Thursday, January 31, 2008

Sidebar Updates

I've made some changes to the info in the margin. First, I'll be daily updating the Feb. 5th state-by-state poll averages. As we get new polls sans Edwards and Giuliani, I'll drop their names from the averages. Also, now that we're getting polls more frequently, I'll only include polls that are no more than two weeks old in my averages. I've also changed the delegate numbers to reflect the number of delegates that will actually be allocated based on the results on Super Tuesday. In most states, there is some number of delegates that will be chosen in a way that does not at all reflect the results of Tuesday's primary. In some states, the Republican primary is totally unrelated to delegate selection, or is related in an arbitrary and undefined way. Second, you'll notice parentheses next to the actual numbers in the national polls. The numbers in those parentheses reflect the change in each candidate's standing since Edwards/Giuliani dropped out. Third, I'll have daily updates of projected delegate counts based (as closely as possible) on the various rules employed in each state (although the rules are consistent on our side). Since we don't have polls for every state, it's impossible to allocate all of the delegates. Those will be listed as "unallocated". I should also note that I'm using the RCP super-delegate counts. Other news agencies will give slightly different numbers.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Rehashing the General Election Polls

Now that we have a (relatively) prohibitive front-runner, I'd like to take a deeper look at those state-by-state SurveyUSA polls with regard to our nightmare, John McCain. We've also got newer polls from a handful of other states.

The Midwest is exactly what we would expect, a battleground. Unfortunately, McCain looks to have the early edge in the region.

Ohio goes 48%-46% and 50%-43% for McCain over Clinton and Obama, respectively. Minnesota is 49%-45% and 49%-42%. Wisconsin, 49%-45% and 46%-44%. Missouri stays in their camp, 50%-44% and 51%-40%. The only bright spot is Iowa, where Obama wins 55%-38% (Clinton loses 44%-48%).

Three red states, states that other potential GOP nominees would have risked losing, appear safe for McCain. He wins Alabama by 21% over Clinton and 33% over Obama. Kansas is 53%-40% and 53%-39%. Kentucky is 51%-41% and 54%-35%.

A couple of swing states look like anything but. McCain locks up Virginia 52%-43% against Clinton and 52%-40% against Obama. New Mexico goes 51%-42% and 50%-41% for McCain.

The Pacific Northwest is completely up for grabs. McCain ties Obama 47%-47% in Oregon and actually beats Clinton 49%-45%. He beats her in blue Washington, too, by a 49%-46% margin, though Obama holds it, 52%-43%.

At least we've got the big northeastern states firmly in our column, right? Not exactly. Clinton's 13% margin of victory in New York looks good compared to Obama's meager 49%-43% win. Massachusetts is a nightmare. Clinton barely holds it, 49%-45%, while Obama actually loses, by a 50%-45% margin.

California looks OK, though. Clinton wins 57%-38%. Obama wins 50%-44%. That's not great, but it's not terrifying, either.

Obama Won Among Late Deciders

30% of voters made up their minds at some point in the last month. Among those voters, Obama won 41% to Clinton's 37% and Edwards' 19%. Contrast that to Clinton's 50%-33%-14% win among all voters, and it's pretty clear that the momentum is on our side.

One more interesting nugget; the latest of deciders, the 10% who made up their minds today, split almost evenly between the three candidates (Clinton 34%, Obama 30%, Edwards 29%).

Don't Count Out Mike Huckabee

I know, I know, he's got no money. I also know that the delegate selections rules (in the Feb. 5th states, at least) tilt the playing field against him. Still, it's not totally crazy that he can win the nomination. Just look at the points Edwards scored as the noncombatant in last week's race war. OK, so it wasn't all that significant, but it was something. Tomorrow night we'll see Romney try to rhetorically crucify McCain at the Reagan library, and Huckabee can play the role of the adult in the room. I've got to think that any boost Huckabee would get from that kind of thing would come from Romney's pocket. If that can help him lock-up almost all of the Southern delegates, then he'll be in position to keep fighting. I'm not saying that anti-McCain Republicans will turn into pro-Huckabee Republicans, but he's got a shot to do that. The question would be, simply: will the Republicans revolt against the most unacceptable candidate (on the issues), or will they just revolt against John McCain? I do think that McCain is the overwhelming front-runner at this point, but there is still some intrigue going into Feb. 5th.

Standings Going Into Super Tuesday

Florida Points
Me 10
JJ 10
Devin 10
Matt 10
Joaquin 6
Geoff 4

New Standings (remember that everybody got 6 points for Obama's win in SC)
Joel 188
Devin 178.5
JJ 162.5
Geoff 116
Matt 114.5
Joaquin 85

Here's a reminder of how I proposed to do Feb. 5th picks. Since I didn't hear any objections when I originally posted my proposal, I hereby elevate that plan from doctrine into dogma (that makes my plan infallible).

Also, for the sake of ease, each party's picks will be worth 200 points. With at least those 400 points left on the board, everybody's still got a shot to win.

Good Ambinder Post About the Strategic Implications of Delegate Allocation Rules


Monday, January 28, 2008

Romney the Major Beneficiary of Thompson's Exit

It's been about a week since Fred left us, and by now we've got a pretty good idea of where Fred's voters are going. I've been tracking the trends from my rolling average of Rasmussen polls and the picture is pretty clear.

McCain 26.7% (+2.7%)
Romney 26.7% (+7.3%)
Huckabee 16.3% (+0.3%)
Giuliani 13.0% (+3.7%)

If you just look at the daily numbers (no additional averaging), you get an even starker impression.

Romney 28% (+9)
McCain 26% (+2)
Huckabee 16% (--)
Giuliani 13% (+3)

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Florida Picks







Friday, January 25, 2008

Edwards' Surge Continues

Today's Zogby and SurveyUSA trackers (both polls are rolling averages of several days of polling), show Edwards continuing to close on Clinton. Both polls show Edwards competing with Clinton for the lead among white voters.

Here are the numbers:

Obama 38% (-1)
Clinton 25% (+1)
Edwards 21% (+2)

Obama 45% (-2)
Clinton 30% (+1)
Edwards 24% (+2)

Rolling averages understate late trends, so we should assume that Edwards is closer to tied with Clinton than these numbers state and that Obama's lead is closer to single-digits than these numbers would indicate. Here's hoping for a double-digit win for Obama over Edwards.

Gimme Yo' Florida Picks ASAP

I need your top 3 for the Florida Republican primary, ASAP. Since the race for the top spot looks like a two-way affair, the point values will be 12-6-4.

For South Carolina, I'm assuming everyone is picking Obama (Joaquin picked Obama, so even he thinks his lead is too big to be jinxed). If you don't want to pick Obama, let me know.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Edwards Catching Fire in South Carolina

Two brand new polls in South Carolina show their native son catching up with Clinton and spurring a real fight for second-place. Look at the numbers, but especially look at the trend-lines:

Obama 39% (-4)
Clinton 24% (--)
Edwards 19% (+4)

Obama 45% (-1)
Clinton 29% (-7)
Edwards 22% (+7)

What if he finishes ahead of Clinton? What happens? What do you think?

Larry Sabato Wrote What I Was Going to Write

So just read this.

I'm starting to lose hope a little bit. Obama has some chance left, but I'm beginning to worry that a month from now I'll be praying for Bloomberg to enter a Clinton-Romney race or, even worse, be stuck with a Clinton-McCain race that doesn't leave Bloomberg any political space to occupy.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

South Carolina Dem Picks

Since the South Carolina race looks pretty over, I'll only ask for a first place pick and it'll only be worth 6 points. Fire away.

Estimated Delegate Counts

Based on the most up-to-date poll data from the Feb. 5th states, I have conjured up a projected post-Feb. 5th delegate count on our side. I'll explain my formula when I have more time.

Clinton 1,215
Obama 829
Edwards 331

Clearly, that's unacceptable. Obama needs a huge win in South Carolina and his ads better move the poll numbers in these states.

Last Gauge of Florida Mo' w/ Thompson

We've seen three new Florida polls, from SurveyUSA, Rasmussen, and now, Insider Advantage. In each case, the trends go back about a week. Here they are:

McCain (22.3%) +0, +1, -2
Romney (21.0%) +1, +7, +4
Giuliani (20.0%) -3, +1, -2
Huckabee (14.0%) -4, -4, -1

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

It's the Economy/Latinos, Stupid!

The cross-tabs from the latest California Field Poll reveal two giant problems for Obama in his efforts to win in California and just about everywhere. Before I drop the numbers (like they're hot), I should mention that the sample size is only 377 LV, so there is some risk inherent in looking too closely at subgroups.

Here are the numbers by race:

Whites: 32%-30%
Latinos 59%-19%
Blacks: 24%-58%
Asians/Others: 41%-22%

Voters were also given a list of issues and asked if they were among the "most important" in making up their minds. The greatest differences among Clinton's voters and Obama's voters were on "Jobs and the economy" and "foreign policy". 61% of Clinton's voters called the economy important, to only 29% of Obama's voters. Conversely, 44% of Obama's voters said the same about foreign policy, to 19% among Clinton's voters. Those different priorities jive with the class gap between Clinton voters and Obama voters.

Clearly, Obama needs to do a better job speaking to Latinos and to all Americans concerned about the economy. I guess we kinda already knew that. Haha. Let's see if he can do it.

Thompson Drops Out, No McCain Endorsement

"Today I have withdrawn my candidacy for President of the United States. I hope that my country and my party have benefited from our having made this effort. Jeri and I will always be grateful for the encouragement and friendship of so many wonderful people."

If Thompson doesn't endorse McCain, who has the most to gain from his withdrawal? There is a clear argument that some social conservatives (the movement types who don't trust McCain-Romney) will move over to Huckabee. On the other hand, Reagan Republicans who want the whole three-legged stool of defense, low taxes, and social conservatism (Romney's terminology, not mine) might go over to McCain or Romney. I guess the question between the two would over style and foreign policy experience. The only clear loser here is Giuliani.

Monday, January 21, 2008

SurveyUSA Confirms Hucka-Drop, Rebukes Romney Surge

Here are the numbers (trends one week old):

McCain 25% (--)
Giuliani 20% (-3)
Romney 19% (+1)
Huckabee 14% (-4)
Thompson 7% (-2)
Paul 7% (+3)

Rasmussen Florida Poll Shows Surprising Trend

This was conducted yesterday (great thing about Rasmussen is the 24-hour poll). Trends from a week ago:

Romney 25% (+7)
McCain 20% (+1)
Giuliani 19% (+1)
Huckabee 13% (-4)
Thompson 12% (+1)
Paul 5% (--)

As you can see, no boost for McCain as we might have expected. Instead, it looks like Huckabee collapsed after losing South Carolina and Romney is taking in the new group of wayward social conservatives. There's further evidence for that in the cross-tabs Rasmussen released (they are selective about cross-tabs, so we don't have trends on these numbers). Romney wins self-IDed conservatives with 28% to Rudy's 18%. Huckabee is at best 3rd with that group. More telling, Huckabee's lead among Evangelicals is only 25% to 20% for Romney and 17% for Thompson. I have to assume that Huckabee's numbers in each of those groups were better before South Carolina (and that Romney's weren't as great). This is only one poll, but it reveals a surprising, yet plausible trend. We'll see if other polls back it up.

Sunday, January 20, 2008


It seems to me that Obama's greatest problem with the Democratic base (other than their fetishization of the Clintons, which he can't to much about), is that his core message lends itself to misinterpretation. When he talks about bringing the country together ahead of fighting for our priorities, it sounds to many like DLC-speak. Indeed, my first post on this blog was about how I still wasn't sure if Obama was a DLCer. The Democratic base doesn't want bipartisanship for its own sake, and all to often Obama sounds like he does. As I said, that perception is a misinterpretation of Obama's communitarianism. For him, bipartisanship isn't the ultimate goal. He wants to bring the American people back to a sense of solidarity in our politics that we haven't had since Watergate/Roe. He wants to reestablish the great consensus that brought us the New Deal, the New Frontier, and the Great Society. That necessitates bipartisanship, sure, but not a bipartisanship among political elites. No, real bipartisanship means that the great consensus extends across party lines within the broader electorate. Unfortunately, Obama doesn't get the opportunity to give that entire explanation every time he speaks (especially in debates). That's why well-intentioned Democrats like myself can find themselves turned off to him for months at a time. The problem is compounded by Edwards' presence in the race. He helps Clinton by pushing the "fighter" mantra in every debate, serving to paint Obama as a caricature of himself - a Kumbaya-singing hippie - in a setting where Obama has little opportunity to explain his greater vision. Anyway, I really think that his message can win, but only if he finds a formulation of it that works in every setting.

Here's the best I've seen (excerpts from today's speech in Atlanta, per Ambinder, emphasis mine, full speech here):

And yet, if we are honest with ourselves, we must admit that none of our hands are entirely clean. If we’re honest with ourselves, we’ll acknowledge that our own community has not always been true to King’s vision of a beloved community.

We have scorned our gay brothers and sisters instead of embracing them. The scourge of anti-Semitism has, at times, revealed itself in our community. For too long, some of us have seen immigrants as competitors for jobs instead of companions in the fight for opportunity.

Every day, our politics fuels and exploits this kind of division across all races and regions; across gender and party. It is played out on television. It is sensationalized by the media. And last week, it even crept into the campaign for President, with charges and counter-charges that served to obscure the issues instead of illuminating the critical choices we face as a nation.

So let us say that on this day of all days, each of us carries with us the task of changing our hearts and minds. The division, the stereotypes, the scape-goating, the ease with which we blame our plight on others – all of this distracts us from the common challenges we face – war and poverty; injustice and inequality. We can no longer afford to build ourselves up by tearing someone else down. We can no longer afford to traffic in lies or fear or hate. It is the poison that we must purge from our politics; the wall that we must tear down before the hour grows too late.

Because if Dr. King could love his jailor; if he could call on the faithful who once sat where you do to forgive those who set dogs and fire hoses upon them, then surely we can look past what divides us in our time, and bind up our wounds, and erase the empathy deficit that exists in our hearts.

There is a young, twenty-three year old white woman named Ashley Baia who organizes for our campaign in Florence, South Carolina. She’s been working to organize a mostly African-American community since the beginning of this campaign, and the other day she was at a roundtable discussion where everyone went around telling their story and why they were there.

And Ashley said that when she was nine years old, her mother got cancer. And because she had to miss days of work, she was let go and lost her health care. They had to file for bankruptcy, and that’s when Ashley decided that she had to do something to help her mom.

She knew that food was one of their most expensive costs, and so Ashley convinced her mother that what she really liked and really wanted to eat more than anything else was mustard and relish sandwiches. Because that was the cheapest way to eat.

She did this for a year until her mom got better, and she told everyone at the roundtable that the reason she joined our campaign was so that she could help the millions of other children in the country who want and need to help their parents too.

So Ashley finishes her story and then goes around the room and asks everyone else why they’re supporting the campaign. They all have different stories and reasons. Many bring up a specific issue. And finally they come to this elderly black man who’s been sitting there quietly the entire time. And Ashley asks him why he’s there. And he does not bring up a specific issue. He does not say health care or the economy. He does not say education or the war. He does not say that he was there because of Barack Obama. He simply says to everyone in the room, “I am here because of Ashley.”

By itself, that single moment of recognition between that young white girl and that old black man is not enough. It is not enough to give health care to the sick, or jobs to the jobless, or education to our children.

But it is where we begin. It is why the walls in that room began to crack and shake.

And if they can shake in that room, they can shake in Atlanta.

And if they can shake in Atlanta, they can shake in Georgia.

And if they can shake in Georgia, they can shake all across America. And if enough of our voices join together; we can bring those walls tumbling down. The walls of Jericho can finally come tumbling down. That is our hope – but only if we pray together, and work together, and march together.

Brothers and sisters, we cannot walk alone.

In the struggle for peace and justice, we cannot walk alone.

In the struggle for opportunity and equality, we cannot walk alone

In the struggle to heal this nation and repair this world, we cannot walk alone.

So I ask you to walk with me, and march with me, and join your voice with mine, and together we will sing the song that tears down the walls that divide us, and lift up an America that is truly indivisible, with liberty, and justice, for all. May God bless the memory of the great pastor of this church, and may God bless the United States of America.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

McCain = Samuel Alito?

McCain is now in a position similar to that a Supreme Court nominee about to go before a hesitant - but not openly hostile - bunch of US Senators. The "Senators" in this case are the voters of Florida and the 22 states that will vote by Feb. 5th. In the parlance of my tortured analogy, the voters of Florida would compose the Judiciary Committee. They get the right to make an initial "recommendation" to the rest of the country. Just like a nominee going before a less-than-hostile Judiciary Committee, McCain is more likely to win that not (or at least more likely than anyone else), but has to seal the deal with a good performance in his "confirmation hearings" (the next ten days). If he gets a positive recommendation, his chances in the confirmation vote on Feb. 5th will be rather good.

Evening Standings Update

NV Dem Points
JJ 27
Joaquin 18
Joel 9
Devin 9
Geoff 9
Matt 0

NV Rep Points (I'm ready to call 2nd for Paul)
Joel 24
Devin 24
JJ 24
Joaquin 24
Geoff 12
Matt 0

Total NV Points
JJ 51
Joaquin 42
Joel 33
Devin 33
Geoff 21
Matt 0

SC Rep Points

Joel 36
Devin 36
JJ 36
Joaquin 20
Geoff 12
Matt 0

Updated Standings
Joel 172
Devin 162.5
JJ 146.5
Geoff 106
Matt 98.5
Joaquin 69

Saturday Picks

NV Dems






No picks received

NV Reps






No picks received

SC Reps






No picks received

Friday, January 18, 2008

New General Election Head-to-Heads Again Show McCain is the One to Worry About (Re-Post)

The new Diageo-Hotline poll:

Clinton 50%
Giuliani 40%

Obama 54%
Giuliani 33%

Clinton 48%
Huckabee 39%

Obama 53%
Huckabee 30%

Clinton 49%
Romney 37%

Obama 56%
Romney 26%

Clinton 43%
McCain 47%

Obama 41%
McCain 39%

As you can see, Obama does far better than Clinton against each potential Republican nominee. He also leaves a few more undecided, because some of those undecideds switch over to the Republican when Clinton is on the ballot. Edwards' numbers a similar to Obama's, but with even more undecideds. The exception is against McCain, when he gets smoked 39%-47%.

SurveyUSA has a whole slew of post-Iowa (and some post-New Hampshire) state-based head-to-heads. Rather than make this a ridiculously long post with all of the data, I'll just summarize it.

Ohio: Obama and Clinton crush Romney and Giuliani by 8-12%. They both tie Huckabee and lose to McCain (although Clinton holds him to a 2% win).

Iowa: Obama crushes all opposition by margins of 17-30%. Clinton wins big against Romney and Giuliani, but ties Huckabee and loses to McCain by 4%.

Missouri: Obama loses by 10% to McCain and Huckabee, but beats Romney and Giuliani by smaller margins. Clinton loses to McCain and Huckabee by 6% and 2%, respectively. She beats Romney by 7% and Giuliani by 4%.

Oregon: No Republican other than McCain comes even close here. McCain? He beats Clinton by 4% and ties Obama.

Washington: Same deal as Oregon, except McCain loses to Obama by 9% and only beats Clinton by 3%.

Virginia: Clinton beats Romney by 8%, Huckabee by 7%, and Giuliani by 6%. Obama beats those same Republicans, but only by 4%, 5%, and 1%, respectively. Both lose to McCain by large margins.

That does it for the swing states. Now, can either Clinton or Obama expand the map in places like Alabama, Kansas, and Kentucky?

Alabama: No one comes close, although Clinton loses by an average of 13.5% to Obama's 26%. Anybody a little bit racist?

Kansas: Every match-up not involving John McCain is extraordinarily close. McCain crushes both Democrats by double digits. The only solid win is for Clinton over Giuliani by 6%.

Kentucky: McCain and Huckabee beat both Democrats in routs. Giuliani beats Clinton by 2% and Obama by 6%. Romney loses by 6% to Clinton, but by only 1% to Obama.

Clinton looks like the stronger nominee, with the notable exception of Iowa. That's not to say that anyone should compound the mistakes made by Iowa, New Hampshire and Michigan voters who cast their ballots for her. McCain is clearly the strongest nominee for the GOP, followed by Huckabee, who is nearly as strong, but can't open up opportunities in blue states like Oregon and Washington. Giuliani and Romney both look like they'd be pathetic nominees, but Romney might be a touch worse.

I've (Sort of ) Changed My Mind About Edwards

Maybe a week ago I argued that Edwards ought to stay in the race through Feb. 5th and maybe longer, pick up a few hundred delegates, and use those delegates to buy himself whatever position he wants in an Obama administration. Now that I've looked around at some of the Feb. 5th polling data, I've come to change my mind.

Come Feb. 5th, Edwards low standing in the polls in some of largest states (CA, NY, NJ, etc.) could fall even farther. Indeed, it's hard to see how he can continue to argue that it's a three-person race after getting crushed in his home state, an occurrence which now looks all but inevitable. If his support on election day comes in around or under 15%, he'll be drastically underrepresented in delegates won. If that's the case, then it's pretty clear that he'd do better by progressive if he tried to shift his 10% of the vote to Obama instead of fighting a futile war to pick up a few delegates here and there. Certainly, there are a few states where his presence would be a net positive to Obama. Take Oklahoma, where recent polling shows the two white candidates dominating the vote. Edwards' presence in the race would serve to split that white vote and cut into Clinton's margin of victory over Obama (in terms of delegates). However, those states will be vastly outvoted by the states where Edwards could help Obama by dropping out.

I'm still not going to argue that Edwards should get out before Feb. 5th, or at least not until after South Carolina. He might have a shot in Nevada tomorrow, and I think an Edwards win there would hurt Clinton more than Obama (of course, a Clinton-Edwards-Obama finish could be detrimental. More importantly, he'll siphon off white votes in South Carolina, helping to ensure an Obama win there. If he finished third in Nevada and a distant third in South Carolina (which looks fairly likely) then I'll want him to drop out immediately. If, however, he surprises in either of those states and jumps up to the 18-20% range nationally, he should stay in and lock in that support in the form of delegates, which can be transferred to Obama more easily than percentage points in a poll.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Winner Take All States

I keep meaning to write about the Democratic race, but the Republican primary is so much more fun. As we lead up to Feb. 5th, the various delegate selection rules will gain significance. Most importantly, 8 of the 22 states holding GOP contests on that date use winner-take-all rules and the six largest of those, New York, Missouri, Arizona, New Jersey, Utah, and Connecticut states add up to more than 30% of the Feb. 5th delegates (330). Since the other states will split their delegations among several candidates, the six winner-take-all states will be huge.

Let's look at how those six states break down. Rudy Giuliani and John McCain are in a dogfight for New York's 101 and New Jersey's 52 delegates. Connecticut looks to be Giuliani's only safe state, so those 30 delegates likely won't be pried away from him. By the way, it's no coincidence that three of the largest Giuliani-friendly states use winner-take-all. His campaign spent much of early 2007 convincing each of those respective state parties to adopt the rule. Utah's 36 delegates are firmly planted in Mitt Romney's hands. While we have no recent polling data out of Missouri or Arizona, earlier polling showed both states tracking roughly the same as the national polls, with the obvious exception that McCain does about ten points better in Arizona. So, McCain is probably leading Huckabee and Romney by about a dozen points, while Missouri is likely anyone's race to win.

Overall, McCain is best-positioned to win a good chunk of delegates. He's more likely than not to win AZ's 53 delegates and is somewhere around tied in NY, NJ, and MO for 211 more. Wins in SC and FL could put him over the top in each of those states. Giuliani's situation is similar. He's got that base of 30 delegates from CT, plus a good shot the 153 delegates from NY and NJ. I'm a bit more skeptical about MO's 58, but a big win in FL could make it possible. Romney's got the 36 from Utah and an outside shot at MO's 58. Huckabee's only real shot to get one of these blocks of votes is to win in Missouri.

Another large blocks of delegates come from states that use a modified winner-take-all system. Those include California (173), Georgia (72), and Oklahoma (41). Each of the three award delegates to the winner of each Congressional District, with a few bonus delegates awarded to the statewide winner. If any candidate has a decent, but not necessarily overwhelming, lead in any of these states, they'll have a good shot at winning and taking all.

That's a solid majority of the Feb. 5th delegates (and a majority of the delegates needed to clinch the GOP nomination) that could swing on a few thousand votes in each state.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Updated Standings Post-Michigan (That State I Don't Give a Damn About)

Michigan Points
Matt 27
Devin 18
Joel 9
JJ 9
Geoff 9
Joaquin 9

Updated Overall Standings
Joel 103
Matt 98.5
Devin 93.5
Geoff 73
JJ 59.5
Joaquin 49

First Call for Saturday Picks

This will be our first round of picks involving multiple states. It should be a fun twist. I'm calling for everyone's picks by the end of the day tomorrow. The Nevada Dem Caucus will be worth 27 points (18 for the winner and 9 for 2nd), because the only recent polling shows a three-way race. The polling also makes it impossible to call the Republican races in Nevada and South Carolina anything other than 4-way races. Therefore, each of those races will be worth 44 points (24 for 1st, 12 for 2nd, and 8 for 3rd). Here's what I need from each of you:

Top 2 Dems in Nevada (Point Values are 18-9)
Top 3 GOPers in Nevada (Point Values are 24-12-8)
Top 3 GOPers in South Carolina (Point Values are 24-12-8)

Please wait until tomorrow morning to send me your picks, because I haven't made up my own mind, yet. But don't forget to get them in tomorrow. Thanks.

Democrats for Mitt Ad

Still, I don't want you guys thinking that I give a damn about Michigan, because I don't.

Monday, January 14, 2008

The Remarkable Stabilization of American Politics

That may seem a strange title in the middle of the most topsy-turvy and ground-breaking presidential primary in, well, all of American history. However, I ask you to bear with me. The other day, I was curious about the relationship between the national House vote and the partisan division of the House. I headed over to Wikipedia, where someone has compiled the national popular vote for each election going back to 1942. It turns out that the partisan division of the House tracks pretty closely with the national popular vote. Typically, an increase in the Democratic share of the vote will produce and increase in the Democratic share of the House. Equally, sizeable shifts in the partisan division of the House rarely occur without sizeable shifts in the popular vote. Only twice, in 1942 and 1996, has the party that won the popular vote lost the majority in the House and in each case, that error was corrected two years later. Overall, that's good news for our democracy, and bad news for the thesis that says that gerrymandering has produced unresponsive elections.

Most of the variance between the popular vote and the House composition can be explained by the majority-compounding power of districted elections. 53% of the vote is often transformed into more than 53% of the seats in any districted election. For example, take a state that voted 53% Democratic in a given election. If that state is divided into 10 perfectly representative districts, then each district will vote 53% Democratic and the delegation will be 100% Democratic. Clearly, districts are not uniformly drawn so as to be perfectly representative of the state's partisan divide. There are natural concentrations of voters of one or the other party and districts are drawn in a haphazard amalgam of disparate methods. Still, the general idea still holds true. That's why Massachusetts has gone six straight elections without electing a single Republican congressman, for example.

It also turns out that a district system compounds larger majorities at greater rates than it compounds smaller majorities. That's why our 52% in 2006 translated into 53.6% of the House's seat while both the 1974 and 1976 elections produced 2/3 majorities off of 57.1% and 55.5% popular majorities. It's hard to determine the "natural" rate of compounding (because of the problems outlined above), so we don't know if the few points difference between 2006 and 1974-76 is entirely responsible for the disparate results. It's also possible that periods in which one party wins large majorities, especially in years ending in "0" they are likely to dominate state legislatures and therefore to use the redistricting process to gerrymander themselves a larger majority. There's a little evidence for that in the data, but its hardly conclusive and at times contradictory. Without another convincing narrative, we are left with the theory that districts naturally compound majorities at increasing rates.

So far, all I've shown is that the partisan division of the House is strongly tied to the popular vote in the preceding election. We know that there are structural distortions built in to the districting system (population concentrations, gerrymandering, entrenched incumbents in safe districts of the opposite party, etc.), so the popular vote and the seat shares will not track together perfectly. So, why the title about stabilizing American politics?

Well, one of my secondary motivations for looking into past popular vote totals was to see if there were any periods in which the compounding factor was significantly greater of less than in other periods. Specifically, I was looking to see if Democrats' majorities were especially compounded in the 1960s and 1970s. I was looking for the effects of gerrymandering, which, as I said above, I did not find. I was looking, however, because the partisan divisions of the House have fluctuated with less frequency and power since the 1980s than they did before and more and better gerrymandering is often used as an explanation. As we've seen, gerrymandering is not to blame.

So, why did House elections become less dynamic after the 1980? It's actually pretty simple: voters choices became less dynamic. It's not a sexy answer, but it turns out that voters pretty much decide House elections. It's not just House elections that have become less dynamic, either. If you were to chart presidential approval ratings (and I did) you would see that those ratings have become less susceptible to fluctuation, as well. Before Reagan, it was typical for a president to experience multiple spikes and falls in their ratings. Starting with Reagan, however, we've seen three presidents, Reagan himself, Clinton, and Bush 43, whose ratings followed a long smooth curve for all or nearly all of their presidencies. Across presidencies, the variations from a hypothetical median line have become far less drastic since 1980. Even presidential election results seen less fluctuation. Take in two halves the 16 presidential elections in the period covered by Wikipedia's House data, and that change is clear. The first 8 elections saw Democrats win 53.4%, 49.6%, 44.3%, 42.0%, 49.7%, 61.1%, 42.7%, and 37.5%, for a range of 23.6%. The other 8 elections show Democratic results of 50.1%, 41.0%, 40.6%, 45.6%, 43.0%, 49.2%, 48.4%, and 48.3%, for a much smaller range of 9.1%.

It turns out that we're not only in a period of close partisan division, unlike any since the Gilder Age, but our politics are also remarkable stable. Assuming this president finishes his term, we'll have gone 28 years with only 4 presidents. That's something that, sans FDR, hasn't happened since the day of Andrew Jackson. Even in that early period, as well as in the 1930s and 1940s, the House was politically volatile. The 1800-1824 period was the most stable of the early years, but wasn't close to the stability of 1982-2006.

So, why such unprecedented stability?

Feb. 5th Picks Proposal

I would like to offer a proposal for scoring Feb. 5th picks and ask for your consideration and amendments. Here's my idea:

First, we assess a point total for each party's picks that is roughly equal to the standings leader's total pre-Feb. 5th. So, if the leader has 146 points, then each party's picks will be worth a total of 150 points for 300 total points decided on Feb. 5th. I think that achieves a good balance between the need to weight Feb. 5th super-heavily and the need to keep the previous state's results relevant to the final standings.

For each party, 30% of the total points will be based on picking the candidate that wins the most delegates (on the GOP side, we might split those points between picking the winner and picking the runner-up, depending on how close the race is at that point).

The other 70% of the points for each party will be allocated among some of the following 12 states:

New York
New Jersey

Each of those states has a large delegation to both conventions. Some of the states will have to be removed from the list if it looks like their outcomes are predetermined (i.e., I don't anticipate New York, New Jersey, or Connecticut will stay on the list and Illinois will likely be a GOP-only pick).

Let's say, hypothetically, that our final list for the Democratic picks is as follows:

California (39%)
Massachusetts (11%)
Georgia (9%)
Minnesota (8%)
Missouri (8%)
Tennessee (8%)
Colorado (6%)
Arizona (6%)
Alabama (5%)

The percentages are the share of those states' delegates held by each state. Those percentages will be used in allocating points to each state. Here's how that will work:

Let's say that the state-based portion of the Democratic picks is worth 100 points. I'll give approximately half of those points evenly to each state. In this case, I'd give each state 6 points, for 54 of the total 100 points. The other 46 points would be divided up according to the percentages above. The following would be the point valuations for each state:

California 6+18=24
Massachusetts 6+5=11
Georgia 6+4=10
Minnesota 6+4=10
Missouri 6+4=10
Tennessee 6+3=9
Colorado 6+3=9
Arizona 6+3=9
Alabama 6+2=8

To summarize, the point total would be approximately double the points held by the leader in the standings. Let's say that's 400 points. Each party would be worth 200 points. Of that 200, 30% (or 60 points) would be for simply picking the candidate that wins lion's share of the delegates. The other 70% (or 140 points) would be distributed semi-proportionally among a list of states, none of which have natural proclivities for any of the remaining candidates. All points in each state would go simply for picking the winner.

Whadd'ya think?

The Huge Stakes Behind the McCain/Romney Battle Royale in Michigan

It's fairly obvious that a Romney loss would end his campaign while a win would keep him afloat. McCain's stakes are just as serious. Take a look at the RCP polling averages for South Carolina, Nevada, Florida, and Feb. 5th. He is at worst tied in each of them and leads in the most recent (i.e. post-New Hampshire) polls. A win in Michigan could put him solidly ahead in Nevada AND South Carolina with just four days for Giuliani (in Nevada) and Huckabee (in South Carolina) to recover. Two wins on Jan. 19th and he'll roll into Florida the winner of 4 of the first 5 contests, including 4 in a row. That kind of momentum would likely take his minuscule lead in Florida and put it in the deep freeze. Feb. 5th would be a mere formality, a coronation of McCain as the nominee. The scenario is sort of like Iowa was for the Democrats. If the national frontrunner had won, she would have moved very close to locking up the nomination after only one state. Instead, the underdog won and now the decisive event has been put off until at least Feb. 5th.

Oh, and don't let this post lead you to think that I give a damn for the whole state of Michigan, because I don't.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Michigan Picks







Last Call for Michigan GOP Picks

Since the top 3 group seems pretty clear here, I'll only ask for the top 2 picks. Still, with three viable candidates, the point values will go up here. That means 18 points for the winner and 9 points for 2nd.

Edwards Should Stick Around Through Feb. 5th

If Edwards drops out earlier, even if he endorses Obama, a good chunk of his supporters will be inclined to go with Clinton. After all, they largely fit the same profile as Hillary's supporters (white, lower-middle class blue-collar working families). Besides, let's be honest, some of them are probably racists. Others will be women who had not previously considered the choice between a woman and a black man and who will now go with the woman. Others will decide that they need a fighter, not a uniter, for their interests. That fits right in with Hillary's message. Even a passionate appeal from Edwards himself will only leave a lot of his supporters vulnerable to poaching by the Clinton camp.

Now imagine that Edwards endorses Obama with hundreds of Feb. 5th delegates in his hip pocket. Even with all of the different delegate selection processes in the Feb. 5th states, I have to imagine that his campaign would have an easier time of ensuring that his delegates go to Obama. In Arizona, for example, he could allow Obama's campaign to recruit his supporters to run for Edwards delegate slots and veto any known Clinton supporters. It would require a lot of effort on the part of the Obama campaign, but this is a delegate fight, after all.

Anybody But Mac

CNN's new General Election head-to-heads make it pretty clear whom we ought to worry about:

Clinton 55% (+4)
Giuliani 42% (-3)

Obama 56% (+4)
Giuliani 40% (-5)

Clinton 56% (+2)
Huckabee 42% (-2)

Obama 58% (+3)
Huckabee 39% (-1)

Clinton 58% (+4)
Romney 40% (-3)

Obama 59% (+5)
Romney 37% (-4)

Clinton 50% (+2)
McCain 48% (-2)

Obama 49% (+1)
McCain 48% (--)

Three notes:
1) Trends date back to the CNN poll of 12/6-12/9
2) This is a poll of registered voters. CNN usually sticks with that until closer to the election under the assumption that lots of voters don't know how likely they are to vote until they know who the candidates are and what they are talking about.
3) The lashings that both Clinton and Obama give Rudy, Mitt, and Huck in this poll are bigger wins than we've seen in any head-to-head poll at any point in this cycle.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Giuliani Rapidly Losing Relevance

In the last three days of the Rasmussen tracking poll, Giuliani has dropped from 17% to 13% to 9% in today's poll. Keep in mind that each day's poll is actually an average of polls conducted over the previous four days, so Giuliani's 9% is probably far lower than that.

I guess I shouldn't be too hard on the Mayor. There are two new conflicting polls out of Florida. Both were done between Iowa and New Hampshire.

Insider Advantage, a firm that I'm not particularly fond of, shows the following numbers:
Giuliani 24%
Huckabee 19%
McCain 19%
Romney 13%
Thompson 8%
Paul 5%

Datamar has drastically different numbers:
Huckabee 24%
Romney 20%
McCain 18%
Giuliani 16%
Thompson 9%

Their Dem numbers are:
Clinton 40%
Obama 28%
Edwards 19%

The State of the Democratic Primary Race

Read this.

Oh Bill, You Contributed So Little to This Race

At least he knew when to quit.

First Relevant Michigan Poll

This is by the Rossman Group, a Democratic polling firm that I've never heard of. Still, these are numbers.

Huckabee 23%
Romney 22%
McCain 18%
Giuliani 8%
Thompson 4%
Paul 3%

Just what I was hoping for, a three-way race.

New Hampshire Turnout Favors Dems

Sure, this matters less than the actual results, but I wanted to point out that 55% of New Hampshire-ites pulled Democratic ballots.

Dem - 279,276
GOP - 228, 531
Total - 507,807, 96% reporting in both parties

In 2000, the Republican race out-drew the Democratic race 60%-40%. This is improvement, and speaks to out chances of continuing New Hampshire's leftward trend and taking its 4 electoral votes as well as John Sununu's Senate seat (besides reelecting our two congressmen and our state government trifecta, the first since 1874).

Konopnicki Out

Holy crap, we just might win this one.

Of course, O'Halleran could still get in it and win the primary, but he'd have a much harder time against Sydney Hay than Konopnicki would have.

The GOP Race After New Hampshire

After Iowa, I wrote this about Marc Ambinder's pre-Iowa pathways to the GOP nomination. At this point, only Huckabee, McCain, and Giuliani have their original pathways intact (for the moment, at least).

Mike Huckabee's pathway.... Huckabee wins Iowa convincingly, helping John McCain to beat Romney in NH narrowly, causing Romney to falter; Huckabee, skipping Michigan, wins South Carolina handily, having grabbed conservatives from Fred Thompson... he loses narrowly to Rudy Giuliani on Jan. 29, in Florida, but Huckabee has enough momentum, delegates and money to make a run at the southern states (Georgia Alabama) who hold contests on Feb. 5; Giuliani wins the northern states, and for the next few weeks, Huckabee and Giuliani battle for d decisive delegate edge. Giuliani's social positions prove too onerous; Huckabee cleans up in debates, and Huckabee slides to victory, narrowly.

Now it's all about Michigan and, especially, South Carolina. Three new polls show him holding 7, 12, and 17 point leads in that state. As it looks like McCain will be his primary competition there, we can expect the margin to shrink a bit after his win today. That's why a win in Michigan would be huge for Huckabee. With that momentum (and McCain's lack of it), he would win South Carolina and emerge as the conservative challenger to Giuliani in Florida and beyond. The question is whether he can raise the money to compete in a state as large as Michigan. He's a natural fit for the state, but that's not enough if McCain can drown him out with TV ads.

John McCain could win the nomination if.... McCain comes in a surprise third in Iowa, or not; he wins New Hampshire, wins or ties in Michigan, which merits him a second look in South Carolina. Those big fundraisers recruited by John Weaver and co. finally are able to find donors willing to contribute the max to a candidate on the rise, and money swarms in via the Net. The press writes the McCain rising story. By this point, Huckabee and McCain are competing for the votes of conservatives and Giuliani is a non-factor, his support having dissipated. McCain edges Huckabee in South Carolina (or comes close) and puts himself in the catbird's seat for Jan 29. What would help: Thompson drops out and endorses McCain. Clinton beats Obama and independents vote for McCain in New Hampshire.

McCain probably needs a win in Michigan. He needs it, because he's got to beat (or very nearly beat) Huckabee in South Carolina and that would give him the momentum to do it. If he ties Huckabee or Romney in Michigan, he might still be able to get a win in South Carolina if Thompson endorses him first. That may or may not be enough, even if McCain wins Michigan. With wins in Michigan and South Carolina (Nevada would be nice, too) he can position himself as the anti-Rudy in Florida. I'd bet he wins that fight. Regardless, he wins after Feb. 5th. As long as he acquits himself well in Michigan and South Carolina (yes, Nevada, too) he sets Florida up as a three-way race with Huckabee, Giuliani, and himself. Again, I'd have to call McCain the front-runner in that race.

Rudy Giuliani could win the nomination if.... He finishes dismally in Iowa, but the press doesn't really cover it that much because they're covering the vanquishing of Hillary Clinton; Giuliani finishes a strong third in New Hampshire, a strong third in Michigan, fourth in South this point, he'll have not won a single contest (with the exception, perhaps, of Nevada) but won't be all that far behind in the delegate race. He'll have spent millions on television in Florida; he wins Florida; and suddenly the momentum swings back to him and he wins enough contests on Feb. 5 to turn the race into a two-man sprint ... Giuliani and a social conservative. And he beats the conservative.

So much for strong third in New Hampshire, but he did avoid losing to Paul (that really is a big deal). He'll do alright in Michigan and Nevada (if I were him, I'd go after Nevada big-time). The worst thing that can happen for him is to have two candidates survive to challenge him in Florida. If the story leading into Florida is a McCain-Huckabee or a Huckabee-Romney fight, Rudy risks being pushed to the margin (as he was in Iowa and New Hampshire). He needs one badly bruised challenger to emerge and to slay that challenger in Florida and on Feb. 5th.

Romney's pathway now calls for wins in Michigan and Nevada plus a strong third in South Carolina. Hopefully, South Carolina knocks out either Huckabee or McCain. He then squeaks by Giuliani for 2nd in Florida, forcing Rudy out of the race. Against either Huckabee or McCain on Feb. 5th, he argues that he's the real conservative and he wins the lion's share of delegates. Regardless of how close the delegate count is, he outlasts his competitor with his own finances. The toughest part of this pathway? Winning Michigan one week after two big disappointments. If he does that, though, Mitt is back.

Thompson is done. RCP's polling average has him tied for 4th (and 20+ points back) in his one state strategy, South Carolina. The only question left is: when does he endorse McCain and does he time it so that he helps McCain get a crucial win in Michigan, South Carolina, or Florida?

Looks like Obama will Get the Culinary Workers After All

Ambinder writes.

He's already got SEIU Nevada.

A NH Win Following an IA Loss Is Unheard of, Right?

In a word, no.

Since the Iowa Caucuses started to matter in 1976 until 2004, there were 6 races in which both the Democratic caucuses and New Hamphire primary were contested. The Republicans had 5 such Republican contests.

In 1976, Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford won both states. Carter repeated the feat in 1980. Al Gore and John Kerry did it in 2000 and 2004.

Split decisions, however, have been just as common. In 1984 and 1988, Gary Hart and Michael Dukakis won New Hampshire after losing Iowa. Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush did the same in 1980 and 1988. So did Pat Buchanan in 1996 and John McCain in 2000.

New Hampshire has been especially likely to contradict Iowa's choices after especially close caucuses. Remove the blowout caucuses on the Democratic side (none of the Republican caucuses in that period were really blowouts) in 1976, 1980, 1984, and 2000 from the calculations, and split decisions are actually more common than back-to-back wins.

As we saw above, the 1988 Democratic race falls in the split decision category. So do the Republican races of 1980, 1988, 1996, and 2000. Only the Democratic race of 2004 and the Republican race in 1976 saw back-to-back wins for a single candidate.

So, which event is a better predictor of the nominee? Well, Walter Mondale won Iowa and survived a New Hampshire loss to take the nomination. On the other hand, Michael Dukakis suffered a third place finish in Iowa before a New Hampshire win helped carry him to the nomination. The evidence on the Republican side is no more conclusive. Reagan and George H.W. Bush lost Iowa in 1980 and 1988 but won New Hampshire. Bob Dole and George W. Bush did the opposite in 1996 and 2000.

The points is, this has happened before and will probably happen again. The race goes on.

New Hampshire Points and Updated Standings

Total New Hampshire Points
Joel 40
Devin 31
JJ 31
Geoff 28
Matt 25
Joaquin 16

Dem Points
Joel 18
Matt 6
Devin 6
JJ 6
Geoff 6
Joaquin 0

GOP Points
Devin 25
JJ 25
Geoff 22
Joel 22
Matt 19
Joaquin 16

So, the updated standings are as follows:
Joel 94
Devin 75.5
Matt 71.5
Geoff 64
JJ 50.5
Joaquin 40

I need Michigan GOP Top 3 picks by the end of the day Thursday. Hopefully we'll have a new poll by then.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Ron Paul Endorsements in AZ

His website notes four endorsements from Arizona:

State Sen. Karen Johnson
Former State Rep. Colette Rosati (she's listed with R.N. after her name)
Former Graham County Sheriff Richard Mack
Goldberg and Osborne Attorney Christopher Kalabus (my personal favorite)

Kalabus' endorsement statement says "Dr. Ron Paul is also the only candidate with a solid understanding of monetary policy and the economic issues facing us. President Paul will implement sound economic policy and secure sound currency and financial prosperity for the future of the United States of America.”

Johnson tells us to support Paul "even if you are a Democrat, Independent, Libertarian, or vegetarian....

Her endorsements earn two positive comments on the Ron Paul endorsement blog. joe says, "WOW, yet another politician in the system and not a slave to it!!! WOO HOOOO."

Finally, I would be remiss if I didn't note the Arizona-related endorsement of Former Rep. Barry Goldwater, Jr.

And, just for my own interest, I have to mention 2004 Constitution Party nominee Chuck Baldwin.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Interesting Note from's Mark Blumenthal

From a recent post on the speculation regarding a post-Iowa "bump" for Obama:

"One more thing. I cannot point to an academic study to prove this, but most campaign pollsters will tell you that when a candidate is gaining, vote preference is usually the last thing to change. The movement usually shows up first on internal measures. So on that score, consider that the UNH survey, which shows the smallest "bump" also shows a huge shift on perceptions of electability. Ten days ago, likely Democratic primary voters in New Hampshire considered Clinton the "candidate with the best chance of defeating the Republican" by a a two-to-one margin (45% to 22%). Obama has closed that margin on the most recent survey to a single percentage point (Clinton 36%, Obama 35%)."

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Your Source for Wyoming GOP Convention Results

After Wyoming's delegation was slashed from 28 to 12, they had to reallocate the delegates. 12 of Wyoming's 23 counties get to choose a delegate. The other 11 will choose alternates only (Laramie county, the most populous, will choose one of each). So far, 7 of the 12 delegates have been chosen.

Mitt Romney has won delegates from Albany, Campbell, Converse, Fremont, Laramie, Sweetwater, Teton, and Uinta Counties. Fred Thompson has won delegates from Crook and Goshen Counties and Duncan Hunter has the delegate from Sheridan County. The delegate from Hot Springs is still undetermined.

Romney also has the lead in alternates, having won in Big Horn, Carbon, Laramie, Lincoln, and Park Counties. Niobara County went for Fred Thompson, Platte County for Duncan Hunter, and Sublette County for John McCain. Johnson, Natrona, Washakie and Weston Counties elected uncommitted alternates. McCain is the only candidate to have won a county without having campaigned in the state. Ron Paul campaigned in the state, but has not yet won a county. Four alternates are still undetermined.

With one delegate left undetermined, Romney has clinched first place in the Wyoming County Conventions.

Corrected Standings

It was brought to my attention that my earlier point totals were incorrect. They are corrected below:

Overall Standings
Joel 54
Matt 46.5
Devin 44.5
Geoff 36
Joaquin 24
JJ 19.5

Dem Points
Joel 33
Matt 28.5
Devin 19.5
Geoff 15
JJ 10.5
Joaquin 6

GOP Points
Devin 25
Joel 21
Geoff 21
Joaquin 18
Matt 18
JJ 9

Which Firm Was the Most Accurate in NH in '04?

Here are the actual results from 2004:
Kerry 38%
Dean 26%
Clark 12%
Edwards 12%
Lieberman 9%
Kucinich 1%

Below are the final polls from the four firms that did tracking polls in 2004 and are polling again in 2008. In each case, the deviation from the actual results is in ().

Kerry 35% (-3)
Dean 25% (-1)
Clark 13% (+1)
Edwards 15% (+3)
Lieberman 6% (-3)
Kucinich 1% (--)

Suffolk Univ.
Kerry 37% (-1)
Dean 19% (-7)
Clark 8% (-4)
Edwards 8% (-4)
Lieberman 8% (-1)
Kucinich 0% (-1)

Kerry 36% (-2)
Dean 25% (-1)
Clark 11% (-1)
Edwards 13% (+1)
Lieberman 7% (-2)
Kucinich 3% (+2)

Kerry 37% (-1)
Dean 24% (-2)
Clark 9% (-3)
Edwards 12% (--)
Lieberman 9% (--)
Kucinich 3% (+2)

As you can see, every firm, with the notable exception of Suffolk University, did pretty well across the board. So, just don't trust Suffolk, I guess.

Same New New Hampshire Polls Show McCain Is Clear Leader

American Research Group (trends from Jan. 1st thru 3rd)

McCain 39% (+4)
Romney 25% (--)
Huckabee 14% (+2)
Giuliani 7% (-1)
Paul 6% (-3)
Thompson 1% (--)

Rasmussen (trends from Dec. 18th)

McCain 31% (+4)
Romney 26% (-5)
Paul 14% (+7)
Huckabee 11% (--)
Giuliani 8% (-5)
Thompson 5% (+2)

Two New New Hampshire Polls Show Obama Bump

American Research Group (trends from Jan. 1st thru 3rd)

Obama 38% (+7)
Clinton 26% (-9)
Edwards 20% (+5)
Richardson 3% (-2)

Rasmussen (trends from Dec. 18th)

Obama 37% (+9)
Clinton 27% (-4)
Edwards 19% (+1)
Richardson 8% (--)

Looks like I overestimated the Hill Pill's supporters.

More Senate Recruitment News

There will be a special election to replace resigned Sen. Trent Lott. We've known for a few days now that one contender would be the newest member of the Senate, Roger Wicker. Now we know that at least one top-tier challenger, former Governor Ronnie Musgrove, is in the race. Apparently former Rep. Ronnie Snows, who lost to Rep. Chip Pickering in 2002, is also in the running. What we still don't know, however, is the date of the election.

Our New Hampshire Picks













Good luck to all.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Last Pre-Caucus New Hampshire Polls


Clinton 37%
Obama 25%
Edwards 15%
Richardson 4%

Romney 29%
McCain 25%
Huckabee 13%
Giuliani 9%
Paul 8%
Thompson 2%


Clinton 32%
Obama 26%
Edwards 20%
Richardson 7%

McCain 34%
Romney 30%
Huckabee 10%
Giuliani 9%
Paul 7%
Thompson 2%

New Hampshire Picks

Since we know that the Democratic race in New Hampshire is a three-way affair, I'll just ask for the top 2. On GOP side, however, while only McCain and Romney look like they can win, Giuliani, Huckabee, and Paul are all fighting for 3rd and 4th (see my post about how the GOP race has changed post-Iowa). So, I'll ask for the top 4 GOPers once again.

After much debate (with myself), I've decided to remove the "viable" label on Edwards for this round. That means that there are two viable Dems in New Hampshire, so the first place pick is now worth 12 points (second place is worth 6).

On the Republican side, point totals will be the same as before (12 for 1st, 6 for 2nd, 4 for 3rd, 3 for 4th).

Send me those picks ASAP and I'll post them tonight.


Point Totals After Iowa

Overall Standings

Joel 54
Matt 46.5
Devin 44.5
Geoff 36
Joaquin 24
JJ 19.5

Dem Points

Joel 33
Matt 28.5
Devin 19.5
Geoff 15
JJ 10.5
Joaquin 6

GOP Points

Devin 25
Joel 21
Geoff 21
Joaquin 18
Matt 18
JJ 9

How the Iowa Results Change the Republican Primary Race

Two men emerged as the big winners today. Obviously, Mike Huckabee's win is a good thing for him. It's also good news for John McCain, who did no worse than expected himself, because it keeps Mitt Romney from harnessing any Iowa momentum for his melee with McCain in New Hampshire.

Conversely, two candidates took significant hits to their chances. Romney was clearly dealt a blow tonight. Now, he's in a position where anything other than a win in New Hampshire will likely drive him out of the race. Fred Thompson also suffered a big loss today because Huckabee has laid claim to the Evangelical vote. With Huckabee and either McCain or Romney likely to be major players in South Carolina, it's hard to see Thompson's Palmetto State plan working out. I'd be a little surprised if Thompson doesn't drop out and endorse McCain sometime between now and South Carolina.

Let's take a look back at Marc Ambinder's paths to the nomination:

Mike Huckabee's pathway.... Huckabee wins Iowa convincingly, helping John McCain to beat Romney in NH narrowly, causing Romney to falter; Huckabee, skipping Michigan, wins South Carolina handily, having grabbed conservatives from Fred Thompson... he loses narrowly to Rudy Giuliani on Jan. 29, in Florida, but Huckabee has enough momentum, delegates and money to make a run at the southern states (Georgia Alabama) who hold contests on Feb. 5; Giuliani wins the northern states, and for the next few weeks, Huckabee and Giuliani battle for d decisive delegate edge. Giuliani's social positions prove too onerous; Huckabee cleans up in debates, and Huckabee slides to victory, narrowly.

Now Huckabee has step one of the program down. Since a win in New Hampshire looks unlikely, his strategy now centers around South Carolina. He needs to come out of there with a big win so that he can take Giuliani (and his money) on toe to toe in Florida. To do that, he needs McCain and Romney to split New Hampshire and Michigan. If one of them wins both, they could be a credible challenger in South Carolina, at the very least making it impossible for Huckabee to become the sole anti-Rudy.

John McCain could win the nomination if.... McCain comes in a surprise third in Iowa, or not; he wins New Hampshire, wins or ties in Michigan, which merits him a second look in South Carolina. Those big fundraisers recruited by John Weaver and co. finally are able to find donors willing to contribute the max to a candidate on the rise, and money swarms in via the Net. The press writes the McCain rising story. By this point, Huckabee and McCain are competing for the votes of conservatives and Giuliani is a non-factor, his support having dissipated. McCain edges Huckabee in South Carolina (or comes close) and puts himself in the catbird's seat for Jan 29. What would help: Thompson drops out and endorses McCain. Clinton beats Obama and independents vote for McCain in New Hampshire.

This strategy is intact after Iowa. The only part that isn't is the hope that Clinton would win in Iowa so that additional independents could help McCain in New Hampshire. McCain looks to be in pretty good shape there anyway.

Rudy Giuliani could win the nomination if.... He finishes dismally in Iowa, but the press doesn't really cover it that much because they're covering the vanquishing of Hillary Clinton; Giuliani finishes a strong third in New Hampshire, a strong third in Michigan, fourth in South this point, he'll have not won a single contest (with the exception, perhaps, of Nevada) but won't be all that far behind in the delegate race. He'll have spent millions on television in Florida; he wins Florida; and suddenly the momentum swings back to him and he wins enough contests on Feb. 5 to turn the race into a two-man sprint ... Giuliani and a social conservative. And he beats the conservative.

This strategy is still intact. It could really start to crumble (not that it hasn't already) if Giuliani drops below third in New Hampshire and Michigan.

Mitt Romney could win the nomination if.....Romney wins in Iowa and New Hampshire; wins or places second in Michigan; South Carolina becomes a firewall...either Huckabee re-emerges...Romney outpolls Giuliani in South Carolina and turns the contest, by Florida, into a two-man sprint with Giuliani; or, Giuliani's support crumbles without an early state victory...

Well, there goes the easy road. Now he needs a New Hampshire win plus a Michigan win to get back to front-runner status. Then a second-place finish in South Carolina to Huckabee would leave Willard locked in a two-man race with Huckabee. That fight would take place in two rounds: 1) Florida, 2) Super Tuesday. If nothing else, Romney's money ensures that he'd last through a prolonged delegate fight and might even win one.

Fred Thompson could win the nomination if..... Thompson hangs in there, benefits from a Huckabee fall in Iowa -- i.e., Huckabee CANNOT win Iowa in this scenario, which means that Romney wins Iowa which means that Romney probably wins New Hampshire; Thompson somehow wins South Carolina and wins Southern states on Feb. 5; Romney and Giuliani battle in some northern states (and Romney maybe even wins one), and Thompson lives to fight Giuliani or Romney as the conservative alternative.

This is totally shot. He needs Huckabee to hurt himself somehow.

Outlook for New Hampshire:

This is an elimination game for Romney and McCain. For Huckabee and Giuliani, the name of the game is a solid third place to show some staying power. Paul would also love to get that bronze medal, which would encourage his supporters and donors to keep it up. Thompson is just trying to avoid losing to Hunter or Keyes.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

The National Context

Now the race moves to New Hampshire, which probably won't end things. As we get closer to Feb. 5th, the national picture will start to matter a lot.

Here is the most recent Rasmussen tracker:

Romney 18%
McCain 17%
Huckabee 16%
Giuliani 13%
Thompson 13%
Other/Undecided 23%

Clinton 41%
Obama 24%
Edwards 17%
Other/Undecided 18%

Gimme Your Picks By the End of Tomorrow

I won't look at them until I've decided myself, but I want to post them tomorrow. I'll post our point standings ASAP.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Yesterday's Zogby Tracker

Trends go back to the first tracker a couple of days ago.

Clinton 28% (-2)
Obama 28% (+2)
Edwards 26% (--)
Richardson 7% (+2)
Biden 4% (-1)

Romney 28% (-1)
Huckabee 26% (-1)
McCain 12% (-1)
Thompson 12% (+4)
Paul 9% (+2)
Giuliani 7% (--)

Who Gets to Debate Before New Hampshire?

There will be three debates, 1 Democratic and 2 Republican, in the 5 days between Iowa and New Hampshire. Given the brevity of that time period, these debates could be crucial, especially for those campaigns that need an extra shot of mo' to overcome a disappointment in Iowa. However, all three debates will use certain inclusion criteria to determine their participants.

The ABC/WMUR/Facebook (yes, Facebook is a sponsor) debates on Jan. 5th require that candidates meet at least one of the following criteria:

"-- Place in the top four in the Iowa caucuses, which will be held on Thursday.

-- Poll 5 percent or higher in one of the last four reputable random sample New Hampshire telephone surveys sponsored by an established news organization and conducted and released by 9 a.m. on Friday, Jan. 4.

-- Poll 5 percent or higher in one of the last four reputable random sample national telephone surveys sponsored by an established news organization and conducted and released on or before 9 a.m. on Jan. 4." (Per the Union Leader)

We can assume, then that Clinton, Obama, and Edwards will almost certainly be in the Democratic debate. Richardson is at or above 5% in the two most recent New Hampshire polls, so he'll probably be included, too. Neither Biden, Dodd, nor Kucinich are likely to poll that well before Jan. 4th, so one of them needs a 4th place finish in Iowa to join the debate. Obviously, Biden is the only one of those three who appears to have a chance at that. So, it looks like we'll see Clinton, Obama, Edwards, Richardson, and maybe, Biden (assuming they're all in the race at that point). Solid performances by Biden have been so prevalent in the previous debates, that it's hard to imagine what a debate would be like without him.

Exhibit A:

Among the Republicans, we can probably count on seeing Giuliani, Huckabee, McCain, Paul, Romney, and Thompson. Hunter and Keyes are gonna be locked out.

Fox News, true to its character, has no published no inclusion criteria other than being named Rudolph William Louis Giuliani, Michael Dale Huckabee, John Sidney McCain III, Willard Mitt Romney or Fred Dalton Thompson. Obviously, that list excludes Duncan Lee Hunter, Alan Keyes, and most notably, Ronald Ernest Paul, even though Paul consistently out-polls Thompson in New Hampshire. As the Union Leader story, above, relates, the New Hampshire Republican Party Chair is pi-issed.

That's a Really Good Question

Given the incredible closeness of the general polling picture, it seems especially pertinent for the NY Times' Adam Nagourney to ask: what if no one wins? Marc Ambinder responds with his own thoughts on the issue.

A 2nd Post-Christmas New Hampshire Poll

Suffolk University/WHDH (trends go back 3 weeks):

Clinton 36% (+3)
Obama 22% (-4)
Edwards 14% (-1)
Richardson 7% (+2)
Biden 4% (+4)

McCain 31% (+12)
Romney 25% (-6)
Giuliani 14% (-3)
Huckabee 9% (-1)
Paul 6% (+1)
Thompson 2% (-2)

Still More Iowa Polls

Strategic Vision has another poll out (trend-lines go back 3 days):

Obama 32% (+2)
Edwards 29% (+1)
Clinton 27% (-2)
Biden 5% (--)
Richardson 2% (--)

Romney 30% (+3)
Huckabee 28% (-1)
McCain 16% (+2)
Thompson 13% (-2)
Paul 4% (--)
Giuliani 4% (--)

CNN (trends date back 12 days):

Clinton 33% (+3)
Obama 31% (+3)
Edwards 22% (-4)
Richardson 5% (-2)
Biden 5% (+2)

Romney 31% (+6)
Huckabee 28% (-5)
Thompson 13% (+4)
McCain 10% (+1)
Paul 8% (+2)
Giuliani 8% (-3)