Poll Report: Stasis

There are more questions than answers it would seem when it comes to this Democratic primary race, but one thing is beginning to assert itself: the pundit caste, blogosphere, and mainstream media all seem to be far more adept at lowering expectations for Senator Obama than his campaign ever could be.

When we look at the interesting polls released today, what stands out to me is that the entire “bittergate” affair has been largely overblown. Indeed, the moral of this story would seem to be that perhaps the chattering class should wait until the people have spoken before they starting claiming great offense on their behalf. It might not make you look quite so… how shall I put this… out of touch.

This is not to say that people are throwing parades for Barack Obama on his behalf: that would be a distortion as well. But it doesn’t appear as though Obama’s remarks have hurt him any and, as I will outline in a later post, I think ultimately they are going to prove to be a great asset.

The first poll to look at, and perhaps the one that would provide the worst realistic news for Team Obama comes from the most recent Survey USA poll. This poll has him slipping by a couple points to a fourteen point deficit. Survey USA has built up quite a reputation for itself in regards to accuracy during this primary season, and as such, this would seem to be some bad news initially for Obama.

Only there are a couple of silver linings. The first would be that Survey USA has consistently provided the worst data for Obama in the run up to Pennsylvania; I believe his best margin against Clinton being no less than twelve points. Thus, what we see is that SUSA’s poll is not necessarily registering a backlash in regards to Obama’s comments so much as displaying a fluctuation in what has been a largely stable race according to its own data. Also, we must keep in mind that in the beginning, not only was Clinton expected to win by more than twenty points, it was almost mandatory that she do so in order to tighten the delegate math to the degree necessary for her to win the nomination by alternate methods.

Interestingly enough, SUSA is playing the role of the outlier here, though admittedly not quite as much as ARG.

The Quinnipiac poll released this morning, for instance, shows that there has been no change even amid the aftermath of the supposed gaffe that was to sink his presidential aspirations. There, Clinton is still only six points over Obama. Interestingly, the Quinnipiac poll also indicates that a third of Clinton voters believe that Obama will be the nominee.

It is an LA Times/Bloomberg poll that provides perhaps the best news for Obama, as well as providing a bigger picture for the next three primaries to be held in the Democratic race. This poll has Obama down by only five points in Pennsylvania, while also showing a five point lead in Indiana and a thirteen point lead in North Carolina.

Thus, the state of the race up to this moment looks something like this in Pennsylvania:

08PAPresDems600.png

That would be a nine point win for Hillary Clinton. Assuming nothing else significant happens it does look as though the trends are stabilizing and the two candidates are looking to finish no better or worse than they are doing right now. For some, this alone may be reason to suggest that Obama’s remarks have hurt him, that they have perhaps halted his progress that could have carried him to a very narrow loss or even a possible victory but this quote (I believe it is from Fester, but there’s no byline) from the Newshoggers in a recent analysis of the outlier ARG poll that had Obama down by twenty points I think is incredibly important to take into account:

Furthermore the areas where this type of comment would theoretically hurt Obama and make people less likely to vote for him are already heavily pro-Clinton. Obama’s base in Pennsylvania are the major cities, and not the smal towns. The small towns are already heavily pro-Clinton so there is not space for a twenty point swing to occur. Most likely this is an outlier

Shorter: it’s hard to say that he could have fatally wounded himself amongst voters that weren’t going to vote for him anyway.

Meanwhile, the race in Indiana is still very close, and in North Carolina Obama’s potential for a landslide appears to continue unabated:

08NCPresDems600.png

Which brings us to the poll that would seem to provide the best news from Obama, while at the same time the worst news for Hillary Clinton, the Gallup Daily Tracker:

Indeed, this trend is backed up by Pollster’s aggregation:

AUSTopDems600.png

While it may not seem inherently obvious as to the significance of daily polls when everyone is focusing on localized polls for the states that are still left to vote, I still believe that these polls are as important, if not more important, than those barometers of the local races.

The reason for this is because given the polling margins that Senator Clinton is putting up in Pennsylvania, Indiana, and North Carolina, she is not going to win this contest by pledged delegates. It is simply not going to happen. At this point, we would have to learn that Senator Obama is a mass murderer and that Senator Clinton has secretly been an angel in disguise this whole time in order for there to be the kind of shift in voting that would allow Clinton to even pull ahead in pledged delegates.

Which means that in order for her to win the Democratic nomination, she needs to do so by alternative means. I’ve already discussed this once, but I’ll repeat as this is a point worth keeping in mind. There is nothing in the rules that say that she can’t win by alternative methodology, but in order to prevent a heavy loss in November, certain wickets must be met.

Chief among them is not actually pissing off the Democratic party. That is essentially what these national polls are measuring. Had Obama and Clinton reversed in national trends, then that would be indicative of buyer’s remorse on behalf of those that have already voted, and would thus give a green light for Clinton and the Democratic party to employ an alternative method for selecting her as the nominee as opposed to the delegate leader Barack Obama.

But that’s not what we are seeing. In fact, we are seeing Obama begin a strong assertion of himself as the Democratic frontrunner and nominee. With polling numbers like these, any alternative method employed to nominate Hillary Clinton would be outright fatal for her going up against John McCain.

The Gallup Daily Tracker is also indicative of the Obama campaign’s resilience in the face of adversity. Keep in mind now that he suffered absolutely no dip in his numbers even in the midst of some very heavy media coverage in regards to his gaffe. Nor is he suffering any damage in his race against McCain.

Ultimately, these polls are showing little to no movement, with some fluctuations perhaps in Hillary’s favor locally in Pennsylvania, and some fluctuations in Obama’s favor on the national scale. In general this would hardly seem newsworthy accept that we must put it context of the events of the day. These static numbers are happening in the middle of a firestorm of a controversy, which says a great deal about the strength of Obama’s campaign.

Either that, or it says that the controversy at hand is almost totally a media generated one.

More on the polls from Memeorandum: The Moderate Voice, TPM Election Central, Wonkette, The New Republic, The Daily Dish, Salon and Donklephant. The Caucus, TalkLeft, The Raw Story, The Field, Daily Kos, SurveyUSA and AMERICAblog. The Sleuth, Washington Wire, Baltimore Sun, The Washington Independent, Pollster.com, Open Left, CALIFORNIA YANKEE, The Moderate Voice, TalkLeft, Hotline On Call, Spin Cycle, MyDD, Real Clear Politics, Below The Beltway, Taegan Goddard’s …, Donklephant, TPM Election Central and Boston Globe.

(edited by DrGail)

2 Responses to “Poll Report: Stasis”

  1. Cernig says:

    Kyle,

    Yup, it’s a Fes post you’ve cited. He keeps fogetting the byline
    🙂

    Regards, C

  2. Thanks man, sounded like him, plus, he’s the guy on the ground down there. Mike moved away just a few months too early… sigh.

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