Adding Clinton To The Ticket Boosts Obama In Michigan

I wonder if this is a sign of things to come -- pollsters polling not just Obama vs. McCain, but also Obama/Clinton vs. McCain/[insert Republican VP pick of choice here.] Because if they do, I suspect the results will make Clinton's case for VP for her.

WXYZ-Action News/EPIC-MRA poll out of Michigan (600 LVs, May 19-22, MOE +/- 4%) finds Obama/Clinton beating McCain/Romney by 7 points.

Obama/Clinton 51
McCain/Romney 44

This result represents an impressive improvement over Kerry's 3 point win there in 2004. Even more notable, however, is the improvement it represents over Obama's numbers in a head to head match-up against McCain.

McCain 44
Obama 40

Contrary to conventional wisdom about Obama, one of the reasons he performs so poorly against McCain is his relative weakness among independents.

One-on-one against Obama, McCain led among independent Michigan voters, 41-28, although the error margin is considerably larger in the smaller group than for the statewide polling sample. Independents made up about one in six voters in the poll.

Now, clearly, outside factors are informing Obama's performance in this poll, particularly the Michigan delegate fight and the fact that he didn't campaign there except for one recent visit. And to the extent that Michigan voters are tuned in to the whole delegate showdown, perhaps it makes sense that Clinton would provide a boost to the ticket since she is the one, as she would put it, fighting for their votes to count. But my suspicion is that we will see similar results in many other states, particularly where under-performs Kerry in 2004, which is, let's face it, the minimum any Democrat should do this year. General election polls are of questionable merit this far out, but the more statewide polls we see that show an Obama/Clinton ticket outperforming Obama on his own against McCain, the more the evidence will mount that adding her to the ticket is the key to expanding the map to the Chris Bowers re-alignment scenario.

Update [2008-5-29 12:10:34 by Todd Beeton]:OK, so Survey USA has added Clinton to the Obama tickets they're polling and their new Michigan poll contradicts my thesis above. The poll shows Obama/Clinton losing to McCain/Romney by 5 points, performing 1 point worse than Obama performs on his own. The best VP pick for Obama, according to Survey USA, would be Edwards, who helps keep the loss to McCain/Romney to just 3 points. Sad that they have Obama losing Michigan to McCain in every scenario. I suspect that will change as the general heats up and as Obama becomes more familiar in the state, but not an encouraging sign at this point for a state that should be in the blue column.

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Puerto Rico Continues To Be Clinton Country

Missed this earlier. A poll conducted by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research for Vocero/Univision from May 8-May 20 (prior to the candidates' Memorial Day weekend visits to Puerto Rico) shows Clinton leading Barack Obama in advance of Sunday's primary there. According to Pollster, her lead is 13% among adults, but that rises to 19% among the most likely voters:

n=800 adults
Clinton 51
Obama 38

n= ~300 likely voters
Clinton 59
Obama 40

An article I cited last weekend stated pretty emphatically that apathy had set in among the electorate due to the general sense that their vote actually wouldn't matter. This poll would seem to contradict that. From el cito's diary from earlier today:

50% of the electorate says it will not participate in the primary.

To the question of how important is the role of Puerto Rico in deciding the democratic presidential candidate, 46% very important, 26% somewhat important, 13% of little importance and 14% not important at all.

Out of 2.3 million voters in the territory, half would put turnout at up over 1 million voters, which was seen as the high end of estimates to begin with. And if 72% of Puerto Rico's voters really do see their role on Sunday as very or somewhat important, apathy doesn't seem to be a problem (a 13% win on Sunday with 1 million turnout would net Hillary a solid 130,000 votes.)

On a somewhat related note, Puerto Rico hometown hero Ricky Martin endorsed Hillary Clinton today.

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Bill Clinton's Take On Scottie's Book

As you know, former White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan's new book is a doozy...well, only insofar as it contradicts the White House party line so dramatically. As for the substance of his claims, Scottie is merely saying stuff now that we've been saying for years.

From The Politico's round-up:

  • McClellan charges that Bush relied on "propaganda" to sell the war.
  • He says the White House press corps was too easy on the administration during the run-up to the war.
  • He admits that some of his own assertions from the briefing room podium turned out to be "badly misguided."
  • The longtime Bush loyalist also suggests that two top aides held a secret West Wing meeting to get their story straight about the CIA leak case at a time when federal prosecutors were after them -- and McClellan was continuing to defend them despite mounting evidence they had not given him all the facts.

In other words, no shit, Sherlock. Or as Bill Clinton aptly put it:

When asked about former White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan's new  book, Clinton said he hadn't seen it yet, adding, "From what I read it seems to confirm what Joe Wilson has always said about his own experience. And it shows all the more why it's important that we change the direction of the country and pick the best President."

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Hillary Clinton's General Election Strength

Bill Clinton has been claiming on the stump, essentially, that folks want to push Hillary out because she "is winning the general" while Barack is not. Well, as you can see from the GE electoral maps above, that's not entirely true, although, surprisingly, it is if you look at national tracking polls.

According to Gallup, Hillary Clinton is beating John McCain by 4 points, while John McCain is beating Barack Obama by 1 point. This dynamic has been fairly consistent for the last 4 days and in fact, even as Barack has consistently polled ahead of Hillary for the Democratic nomination (today he's up 50-44), she has continued to poll better than he has against John McCain.

Rasmussen finds the very same phenomenon. Today, Clinton is up just 1 point over John McCain while McCain is up 4 points over Obama. All while Barack beats Hillary by 4 points for the nomination.

Throughout this nomination process, the Democratic candidate with the momentum at any given point has typically polled better against McCain in general election match-ups. Not so lately. As you can see, in both national tracking polls, Hillary Clinton performs exactly 5 points better against John McCain than Barack Obama does. This is especially ironic since Hillary's relative strength against McCain in GE match-ups corresponds with the widely held view that Barack has essentially clinched the nomination. People don't seem to have gotten that memo.

So, is this enough for Clinton to base a claim that she is the better general election candidate? After all, presidents are not elected on a national basis, but rather state by state. Clinton likes to make the case that her stronger performance against Barack in important states in the primaries will translate to a stronger performance in those states in the general. But is that true and could it serve as a compelling argument to superdelegates? Gallup's latest analysis of its tracking poll results has some interesting findings that lend some credence to Hillary's claim.

"In the 20 states where Hillary Clinton has claimed victory in the 2008 Democratic primary and caucus elections (winning the popular vote), she has led John McCain in Gallup Poll Daily trial heats for the general election over the past two weeks of Gallup Poll Daily tracking by 50% to 43%. In those same states, Barack Obama is about tied with McCain among national registered voters, 45% to 46%.

"In contrast, in the 28 states and the District of Columbia where Obama has won a higher share of the popular vote against Clinton in the 2008 Democratic primaries and caucuses, there is essentially no difference in how Obama and Clinton each fare against McCain. Both Democrats are statistically tied with him for the fall election."

Gallup goes on:

The question is, do Clinton's popular victories over Obama in states that encompass three-fifths of national voters mean Clinton has a better chance than Obama of winning electoral votes this fall?

And concludes:

Clinton appears to have the stronger chance of capitalizing on her primary strengths in the general election.

But it's not quite that cut and dried. There are many blue states that either Democrat would win and many red ones that neither would. So what about the swing states, which is where the election will be won or lost?

However, just focusing on the swing states in Clinton's and Obama's respective win columns, the two are fairly similar. Clinton beats McCain in her purple states (including Florida and Michigan) by 49% to 43%, while Obama slightly trails McCain (43% to 46%) in these states -- a nine-point swing in the gap in Clinton's favor. Conversely, Obama beats McCain in his purple states (49% to 41%), while Clinton trails McCain by one point, 45% to 46%, in the same states -- also a nine-point swing in the gap in Obama's favor.

Certainly on some level, these results bolster Hillary Clinton's claim that her strength in certain states in the primary would translate to the general, but any analysis like this must be tempered a bit by the reality that general election match-ups this far out from election day are of questionable validity. But the fact remains that the polls do test apples to apples and one must wonder why, even as her chances for the nomination dwindle, Hillary Clinton continues to out-perform Barack Obama against John McCain fairly dramatically. Certainly it defies most conventional wisdom about Hillary Clinton's electability vis a vis Barack Obama's and it would appear to pour a big bucket of cold water on the claims that Barack was the one who would transform the electoral map. But in the end, I don't think these results will do much to sway superdelegates much when it comes to declaring support for once all states have voted. But I would hope that the Obama campaign is taking these results to heart and is perhaps coming to the same conclusion that I have: that if they really want to achieve electoral transformation, putting Hillary Clinton on the ticket is probably the best way to achieve it.

Update [2008-5-28 18:30:0 by Todd Beeton]:I fast-forwarded through much of yesterday's Hardball but a friend of mine tells me that Chuck Todd's theory is that because McCain and Obama have been trading barbs lately, their negatives are driving up, allowing Clinton to skate unscathed. That's a pretty difficult theory to stick to, it seems to me, after the last several days, but it might have some merit.

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Half Votes For Florida?

In a possible preview of things to come on Saturday, The St. Petersburg Times is reporting that Florida DNC member Jon Ausman has revealed that the DNC is leaning toward giving Florida's delegates half votes at the convention (h/t TPM):

"I think we're moving toward half votes for everybody," DNC member Jon Ausman said of his appeal to be heard Saturday by the DNC's rules and bylaws committee. That would mean superdelegates would have the same vote as pledged delegates.

In other words, Florida Democrats would have the same say in the presidential nominee as Democrats in Guam, American Samoa and the US Virgin Islands.

Ausman, you may recall, is the author of one of the appeals being heard on Saturday. This is how Ben Smith described it in April:

Ausman's two-pronged appeal asked to reinstate all of Florida's 23 superdelegates, and to give Florida at least half of its pledged delegates back -- his reading of the rules dictates that stripping the superdelegates and reducing the number of pledged delegates by more than fifty percent is prohibited.

Many people have felt that this should have been the sanction levied against MI & FL from the beginning and Terry McCauliffe admitted on Hardball recently that if the DNC had merely stripped MI & FL of half of their delegates from the beginning, "we wouldn't be sitting here talking about Michigan and Florida today." But to the extent that it differs from the Clinton campaign's stated goal of a full seating of both delegations, one does wonder, assuming this is the best remedy Clinton can hope for out of the RBC meeting on Saturday, which I think it is, what her reaction to it will be. The upside for Hillary is that it would serve as an official ratification of January's primaries by the DNC, which by definition puts those popular votes in play. The downside is that it's, well, far short of what she's asked for, which from a practical standpoint means the delegate threshold Barack would need to cross to win the nomination is lower than the 2209 the Clinton campaign regularly touts, and hence more readily reachable.

Update [2008-5-28 3:47:58 by Todd Beeton]:Tommy Flanagan brings us news from The AP that we should not expect full restoration of the Michigan and Florida delegations out of Saturday's meeting. Ya don't say.

A Democratic Party rules committee has the authority to restore delegates from Michigan and Florida but not fully seat the two states at the convention as Hillary Rodham Clinton wants, according to a party analysis.

Party rules require that the two states lose at least half of their convention delegates for holding elections too early, Democratic National Committee lawyers wrote in a 38-page memo.

The memo was sent late Tuesday to the 30 members of the party's Rules and Bylaws Committee, which plans to meet Saturday to consider the fate of convention delegates from the two states. The party is considering plans to restore at least some of the delegates to make sure the two important general election battlegrounds will be included at the nominating convention in August.

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