Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Pennsylvania Election Day

LATE DAY BREAKING NEWS (6:08): Various online outlets are reporting early exit poll numbers. 2/3 of voters felt that Clinton unfairly attacked Obama. Sen. Obama has made inroads with white males, garnering 45 %.

If the 52-48 Clinton numbers come to fruition, tonight will likely be the coup d' grace for Obama.

The much anticipated Pennsylvania primary has finally arrived for the Democrats. It is the first primary since Clinton's victories in Ohio and Rhode Island back on Mar.2. This will be the first chance for voters to respond to Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Bosnia Gate, and the controversial ABC debate. Polls close tonight at 8:00 Eastern in the state of Pennsylvania, and at that time the networks will either project a winner or offer an early characterization of the race.

For Sen. Obama, "too close to call" would be a delightful way to begin the evening. At 8:00, exit poll data will be released to the public. There should be a couple of trend lines, which should make it easy to judge the eventual outcome of this election.

1) Late deciders: Clinton won Ohio in Texas in large part because of late deciders. Those who made up their minds in the final week went sharply for Sen. Clinton. Obama may hope to benefit from Clinton's recent troubles. I expect that if Obama keeps the race close, it will be as a result of backlash against Clinton's negative campaign.

2) New/Young Democrats: The pundits keep talking about the new registrants, who changed their affiliation in order to vote in this primary. It would appear likely that the majority of these voters would favor Sen. Obama. If Obama is able to pull out a victory, a deciding factor may be that these new voters were under-represented in public opinion polls. The goal of negative campaigning is not to enhance the offending candidate's favorables. As we have seen, both Clinton and Obama have suffered a loss in popularity due to recent tactics. The real aim of negative campaigning is to supress voter turnout. And in this race today, more voters mean an Obama night. Sparse turnout would favor Clinton.

3) White/Rural Voters: Clinton's main advantage in Pennsylvania is the large number of lower educated, middle class workers. Her stronghold throughout this race, has been quite frankly "Low information voters". These are the people who think Obama is a Muslim and isn't even a U.S. citizen. The expectation is that PA will end up much like Ohio, in that Clinton's margin comes from her base of so-called "blue collar" workers. If Obama is unable to break into that margin, it will have been a failure of his campaign in this state.

As for my personal take on the race, I expect that Sen. Clinton will emerge victorious in the popular vote. At this point, she has ceded the fight for delegates. Her main goal would be to win a blowout (upwards of 20 percent), and make up a few hundred thousand popular votes. But for her to change the dynamic of this race, she needs a game-changing victory. I don't see that happening. I project a 53-47 margin, far short of a resounding win. If this is the result, I expect Clinton to continue for another two weeks, before finally being expelled from the race by losing both Indiana and North Carolina on May 6.


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