Tuesday, May 6, 2008

More Hot Democratic Primary Action

So Tar Heels and, uhm, people who live in Indiana(EDIT: Duh... Hoosiers), go to the polls today for our eighty billionth day of Democratic primary contests that will never EVER end.

From what I can gather, polls for North Carolina close 7:30 p.m. ET while Indiana closes at 7:00 p.m ET... so results should start coming in around then.

In the analysis department, I think I'll outsource it to Noam Scheiber at the Stump, who has several interesting observations:
There are four polls out today that previously came out last week. All four show Obama gaining in Indiana and Clinton gaining in North Carolina. In Indiana, Clinton's lead is down from 8 to 5 (PPP), from 9 to 8 (ARG), 7 to 4 (Insider Advantage), and from tied to down 2 (Zogby). In North Carolina, Obama's lead is down from 12 to 10 (PPP), from 11 to 8 (ARG), 5 to 3 (Insider Advantage--actually more like 5 to just under 4), and 16 to 8 (Zogby). I don't know precisely where that leaves us, but, qualitatively, I'd guess we're looking at a "solid, but not as big as it could have been" win for Hillary in Indiana, and a "closer-than-expected, but not super-close" win for Obama in North Carolina.

This, of course, would be Chris Bowers' Most Annoying Result in that it wouldn't change any dynamics of the race and we just trudge on to the next primary. Obama would come out with more net delegates and this is the last big chunk of pledged delegates (187 are at stake today compared to 217 in the remaining 6 primaries) that Clinton has to close the gap, but Conventional Wisdom would be that he didn't "close it out" and the she still has a shot. A sweep by either candidate, no matter how narrow the margins, would be a big deal, however... an Obama sweep ends the whole thing, while a Clinton sweep puts Obama on the ropes and maybe gives some justification for Superdelegates to swing her way... the math is still terrible for her, but she at least comes out with momentum and a semi-logical argument instead of just crazy talk.

Now, for those intent on following along at home and trying to guess the outcomes based on exit polls, here is Noam's advice on the demographics to keep an eye on:
Demographically, the two groups to follow are African-Americans (obviously) and college-educated voters. Mark Blumenthal puts the likely black vote-share at 9-12 percent in Indiana, and high 20s to high 30s in North Carolina. The bottom end of those ranges should be good news for Hillary, the top end should be good for Obama. Except! We don't yet know how African-Americans are reacting to Wright. I speculated last week that some black voters could be even more pessimistic than white voters about what Wright's done to Obama's electability. If Obama's margins among black voters slip, that could be the reason, and things could get dicey for him regardless of turnout. (Interestingly, at least in Indiana, the robo-polls show Hillary doing slightly better among African Americans than the live-interview polls. I wonder if they're picking up on a queasiness black voters are less comfortable sharing with human interviewers.)

As for college grads, this goes back to a debate John Judis and I had after Pennsylvania. Obama rarely loses this demographic, but he lost it last time out, and losing it again would be worrying--a sign that his coalition is shrinking. On the other hand, per the back-and-forth Mike and I had last week, if there were ever a demographic that might respond well to Obama's attack on gas-tax pandering (and badly to Hillary's attack on experts), it's college grads. The gas tax debate could help him nail down this group.

So I don't really know what the take home message is from that in prediction terms, but it's interesting nonetheless.

Anyway, here's hoping for a knockout blow from Obama tonight.

UPDATE: Zogby says that Obama is expanding his lead in NC and is pulling ahead in Indiana, but since Zogby is almost always wrong, I would say this does not bode well for tonight.