Insights into the 2008 Presidential Election

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Insights into the 2008 Presidential Election Powered By Docstoc
February 5th, 2008: Super Tuesday
Today is Super Tuesday and it is certainly shaping up as a    3. Huckabee and the Conservative Vote. It is
battle royal – 24 states with primaries or caucuses with a       no exaggeration to state that McCain’s path to
combined total of 2,600 convention delegates at stake.           the nomination has been the luckiest turn of
                                                                 events for any politician in recent memory.
Of course, today is more than just Super Tuesday or              Vilified by most conservatives and written off
Tsunami Tuesday, it is also Mardi Gras. So, whose                long ago, McCain has had numerous lucky
supporters will be dancing in the streets and whose will be
despondently picking at their King Cake? We’ll know in           breaks. Two obvious heirs to the conservative
only a few hours. But, as Barack Obama has noted, the            mantle implode (Colorado Governor Bill
results (especially on the Democratic side) could be more        Owens) or are defeated for re-election (George
mixed than conclusive.                                           Allen (R-VA)). The Thompson boomlet fades.
                                                                 Huckabee upsets Romney in Iowa, throwing
Things to look for tonight:                                      the Romney campaign out of its blitzkrieg
                                                                 strategy. Giuliani does poorly and leaves New
    1. Delegate Count. At the end of the day, it’s all
                                                                 Hampshire to focus on Florida. Governor Crist
       about convention delegates. We noted in our first
                                                                 endorses McCain on the eve of the Florida
       look at the election season how the delegate
                                                                 primary. Giuliani quits, leaving the moderate
       allocation schemes of the Republican (generally
                                                                 Republican states in the Northeast to McCain.
       “winner take all”) and Democratic (generally
                                                                 And finally, Huckabee stays in the race and
       proportional) primaries were critical. Well, we were
                                                                 divides the conservative vote so that McCain
       more right than we knew. This could (probably will)
                                                                 can slip by in red states. It is an amazing
       go down to the wire on the Democratic side. If it
                                                                 current of events. McCain is the political
       does, the voters will be treated to newspaper
                                                                 equivalent of a scratch-off lottery winner.
       inserts with arcane delegate apportionment rules by
       state. Between this primary season and the 2000
       recount most American adults have received the            This last point regarding Huckabee and
       equivalent of a refresher course in high school           conservatives is important. If Huckabee
       civics.                                                   dropped out, most of his votes would go to
                                                                 Romney (or, if you like, against McCain).
    2. California. The Golden State is still America’s           Instead, Huckabee is staying in and dividing the
       pioneering state. It ushered in the property tax          conservative vote enough to give McCain a
       revolt in the 1970’s that presaged the rise of            chance to win in states like Georgia. In
       Reagan style conservatism, predicted America’s            Georgia, the Republican primary vote is split
       increasing sensitivity to ecological issues, and          three ways with the polling showing McCain in
       drives American pop culture. It also happens to be        a slight lead. If Huckabee dropped out,
       the epicenter of Super Tuesday. Recent polling            Romney would cruise to any easy win here.
       has shown the race to be close on the Democratic          The same is true in Alabama, Tennessee, and
       side, with some data suggesting a late Obama              Missouri. Conservative may dislike McCain
       surge. The race on the Republican side also looks         intensely for his opposition to the 2001 tax cuts,
       close, with recent surveys suggesting a relatively        his support for campaign finance reform, and
       tight race. Watch for Romney’s performance in this        his immigration reform legislation (which many
       closed primary state. The closed primary should           saw as amnesty), but with their vote divided,
       help him and hurt McCain since it does not allow          they cannot defeat him.
       Independents to cross over. Romney needs a win
       here. On the Democratic side, watch for Obama’s
       performance in the California primary among
 4. Georgia. On the Democratic side, this state is a          6. Super Delegates. Count the number of
    very interesting test case for the Obama camp on             times super delegates are mentioned over
    African-American turnout. Using the South                    the next few days. I suspect that a Lexis-
    Carolina model, Obama could do even better than              Nexis search will show a huge surge on
    the polling in Georgia suggests (ahead 49% - 29%             Wednesday and Thursday. As we
    in recent polling). If Obama carries Georgia easily,         mentioned in our kick-off coverage of the
    it means that any southern state with a significant          primaries, Democrats have so called
    African-American population in the Democratic                “super delegates” at their convention –
    primary should go handily to him. This could be              federal elected officials, party officials,
    devastating to Clinton on February 12th where the            Governors and past Democratic
    so-called “Chesapeake primary” is held in                    Presidents. These approximately 800
    Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia – all        unpledged super delegates represent 20%
    with very large African-American populations.                of the total delegate pool of 4,049- nearly
                                                                 40% of the delegates needed to clinch the
                                                                 nomination. As the fulcrum of power in a
 5. Arizona. Recent polling has Clinton ahead of                 close nomination fight, the
    Obama in Arizona, but a late Obama surge could               lobbying/courting of these delegates could
    make this very close. More important will be the             be intense. If it comes down to super
    Latino vote in the Democratic primary. Past                  delegates, the losing side will ask why an
    research has suggested that Clinton holds an edge            otherwise egalitarian nominating system
    with this group. Will she maintain that advantage?           that relies on proportional representation
                                                                 coexists with the indirect system of super

                                                                  Robert Moran is Senior Vice President at
                                                            StrategyOne and manages StrategyOne’s Primary
                                                            Research Group in Washington DC. Before joining
                                                            StrategyOne, he was Vice President at Republican
                                                            polling firm Fabrizio, McLaughlin & Associates and
                                                             Senior Project Director at Republican polling firm
                                                                          Public Opinion Strategies.

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