Monday, September 24, 2007

Defining Question(s) of the Democratic Presidential Race

How does Obama hit Hillary from the left and still maintain his message of hope and idealism? Is that even possible? Does he even need to do that, or can he count on Richardson (on Iraq, maybe on experience) and Edwards (on everything) to do that for him? If he can't, doesn't that give Edwards and/or Richardson an opportunity to eclipse him as the real alternative to Hillary? Or does it make him look even more like a front-runner and like a leader to let the second-tier do his bidding?

An unrelated, but equally important question: do Obama and Edwards share our burning desire for one of them to beat Hillary and would they drop out and endorse the other candidate the moment they become non-viable? Or will they miss the window and allow Hillary to pick up unstoppable mo'?

Finally: is New Hampshire really over? The average shows her nearly 20 points up. In fact, the numbers in Iowa and South Carolina are the only numbers that are significantly different from the national polls (with the exception of Richardson's numbers in NH and NV, which are, of course, significantly higher than his national average of about 3%). I just assume that voters in all states other than Iowa, South Carolina, and New Hampshire have not yet begun the process of choosing a candidate to support. That theory explains the rough similarity between the national numbers and almost all state polls. Still, operationalizing that theory, one would expect that each Iowa, South Carolina, and New Hampshire would show numbers that in some way reflect the reality of voters paying more serious attention. One explanation would be that the Iowa and South Carolina polls simply reflect lingering good will towards Edwards and the impact of a whole lot of black voters, respectively, and that no state polls are really meaningful at this point. Smaller, but similar deviations from the mean in Florida, New Jersey and other polls grant some credence to this theory. Another possibility is that the waters have just been muddied too much by the variance in polling screens, the level of likeliness to vote required to be included in a poll sample. At a glance, this seems doubtful, because at least the New Hampshire polls have been remarkably consistent as of late, regardless of the polling outfit.

So, whadd'ya think?


Joaquin said...

I think Obama is going to try for as long as possible to do the last one--stay above the fray and let Edwards and Richardson do the street fighting.
If they start to eclipse him, which I don't think is going to happen as long as the media continues to McCain 2000 him (and I firmly think they will,) I think he is capable of bringing out the big guns.

I have virtually no doubt in my mind that BO would drop out and endorse Edwards if Edwards were to pull ahead; the 64,000 dollar question is what Edwards will do.

I think that, while the polls are useful for fundraising purposes, as far as telling what will happen they are useless until December. That being said, I think that your theory that outside the earlies people are not paying attention is pretty valid.

Alton Brooks Parker said...

What really worries me is that it may not be entirely clear upon who rests the onus to drop out. Suppose this not too unlikely scenario plays out:
Edwards wins Iowa, passes Obama to come in second in New Hampshire and Michigan. Obama comes back with wins in Nevada and South Carolina. Hillary wins Florida, with Obama and Edwards nearly tied for second.

I think that leaves two possibilities for Feb. 5. 1) It's a 3-way free-for-all. 2) Hillary is still interpreted to be the front-runner, while it's left unclear who is the anti-Hillary candidate.

Oh well, that's my nightmare.