Smoothing Out Close

By now you should all know my eerie fascination with Gallup’s Daily Tracking Polls; I simply can’t stop following it. With only a handful of states left to play in the primaries one might ask why it matters, especially since it would seem that state by state polling would be far more important. But trust me, I have my reasons.

The crux of the matter for me is the only actual path for Clinton to win the nomination at this point. This, of course, is to convince enough Super Delegates to override the pledged delegate lead that Obama will end up with when all the states have held their contests. As we all know, such a thing is well within the rules of the DNC, and since both candidates will require the support of Super Delegates to cross the finish line, we have to start looking at the factors that will ultimately determine whether the SDs validate the pledged delegate leader, or override him.

There are many factors that go into this, some of which are characterized by the multiple goal posts that the Clinton campaign has put on display for her path to victory. But one of those factors is going to be represented in the national polling of the Democratic party.

With all the other factors that are in play, Super Delegates are still going to have to ask themselves, “If we decided to nominate Clinton over Obama, are we shooting ourselves in the foot with our own voters?” In a way, that’s what the daily tracker is really measuring.

For instance, if we get down to the convention, and Hillary Clinton won, let’s say, the last three states in a row, and got some pretty good momentum coming out of it, that might be the start of a good argument to overturn the pledged delegate lead. But if national polls are all saying she’s down fifteen or more points to Obama, what that indicates is that overriding the pledged delegates would be a very dangerous move which is likely to be seen as a kind of betrayal among Democratic voters.

On the other hand, let’s say the situation is the same, but Clinton is polling fifteen points better than Obama.  It may still be a risk to overturn the pledged delegate choice, but at least this time there’s an indication that perhaps a lot of the earlier voters are experiencing buyer’s remorse and won’t mind so much.

At least, that’s how I’m looking at it.

As of late, with the polling oscillating back and forth between Clinton and Obama, the best course of action for Super Delegates is to not even take chances and go by the original indicator of who has the most pledged delegates.

Recently, there’s been a considerable spike in Gallup’s tracker, one that had him up by ten points over the weekend, but as I mentioned a few days ago, Gallup pointed to March 29th as a day of particularly good polling in Obama’s favor. Given that it’s a rolling three day poll, one should conclude that we would require waiting at least three days for that data point to work its way out of the system.

It’s Thursday, and the offending data point has had a couple of days to work its way out of the system, and we see a pretty interesting thing. Obama and Clinton seem to have leveled off with a close, statistically insignificant, lead for Obama.

Truthfully, this is pretty good news for both camps.

For Team Clinton, they really dodged the bullet and are still in striking distance. For Team Obama, they have managed to come out of the statistical noise still marginally with the advantage.

From here it’s a matter of what happens next. If the two trends converge again, then I expect to see more oscillation as we have in the past.  If, on the other hand, we see another slow rise for Obama, then we can conclude he’s making an honest-to- goodness move.

If it stays where it’s at, eventually that’s going to spell bad news for Clinton, though, as it would mean that support among the party’s voters for her candidacy is not increasing to the level it needs to be in order for her to have Super Delegates choose her to be the nominee.

(editorial blessing by DrGail)

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