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... is that it treats the poll positions in different states as if they were independent of results in other states.

If, for example, Edwards wins Iowa and Obama comes second, it would be very easy to see Edwards surging and Clinton slumping, and given the short period of time between Iowa and New Hampshire, for New Hampshire to be Obama, then Edwards, then Clinton.

Now, that Iowa result is by no means unlikely, given the most recent (post Christmas holiday) polling showing Edwards in a dead heat, since he has long had stronger second preferences and his best strength in rural precincts, which gives added leverage in a caucus state. And Senator Obama seems to not be too far from John Edwards in second preferences, while Senator Clinton seems to lag well behind.

And if that pair of results happened, Clinton would be in deep, deep trouble, because her framing has been in terms of the inevitability of her nomination and so she has attracted a lot of bandwagon supporters. And once they start jumping ship, that creates an impression of further downward slide, without any substantial framing that she can use to reverse it.

Of course, she had not had any reason to be worried about the fact that her framing was dependent on early successes, because she always had New Hampshire as the circuit breaker in case she came in second in Iowa. But two third place finishes, and she could go into free fall.

Of course, if she finishes second in Iowa and first in New Hampshire, swapping first place with John Edwards, Obama may fade, with the nomination effectively decided in South Carolina. That would likely be the best result (short of an Iowa victory) for her, since a fading Obama campaign would place her in a strong position in SC.

And then, based on those three results, there will either be a confirmation of current national polls, or a complete and total shake up ... because current national polls are dominated by people who are in places where the majority of likely primary voters simply that do not start paying attention until the Iowa caucus results come out.

In scenario one, there is a fight between Obama and Edwards going into Feb. 5th, complicated by the fact that even a fading Clinton campaign will pull 20% of the vote on the 5th ... and in scenario two, you have the common scenario of a nominee presumptive and one challenger left standing, until the victories turn out to be too few and far between and the challenger bows out.

And of course, if Edwards finishes third in Iowa, he is effectively finished in both NH and SC and therefore his early state strategy short circuits at the first event. And then if Obama wins NH, we are in a horse race going into Feb 5 between Obama and Clinton.

The only candidate that can in effect lock it up with two early wins is Senator Clinton, so any assessment would have to place her on the inside running ... but even if she is a 50:50 chance to win the nomination, she is certainly not the 75:25 chance that the pundits had her at just two short months ago.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Sat Dec 29th, 2007 at 08:18:16 PM EST
BruceMcF:
.. is that it treats the poll positions in different states as if they were independent of results in other states.

The reason I emphasised the early states over the national standing is because they are, as you suggest, crucial to building momentum and thus influencing future states. Clinton's 18% national lead (just increased to 19%) is so much "paper profits" until she actually starts cashing it in in real votes in real primaries.

Real Clear Politics has Clinton's lead in Iowa now increasing to 3.3% (from Edwards) and 3.5% from Obama which is obviously still surmountable by either, but it is hard to see Edwards make up a 15% point gap in New Hampshire even if he does win Iowa. Edwards and Obama seem to be cannibalizing each other (when one goes down the other goes up) and so one of them needs to pull well clear of the other to have a chance of beating Clinton.

Of course Clinton could easily still lose both Iowa and New Hampshire but she is the only candidate who would remain viable after doing so.  Her 20% lead in all the other early states (bar South Carolina) gives her a huge cushion against possible "bandwagon" and other defections.

By contrast one of Obama or Edwards really has to pull well ahead of the other to sustain a viable challenge as they seem to be fishing in the same pool. So long as they are tightly bunched, Clinton wins.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sat Dec 29th, 2007 at 08:47:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
... poll, and the trendlines of pooled polls tend to lag the trendline of the underlying population by half the width of the pooling time window.

There is a distinct difference for Senator Clinton in finishing second and finishing third in Iowa ... finishing third in Iowa will result in her taking a substantial hit in New Hampshire, and with the short time frame, there is time for exactly one cycle of post-IA polling and poll results before the NH primary.

That's why my scenario one was, suppose that one (of six possible) configurations, followed by Senator Clinton finishing third in NH behind a surging Edwards chasing a rising Obama.

As far as a 15% gap ... if that's the gap, that's just at the edge of the "Iowa bump" that can be received in NH from a strong victory in Iowa. But in a three way race, he only needs an eight point bump with an eight point drop by Senator Clinton to cross into second place, and with his "third, two lengths back" position all of 2007, a second place finish would be positive news for Edwards ... obviously, though, winning NH would be massive for Obama.

However, that's NH ... where there has been a lot of political engagement for months. For the balance of the country,

Her 20% lead in all the other early states (bar South Carolina) gives her a huge cushion against possible "bandwagon" and other defections.
... if she finishes third in both Iowa and New Hampshire, her 20% leads vanish everywhere except in the Northeastern Feb 5 states.

The Iowa caucuses is when everyone else starts tuning in, and if it upsets people's vague impression that she's the front-runner, and that is then confirmed in NH, all of her campaign messaging from 2007 is flushed down the dunny.

OTOH, if she wins IA, she wins NH, and she has the nomination in the bag, so while she is the least likely to win the IA caucuses, she definitely has the clearest run to the nomination still.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Sat Dec 29th, 2007 at 10:47:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm more used to following Irish and European elections where a 5% swing is considered big.  Obviously if Iowa can swing NH by 8% in a few days you are talking about a far more volatile situation - surprising to me given the level of engagement there for months.  They must be down to the last few voters they haven't met yet!

I wouldn't be as surprised with bigger swings in later states where voters haven't really engaged yet and are just parroting media received wisdoms.  Most people like to back a winner.

However my purpose in writing this diary was to try to have a more evidenced based discussion of likely outcomes and obviously polls don't measure everything - and the RCP ones don't show undecideds, most likely voters etc.

That is partly why I plumped for Huckabee - despite conflicting evidence - because of a sense that the "Christian" vote will have a much higher turnout.

You have to overlay the bare figures with a bit o local savvy which I simply don't have, but am interested in acquiring more of!  Many thanks for your informed comments.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sat Dec 29th, 2007 at 11:10:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
... coming out of IA ... but I have seen arguments that that was composed of a bump coming out of Iowa and then a success in following-up in New Hampshire, where there won't be much time for the second part this year.

In any event, a 12% immediate bump following a strong IA victory would be no real surprise. However, the challenge for Edwards coming first in New Hampshire is that even if he finishes first, the second place candidate could well get a small bump out of beating the third place candidate, so Edwards could be chasing a rising target, in either case.

The intangible there is that Edwards framing and campaign messaging is the most direct one to get across to a Democratic primary audience, so he might be able to get more than the ordinary NH bump just out of the flurry of coverage the evening of and the morning after an IA win.

But right now, its just too close to call for a caucus, given that even if we knew the first preferences going in, we wouldn't know the results coming out. Add to that the fact that both Clinton and Obama are banking on large numbers of supporters who have never caucused before, and Thursday can't come soon enough for me.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Sat Dec 29th, 2007 at 11:52:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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