Bell Curve The Law Talking Guy Raised by Republicans U.S. West
Well, he's kind of had it in for me ever since I accidentally ran over his dog. Actually, replace "accidentally" with "repeatedly," and replace "dog" with "son."

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Uncommitted

The Michigan primary results were interesting on both sides. Romney's victory, however it is spun, shows that McCain has a tough row to hoe. Romney will get a bit of a bump in the national polls because of this - he is, after all, now a winner, and of the biggest state yet.

On the Democratic side, even though HRC was the only big-name Democrat on the ballot, she only captured 55% of the vote. The "uncommitted" vote - how Obama and Edwards supporters were encouraged to vote - was 40% (not surprisingly given the tenor of this race, Ann Arbor voted strongly for "uncommitted."). Obama and Edwards didn't campaign in the state, and didn't have their names on the ballot, but still HRC couldn't get more than 55%. That's a telling result. Every political scientist and pollwatcher will tell you that strategic voting (for "uncommitted" in order to "really" vote for Obama or Edwards) is relatively rare and hard to organize. Here, little or no money was spent trying to organize such a strategic result. According to the Washington Post, among black voters, Clinton was crushed by "uncommitted," 70% to 26%. That's a rather stunning result all by itself.

Moreover, the fact that Clinton did not "abandon" the state (by taking her name off the ballot) should, and probably did, help her with some voters. I expected her somewhat pro-Michigan stance in that regard to reap her better than it did.

I believe this demonstrates a significant reluctance by Democrats to vote for HRC yet. She doesn't have "the big mo" yet. The national poll lead is not great. I hope that, if she does become the nominee, she makes her case before the convention and, thus, wins overwhelmingly. A 60/40 split going into convention is really bad for unity, particularly if she (as seems plain) won't offer the VP slot to Obama (or Edwards). So a lot rides on Nevada, SC, and Florida. Will Dems begin to coalesce before Super Tuesday? Will they after?

16 comments:

The Law Talking Guy said...

I should add that there are are 2064 delegates (D) at stake on 2/5, and 2025 are needed for the nomination. The Dem states are not winner-take-all (many Republican states, like NY, are), so it is unlikely that 2/5 will actually give either Obama or Clinton enough delegates to win. Obama is picking up in super delegates, btw. He now has, according to realclearpolitics, 99, to HRC's 163.

Dr. Strangelove said...

The 40% "uncommitted" probably also represented a good, old-fashioned protest vote. What Michigan, IA, and NH results show is that the Democrats, like the Republicans, have not made up their minds yet. But while the Republicans are looking to 2/5 to select their top two or three choices, Democrats are already there and are looking to 2/5 pick their nominee (at least by momentum).

Dead Parrot said...

What is the scuttlebutt on Michael Bloomberg? Practically speaking, how late can he decide to enter the race? If he does decide to run, I have no doubt that it would be bad for the Dems. He would pull independent voters away from the Dem nominee as Nader did in 2000.

Raised By Republicans said...

Dr. S. Yes, the 40% is probably partly a protest vote. But a protest against what or whom? I suspect that if Democrats in that primary were protesting anything they were protesting a situation where HRC can essentially claim to be the nominee presumptive for nigh on 3 years based largely if not entirely on her role as First Lady in the Bill Clinton administration. Which was, I think, LTG's point.

Dead Parrot, the word I've heard about Bloomberg is that he is SAYING that he will only run if he thinks the two parties nominees are too "polarizing." Given that this term has been almost exclusively applied to Hillary Clinton (and perhaps could be applied to Huckabee), Bloomberg is probably threatening to subvert a Clinton candidacy by running as a liberal independent.

It isn't clear if Bloomberg would do this if Obama or Edwards were the nominee but I suspect his conditions are just window dressing for his own ambition. If he thinks he has a chance, he'll run.

The Law Talking Guy said...

In a Clinton v. Huckabee race, there's room for Bloomberg. Like Perot, he would throw it to the Dems, b/c the Clinton's 40% base (also known as the Mondale/McGovern number) is stronger than Huckster's 33% or so evangelical base. But in a McCain v. Obama race, the independents are at a buffet, electorally speaking, compared to most years, and don't need to ask for the "special."

Dr. Strangelove said...

There is a fascinating article on the 1984 convention. Apparently, Mondale was about 40 votes shy of an outright majority, so he was put over the top by superdelegates. Awareness that he would win caused others to defect to him, to create more of an appearance of party consensus.

I hope you are correct that Bloomberg would throw the race to the Dems, but many pundits suggest the opposite.

So... If anyone is willing to indulge in speculation about that GOP contest over there... Who do you think will win the nomination, and who do you realistically hope will win it? (My two cents: I continue to think it will be McCain, but I hope it's Romney.)

The Law Talking Guy said...

Well, Dr.S., we certainly don't want a repeat of 1984...

Who wins on the GOP side? Well, right now, polls favor McCain, but expect things to get messed up by the time Super Tuesday is over. I strongly suspect that the GOP will go into the convention without a nominee UNLESS Romney, Giuliani and Thompson strike out with a thud on Super Tuesday (then I think McCain will gradually win over Huckster).

Dr. Strangelove said...

In 2004, Kerry had only 2192 pledged delegates, about 30 more than were required for a majority--and he "won" almost every state in the primaries. (He also picked up another 300-400 superdelegates.) The reason Kerry ended up with over 4,000 delegates on the floor is that his rivals lined up behind him and bequeathed all their delegates to him. Given the numbers so far, it seems very unlikely that Hillary or Obama will capture an absolute majority through the primary process alone.

So to my mind, the question is: what will Edwards do? If he drops out of the race, will he throw his support behind the person who appears to be ahead, or the one who appears to be behind? If he waits until the convention, however, I think his power to be kingmaker will be diminished, even if he ends up with 20% of the delegates, because I think most Americans will expect whoever has the plurality of delegates ought to win.

Raised By Republicans said...

RE: Bloomberg. He is to the left of many Democrats on social issues. His economic stances are hard to nail down as he has only been a mayor and mayors don't have much control over economic matters. But I've heard that his appeal would be mainly to anti-Clinton Democrats.

RE: the GOP. McCain did well in New Hampshire largely because you don't need money to win there and he has a history there too. But I've heard he's running low on money. He's not as broke as Giuliani but it's probably a given that Romney can out spend him in ever primary without too much difficulty. I suspect that McCain is nearing his high water mark. I would bet on Romney winning in big states that emphasize TV ads and/or states with closed primaries.

One thing that's interesting about this situation. The Republicans are in a real 4 way dog fight right now. And all of the Republicans (their candidates, their House and Senate campaigns, and their gubenatorial campaigns) are strugling to raise their usual amount of money. Those two things could add up to Republicans spending a disproportionate share of their resources on the primary. We could see a rare thing this fall...spending parity between the two parties!

The Law Talking Guy said...

Dr.S. is correct that if Edwards goes to the convention with 20% of the delegates, and that happens to be the deciding factor (say, HRC has 45% and Obama has 35%) it would be hard for him to support Obama and deliver him the nomination over HRC. But, if after Super Tuesday, he were to drop out and support Obama with an extra 10% of the delegates for the rest of the race, that would not be perceived by most as illegitimate. Edwards can be kingmaker if the elections are still ongoing without seeming to be thwarting the democratic process, particularly as there will be months before the convention for his supporters and delegates to make it clear that Obama was his 2nd choice all along (I assume Edwards is anti-Hillary at this point).

Dr. Strangelove said...

LTG echoes my thoughts exactly about Edwards. If he wants to be kingmaker he needs to do it sooner rather than later. Shortly after Super Duper Tuesday is probably the right timeframe. I am not certain why you assume he is anti-Hillary, other than for the purposes of this analysis.

Anonymous said...

Are Nevada and South Carolina going to mean anything given their closeness to Feb. 5? Also, is Florida going to matter or is it another Michigan non-contest? Does it matter about the other two Dem candidates? I get the impression that the first Iowa and NH were almost more relief that something had actually happened.

Last time I went to my parents place -- they train guide dog puppies -- I saw four dogs trying to run away with the same stick. I get the same impression, and amusement, of the Republican race. So are they effectively down to four players? Are we likely to see any GOPs exiting the race?

Spotted Handfish

Raised By Republicans said...

Iowa resulted in a bounce for Obama in New Hampshire which is feeding his success now in Nevada and South Carolina. Remember that the big unions in Nevada endorsed Obama after Iowa and New Hampshire. There can be short term effects of these wins that carry over.

The GOP is really discumbobulated. Not only are there still four viable candidates but each of the four are more different from each other than either is from George W. Bush (who is fatally unpopular in the general electorate). Barring some major shift in the mood of the country, the GOP is screwed 6 ways to Sunday (to use a down home colloquialism).

Bob said...

At the end of the original post, LTG suggests Clinton has burned her bridges in terms of offering VP to either Obama or Edwards. I'm don't follow the politics closely, so maybe this is obvious -- but what are the indicators that she wouldn't consider Edwards?

Given that everyone is speculating about primary outcomes, I think rekindling the VP speculation of an earlier post might be fun.

For no good reason, I think Edwards would make an exciting VP choice -- having a dynamic, committed, strongly positioned VP seems more like offering a team of doers than adding some stodgy "balance" to the ticket. (Why do I think Clinton would pick Biden? Is that just some rumor-meme out there?)

I question the wisdom of some VP choices in the recent past (excluding Edwards in 2004). Surely Bush-Cheney won (well, ended up in office anyway) in spite of Cheney, rather than because of him?

In the soap opera in my head, I see Obama offering Edwards the VP spot. It retains the anti-establishment placement and gives Edwards a bully (just not as bully) pulpit, so he might well take it.

----------------

My other unjustified prediction is that Giuliani is done. He's effectively not in the Nevada or South Carolina polls, and they'll give Romney and McCain the momentum to keep him from winning Florida, at which point he's a lost cause.

Speaking of which, my third unjustified prediction is that Bloomberg isn't going to run, or isn't going to have an effect if he does. No one outside of the DC-NY-Bos megalopolis wants another NY candidate (and a second mayor!) , Bloomberg can't establish any political experience, Romney's already got the rich businessman niche, and this late in the game there's already too many freakin' candidates. If you came to this party later than Fred Thompson, we can safely assume you're too lazy to actually show up at the White House anyway.

Raised By Republicans said...

Bob, I like your take on the Republican/Bloomberg fronts.

The news is full of talk about how Giuliani is broke too so if he doesn't pull off a whopper of a comeback in Florida he'll have to face (9/11) facts and drop (9/11) out.

I think a VP choice for HRC won't make any difference one way or the other. She's such a huge figure and so well known that if she is the nominee there won't be many undecideds. And the people who don't like her seem to really hate her and won't change their votes for the sake of a VP.

Obama might need to be more careful. He might benefit from a "gravitas" choice - like Biden - to balance out his percieved lack of experience.

USWest said...

The other thing to consider in the VP pick is that Clinton may scare many potential VP candidates. She may have trouble finding one who wants to work with her.

If picking a VP is anything like dating, smart, sassy women don't have an easy time getting a long term, serious partner. ;-)