Still a Tight Race in Wisconsin

More new numbers from Wisconsin seem to raise the question, at least to me, as to why Hillary Clinton is not personally campaigning in the state.

The Democratic Presidential Primary in Wisconsin may be the most competitive contest between Senators Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton since Super Tuesday.

The latest Rasmussen Reports telephone survey shows Obama with a narrow four-point advantage over Clinton, 47% to 43%. Nearly one-fourth of the voters say there's a good chance they might change their mind. Five percent (5%) of those who currently support Obama and Clinton say there's a good chance they could change their mind before voting.

Clinton leads by ten points among women but trails by twenty-three points among men. Clinton leads among voters over 65 while Obama has the edge among younger voters.

This is the second straight poll showing Barack Obama's lead in Wisconsin within the margin of error. The Pollster.com average out of the state has the margin between Obama and Clinton at less than 5 points. It sure seems, as Rasmussen says in its lede, that this is a tight race.

These numbers combined really have me scratching my head. Why is Clinton not personally campaigning in the Badger State? I understand that the Clinton campaign is advertising in the state (though how powerful are ads calling for a debate in a state when the candidate running the ad isn't even personally campaigning in the state?), that top surrogates for her campaign are holding events there, and that she will be in the state beginning this weekend. But with Clinton seemingly having the opportunity to go into mini-Super Tuesday at the beginning of March with ay least one recent win under her belt rather than 10 straight losses, I just plain don't understand why she's in Ohio the next two days rather than in Wisconsin. Ohio and Texas are important. But are they really worth somewhat shirking Wisconsin for?

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Strategic Vision (R): Tight Race in Wisconsin

Looks like Jerome and I were thinking along the same lines, though coming to a similar conclusion from different directions...

Strategic Vision (R) went in the field in Wisconsin February 8 through 10 and came up with the following results in the Democratic primary, which I have included below along with the latest Pollster.com average in parens.

Barack Obama: 45 percent (45.4 percent)
Hillary Clinton: 41 percent (40.7 percent)

I'd still like to see a bit more polling before I jump to too many conclusions about the state of the race in Wisconsin. For instance, the majority of the time that this SV poll was in the field came before Obama was reported as the winner of the trifecta of Louisiana, Nebraska and Washington (plus the Virgin Islands) on Saturday. What's more, it doesn't take into account whatsoever voters' reactions to the results from last night.

This is important for a couple of reasons. First, momentum can be important to voters, freeing up some to join the bandwagon of a candidate winning race after race (as is the case in this instance). At the same time, though, Obama's string of victories leading into Wisconsin could lead Clinton supporters in the state to redouble their efforts in the hopes of helping salvage (or at least strengthen) the New York Senator's candidacy.

For now, though, it looks like the race in Wisconsin might be tighter than some otherwise might have expected.

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Pickups from Edwards: Obama 6, Hillary 0

With the endorsement of Texas Representative Charlie Gonzalez (TX-20, San Antonio), Barack Obama picked up his sixth congressional endorsement from supporters of John Edwards. In the last week, Obama was also endorsed by David Obey (WI-7, northwest Wisconsin), and Congressional Progressive Caucus member Eddie Bernice Johnson (TX-30, Dallas), both of whom supported Edwards before he suspended his campaign. Each of these endorsements came from upcoming primary states: Wisconsin holds its primaries February 19 and Texas March 4. Of the 16 Representatives who endorsed John Edwards, none have switched their support to Hillary Clinton. A complete list of Edwards' congressional supporters follows.

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PPP Poll: Obama Holds 11-Point Lead in Wisconsin

Democratic pollster Public Policy Polling (.pdf) of North Carolina has some new numbers out of Wisconsin, a state in which both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are running ads and which is viewed as one of Clinton's better chances in the post-2/5, pre-3/4 period, and they look like this:

ALLDemIndMenWomen
Obama5046635646
Clinton3944253543

A poll from American Research Group earlier this month showed almost the exact opposite results, with Clinton leading in the state by a 50 percent to 41 percent margin, so perhaps this PPP poll is an outlier. Indeed, PPP has ranked fourth from the bottom of the pack in terms of pegging results from earlier contests, differing from the actual margins by an average of 8.11 points. Then again, ARG has actually been a bit worse -- second worse, missing the actual margins by an average 8.50 points -- so who knows. For whatever it's worth, Republican pollster Strategic Vision, which has actually performed a little better than either PPP or ARG so far this cycle (it ranks fifth from the top with an average error of 6.27 points), had Clinton up 36 percent to 29 percent over Obama in mid-December -- but that was a lifetime ago. What's more, one could envision the climate in Wisconsin changing after numbers come in tonight. Nevertheless, this is what we have right now for numbers, so read into them what you will.

Badger State Battlegound, also Edwards meets Obama and Clinton

It's struck me that the critical contest in the Democratic race may be the Wisconsin race on February 19th, not the one on March 4th in Ohio and Texas as everyone seems to be assuming.  After Tuesday, Barack Obama is going to be the clear front runner in delegates, votes and money.

Wisconsin will be the first state that will vote after semi-official front runnerhood is conferred on Obama by the press. (Hawaii votes then too, but it's one of Obama's home states and hardly considered a 'bell weather').  In any case, while there are some points in Obama's favor there given the penetration of Chicago's media market into the southern part of the state, it's also the kind of blue collar state Hillary should be able to make inroads. The most recent poll taken there, shows Clinton in the lead 50% to 41%, granted it was ARG, but still.

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