"Too Close to Call" in Pennsylvania

MSNBC calls it "too close to call" in Pennsylvania, CNN calls it "very competitive" but will wait until actual ballots are counted. More as we have it...

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Cutting in Opposite Directions?

We're about five minutes out from beginning to get some hard numbers. As always, we'll be updating this site very regularly with new numbers, both actual vote totals as well as interesting exit polling, so make sure to stick around.

I'm just getting back from class now, but a couple of interesting -- and perhaps conflicting -- exit poll data points stick out to me. According to the numbers, 67 percent of Pennsylvania Democratic voters believe that Hillary Clinton unfairly attacked Barack Obama. However, among those voters who made their decision within the last week, 58 percent backed Clinton and 42 percent backed Obama. Does this mean that even as voters chide Clinton for going negative they're willing to listen to the message imparted?

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Joe Sestak Gets Nuanced About His Support For Hillary At The Convention

Hmm, this is interesting.

Superdelegate and U.S. Rep. Joe Sestak said he will support Clinton as long as she wins as much of the popular vote as Obama -- or is at least close.

"As long as there's still credibility," he told reporters waiting for Clinton to arrive. "I still believe she's the best for this nation."

Sestak expects Clinton to win by at least 5 percent tonight, but hopes she manages a victory margin greater than 6 percent.

Asked whether he would continue to support Clinton if she won only narrowly or lost here, he said he could only support her if her candidacy remains viable.

A case in point as to how an Obama win in Pennsylvania will most likely mean the end of the primary campaign.

Not that that's especially likely to come to pass, at least not yet. Pat Buchanan may have just tipped his hand on MSNBC a moment ago when he said of Barack Obama:

He was determined to take her out, he said "I need 50% + 1,"it looks like he did not do it."

Clearly these guys know more than they're allowed to let on before polls close. Looks like he just may have done just that.

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Obama Looking Strong In Early Pennsylvania Exit Polls

Jim Geraghty, who's always reliable for some early exit polls on election day, has Obama up by a larger margin than one would expect even factoring in the usual Obama-bias the early exit polls seem to have traditionally.

Hold on to your hats. I've gotten the usual word of the exit poll results from one of my usual reliable sources. He notes that Obama traditionally over-performs in the earliest exit polls, and that he expects the numbers to change as the night wears on - perhaps a reversal.

But right now, the exits are saying Obama 52 percent, Clinton 47 percent.

Take these results with the usual grains of salt and skepticism. I'm told that Obama is carrying blue collar workers two to one, and he's winning Philadelphia in the neighborhood of three to one.

As usual, if you're a Pennsylvanian and haven't voted yet, don't let these or any other numbers discourage you.

Looks like some potential good news for Obama from fladem over at Open Left as well:

CNN (via Markos) has some Exit Poll numbers:

Seniors: 61C, 38O
White male: 55C, 45O
Blacks: 8C, 92O

The last SurveyUSA had Obama winning the African American vote 87-11 and had Clinton leading among seniors 62-32.

Hmm, is this going to be a long night or is it just one of those nights that looks like it's going to be long but then isn't?

Update [2008-4-22 18:57:25 by Todd Beeton]:For what it's worth, Drudge is reporting that the first wave of exit polls show Clinton up 4 points at 52-48. Marc Ambinder is understandably skeptical of anything Drudge reports but still says:

Not for nothing, I'd characterize the mood of the Clinton campaign as cautiously optimistic, and that of the Obama campaign as optimistically resigned.

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When Is A Talking Point More Than Just A Talking Point?

When it's actually a decent point...

From the Clinton "expectations memo":

The Obama campaign is attempting to pre-spin the results from tonight's Pennsylvania primary by suggesting that Sen. Clinton should - and will - win.

But after the Obama campaign's...record-breaking spending in the state, a fundamental question must be asked: Why shouldn't Sen. Obama win

Sen. Obama's supporters - and many pundits - have argued that the delegate "math" makes him the prohibitive frontrunner. They have argued that Sen. Clinton's chances are slim to none. So if he's already the frontrunner, if he's had six weeks of unlimited resources to get his message out, shouldn't he be the one expected to win tonight? If not, why not?

Jake Tapper picks up on this very question at Political Punch:

There's this presumption out there, it seems to me, as if it's just a CRAZY notion that Sen. Barack Obama, D-Illinois, would be able to win the Keystone State, like the idea is INSANE, just unfathomable, as if the state consists of Bill, Chelsea, and les freres Rodham.

I don't begrudge the Obama campaign for successfully setting Sen. Clinton's bar so high -- that's its job -- and of course I understand that in order for Clinton to have a real shot, she needs a big W so as to eat away at Obama's 800,000 popular vote lead, and to make the argument to super-Ds that states such as Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Florida are a problem for him.

Fine, fine.

But what's so crazy about the idea that the Democratic frontrunner -- flush with cash and outspending Clinton 3-to-1, running against a candidate with such high unfavorable ratings -- should be able to win a blue state primary?

It's true, of course, that Barack Obama was consistently behind by high double digits as recently as a month ago, but as nationalized as this election has been, it is worth pondering, if Barack Obama is as inevitable and convincing a nominee as his supporters claim, why is he going through seemingly the same process in PA in April that he went through in other big states over the past few months?

One of the reasons I think it's a good question and one that could get picked up elsewhere subsequently is that I do think it taps into a deep frustration among Obama supporters, many of whom saw (see) Hillary's support as a function of name recognition and "establishment" support that would erode once voters got to know Barack, especially after his impressive February run of victories. Well, that just hasn't happened.

Of course, there always is the PPP poll that has consistently shown Barack winning if only slightly in PA today and we've also seen him far outperform the polls in some states, although never in "Clinton country" per se, all of which fuels the counter-narrative that if Barack does win tonight the race will (should) be essentially over. For, not only will we finally have gotten a clear signal of a tangible shift in the electorate toward Barack but such an upset will credibly be interpreted as a signal that voters want this to be over.

But if Barack does not win tonight, and especially if Clinton's win is decisive, expect more members of the media to begin to ask: "Why isn't the so-called front-runner able to win these states?"

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