Did We Get The Calculus Wrong?

Ben Smith writes an interesting piece today regarding the significance of the landslides that Obam is earning in post Super Tuesday contests and in so doing seems to hint at a question that Mike and I discussed last night as we waited for returns to come in.  That question being, did we get the calculus wrong?

While some Obama and Hillary supporters both seemed to find a clear path to the nomination following Super Tuesday, the more objective, and admittedly intellectually honest, observers identified the race as locked in a dead heat and likely to resulted in a brokered deal or decided upon by super delegates (possibly in contrast to the candidate who managed to win more elected pledged delegates).

Included in this calculus, however, was also the prediction that Obama had a clear advantage on all of the states leading up to the March 4th contests where Hillary is projected to have an advantage in delegate rich Texas and Ohio.  This alone seems to be something of a reversal of the wisdom leading up to Super Tuesday wherein such a streak would lead to the kind of momentum that could lock in a nomination.

There was reason for caution, though.  Considering that post Super Tuesday states are historically not particularly significant contests, there has not been an appreciable amount of polling data thus putting the emphasis on predictions upon demographic analysis, something I personally found to be an altogether trickier animal.

But yesterday we saw Obama not only win these states, but win by astounding margins, all of them by double digits, and at least two of the contests by over thirty points.  Indeed, when Obama wins he appears to do so by far more significant margins than when Hillary does.

When we take the pieces to this puzzle and put them together the picture you get is that in post Super Tuesday analysis, the momentum that Obama is accruing is being significantly underestimated; if he continues to run up the score against Hillary when it does come to those big states where Hillary is expected to win, those contests may either be won by Obama, or the margin in favor of Hillary not significant enough to award her enough delegates to keep her in the race.

As a result, if we were all underestimating the size of Obama’s momentum and its cumulative effects on later contests, there just may be an open path to the nomination for the Obama camp barring the primary equivalent of an October surprise.

Today is going to be an important day to watch because of the contests being held within this five day period, it is the only one expected to go in Hillary’s direction.  If Obama actually wins in Maine today, I would officially be willing to put money on Obama winning the campaign because that is a clear indicator that his momentum is allowing him to exceed expectations and puts all of the future Hillary wins in that perspective.

Even if he doesn’t win, pay very close attention to the demographics and the margin, all of which should provide as solid indicators on how Obama is doing as far as making up ground in weak areas on the campaign trail.

Even if Maine goes overwhelmingly for Clinton, still pay attention to Tuesday’s beltway contests and the margins and demographics there because at this point one of two things seem possible.  Either everyone was right, which means that this contest is going to go down to the wire, or Obama’s momentum will carry him to clear victory.

In either case, Hillary simply doesn’t seem to have a clear avenue towards building the kind of momentum necessary to knock Obama out of the race at all. It’s looking as though the only way she’s going to win is by eking out a narrow in, or having the party coronate her despite the party’s elected delegates.

And I wonder how that will effect things in the fall.

3 Responses to “Did We Get The Calculus Wrong?”

  1. Macswain says:

    Hillary must be reading your posts. She just booted her campaign manager.

  2. terry says:

    Interesting how none of the men got fired (Terry MacAulife, Mark Penn, Howard Wolfson, Bill Clinton)

    Just saying…

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