HILLARY CAMPAIGN EXPECTS 25-POINT WIN IN S DAKOTA, TOP SOURCES TELL DRUDGE… DEVELOPING…
[An] American Research Group
survey of South Dakotans [released today] shows Clinton leading 60 percent to 34 percent
among Democrats in the state. There have been few surveys of South
Dakotans this year; the last poll was conducted two months ago and
showed Obama with a 12-point lead, according to Real Clear Politics.
A new ARG poll of Montana voters shows Obama with a four point lead in Montana, beating Clinton 48-to-44 percent.
The new numbers are subject to some skepticism because they are so
at odds with prevailing notions about South Dakota in particular.
Electoral projection blog FiveThirtyEight.com predicts Obama will win the state by five points and calls ARG’s scenario "completely bats**t crazy."
FiveThirtyEight isn’t alone:
[C]ampaign officials for both Clinton and her
opponent, Illinois Sen. Barack Obama, questioned the accuracy of the
[South Dakota] survey results…and urged news outlets
not to run them prior to the primary. …
While accurately reflecting some primaries in the
Democratic race, New Hampshire-based American Research Group has also
missed others, in some cases by substantial margins. ARG indicated
Clinton was ahead in Iowa, where she lost, and that she was behind in
New Hampshire, where she won. An ARG survey showed at 3-point edge for
Obama in South Carolina, where he actually won 55 percent to 27 percent.
On the other hand, ARG has been spot-on in some other primaries. I guess we’ll find out tonight whether they’re right this time, too, or whether this last-minute poll is indeed "bats**t crazy."
On Sunday morning, I wrote:
Assuming conservative projections of 22 pledged delegates in Puerto
Rico today, and 8 each in South Dakota and Montana on Tuesday, he needs
27 more delegates — out of 218.5 undeclared superdelegates and Edwards
The only question, really, is whether he’ll get those 27 delegates by the time he takes to the stage in Minnesota
Tuesday night, so he can declare victory then and there. I wouldn’t be
surprised if a bunch of supers declare for Obama within, say, an hour
after the polls close in Montana and Souta Dakota.
Now it looks like that’s exactly what’s going to happen:
Sensing an opportunity to shut down the nominating contest, Obama
campaign advisers said that they were orchestrating an endorsement of
Mr. Obama by at least eight Senate and House members who had pledged to
remain uncommitted until the primaries ended, and that the endorsements
would come the moment the South Dakota polls closed on Tuesday night.
Only one problem: the final polls close in South Dakota at 9:00 PM EDT (though polls in most of the state close at 8:00), but Montana’s polls stay open until 10:00. So if these supers are really going to "remain uncommitted until the primaries end," don’t they need to wait until "the moment the Montana polls close"?
Then there’s the Harry Reid theory, which is that the remaining supers should stay mum "until the final votes have been counted." That would mean Wednesday morning at the earliest. But I think Obama has the right idea here. As I wrote last night, I think there’s a danger of Hillary & co. talking themselves into continuing their campaign — or at least taking the "middle option" of suspending-but-not-endorsing — if the momentum of the moment doesn’t very quickly usher them offstage tonight.
Dragging this thing out further is not a good strategy for anyone who wants the campaign to end this week (which is the same thing as saying "end before the convention," because IMHO, it either ends this week or it ends in August). Tonight is the best possible moment to declare a definitive winner and be done with it. If you give Hillary a chance to dither and delay, she’ll dither and delay, and when the dust settles, she may well have fallen under the sway of her own (and Bill’s) "keep fighting" rhetoric. Far better to rip the band-aid off quickly. Forget about "disrespecting" the Clintons; first of all, they deserve it, and second of all, the pain of that "insult" will fade. The pain of a three-month battle en route to Denver, won’t. So, with all due respect to Harry Reid, he’s wrong. Once Obama is assured of 2,018 delegates, there’s no reason to delay, and doing so could prove grossly counterproductive. He should declare victory tonight, if he can.
Luckily, it seems I’m preaching to the choir on this; Obama apparently agrees with me. Here’s another take on his efforts to end it tonight:
With an expected late wave of support from congressional Democrats, Sen. Barack Obama appeared poised to secure enough delegates to earn his party’s
presidential nomination, perhaps even before the votes from the final
two primaries in South Dakota and Montana are counted Tuesday night. …
A Democratic source said at least five to 10 House members would
endorse Obama on Tuesday morning, at least 10 senators will endorse him
by the end of the day and an additional 10 superdelegates will also
endorse him during the day. That would assure enough delegates by the
end of the day to clinch the nomination.
Keep in mind, if the networks are able to immediately "call" South Dakota and Montana (based on exit polls) when the polls close, that’ll be 17 delegates right off the bat. Currently, by his own count, Obama is 39 delegates away from clinching an outright majority, so he’ll be able to declare himself the presumptive nominee at 10:00 PM — assuming early "calls" in South Dakota and Montana — if he gets 22 superdelegate endorsements between now and then. (That’s not including his first three supers today — Clyburn, Lalonde and Chappelle-Nadal — who are already included in the count.)
P.S. The Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza reports:
The three highest ranking Democrats in Montana plan to wade into the
Democratic presidential race as soon as the state’s primary is decided
tonight, according to a source familiar with the decision.
Gov. Brian Schweitzer as well as Sens. Max Baucus and Jon Tester
have agreed to all endorse the winner of Montana’s primary — almost
certain to be Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.)
– immediately upon the contest being called. The trio will be joined
in the endorsement by state party chairman Dennis McDonald and vice
chairman Margaret Campbell.
Politico’s Ben Smith writes that the Montana 5 are "likely to be part of a substantial wave that comes to Obama when polls close."
P.P.S. Pablano projects that Obama will win by 18 points in Montana, but only by 5 points in South Dakota. If that’s correct, Montana will probably be "called" right at 10:00, but there might not be a clear winner in South Dakota until late into the night, in which case Obama might want to pick up another couple of supers today (perhaps 24 or 25, instead of 22), so he can still declare victory at 10:00 or very shortly minutes thereafter. (He’ll want to do so before 11:00, certainly, lest Tim Russert go to bed before Obama’s victory speech!)
UPDATE: A potentially significant bulletin from the AP:
Clinton campaign chairman Terry McAuliffe said Tuesday that once Obama
gets the majority of convention delegates, "I think Hillary Clinton
will congratulate him and call him the nominee."
UPDATE 2: CNN clarifies:
Sen. Hillary Clinton’s is "absolutely not" prepared to concede the race
for the Democratic presidential nomination to Sen. Barack Obama, her
campaign chairman said.
Terry McAuliffe rejected as "100 percent incorrect" an Associated
Press report that Clinton is preparing to acknowledge that Obama has
the delegates to win the nomination Tuesday night as the five-month
Democratic primary process comes to a close.
Obama "doesn’t have the numbers today, and until someone has the numbers the race goes on," McAuliffe told CNN.
But that’s not much of a denial, or "rejection." He said "until someone has the numbers" — which could well be tonight! His bluster notwithstanding, the clarification is totally consistent with the earlier report.
The remarkable Democratic primary and caucus process of 2008 — the “campaign that wouldn’t end” — finally ends today, whether Hillary Clinton likes it or not, with primaries in Montana and South Dakota. After tonight, there’s nothing of any significance left on the calendar until the convention begins on August 25.
There’s been a lot of talk about what a long, drawn-out campaign it has been. (Remember when it seemed exotic to look past February 5?) I have a unique perspective on that, as the Iowa caucuses occurred the day after Becky and I came home from the hospital with our firstborn child. So we barely remember what our lives were like before this election began.
For Loyette, the situation is even more extreme. This campaign has literally been going on for her entire life. :) She was three days old when the first votes were cast; now she’s five months and three days. She’s more than doubled her weight, gotten five or six inches taller, and has changed from a tiny, dazed and confused newborn into a vibrant, happy, bouncing baby girl with a distinct personality and an ever-increasing set of skills. And all the while, the Democrats have been fighting over who’ll be their nominee. Remarkable.
Anyway… what are your predictions for today’s election? And when will Hillary drop out? Tonight? Tomorrow? Thursday? August 28? January 21? ;)
P.S. Remember how Mitt Romney dropped out, and endorsed McCain, at a speech in front of CPAC? Well, is it possible Hillary will drop out, and endorse Obama, at the AIPAC convention tomorrow? She and Obama are both scheduled to speak there tomorrow morning.
As Hillary huddles tonight in Chappaqua with her inner circle, I fear there’s a real risk of an echo-chamber effect taking hold, and the Hillaryland brigades convincing themselves of the logic of continuing the campaign even after Obama surpasses the magic delegate threshold. She’s being deliberately vague about staying in the race “until there’s a nominee” — what exactly does that mean, especially given that delegates can change their minds, and that the “magic number” itself is still in doubt? — but we’ll find out soon enough. If Obama clinches a delegate majority and Clinton doesn’t drop out, then we’ll know. If that happens, there’ll be no preventing a party-crippling floor fight. Once the train leaves the station, it won’t be stopped. It’s either this week or the last week of August, methinks.
The question is, does anyone in Clinton’s inner circle truly understand the depth of the backlash that would occur if she were to attempt such a thing? Do they realize it would be career suicide? Do they understand that these next couple of days represent her last chance to exit the race with some semblance of dignity, such that she and Bill might someday have a chance of rebuilding their image in the party? Or are they so myopic at this point that they’ll fall under the spell of their own talking points?
Even if Hillary & co. don’t truly believe their own rhetoric, they’d better be careful: their words may become increasingly difficult to back away from. When you’ve got supporters chanting “Denver! Denver!” (not to mention “McCain! McCain!“) and fundraisers saying “August, and no earlier,” how do you bow out gracefully — even if you want to — without leaving those folks feeling betrayed? Particularly when you’ve been casting your argument in terms of “upholding bedrock principles” and saving the country from certain doom? If she doesn’t at least begin the process of standing down and backing off tomorrow night, the sheer force of momentum produced by her “fighting” rhetoric may carry her all the way to Denver, whether she means it to or not.
P.S. On a somewhat related note, it’s incredibly frustrating to keep reading bogus reports — from legitimate journalists in mainstream newspapers! — about how the Obama campaign may “reach deeply into its well-stocked coffers” in order to repay Clinton’s campaign debt. There’s only one small problem: it’d be illegal for Obama to do anything of the sort, as noted here:
Obama is not allowed to take millions of dollars from his own campaign and give them to Clinton’s campaign. The most his campaign could legally give would be $2,000. Any deal to help Clinton with her debt would have to be in the form of Obama helping to raise additional money on Clinton’s behalf.
This is a very basic piece of essential information, yet it keeps getting utterly ignored by “reporters” when they “report” on this issue. Such inexcusably sloppy reporting is journalistic malpractice, plain and simple.
Barack Obama needs 25 superdelegate endorsements today and tomorrow — maybe a few less than that, depending on his Montana and South Dakota margins — to clinch an outright delegate majority in time for his St. Paul victory speech tomorrow night.
Can he do it? As of this writing, he’s gotten two today, so he needs 23 more. Check this link or Halperin for updates throughout the day, as I’m sure there will be more endorsements. Also keep in mind, it isn’t the "net" that matters, but the absolute number for Obama.
One key question is when the "Pelosi club" superdelegates, who’ve said they’ll endorse the pledged-delegate winner, will specifically announce for Obama, who has already secured the pledged-delegate majority.
As for those in the alternate Hillaryland reality who want to trump the pesky delegate count by relying on a fundamentally flawed, inherently illegitimate, hotly disputed, and at best extremely narrow "popular vote" victory, here’s a handy popular vote scenario tester, where you answer various questions about how the vote should be counted, and the tally updates automatically. There are a grand total of 972 possible scenarios. :)
P.S. Baltimore Sun columnist Paul Rogat Loeb makes an excellent point about Hillary’s phony "popular vote" claims:
Given the bitterness of so many Hillary Clinton supporters that the woman they thought would be America’s first female
president will not be, the more they hear the suggestion that Sen. Barack Obama’s
win is illegitimate, the more likely they are to bolt. If Senator
Clinton’s voters embrace the story that "a man took it away from a
woman," denying her a victory she deserved, they’re at risk of staying
home come November, or holding back from the volunteering and
get-out-the-vote efforts necessary for the Democrats to prevail.
why it’s so unfortunate that Mrs. Clinton continues to claim that "we
are winning the popular vote." Because that statement is a lie - and it
undermines every word she has recently spoken about the need for the
party to come together. …
Every time Mrs. Clinton claims she has a popular majority, she’s
shattering whatever cease-fire exists and making it that much more
likely that her supporters will stay home in November. If she really
wants a united party, she needs to stop, and the superdelegates need to
hold her accountable.
P.P.S. On a barely related note, Politico quotes a Clinton aide as stating, "ItÃƒÂ¢Ã‚â‚¬Ã‚â„¢s clear to us that Barack Obama has won the Drudge Primary, and it’s one of the most important primaries in this process." Hmm, does that make Matt Drudge a super-duper delegate?
UPDATE: Obama is definitely hoping to clinch tomorrow:
Looking to bring finality to the Democratic presidential campaign,
Barack Obama worked furiously Monday to win over enough superdelegates
to clinch the nomination with the final primaries Tuesday.
Obama wants to formally kick off his general election campaign against
Republican John McCain in a victory speech Tuesday night as the final
primary campaign polls close in South Dakota and Montana.
"Senator Obama is trying to line up people that are going to
come out for him tomorrow during the day so that he’ll have enough that
puts him over the top that he can declare victory tomorrow," said
Pennsylvania Rep. Jason Altmire, one of about 200 superdelegates under
pressure to take a side in the contest.
For what it’s worth, the polls close at 8:00 PM EDT in eastern South Dakota, 9:00 PM in western South Dakota, and 10:00 PM in Montana. Obama’s rally in St. Paul is scheduled to begin at 9:00 PM EDT, but I assume he won’t be speaking until sometime after 10:00. (Montana is expected to be a landslide, so it’ll probably be possible
to declare it for Obama — and award him 9 delegates right off the bat
– immediately after the polls close. [UPDATE: Or maybe not?])
Oh, and about those superdelegates: 15 of them, all U.S. Senators, are meeting this afternoon to decide what to do. I imagine a mass Tuesday-morning endorsement by the remaining undeclared senators could go along way toward bringing a few more supers along and putting Obama over the top by 10:00 PM tomorrow.
What happens after Obama clinches the delegate majority this week? Well, on the one hand…
Clinton campaign Chairman Terry McAuliffe tells my colleague Ken Vogel in San Juan that Hillary Clinton will Ã¢â‚¬Å“probablyÃ¢â‚¬Â continue a retail-level campaign operation after TuesdayÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s primaries regardless of what happens in them.
Team Clinton also wonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t necessarily consider the campaign over if rival Barack Obama soon reaches the 2,118-delegate threshold necessary to clinch the nomination. …
[McAluiffe said,] Ã¢â‚¬Å“WeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll see. WeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re going to get through TuesdayÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s votes. WeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re going to see where we are, and weÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re going to look at all of our options. Every option is on the table.Ã¢â‚¬Â …
And he hinted that the campaign might be targeting some superdelegates committed to Obama. … Ã¢â‚¬Å“Just remember: No superdelegate is bound until they vote at the convention.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Members of Hillary Clinton’s advance staff received calls and emails this evening from headquarters summoning them to New York City Tuesday night, and telling them their roles on the campaign are ending, two Clinton staffers tell my colleague Amie Parnes.
The advance staffers — most of them now in Puerto Rico, South Dakota, and Montana — are being given the options of going to New York for a final day Tuesday, or going home, the aides said. The move is a sign that the campaign is beginning to shed — at least — some of its staff. The advance staff is responsible for arranging the candidate’s events around the country.
With the future of her campaign in doubt, Clinton hasn’t announced her plans for the final election night of the primary cycle or beyond, but the aides said she would stage her election night event in New York City.
Her home state sounds like a great place to make a concession speech, no? [UPDATE: According to Ben Smith, Hillary’s election-night speech will be "at Baruch College in Manhattan. A Clinton source says it’ll be ‘valedictory’ but she seems unlikely to actually drop out and endorse Obama tomorrow." Meanwhile, one of Hillary’s top supporters, former Iowa governor Tom Vilsack, says she should concede after tomorrow’s elections.]
Anyway, I don’t think anyone knows what Hillary will do yet — I doubt she herself has even finally decided — but it’s quite possible that McAuliffe’s tough talk is largely posturing for negotiating position. Consider this report from over the weekend:
Hillary Clinton will be offered a dignified exit from the presidential race and the prospect of a place in Barack Obama’s cabinet under plans for a "negotiated surrender" of her White House ambitions being drawn up by Senator Obama’s aides.
Hmm… peace with honor in
Vietnam Hillaryland? Well, hey, it could be a good test run for ending the war in Iraq. :) More after the jump.
Above, a pretty sunset in Knoxville. Meanwhile, in Puerto Rico, Hillary ended up winning by about 142,000. By my armchair calculations, Obama still leads by 35,000 in the count that includes the caucus states, Florida & Michigan, and counts Uncommitted for Obama.
UPDATE: My armchair calculations were a bit off; Real Clear Politics puts Obama’s lead in that count at 44,605.
Basically, barring huge upsets in South Dakota and Montana (both in turnout and in result), Clinton will only be the “popular vote winner” in the counts that either: a) give her the benefit of a Soviet-style, 328,309 to zero “victory” in Michigan, and/or b) exclude and thus effectively disenfranchise the caucus states of Iowa, Nevada, Maine and Washington, in direct contradiction of her recent statement that “I want to be sure that all 50 states are counted,” not to mention her 2007 pledge to snub the Michigan and Florida primaries because of the “unique and special role” played by, among others, Iowa and Nevada, which she now excludes from her count.
With 14% percent of the precincts reporting, Hillary Clinton leads Barack Obama by 67% to 33% in Puerto Rico — and, more importantly for Hillary’s hopes of a “popular vote” win, by a raw vote margin of 22,253 votes to 10,924 votes. So far, then, the results corroborate anecdotal reports of surprisingly low turnout.
If we assume that 14% of the precincts means roughly 14% of the votes, and if we further assume that the margin will remain roughly constant across the remainder of the island, Hillary’s current 11,329-vote edge translates into roughly an 80,000-vote victory, which is not nearly enough to earn her an arguably plausible “win” in the national popular vote count (barring major upsets in South Dakota and Montana).
Even if Hillary’s margin ends up being 100,000 or 110,000, it won’t be enough. Hillary needed her Puerto Rico margin to get well into the 100,000’s to have any shot at winning the national “popular vote” without the benefit of a) a Saddam Hussein-style, 328,309 to zero “victory” in Michigan and/or b) the indefensible exclusion of four caucus states that held valid elections.
Bottom line: unless overall turnout and/or Hillary’s support is much higher in the precincts that haven’t reported yet, Hillary now has virtually no chance of earning a claim on the popular vote that isn’t facially ridiculous, undemocratic and absurd.
UPDATE: With 56 percent of the precincts reporting, Hillary now has roughly a 70,000-vote lead, which extrapolates to approximately 125,000. Still not enough unless you only give Obama his “exit poll share” of the Uncommitted vote in Michigan, and maybe not even then, depending on what happens in South Dakota and Montana. Also, given that the DNC gave Obama more than his share of the Uncommitted vote, and given that Obama unquestionably would have gotten more votes in a “real” primary than Uncommitted got, I’d say a count that gives him only a 73% share of Uncommitted stretches the definition of “arguably plausible” somewhat. But that’s the only arguably plausible count — or perhaps arguably arguably plausible? — that Hillary now has a shot at.
After yesterday’s Rules & Bylaws Committee decision, Obama has 2,052 delegates (including Edwards pledged dels who have declared for Obama), and the new “magic number” is 2,117. That puts him 65 away from clinching the nomination.
Assuming conservative projections of 22 pledged delegates in Puerto Rico today, and 8 each in South Dakota and Montana on Tuesday, he needs 27 more delegates — out of 218.5 undeclared superdelegates and Edwards pledgees.
The only question, really, is whether he’ll get those 27 delegates by the time he takes to the stage in Minnesota Tuesday night, so he can declare victory then and there. I wouldn’t be surprised if a bunch of supers declare for Obama within, say, an hour after the polls close in Montana and Souta Dakota.
One thing he won’t necessary wait for, before declaring victory, is a Clinton concession. Reportedly, however, Clinton is coming to terms with the fact that she’s going to lose, so a concession may actually happen.
Politico’s Ben Smith looks at where things stand after all sides — the Clinton camp, the Obama camp, the Florida folks and the Michigan folks — made their arguments to the DNC’s Rules and Bylaws Committee.
Leave [Scott McClellan] alone. He wrote a book. It is true or untrue, accurately reported or not. If not, this will no doubt be revealed. It is honestly meant and presented, or not. Look to the assertions, argue them, weigh and ponder. …
The book can be seen as a grenade lobbed over the wall. Thus the explosive response. He is a traitor, turncoat, betrayer, sellout. If he’d had any guts he would have spoken up when he was in power. … But those damning him today would have damned him even more if he’d resigned on principle three years ago. [The right]Ã¢â‚¬â€and the administrationÃ¢â‚¬â€would have beaten him to a pulp, the former from rage, the latter as a lesson: This is what happens when you leave and talk. …
When I finished the book I came out not admiring Mr. McClellan or liking him but, in terms of the larger arguments, believing him. One hopes more people who work or worked within the Bush White House will address the book’s themes and interpretations. What he says may be inconvenient, and it may be painful, but that’s not what matters. What matters is if it’s true. Let the debate on the issues commence.
Bob Dole told Scott McClellan today that Bob Dole thinks Scott McClellan is a "miserable creature," a "total ingrate," a greedy bastard, and a poor excuse for a man. (Bob Dole, of course, knows a thing or two about manhood.)
"If all these awful things were happening," Bob Dole wrote in an e-mail to McClellan, "and perhaps some may have
been, you should have spoken up publicly like a man, or quit your
cushy, high profile job." That, says Bob Dole, would have taken "integrity and courage."
Instead, Bob Dole wrote, McClellan chose the path of greed. Bob Dole added that Bob Dole
thinks McClellan should donate his book proceeds "to a worthy cause,
something like, ‘Biting The Hand That Fed Me.’"
Bob Dole also pointed out that McClellan is hardly unique in this regard. "In [Bob Dole’s] nearly 36 years of public service, [Bob Dole has]
known of a few like you," Bob Dole said. McClellan, says Bob Dole, is just another "miserable creature" who doesn’t "have the guts to speak up or quit if there are disagreements with the boss or colleagues," but instead "soaks up the benefits of power, revels in the limelight
for years, then quits, and spurred on by greed, cashes in with a
"YouÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re a hot ticket now," Bob Dole concluded, "but donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t you, deep down,
feel like a total ingrate?"
According to Politico, Bob Dole "signed the email simply: ‘BOB DOLE.’"
For anyone trying to figure out when exactly to tune in to Wolf Blitzer, Wolf Blitzer this weekend, here is the schedule:
Saturday: DNC Rules & Bylaws Committee meets to rule on Florida & Michigan challenges. Oral arguments begin at 9:30 AM EST. After a lunch break, RBC members will "consider and debate the challenges" in the afternoon. As many as 368 delegates — 313 pledged, 55 super — are at stake. More on the numbers here.
Sunday: Puerto Rico votes. The polls are open from 7:00 AM to 2:00 PM EST. 55 pledged delegates are at stake. As for the "popular vote," depending on how you do the math, Hillary Clinton needs to win by more than 113,000, more than 177,000, or more than 268,000 votes to have a shot at staking any sort of arguably plausible claim on a popular-vote "victory." (Of course, the "popular vote" is inherently illegitimate, and moreover, counting every vote isn’t such a good idea for Clinton anyway. But the question right now is whether she’ll even have an argument, not whether it’s a winning argument.)
My blogging on these events will probably be rather light, as my parents are in town this weekend.
Will John McCain lose the presidency because of the Arab-American vote?
Arab-Americans are both very likely to vote — their turnout is 20
percent higher than that of the general population — and they are
concentrated. Two-thirds of them live in just 10 states, including the
swing states of Florida, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia. In
Ohio, Pennsylvania and Florida, Arab-Americans have made up 2 percent
of the electorate in recent elections. That sounds like a small
proportion, but in a close race it can make a difference. In 2000, Bush
won the Arab-American vote over Gore by 7.5 percentage points. … [This year, however,] Zogby polling has found that a strong majority of Arab-Americans now favor Obama.
(Hat tip: Sullivan.)