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Maine – bigger than we think?

February 10, 2008 pm29 10:09 pm

Maybe. Today’s caucuses only choose 30 delegates, but they could matter.

This contest could continue to the Convention. Conventional wisdom today, wouldn’t you know. But there are scenarios that end it early.

A win in today’s caucuses doesn’t guarantee that Hillary will hang on until Denver, but it makes it much more likely.

An Obama quick sweep scenario has him winning all ten contests between Super Tuesday and March 4 (Ohio, Texas, Rhode Island, Vermont) and then drawing or nearly drawing those states, and generating pressure on Clinton to concede for the sake of party unity. She could stop that scenario by winning big in Texas and Ohio (quite possible). But winning ten in a row will probably help him in those states.

But she could stop this sort of talk sooner. If she stays competitive in a few of the intervening races, it is not likely that she will be forced out fast. Yesterday she was trounced in Washington, Nebraska, and Louisiana (better than 2:1 in the first 2, by over 20 points in Louisiana). Tuesday she will lose, probably big, in Virginia, Maryland, and DC. Her best chance at breaking Obama’s run is Maine today (or maybe Wisconsin a week from Tuesday).

Maine could break up the streak.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. andy permalink
    February 10, 2008 pm29 11:16 pm 11:16 pm

    I agree that it would be a very big deal for Clinton to be able to point to at least one victory among the contests this weekend and on Tuesday. I know she’ll say she didn’t really compete in a lot of these states, but still, it’s hard to argue that you’re on the road to being the nominee if you lose by 20+ points all over the place.

    I don’t think it’ll necessarily come down to the convention. My feeling is that after March 4 the DNC is going to push superdelegates to move into one camp or the other so this gets resolved before the voting starts up again in April. That, of course, could cause some serious backlash among whichever candidate comes out on the losing end.

    I think if Obama wins today, wins as expected on Tuesday, and wins in Wisconsin (emphasis on “if,” obviously), Hillary is going to have to win convincingly in both of the March 4 states to have much of an argument for her candidacy left.

  2. andy permalink
    February 10, 2008 pm29 11:35 pm 11:35 pm

    By the way, I also think a Clinton win in Maine would be doubly valuable for her because it would get more media attention than Obama’s wins yesterday did. People seem to be automatically putting Maine in Obama’s corner because of his momentum and because it’s a caucus state, but Clinton has a lot of demographic and organizational advantages there. I think it’ll be close.

  3. February 11, 2008 am29 3:02 am 3:02 am

    I agree with the bulk of your read on this. Conversely, if after March 4 Ohio and Texas Clinton margins have evened out a months worth of smaller states, I wouldn’t necessarily expect to see a push until Pennsylvania in late April.

    Early returns, btw, have Obama leading in Maine, by about 15%.

  4. andy permalink
    February 11, 2008 am29 4:00 am 4:00 am

    Yeah, networks have called it and it looks like Obama is going to win by double digits again. I think this is pretty devastating for Hillary, because she made a big push here and really should’ve been able to replicate her victory in NH given the demographics (or at least done better than a 15-20 point swing to Obama compared to NH). And if the polls in VA and MD hold up, Obama could easily have won 7 double digit victories in a row by Tuesday night. I get that these states favor Obama, but we saw how well the “wait until the states that are favorable to me come around” strategy worked for Rudy. Barring any Clinton upsets on Tuesday, I think Hillary is going to have to make a last stand-type effort in Wisconsin. That could potentially be a chance for Obama to deliver a psychological knockout punch.

  5. February 11, 2008 am29 8:33 am 8:33 am

    59.5 – 39.9. Just another round. No one really wins here.

    Remember, the expectation is that Hillary will lose everything to Barack between now and March 4. If she can pick something off in advance, that will be great for her, but nothing that has happened in the last week or in the next week changes this: Ohio and Texas can be hers, and can draw her back even, or ahead. Clinton can lose Virginia by 5 points or by 35 points, and the question will still be Ohio and Texas.

  6. andy permalink
    February 12, 2008 am29 5:28 am 5:28 am

    Look, there’s no question that Ohio and Texas are really important for both candidates. But at a certain point, even in a campaign that seems to have been immune to momentum up to now, and expectations notwithstanding, 20-point loss after 20-point loss becomes hard to chalk up to “just another round.” Sometimes it seems like the Clinton campaign’s argument is that the only states that matter are the states they can win, which at this point is a lot fewer states than Obama has won. And an Obama through Wisconsin will have some sort of effect on Ohio and Texas; the question is just how much. Unless Hillary can stop Obama’s momentum before March 4, she is going to have to not just win Ohio and Texas, but win convincingly. That’s possible but a tall order, because Texas’ hybrid primary/caucus system has some built-in advantages for Obama, and Ohio by all accounts is pretty close even right now. It’s certainly not likely to start swinging towards Hillary if she keeps losing…

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