Friday, February 29, 2008

The last Hiatus?

As the final big primaries approach Democrats Hilary Clinton and Barack Obama remain locked in a tight race, though many think that if Obama wins in two or even one of the three remaining big states he will effectively "earn" the nomination by making it very hard for Clinton to continue to claim she has more broad based support than Obama and very unlikely for her to exceed his popular vote totals.

Although Pennsylvania still appears likely to go to Clinton, Ohio is getting closer and Texas now appears to favor Obama.

March 4 will be a big day for both candidates. Big wins for Obama likely will mean the race is over, but more close races will probably keep Clinton in through the convention when a lot can happen quickly. For example if the Florida and Michigan delegates are seated, and if a majority of superdelegates switch to Clinton she could gain the nomination even after losing most of the states in the popular vote. Given the Democrats concerns in 2000 it's hard to know how all this will shake out. Disenfranchising voters has been a key Democratic criticism of Republicans yet this is exactly the penalty they extracted from Michigan and Florida for holding primaries early. On the other side of the coin is the fact that Superdelegates have far more voting power than regular people, leading many to consider this elitist politics.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

McCain successfully lobbies himself out of a problem

The McCain Iseman scandal died as fast as it sprung to life with the New York Times making weak supporting gestures about the story in the face of an almost blanket McCain denial. I'm guessing there was a small amount of smoke here but no fire, and that if anything this episode helped galvanize support for McCain among the hard core conservatives who have shunned him until recently.

However, if recent polls are close to the truth, McCain is going to have a very tough time competing with Barack Obama. Most polls put Obama up by close to 10% in a faceoff with McCain, and in my view this number is likely to *increase* if Obama wins the Democratic nomination and Hilary Clinton supporters start to rally more strongly behind him.

Obama's Momentum into the final stretch

Although neither Obama or Clinton will have enough votes to win from the primary voting, most analysts reasonably suggest that if Obama wins Texas and Ohio he will effectively be the presumptive nominee.

More complicated are the scenarios where Clinton wins narrowly in the last three big states of TX, PA, and Ohio. This would leave Obama and Clinton with similar delegate totals and put the race firmly in the hands of the superdelegates as well as a possible change in the elimination of the Floridan and Michigan delegates from the process.

It appears increasingly unlikely that Florida and Michigan delegates will be included given the Obama momentum and also the polling indicating he's far more likely to beat McCain than Clinton. Democratic Party players want to win in 2008 far more than they want a particular candidate, so expect the party to rally around Obama if his March 4 performance is good. If not, expect more indecision as the wild workings of American politics move along.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Corruption in Politics is rare

I'm tired of hearing people talk so much about corruption in politics when it is really very rare. Few endeavors are held to as close a level of scrutiny as politics, and although there are many very minor abuses throughout the system, major corruption is very rare.

We want to find individuals at fault when it is our seriously flawed money-driven-political-marketing-pork-barrelling political nightmare that is to blame.

The McCain non-scandal is a great example of how a personally virtuous person, acting reasonably, will still be viewed as engaging in questionable activity. Yet even as his personal actions appear to have been perfectly legal and reasonable, they reflect the deeper problems with the system where a cute young lobbyist is a lot more likely to get the ear of a Senator than a dedicated balding gadfly.

Contrary to what most people think there is almost NO voting in direct exchange for political contributions. However contributions play a huge role in the process and certainly distort it, but much earlier on. How? Only people who have the support of a broad section of special interest groups that can fund them have much of a chance at political success. Lobbies and money come in to play before the election, when candidates are picked for their views. Powerful lobbies do not change votes with campaign contributions, rather they change the *candidates* into those more likely to vote for them. It's more subtle than buying votes and perfectly legal, but reflects the key problem with the system which is NOT personal corruptibility, rather it is marketing and finance driven politics.

What is the solution? Public funding hardly seems the answer, though better forms of free public information may be helpful. The internet is already helping to level the playing field such that information can be disseminated at a fraction of the cost of other media.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Nader Enters the Race

Ralph Nader has entered the presidential race, though his effect this time will be trivial as Nader last much of his support during the 2000 Presidential campaign when many feel his 5% of the popular vote effectively threw the race to George Bush in his win over Al Gore. Gore won the popular vote handily but Florida's razor-thin vote margin eventually was decided in Bush's favor, giving him the electoral votes and win.

Personally, I've lost most of the respect I had for Nader feeling that his economic philosophy is more anti-corporate than it is pro-people. Corporate abuses - even in the past when they were arguably more flagrant - pale in comparison to the disadvantages people face if they cannot participate in the big corporate economy that drives our world. Roadblocks of the type Nader favors that put legislation and regulation in the way of corporate progress hurt the poor, because they raise prices on products and make it much harder for companies to deliver goods and services effectively. There is a minor safety advantage but it's trumped in most cases by the cost disadvantages.

I'm sure there are exceptions to this - where safety is worth the cost to the corporation - but I don't think Nader advocates for intelligent ROI analysis. Rather, like many people who are mathematically challenged, he simply won't address the huge costs to society of regulatory structures that inhibit innovation and profit.

McCain's non-scandalous scandal

The John McCain lobbyist scandal seems to be dying down in light of the New York Times' failure to produce anything other than rumors of the appearance of impropriety combined with McCain's sharp denial of any romantic involvement or betrayal of the public trust.

Frankly, I think the story's somewhat foolish original intention was not to accuse McCain of illegal or immoral activity, rather to suggest that even McCain is not immune to the lure of the huge gray areas in political ethics. These are challenges McCain has talked about times both in regard to his involvement in the Keating S&L scandal and challenges with our process in general.

McCain's case is interesting because I'd suggest it is pretty clear what happened, but media speculation and frenzy simply cannot handle middle ground very well:

McCain had a friendship with lobby girl which was flirtatious but probably not scandalous - I doubt they slept together and may never have had any romance, though I'm guessing he technically lied saying "no romantic involvement".

Like other Senators, McCain participated in our crappy lobby system in legal ways.

Vicki Iseman's influence over McCain him was a notch above the normal due to the flirtatious and/or romantic overtones, but she did not *directly* ask for favors and he did not *directly* offer them. McCain is a man of honor and it would have been totally out of character for him to act otherwise.

Isemant did get more attention than average, but nothing that would approach illegal preferential treatment or breach any reasonable ethical standards other than the one that suggests our current and past lobbying systems are poor ways to do the people's business.

Note that decisions and clients are on the record, so where is the record of corruption here?

Appearance of impropriety here? Sure, but that's not enough.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

American Politics: Shame on us all

While issues go largely ignored in the media we've got politics center stage pretty much 24/7 now as personal attacks go overreported, indiscretions are speculatively addressed, and pundits spend most of their energies on irrelevant analyses of the horserace.

Shame on the big media.

It would not bring as many viewers, but it would be helpful to have a thoughtful examination of the various policy platforms of all the major candidates. The debates to their credit often address these issues of subtance, but the big media generally fails to follow up on the details or the implications of these platform differences. It's not really their fault, rather it is ours, becausa we don't want the complicated truth - we want the simple sexy nonsense.

Shame on us!

Friday, February 22, 2008

Lot is at stake in Texas Primary, March 4th.

The March 4 Texas primary was not expected to be all that significant in the early stages of the Democratic primary process, but it is now clear that Texas, Ohio, and Pennsylvania are close to "must win" states for Hillary Clinton. Clinton still leads the polls in all three although her Texas-sized lead in Texas has evaporated, leaving Obama and Clinton within a few percentage points in the Texas primary.

If Obama wins Texas it weakens Clinton's case even further that she is the best choice for the Democrat who can win in the general election. With most polls showing Obama as the stronger candidate against John McCain and many Democratics shifting from undecided to Obama, the Clinton Campaign arguably must sweep the 3 big states in a few weeks or start to prepare to conced the race to Obama.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Clinton to Obama: Kum-ba-ya dude, Kum-bay-ya

The Clinton Obama debate was almost as civil as the previous one, with the exception of a Clinton shot regarding Obama's use of one of his supporter's turn of phrase - a ridiculous accusation Clinton feebly tried to support only to be booed by the crowd. Yet Clinton also had the nights most appealing exchange where she called for party solidarity, expressed respect for Obama, and got the crowd to their feet.

Clearly, Democrats will be pleased with either of these candidates. What isn't clear is whether Obama might choose Clinton as VP if he wins. Clearly she'd be foolish not to choose him, creating a ticket that would likely be invincible against any McCain combination.

Huckabee's Hooters

MSNBC is reporting that Mike Huckabee's wife spent the night at Hooters Las Vegas after taking in some sort of boxing match or show. This is not news, but the headline was irresistable, and news worthiness hardly drives presidential politics. In fact one could argue that debates aside, the media has virtually no interest in issues - they are reporting the titillating nonsense that appeals to the prurient interests of our ill-informed American public. That would be you and me folks.

McCain Iseman New York Times .. Scandal...or not?

John McCain's candidacy may be threatened as what appears to be a fairly explosive revelation comes to light that he was romantically involved with lobbyist Vicki Iseman, a lobbyist who was representing companies that were affected by McCain legislation.

Details of the situation so far are not clear, though it seems more likely to me that the New York Times has left out unverified details than included spurious ones. That said, the story as written does not necessarily suggest anything other than bad judgement. I have seen nothing to suggest McCain treated Iseman's companies any differently, and in the game of power politics I think we tend to see corruption where it simply does not exist. Senators are hardly going to jeopardize their careers and reputations

Rush Limbaugh is absurdly suggesting this is some sort of left wing NYT conspiracy to endorse and then derail McCain. Limbaugh should have no credibility with anybody with an IQ above 70 - his snake oil politics and hypocrisy are so glaring it is a wonder anybody listens to his nonsense.

McCain and Vicki Iseman

A breaking story in the New York Times is suggesting that there may have been some form of inappropriate relationship between John McCain and a Lobbyist by the name of Vicki Iseman.

McCain's campaign seems to be handling this without denying the reports, rather suggesting that this is an inappropriate topic.

Based on the New York Times reports, McCain and Vicki Iseman developed a very comfortable relationship during her lobbying efforts several years ago. The Times suggests that McCain aids felt so strongly about the potential problems that they effectively broke up the two, who they feared were having a romantic relationship.

Unfortunately for Republicans, it is not going to be easy to gloss over this type of relationship given the powerful attacks against Bill Clinton for his many dalliances which led to Clinton misleading legal authorities and impeachment proceedings which failed to remove Clinton from office but created one of the great political crises in recent history.

Who is Vicki Iseman? See her bio here

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Obama wins Wisconsin and Hawaii. TEN primaries in a row. Check please?

The Barack Obama juggernaut moves on with clear wins tonight in Wisconsin and Hawaii, leaving little doubt that Obama is the clear Frontrunner in the democratic race. Polls which only a month ago were strongly in Clinton's favor are evening up and the Wisconsin and Hawaii results are likely to keep the pressure on as young voters and *men* swell the Obama campaign ranks.

The male vote appears to be an important factor in the Clinton Obama race, where men appear to have concerns about a woman in charge. However I think a key factor that is now clear is simply that Obama proved himself viable as a Democratic candidate, and electable in the national race against the Republican contender. Democrats have been conflicted about Hillary Clinton for some time, and Obama appears to be their way "out" of that conflict.

All that said the

Pundits and Plagiarism: Shut UP!

As the USA enters an era of challenged prosperity, wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, global responsibilities that are greater than at any other time in history, and many challenges here at home....

The pundits are talking about whether Barack Obama copied a few words from his friend in a speech.

This is *complete* nonsense and although I don't blame the Clinton campaign for cleverly misdirecting everybody into this absurd issue, I *totally* blame Brian Williams, Tim Russert, Chris Mathews, and more and more for buying into this absurdity. This absurdity simply should not make the news, but like other mildly contentious stupid points it trumps real issues - really the *only* thing these clowns should be reporting.

What is wrong with TV news people? They rarely choose to report anything but items of entertainment value and the horserace details. Wouldn't it be refreshing to hear some intelligent discussion of policies? Is that too much to ask?

Clinton still leading in several upcoming primaries

Many polls continue to show Clinton ahead in Texas, Pennsylvania, and Ohio as the Democratic Primary continues in a virtual delegate dead heat between Obama and Clinton. Most polls are showing Obama with a lead in Wisconsin and Hawaii today. Wins in those states will demonstrate even more clearly how powerfully the Obama campaign has emerged as the front running campaign.

Today's absurd accusations from the Clinton campaign about speech plagiarism by Obama appear to be a strange way to score negative attention points during this critical time, and are likely to blow over tomorrow during the Wisconsin and Hawaii primary reporting frenzy.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

On, Wisconsin!

Primary eyes are on Wisconsin this week as that "all American" state votes for the Democratic nominee. While McCain has only the finishing touches to put on his nomination, the Democratic race is very likely to go to convention, and the outcome there is not at all clear.

Obama has run a virtually flawless campaign, rising from near political obscurity to the be new national favorite and arguably the most likely winner of the big prize - the Presidency of the USA.

Presidential heir apparent Hilary Clinton is now locked in the tightest of races with Obama - a race that ultimately could hinge on how she manages issues such as inclusion of Florida and Michigan delegates, states banned by the Democratic national committee for holding early primaries, and superdelegates, most of whom remain uncommitted.

My take on superdelegates is that they will *not* necessarily help Clinton even though she currently has more of them pledged to her, though last week it was reported that she has lost 3 superdelegates during a time where Obama has won 13.

I think the most likely outcome at the convention is that many superdelegates will agree to support the person with the most popular votes and this will give that person a strong lead. Of course there could even be debate about who won the most votes as the Florida and Michigan voting legitimacy is debated.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Campaign Hiatus

It feels odd, but nice, not to hear the overwhelming and excessive coverage of the primaries for these few days between the last set of primaries and Wisconsin coming up in three days. Washington is voting as well but most of the delegates are distributed there via the caucusing which is completed already.

The superdelegate issue now takes front stage as it is extremely unlikely that either Obama or Clinton will go to the convention with enough votes to win. Many superdelegates appears to be holding off on committment, partly because they probably want to go with the winner, and partly because they are concerned about their own political reputations if they pick people that were not in favor in their own district or election territory. Superdelegates are about 20% of the total.

At this stage of the game it appears unlikely that we'll see superdelegates *overturn* the verdict of the popular vote. If Obama continues to perform in future primaries as he has in the last 8 primaries, his vote and delegate totals would be high enough to make if very hard for Clinton to convince superdelegates to vote for her as well as hard to justify a superdelegate win. A more likely scenario however is that Clinton will win in Texas, Pennsylvania, and Ohio, making the total delegate count *so close* that the party will need to do some soul searching to determine how to avoid contention at the Democratic convention.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Democratic Superdelegates

It's now very clear that Clinton Obama is likely to go to a convention for decision, perhaps making superdelegate voting the key to the nomination. CNN reported this morning that without *huge* winning margins for one candidate, neither can clinch this nomination without superdelegate votes.

So, how will this shake out? I'm guessing most of the superdelegates are waiting to jump on board with the winner of the popular voting, which may be just as well. If the "popular" nomination is overturned by insiders many will be angry, though I continue to think the most likely scenario is Clinton/Obama, a combination that may be dictated at the party level during the convention.


McCain has all but sewn up the nomination, even before his impressive win in Virginia that should prove Mike Huckabee is simply not viable as any threat to the McCain Campaign. In fact the best strategy for Huckabee now is to suck up to McCain in the hopes of a VP nomination that is less likely to be forthcoming if he simply gums up the works and makes McCain look bad. That said, he's clearly hoping to have some leverage at the convention with enough delegates to be able to secure a VP spot. This appears less likely after yesterday's loss in Virginia.

What about Ron Paul? Arguably the most passionate and articulate spokesperson of the values Republicans claim to hold dear remains in the race, but with too little support to make much of a difference. His internet popularity was very interesting but failed to turn his campaign into the powerful force that Huckabee's became. I think Paul actually had more money initially than Huckabee and may still be pulling in more donations.

You call that negative?

The term "negative campaigning" should be reserved to mean the nasty, mean spirited, or misleading stuff that has become so common in American politics. Here, CNN calls a Hilary Clinton Wisonsin campaign commercial "negative" when all it does is goad Obama for refusing a debate, which he has done because stratically it is wise for him to do so and for Clinton, generally a better debater, to try to bring on more debates. This is not exactly the type of thing we saw back in the elections of the 1800s where candidates took outrageous shots at their opponents.

We can have a spirited, healthy interactions free from the media-induced nonsense that tends to color everything in the most confrontational light.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

McCain Train Gets a Head of Steam

John McCain's strong campaign remains challenged a bit by Huckabee, but after today's strong showing in Virginia and the "Potomac Primaries", he remains the clear leader. The key question that remains on the Republican side of the presidential equation is whether McCain will pick Mike Huckabee as running mate or try to choose a moderate who can help him win in the states that have moderate political bases. I doubt McCain knows what he'll do yet because it is still not clear how conservatives will treat his candidacy.

Obama Keeps on Rolling

Barack Obama won the Virginia Democratic Primary and all the other primaries today, making him undefeated since February 5's close Super Tuesday results. Although this was expected it's another boost to Obama's roaring campaign.

Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Texas are big primaries and although all are currently polling for Clinton, I think Obama's campaign machine in full gear will be formidable when he starts speaking more in those states. His "Rock Star" quality, combined with the ability to talk inspirationally but very vaguely about policies, arguably make Obama the front runner now. Totals are not in yet but I think he'll be pulling just ahead of clinton in delegates after today, even with superdelegates included.

Obama extremely likely to take the delegate lead after today's results

Polls show Obama with a large lead in Virginia. After the Virginia Vote is in tonight, and even with Clinton's superdelegate advantage, Obama is likely to have the higher delegate total though regardless of today's result Clinton and Obama will remain within dozens of delgates of each other.

Pennsylvania, Texas, and Ohio's importance are increasingly with each passing Obama victory. Most see all three of these big states as likely to go for Clinton. Some of last month's Ohio polls had Clinton more than 20 points over Obama, though recent Obama victories could change all that.

However, based on all the information available to date we are still predicting a narrow Clinton victory - probably at the convention - and probably with the announcement of Obama as Clinton's VP. This would be the killer combination for the democrats and likely make them virtually unstoppable in the general election against McCain and his likely running mate, Huckabee.

Stay tuned...

Monday, February 11, 2008

Democratic Convention: Superdelegates and Excluded States

As Clinton and Obama vie for the Democratic Prize the likelihood that two factors the democrats will find uncomfortable may come into play in the decision. Superdelegates are one factor -they represent about 20% of the delegate total in a handful of influential party players. Here is a Superdelegate running total. With most still uncommitted, I think it's increasingly unlikely that we'll see these superdelegates make the difference. The issue is becoming controversial enough that most will stay uncommitted until a concensus position develops - perhaps as late as the convention but if Obama continues to rule the primary roost look for many superdelegates to shift to his camp. Clinton is far more vulnerable to claims of playing insider hardball than Obama, so ironically the superdelegate issue may wind up working to his advantage. He can claim a Clinton superdelegate lead is from party politicking where his superdelegate gains are legitimate.

I think a more important factor could be the inclusion of the results of the Florida and Michigan primaries. These both went to Clinton and would swing the delegate total even more strongly in her favor. In fact if Clinton takes New York and Pennsyvania the count should stay close right up to the convention.

Big Mo for Obama?

Does Obama have so much momentum now that Clinton cannot stop him from winning? Bill Kristol suggests today that Obama's recent victory sweeps will propel his campaign to have a clear delegate lead soon.

It is certainly clear that Obama, unlike Clinton, has captured the imaginations of many young voters as well as many mainstream Democrats. Where Clinton offers capability, experience, and the first serious female candidate to run for President, Obama offers the same affirmative action advantages to the democrats but also inspires confidence and enthusiasm. Historically the people that win are not the smartest and most capable - they are those with leadership qualities. Obama's superb speaking style, which combines power and humility, gives him leadership points that simply do not match Hilary Clinton's persona.

With many Obama wins in caucus states where a few can influence many, it's not clear Obama can translate his appeal to the big audiences of Ohio and Pennsylvania. California went to Clinton and this is a strong indication that in populous states Clinton still has the edge. Will this be enough to win? No. The decision is now very likely to be made at the convention, and increasingly it looks like the superdelegates issue could make all the difference.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Ladies and Gentlemen, Dems will have a convention!

Although it's not clear yet that the Democratic nomination will require a series of convention votes this is looking more likely as Barack Obama storms ahead with excellent showings in states that just a month ago looked like they were leaning to Hilary Clinton. The pundit talk has moved to superdelegates - the 20% factor in the Democratic nomination that can swing things away from the popular vote. I'm now thinking that many superdelegates may remain uncommitted through the convention in an effort to 1) boost their own importance and 2) help the national committee if it needs to balance off superdelegates to even up the score. It may prove wise for the Dems to either vote to NOT count superdelegates to avoid a populist backlash if the nominee was not chosen by the popular vote, rather by schmoozing the right party insiders. Clinton would be the one more likely to win in this fashion and it's hard to make a case in favor of this voting style given the 2000 election where GW Bush won without the popular vote, much to the dismay and outrage of Democrats.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

It's all about the O...Obama

Barack Obama swept today's Democratic primaries winning in WA, LA, and Nebraska. Although this was expected it's another boost to Obama's campaign train, and the size of the victories was great enough that he's got powerful bragging rights tomorrow.

Although Clinton is still expected to take Pennsyvania and Ohio, huge states with large numbers of delegates, it's looking more and more like the election could hinge on the superdelegates.

Huckabee wins again

As everybody discusses the inevitability of a McCain win on the Republican Primaries Mike Huckabee just keeps on ticking, today winning the Kansas primary handily. With a few more wins like this in areas clearly out of the Southland, Huckabee is likely to land his ticket to the Vice Presidency.

Clinton Obama vs McCain Huckabee would provide Americans with intriguing choices as McCain and Clinton are both moderates in their parties where Huckabee and Obama are right and left wing respectively. I think in this case the VP debates would be very fun to watch.

Delegate Count before today's Feb 9 primaries: Clinton by a nose but only because of superdeletgates is counting the Democrat delegates and boy are they close. Clinton holds a very slight lead *if you include the superdelegates*, Obama leads with popular vote delegates. I'm sure Howard Dean and other party leaders are dreading the possibility that superdelegates could make the difference in the winner, throwing the party

On Tim Russert David Brooks suggested that Clinton has the edge because the remaining states have lower education levels and he suggests that slightly favors Clinton, and also that Superdelegates may make the difference.

A paper obtained from the Obama Campaign by Russert had these totals *before* the superdelegates come into play:

Obama: 1806
Clinton: 1789

Wow, that's CLOSE!

Race and Voting

John McCain has all but locked up the Republican nomination but the democrats appear to have months to go before the decision is made.

I'm really surprised by the Obama surge but I think on the Dem side you now have legions of very enthusiastic new voters pitted against the old Democratic guard who tend to want Clinton. There are also specific demographic factors that have become very important, and contrary to much mainstream foolishness on race issues it appears that: There does appear to be racism, but it's not coming from mainstream white America. Exit polling data indicates that Latino voters may be voting for Clinton in some part because of race, though it's hard to tease out that factor in most polls.

We also see that African Americans are voting in huge percentages for Obama. Is this race based voting? It's hard to argue it is not when you have, say 80%+ when the candidates have effectively identical policies with respect to issues that surround race.

We probably won't know until after the primaries are over and somebody takes a good look at exit polling questions about race, but I'd guess that even though there is some race based voting it won't be the key factor in this race, partly because the two groups that appear to be most sensitive to race issues - Latinos and African Americans - each represent about the same percentage of the population and appear to have different ideas about who to support.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Freakonomics: Your vote won't matter

Freakonomics brings a lot of clarity to the math of voting with a great post noting that as elections get closer the decision is less likely to be made on the basis of the vote totals, rather it'll be handled by external parties. GW Bush's win in 2000 for example, and the fact Superdelegates may determine the Democratic primary outcome in 2008.

Romney Out, McCain to take the nomination

Mitt Romney has bowed out of the Republican Primary, making it almost certain that John McCain will be the Republican nominee. Interestingly this means McCain will not need to negotiate with Mike Huckabee for his delegates at a brokered convention as he is very likely to have enough delegates to win outright.

Although some strategists have suggested McCain may pick Huckabee as a running mate this seems unlikely because McCain is very likely to win most southern states anyway, and appears likely to choose a moderate Republican running mate in an effort to have a shot at capturing Ohio, Florida, and other key states in the general election.

Only Ron Paul, Mike Huckabee, and John McCain remain in the Republican primary with McCain far ahead in delegate count and overall support.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Missouri for Obama - unless you are AP

AP made a bad call on Missouri last night but otherwise the exit polling held up well. I was pissed in fact that they don't share this like they used to. When I saw the CA exit poll data from CNN, which very oddly leaves off the key total indicating the winner but include the female and male components and population percentages which should give you a good "exit poll winner" after a couple of math hoops and the assumption that males and females are voting in proportion to their state population.....hmm... but is this reasonable assumption?

I think folks make way too much of the challenges of exit polling. In general exit polling is good, but sometimes it is not. In 2000 the exit polling for Florida was fine - people *thought* they'd voted for Gore when in fact many ballots were spoiled due to double vote for Buchanon and Gore. This spoiled butterfly ballot factor clearly lost the race for Gore (crystal clear by the way if you missed the later analysis) even though it was not contested by him in the infamous Supreme Court decision which actually did not make a difference in the outcome.

So -Exit polls are good, but not always correct. Welcome to math.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Clinton to Win CA - Exit polls

Despite a powerful showing in other states by Barack Obama, Hilary Clinton appears poised to win the California Primary, tonight's big prize in the Democratic Primary Contest.

Exit polls make it clear she's got the race and with 15% of the vote in she's way up:

Democratic primary math

RealclearPolitics has great coverage of the campaign math. Although it's a simplification, the delegate counts for the top big states at 11pm EST assuming current % stay the same and proportionality is the same as the main voting percentages (VERY approximate here!)

Obama Clinton
NY 88 137
IL 101 49
GA 63 34
NJ 46 56
MA 36 55
334 331

Wow, that's close!

Clinton v Obama - how will California Vote?

Super Tuesday may end with no clear Democratic winner. Clinton and Obama are trading victories in several Eastern states. Only 5 states have more than 100 delegates at stake (CA, NY, IL, GA, NJ), and since they are proportional in most cases you need to win big to reap a big delegate advantage.

Clinton won New York, Obama Illinois, Obama Georgia, and Clinton NJ. The big California prize is still up for grabs with those polls closing in about ten minutes, at 8pm PST.

McCain looking very strong for Republicans

As Super Tuesday results pour in McCain is looking like the likely republican winner. Huckabee is strongly positioned to win 6+ states, and whether this hurt Romney or not will be debated for some time in the Republican party. Most likely scenario right now? McCain Huckabee ticket in the fall.

Huckabee wins West Virginia

In perhaps a sign of the demise of Romney, Mike Huckabee just won the WV primary and many delegates in that conservative state. A rumor suggested that McCain supporters went to Huckabee

David Brooks suggested today on MSNBC that the data is not really suggesting that Huckabee is a Romney spoiler, noting that for Huckabee supporters McCain tends to be the second choice. The WV results support this notion.

Super ... Tuesday ... is here!

Super Tuesday has arrived and the pundits are notably ... quiet with respect to all but obvious predictions. Some pundits are not even calling this for McCain who appears, based on polling, very likely to be today's big winner as he is likely to lock up the Republican nomination today. Some conservatives are suggesting that Huckabee will be the spoiler in this for Romney in that most Huckabee support would have gone to Romney in a two way race. The fourth contender, Ron Paul, is popular online but shows little support in the national polls.

The Democrat race appears closer as many polls show Obama and Clinton in a "dead heat" nationally going into the race. However the edge would still be for Clinton since she has more superdelegate supporters, and in the Democratic race they form some 20% of the delegate total.

On Charlie Rose last night Harold Ford, chairman of the Democratic National Committee, suggested that it could be trouble for the Democrats if they don't pick a nominee today. He suggested that continued primary "fighting" could lead to an erosion of support in the face of a unified Republican effort.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Maine goes for Romney

The Maine Republican Caucuses were today and Mitt Romney is the big winner with about 52% of the vote after 57% of the precincts have reported.

The media attention has focused now almost entirely on Tuesday's mega primary event and the national polls, where McCain and Clinton appear to have the election won. However few are ready to totally count out Romney or Obama.

Hey, it's sort of like the Superbowl. Patriots looking like the winners, but nobody wants to bet their life on it.

Clinton, McCain, Romney, Obama vie for the big prize

It is not clear that Tuesday's mega election event will bring clear primary winners but certainly it'll bring a lot of excitement to the US Presidential campaign.

Most pundits are predicting a McCain win for the Republicans but many won't pick a winner in the Clinton Obama race, which polls indicate may be tightening over this last week. Obama took in a spectacular 30+ million dollars in January. Only McCain appears somewhat strapped for cash as we head into the time when candidates are spending millions every day to spread their word to a national audience. I'm guessing Romney will have a superbowl ad and perhaps others as well, though even massive TV time seems unlikely to have a huge impact this late in the game. That said, many voters make up their mind in the last days or even minutes of the election. In that case it would not hurt to have made a positive impact on Sunday.