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Romney wins in Michigan: Who is really going to win the Presidency? (Part 4)

by Frank Schnittger Wed Jan 16th, 2008 at 11:08:14 AM EST

Romney's convincing 39% to 30% win over McCain in Michigan throws the race for Republican nomination wide open again.  McCain had gained considerable momentum from his New Hampshire win to build up a 30% to 20% lead over Huckabee in the national polls, with Romney and Giulliani both trailing at 13%.  It will be interesting to see how Romney's win effects these numbers.

Hilary Clinton's 55% to 40% win over "uncommitted" voters in the largely meaningless Democratic primary has been all but ignored by the media, although a less than convincing win would surely have been sensational news.  Her lead in the national polls over Obama has recovered to 9% in the wake of her New Hampshire victory where the concerns over possible vote rigging of Diebold vote counting machines highlighted here seem to be largely ignored by the MSM.

The campaign now moves to the Nevada caucuses where Obama and Clinton are virtually tied and Edwards is a close third in two polls on  Real Clear Politics.  On the Republican side McCain (22%) leads Giulliani (18%), Huckabee (16%), Romney (15%) and Thompson (11%). Presumably Romney's win in Michigan will now bump him up that order. [Update: A new American Research Group poll has just moved Romney to the head of the queue with 28% - even before the Michigan vote]

What is striking about these figures is just how open both these races still are.   It is almost as if the voters are saying they are not ready yet to make up their minds and are trying to keep their options open for as long as possible.


After Nevada the Democratic race moves on to South Carolina (Jan. 26), where Obama (33%) has a clear 11% lead over Clinton (22%), and Florida (Jan. 29) where Clinton has an even clearer 22% lead over Obama.  

The Republican race is much closer, where McCain (26%) has a much narrower lead over Huckabee (23%), Romney (15%) and Thompson (11) in South Carolina, and is tied with Giulliani on 21% in Florida, with Huckabee (18%) and Romney (17%) slightly behind. Romney's win over McCain in Michigan should compress these numbers even more.

These are the last opportunities for the major candidates to build momentum prior to the crucial and potentially race defining Primaries on Super Tuesday (Feb. 5th).  It is thus quite possible that Obama (South Carolina and perhaps Nevada) and Clinton (Florida and perhaps Nevada) will go into Super Tuesday with roughly equal momentum, and that Huckabee (Iowa, and perhaps South Carolina), McCain (New Hampshire, and perhaps Nevada, South Carolina, Florida), Romney (Michigan plus unknown bounce from this victory), and Giulliani (perhaps Nevada, Florida) will all have won primaries on the Republican side.

So how does all this effect my original very early and very tentative prediction of a narrow win for Clinton over Huckabee in the Nov. Presidential Election?  Clinton's then 20% lead over Obama in the National polls has been trimmed to 9%, and Giulliani has, as I predicted, been eclipsed by Huckabee.  However McCain has done even better than Huckabee and leads him by 10% in the national polls (prior to his defeat in Michigan).

McCain's rise is thus bad news for my prediction on two counts - firstly, in that he may defeat Huckabee for the Republican nomination, and secondly, because he beats both Obama and Clinton (by a narrow 3-4%) in the national head to head polls taken before Michigan. Hence the critical importance of Romney's victory in Michigan in keeping his hopes (and my Huckabee losing to Clinton prediction) alive for some time to come.

It is critical to Huckabee's chances that McCain, Romney, and Giulliani continue to cannibalise each others votes on the non-evangelical side of the Republican party for as long as possible. If McCain establishes a clear lead and momentum in Nevada, South Carolina and Florida, he is the most likely Republican nominee and next President.  

The recent spat between Clinton and Obama over race can only damage both, and the likely elimination of Edwards, if he fails to win Nevada, robs the Democratic Party of the candidate with the best chance of beating McCain in the national head to head election.

Can the Democratic party really be in the process of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory?

Poll
My PREDICTION (not my preference) for the next POTUS is
. Clinton 57%
. Obama 14%
. Edwards 0%
. McCain 0%
. Huckabee 14%
. Romney 0%
. Giulliai 0%
. None of the above 14%

Votes: 7
Results | Other Polls
Display:
I think that it's really up in the air right now.

One strong possibility is delegate deadlock until the convention.  I wrote up this scenario on Daily Kos.  For the Democratic party there are 4,000 delegates at the convention.  

~800 are not elected by voters directly, but are delegates by virtue of their position as elected officials or party leaders.  ~3200 are elected in primary elections.  Of this 66% will have been chosen by Feburary 5th.

In order to get delegates a candidate must get more than 15% of the vote.  There's a complex procedure that involves at large delegates based on the state vote, and delegates awarded at the level of Congressional districts. The bottom line being that in order to win without needing superdelegates on the first ballot, a candidate has to have ~63% of the elected delegates. So the scenario is like this:

As it stands now in the elected delegate count, Obama has 25 (37.3%), Clinton 24 (35.8%), and Edwards 18 (26.9%). Only 2% of the elected delegates have been chosen at this time, so the situation is fluid, however the February 5th primaries will provide 1,698 elected delegates (52.3%), and  by that date a cumulative 2,148 elected delegates (66.1%) will have been awarded. Assuming that in the long run, Obama carries 38% of the elected delegates, Clinton 38%, and Edwards 24%, this would give the following delegate count:  Obama 1,234 Clinton 1,234 Edwards 780.  Again to illustrate this graphically, see the following. In order to win on a first ballot with 2,020 delegates, either Clinton or Obama would have to win more than 99% of the superdelegates.

This seemed highly unlikely a few days ago, but now we have these polls coming out of Nevada suggesting that Edwards has experienced a meteoric rise there, the question is why.  One plausible explanation is that Edwards is picking up disaffected white males, and more importantly hispanics.  In the US, there are important issues of race that divide along Hispanic/Black lines where there is a great deal of mutual animosity between the two groups.  If this is the source of Edwards rise in the polls, then we could have a real suprise in store.

Because it most likely underestimates Edwards strength, because in the absence of crosstabs based on language of the interview, I'm inclined to beleive that Spanish speaking Hispanics are underrepresented.  Which means that Edwards could pull off a win in Nevada.  And that would give him an important boost going into his native South Carolina, this being the only state he actually won in 2004.

Appreciate the irony of this.  For all the talk of race and gender in this election cycle, the two states brought in early to increase racial diversity in the starting states could produce wins for a white male.  Which will surely send the pundits into meltdown. And if it is Hispanics disaffected by the racial focus in this election cycle, then Edwards just might walk away from Feb 5th with close 2nd placings in California and the Southwest.

And that could very easily yield a situation in which there is delegate deadlock, and there will be no Democratic nominee until August.......

And I'll give my consent to any government that does not deny a man a living wage-Billy Bragg

by ManfromMiddletown (manfrommiddletown at lycos dot com) on Wed Jan 16th, 2008 at 12:09:31 PM EST
And that could very easily yield a situation in which there is delegate deadlock, and there will be no Democratic nominee until August.......

Would that be a bad thing?
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Wed Jan 16th, 2008 at 12:11:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Follow the link to my DailyKos diary.  

I think it's a great thing.  

I'm going to be displeased if Edwards drops out before the convention, but you have a large group of people that think Edwards should drop out.

I say no, fight till the end, and force the party to the left.  In the end I'm a leftist not a liberal, and that's something that seperate me from much of the crowd at Daily Kos (whom wouldn't understand what solidarity is if it bit them in the ass.)

And I'll give my consent to any government that does not deny a man a living wage-Billy Bragg

by ManfromMiddletown (manfrommiddletown at lycos dot com) on Wed Jan 16th, 2008 at 12:50:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Many thanks for this astute analysis.  I was puzzled by Edwards' sudden rise in Nevada and didn't know what significance to ascribe to it because it didn't seem like natural territory for him.  Seems like we may see a Bradley effect x 2 here.   I.e both whites and Hispanics may swing to him to a degree not captured by the polls. At the moment he is a poor third in South Carolina but a win in Nevada could change that almost overnight.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Jan 16th, 2008 at 12:53:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Nevada seems to be Edwards' natural territory because it is heavily unionized. That was until two unions endorsed Obama after Iowa. But still...

We have met the enemy, and he is us — Pogo
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Jan 16th, 2008 at 01:22:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What % of the Nevada electorate is unionised?  I would have thought it is quite small and won't break entirely for any one candidate even with influential Union leadership endorsements.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Jan 16th, 2008 at 01:38:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What is striking about these figures is just how open both these races still are.   It is almost as if the voters are saying they are not ready yet to make up their minds and are trying to keep their options open for as long as possible.

One of the more annoying habits of elections commentary is ascribing a collective will to the electorate. It would be possible in large caucus, where a consensus might be reached that "well, we want to keep the race open, let's throw this percentage of our votes to that one" or something similar.

But with a secret ballot, no public debate between voters, and indeed that voters only vote once, an electorate doesn't 'decide to give a narrow victory' or whatever.

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères

by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Wed Jan 16th, 2008 at 06:07:03 PM EST
linca:
One of the more annoying habits of elections commentary is ascribing a collective will to the electorate

Fair point, and I was actually conscious of it while writing that sentence, and decided it would do in a metaphorical sense.  Of course there can be an element of tactical voting - e.g. vote for Edwards in order to keep the race alive even if you don't really support him - but it is anthropomorphic, or something like that, to ascribe "a will" to the electorate as a whole.  

People vote all sorts of different ways for all sorts of different reasons and then the political analysts come along later and "tell us" why they did so - as if all those different reasons could be summed or averaged into one overall resultant reason rather like how, in physics, all sorts of different forces coming from different directions can be reduced to one "resultant".

Please accept my apologies for a somewhat lazy rhetorical sleight of hand.  But in order for commentary to be possible at all, we have to try to reduce many thousands of different motivations to a few explanatory variables.  Perhaps more correct would have been to say that the effect of all the different voting behaviours has been to keep the race remarkably open, with those touted by the media (and polls) as hot favourites often experiencing a late swing against.

Lets call it the reverse bandwagon hypothesis!

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Jan 16th, 2008 at 06:41:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It's more a pet peeve of mine, that fell upon your diary, rather than a direct commentary on your diary.

It's true that various motivations to switch one way or another add up to a final evolution of the vote, but motivations don't add up as easily as votes...


Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères

by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Wed Jan 16th, 2008 at 07:24:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Lets do a migeru style mental exercise.  Suppose a ward had 6 voters a, b, c

A is an Edwards supporter who votes Obama because he thinks Edwards doesn't have a chance

B is a Clinton supporter who votes Edwards because he wants the anti-clinton vote to remain as split as possible which requires keeping Edwards in the race

C is an Obama supporter who votes Obama

D is an Edwards supporter who votes Clinton because he doesn't like all how the media treated her "breakdown"

E is a racist who votes Edwards because he doesn't want a black to be elected

F is a GOP conservative who wants Clinton to get the nomination because he thinks she is the most beatable Dem contender

Result:

Obama 2 votes
Clinton 2 Votes
Edwards 2 votes

Q. What is the will of the electorate as a whole?

A. They can't make up their bloody minds!  No.  Edwards has more support than everybody else (2 supporters to one for Clinton and Obama).  He just didn't win the election.  Could be a metaphor...

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Jan 17th, 2008 at 07:51:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It is only in the last 40 yerars or so that the norm in US politics has been nominating conventions with the nominee either certain of selection or so close to it that there is no real contest.

Previously contested conventions were the norm. At least that made the conventions more interesting. I am not sure that taking a few ballots to come up with a nominee is going to damage a party.

The only thing damaging to a party is if the convention fight is so long and bitter that it proves that the party is badly split. The 1924 Democratic convention, when William G. McAdoo (backed by rural, southern and western delegates, who were dry on prohibition) and Alfred E. Smith (urban, Catholic and wet on prohibition) battled it out for more than 100 ballots before the weary convention settled on a compromise candidate. Of course the severity of the deadlock was made worse because a two-thirds vote was then required to nominate.

by Gary J on Thu Jan 17th, 2008 at 06:11:14 PM EST
I would have thought that if one of or other of the party nominees are decided on Feb. 5 then all media attention switches to the other party and the campaign goes dead until July/August.  As with all good thrillers, ideally the result is in suspense right up until the last moment when the winner offers the runner up the Vice Presidential nomination and they all live happily ever after.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Jan 17th, 2008 at 06:30:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Nah, it is more exciting if the runner-up offers the third-place finisher the VP post.

We have met the enemy, and he is us — Pogo
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jan 17th, 2008 at 06:55:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I that how they do it in the Liberal Democrats?  Is there a London vice Mayor?  

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Jan 17th, 2008 at 07:20:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
No, the Lib Dems use single transferable voting by all members.

We have met the enemy, and he is us — Pogo
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jan 17th, 2008 at 07:38:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What I think would be most exciting is a deadlocked convention, which bolts to a totally unexpected dark horse candidate.

My outside tip for the Republicans is Governor Sarah Palin of Alaska. She has been cleaning up Republican sleaze in Juneau, she could do the same in Washington.

by Gary J on Fri Jan 18th, 2008 at 04:24:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
God the GOP would have to go into Melt-down to draft an Alaskan, not many electoral college votes there, and particularly as they don't want their sleaze to be cleaned up!  

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Jan 18th, 2008 at 05:39:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If they can nominate Dick Cheney of Wyoming for Vice President (I know he had to shift his principal home from his Texas property to his Wyoming one, so the Electoral College members from Texas could vote for both him and Bush), then the population of the home state is no longer a relevant factor.

My suggestion was an outside one. Probably outside an igloo in the middle of a blizzard. But to quote Thomas B. Reed of Maine, "they could do worse and they probably will".

by Gary J on Fri Jan 18th, 2008 at 08:06:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Second- choice candidate: Gingrich. Oh wait, what about Cheney?

/dark horse or Dark Lord?

"If you know your enemies and know yourself, you will not be imperiled in a hundred battles." Sun Tzu

by Turambar (sersguenda at hotmail com) on Fri Jan 18th, 2008 at 09:39:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
No you CAN'T nominate Dick Cheney...   He is a self nominating candidate!

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sat Jan 19th, 2008 at 06:31:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]


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