Virginia, each giving Obama at least a 15 point lead.  He might have a point about the delegates if the margin ends up being smaller than that.

Jonathan Chait argues (also at TNR) that Ohio and Texas really aren’t all that important, though only by ignoring Ohio’s swing-state status, which will weigh on the minds of voters and super-delegates.

The spreadsheet “inadvertently” leaked from camp Obama has him winning Wisconsin 53%-46% (contrary to the latest ARG poll, fwiw); losing Ohio by the same margin (where the Columbus Dispatch had Clinton way ahead, but before Edwards dropped out and 20% undecided); losing Texas by only 4 points (as opposed to the 10 point CW); and losing Pennsylvania by only 5 points (the Daily News had Clinton up by 20, again before Edwards withdrew).

Patrick Ruffini has posted a spreadsheet with intriguing estimates:

At the end of the primaries, I project 1,607 pledged delegates for Obama and 1,548 for Clinton, leaving 418 and 477 superdelegates respectively left to secure the nomination.

However, if Michigan and Florida are allowed to revote in a primary, and (conservatively speaking) Clinton reprises her 15 point margins in both states, Obama’s pledged delegate lead shrinks to 12 — 1,740 to 1,728.

At this point, Obama’s proposal to have the superdelegates vote according to the majority in their state would probably flip the lead to Clinton, since Clinton will have probably won more states narrowly, amplifying her lead.

That would be ironic, but may explain why Obama strategist David Axelrod was singing a different tune about super-delegates as independent for Matt Lauer on the Today Show.

Not ironic, but amusing, is Ruffini’s non-trivial argument that Puerto Rico may swing the nomination for Clinton.  He links to no less an expert than Michael Barone, who argues that the commonwealth’s delegates may not be proportionately allocated, which could make its bloc of 63 delegates decisive.

Posted by Karl @ 7:55pm

Comments (19)

  1. Ricky Martin is from Puerto Rico. I’d get him on the phone if I were her I think. He’s bigger than Oprah there, and also he swings both ways, so for sure he could be had.

  2. I have never known Dick Morris to be right in his predictions on anything.

  3. Is anybody keeping a running tab on the cumulative popular vote? Just as a measure of the potential pressure involved if things turn out badly at the convention and the nutroots erupt.

  4. This is absolutely delicious.

  5. I think the caucus states really kind of drain the import of the cumulative popular vote thing, no? I mean except for as a bullet point.

  6. RWS,

    I could see Morris spitballing all of them except OH & PA, for which I would require him to show his work. Oh, and I would think Indies might vote Obama in TX, but I could see Rs voting for HRC, thinking her less electable, so that’s Dick’s HRC-bias seeping through.


    I could have done a whole separate post about people crunching different versions of the the popular vote count.

  7. Oh. It just seems that certain states would carry a disproportionate weight is all.

  8. It would be interesting to see if states start considering going to, or back to, a winner takes all system. It seems like with proportional distribution, they tend to really take away from their impact. Since we have seen jockeying over dates, allocation of delegates would be another way to increase your importance.

  9. Ricky Martin. Cock fights. Big butts. Stray dogs dropped from bridges.

    It’s an island of taxi cab drivers, greased weasels and low hanging gold jewerly.

    Tell me they’re not allowed to vote. Lie to me.

  10. proportional is great but this super delegate shit is a regression back to the smoke filled rooms.

    anyway, as sometimes lonely critic here. I listened to Rush Limbaugh Monday. First time in awhile. It’s all about el Rushmo. He’s obviously making peace w/ McCain giving a left hand endorsement….”I can’t torpedo his campaign by giving him an endorsement…but that’s the point we don’t want to lose the moderates and independents who hate me..”

    But on this thread, Rush talking to Morgan, a vapid ObamaOsama hater from California, Rush didn’t say anything too nasty, in fact said Obama speaks well, much better than GWBush, but don’t worry, “Morgan, he ain’t going to be the nominee”….

    for once I tend to think he’s right but for the Democrats I hope he is wrong.

  11. proportional is great but this super delegate shit is a regression back to the smoke filled rooms

    The real evilness was the smoke.

    I listened to Rush Limbaugh Monday

    Sometimes I think that outraged Lefties comprise more than half of Rush’s audience.

    for once I tend to think he’s right but for the Democrats I hope he is wrong

    It’s irrelevant whether he’s right or wrong. No one keeps track of Rush’s predictions except for maybe his wife.

  12. If Obama does get the nomination, and loses the election, look for Super-Duper Delegates in the democrat process in 2012.

  13. Not hearing any of the networks talking about the independents and republicans voting Obama to undermine Hillary. All I hear is about the huge unexpected groundswell for Obama. Suddenly all the polls are way off. Races are supposed to be tight and Obama is crushing Hill.

  14. Sorry, but if Michigan and Florida revote, there is no way that Clinton wins by 15% in Michigan. She could only win by 15% if no one else campaigned, no one else’s name was on the ballot, and most of the Obama supporters stay home because they don’t have anyone to vote for. If Michigan wins again there is absolutely no way that Obama loses it. (see any remotely similar nearby state)

  15. Pingback: Dems 2008: It ain't over 'till it's over [Karl]

  16. Pingback: Election 2008: The Shape of the Campaign (at the moment) [Karl]

  17. Pingback: Dems 2008: Will Clinton have a "moral claim" to the nomination? [Karl]

  18. Pingback: Dems 2008: More than a dozen ways to count votes [Karl]