On One Hand

February 15, 2008

Wisconsin polls begin to shift

Filed under: Uncategorized — ononehand @ 1:28 pm
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On February 7, Hillary Clinton was showing a nine point lead over Democratic opponent Barack Obama in Wisconsin, which is to hold its Democratic primary on February 19. In just four days from that poll, the balance shifted, giving Obama a four point lead at 47 to 43 percent of likely Wisconsin votes. As much as the media like to overplay the idea of “momentum,” it seems to be the case here in favor of Barack, as Democrats grow increasingly anxious about a drawn-out nomination process and increasingly anxious about Hillary Clinton’s low favorability ratings against Republican opponent John McCain.

After Wisconsin votes, there won’t be another contest until March 4, which top Democrats are hoping will be the end of the tense nomination race. Electoral giants Ohio and Texas – the second and seventh most populous states in the country – will weigh in to either close the deal for Barack Obama or ensure that the contest almost definitely continues until November by favoring Hillary Clinton.

It is a common threat in partisan politics to say that if your own guy loses the nomination, you’ll vote for the other party. Both Hillary’s supporters and Obama’s supporters are doing it, as are Republicans who currently loathe John McCain. But the reality is that almost everyone involved enough in politics to be so passionate about their candidate as to threaten the other comes home to the base in the general election, regardless of what they’re saying now. The real emphasis is on those voters who aren’t interested enough to vote in the primary, but just may be encouraged to turn out in higher numbers if a likeable candidate gets the nomination.

On the Republican side, John McCain won’t bring out high turnout among Evangelicals and Confederate-flag donning conservatives, but he may still have been the best Republican to choose from since moderates will be eager to support someone who seems nonpartisan and fresh. On the Democratic side, Barack Obama is by far the most favorable candidate to go for, as he has proven, time and time again, to bring out higher-than-expected levels of turnout among young liberals and simultaneously appeal to independent-minded moderates. Clinton, meanwhile, seems to mobilize the groups we least want to see in action – the Evangelicals who are sitting on their hands refusing to rally for John McCain.

Texas and Ohio are establishment states, and are also places where blue-collar (more socially conservative) workers dominate the Democratic party. That’s going to be a tough sell for Obama, especially as Hillary’s campaign wrenches in what it sees to be its own death throes and hurls scathing insults at the opponent. The more destructive to November’s cause Democrats perceive the fight to be, the more they will tip for Obama, both because they want to see the contest resolved soon and because they would get angry at the Clintons for putting the general election in jeapordy for the sake of the nomination.

All of that is old news to anyone who follows politics, but it will be interesting to see where Texas and Ohio go after Wisconsin votes. My guess is that the more anxious Democrats are about electability, the more they will tip for Obama, partially because he is in the lead and offers an easy promise to wrap up the race, and partially because Democrats know they need his camp’s enthusiasm. Aside from that, poll after poll shows him beating McCain in the general election, and nobody (except the press) wants to see this contest turn to another nailbiter like 2000 and 2004. Obama already has the vote of the passionate idealists in the party; if his case can appeal to the pragmatists as well, expect to see the first African American president assume office in January 2009.


1 Comment »

  1. I hate polls.

    For the very same reason that I hate news programs “projecting” the winners.

    Its bullshit. Those polls are pulled out of someones ass in a random sampling of 86 people.

    It makes us lazy, it makes us think its been decided. People have stopped thinking about their vote counting because apparently someone is already in the lead.

    Its all about who can be the first one to say it. “Ooooo we totally called it!”

    Comment by poodick17 — February 20, 2008 @ 9:41 am | Reply

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