Initial Thoughts on Cazayoux's Huge Win

Some initial thoughts...

  • There is no overstating it: This was a huge win for the Democrats. This was a district that had been in Republican hands for decades, one that tends to lean about 7 points more Republican than the nation as a whole in presidential elections (or at least did before Hurricane Katrina). In short, this was a district that the Republicans should have been able to win but simply couldn't.

  • If the Republicans can't win here, where are they going to be able to win in November? Seriously. If Democrats are winning districts that are this red -- they now in fact hold seven districts with a similar lead to the Republicans' 6 -- and are competitive in even redder districts like Mississippi's first, which leans 10 points more Republican than the nation as a whole, the Democrats' advantage in House elections nationwide might actually be larger than previously expected by some.

  • Don Cazayoux will be a better Congressman than Woody Jenkins, or the previous incumbent Richard Baker. Yes Cazayoux will be on the right end of the Democratic caucus in the House. Nevertheless, he will undoubtedly be more progressive than either the Republican he was running against or the Republican he is replacing. As such, if you want to help keep him in Congress past January, head over to Act Blue to contribute to his reelection campaign today.

  • The attacks linking Cazayoux to Nancy Pelosi and Barack Obama didn't work. They simply didn't. Yes, the Republicans pulled in more votes and a greater share of the vote than they did last month in the first round of balloting. So what. This is a very Republican district and yet despite of this lean and the fact that the GOP tried to make this election about Jeremiah Wright, they still lost.

    This race was very much put forward by the chattering class as a referendum on Obama's coattails (which proved to be strong in the very Republican-leaning Illinois 14th congressional district earlier this year), and Obama's coattails passed the challenge. Simply put, the Republicans may have thought they had found a silver bullet in Obama and Wright (and Pelosi, too, for that matter), but they didn't.

    And just to add one more thing... If Obama has positive coattails (or at least doesn't have negative ones) when he is mercilessly attacked in the paid media in a district (as well as the national establishment media) and yet the Democrat tied to him nevertheless pulls an upset and wins in a Republican-leaning district even without Obama even attempting to defend himself there, doesn't that kind of undercut the notion that Obama is unelectable? That he doesn't have coattails? ...?

This was a huge win tonight. Now we move on to Mississippi's first congressional district, where you can help Travis Childers and the Democrats pull off another super-upset by contributing to his campaign through ActBlue.

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Gallup: Nine Straight Days with Clinton, Obama Inside MoE

During each of the seven days, Gallup daily tracking polls showed the race between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama to be effectively tied nationally, within each survey's margin of error. Yesterday the poll showed Clinton leading by 4 points -- also a statistically insignificant margin -- though some pointed to the data as proof that Obama had been "tanking" since denouncing Jeremiah Wright earlier this week. However, today's polling from Gallup makes it the nine straight days in which the spread between Clinton and Obama has been within the margin of error.

Today's results from the Gallup Poll Daily tracking of the Democratic race, based on interviews conducted April 29-May 1, mark the ninth straight day that Clinton and Obama have been statistically tied in the preferences of national Democratic voters. (To view the complete trend since Jan. 3, 2008, click here.)

With 48% of Democrats nationwide backing Clinton for the presidential nomination and 46% favoring Obama, neither candidate can currently claim superiority in popular Democratic support.

Looking backwards, this is also the 12th day out of 15 in which Gallup has pegged this race within the margin of error nationally (not that there is a national primary electorate, per se, or that even if there were there was a singular national primary rather than a series of primaries and caucuses dotted across the country).

There certainly had been a long stretch in which Obama's lead nationally over Clinton was outside the margin of error. However, it appears that that lead disappeared perhaps even before the Pennsylvania primary and certainly by a couple days after balloting in the the state -- seemingly before Wright reinjected himself into the race. Indeed, there is little statistical evidence, at least in Gallup polling, that Obama has been significantly hurt within the national Democratic electorate by the reemergence of Wright last week, with Obama polling a single point below where he was a week ago. This isn't to say that Obama has not taken a hit -- he now trails John McCain, according to Gallup -- but talk of Obama's demise are a bit hasty.

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Take a Look at This Map - Again

Two weeks ago when I posted it, many of y'all said I was insane.
(And that was the nicest thing that I could print.)

Now it looks to be pretty spot on.

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Obama's Magic Number: 283

This may be the first time that I've seen the race phrased this way, but Marc Ambinder puts the race in these terms following Barack Obama's endorsement by a Texas superdelegate and news that Obama will pick up three more add-on superdelegates from Illinois on Monday:

Texas DNC Member John Patrick, vice president of the Texas AFL-CIO. That's 12 for Obama since Pennsylvania. He needs 283 to clinch the nomination.

While technically there isn't a whole lot of difference between adding from the bottom up rather than subtracting from the top down, rhetorically there is a difference. Talking about the magic number -- the remaining number of delegates a particular candidate needs to receive in order to secure the Democratic nomination -- suggests an end game in sight. Indeed, with 187 pledged delegates to be decided just on Tuesday in North Carolina and Indiana, Obama's magic number will almost certainly be under 200 by the middle of next week (and perhaps quite a bit under 200 at that point). For reference, Clinton's magic number currently stands at over 400 (423, to be exact) and, even under the best of circumstances, will not likely be under 300 even after Tuesday.

It's not entirely clear that the establishment media will in fact pick up this metric in talking about the race for the Democratic nomination. Although Ambinder is very influential, both from having been an editor previously at The Hotline and from being widely read inside the Beltway in his current position at The Atlantic Online, there's no saying if such a meme would take hold on the cable nets and the big national newspapers, and if it did when it would. That said, Amnbinder's way of looking at the race does, at the least, provide a concrete reminder that, in the end, this is about delegate math, and Obama is a whole lot closer to securing the Democratic presidential nomination than Clinton is.

Update [2008-5-1 14:5:26 by Jonathan Singer]: Clinton unveils four New York add-ons of her won, lowering her magic number to 419.

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A Palatable Compromise Out of Michigan?

CNN has the story:

Michigan's Democrats have released another new proposal yesterday in their quest to ensure their state will be represented at this summer's Democratic National Convention.

Rep. Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick, Sen. Carl Levin, Democratic National Committee Member Debbie Dingell and United Auto Workers President Ron Gettelfinger - the working group that has been meeting to try to end the impasse -- sent a letter to state party chair Mark Brewer Tuesday in which they urged the Democratic National Committee to seat the Michigan delegation under a formula that would give a 10-delegate edge to Hillary Clinton.

Clinton was the only major candidate to appear on the ballot in the state's January contest, which she won with 55 percent of the vote. No delegates were awarded because of national party penalties on Michigan Democrats for moving up their primary date. Forty percent of January's primary voters chose the "uncommitted" option on the ballot; a majority of those "uncommitted" delegates are backing Barack Obama.

Clinton's campaign has said that the results of the January vote - which would give her an 18-delegate edge, 73-55 - should count. Obama's campaign had said the delegates should be split evenly, 64-64.

This proposal, which splits the difference between what the Clinton campaign is calling for and what the Obama campaign is calling for (actually falling slightly closer to the Clinton position and, what's more, opening the door for Clinton to net even more delegates out of the state through superdelegate endorsements, which she leads in the state by a seven to one margin), seems like a fairly reasonable compromise. On one hand, the proposal would allow for voters' sentiments to have a say despite the fact that their political leaders made the unwise (in retrospect) decision of playing chicken with the Democratic National Committee, and on the other hand it would ensure that Barack Obama is not unduly hampered by having followed the rules and refusing to campaign in the state.

Now it's not clear that either campaign will accept this deal. For the Obama campaign, this would not be optimal because it would enable Clinton to gain delegates (perhaps netting as many as 16 or more) despite the fact that Obama himself did not wage a campaign in the state and, what's more, his name was not even on the ballot. For the Clinton campaign, this deal would lead to giving up eight pledged delegates and, perhaps more importantly, concede some of the uncertainty upon which the campaign is enduring. (With Michigan and Florida resolved, it becomes increasingly clear that the math is difficult, shall we say, for the former First Lady.) Moreover, it's not even clear that this would be the best possible compromise.

But it is a proposed compromise, one in which everyone would be giving up something they want -- but one in which a tricky situation for the party would be resolved. It might not be the best solution possible, but it may be one of the better ones at this point. And the question now must be asked, for all parties involved, as to whether they care more about scoring political points or about resolving this issue.

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