Friday, April 25, 2008

Indiana is not a jump ball, it's an Obama state

Okay, I was kidding when I wrote that it would all come down to Guam. The truth is, there doesn't seem to have been any "pivotal moment" in this Democratic campaign. Take the media's discussion of the super-important decisiveness of Indiana accordingly...

The real pivotal moment in the race wasn't a moment at all: It was the Obama campaign's decision early on to contest every caucus and small-state primary, while Clinton only campaigned in big-state primaries, banking on momentum. That is what made the difference in the delegate count. Provided this race does someday end, that will be what decided it.

We know now that Clinton lost ground between Ohio, where she won by 10 points, and Pennsylvania, where she won by 9. And this happened during the worst political weeks Obama has had in his entire career. So I think it's fair to conclude that the dynamic of the race has changed not at all.

What comes next? Obama has a slight lead in Indiana polls, and a large lead in North Carolina. To this point, the only movement in just about any state has been upward movement by Obama. The only real question has been to what extent Clinton can limit that movement. In states like California, Ohio and now Pennsylvania, Obama grew his support quite a bit leading up to the voting -- but Clinton held him off.

It's true that in other states (Mississippi, say) Obama started out with a big lead and held it. The point, though, is that Clinton has shown absolutely no capacity for come-from-behind victories. Has there been a single example of a state where this has happened?

Indiana is being called a "jump ball," and indeed it will probably be pretty close. But based on the other contests, isn't it most likely that Obama's support will rise as he campaigns there and runs TV ads, and that he'll be able to expand his narrow lead by at least a few points?

This movement will probably be smaller in Indiana than it was elsewhere, since media saturation means there are fewer people who are just "meeting" Obama for the first time. But the dynamic is the dynamic. If it didn't change in Pennsylvania, it is not going to change.

1 comment:

haahnster said...

I concur with your analysis, Rob. In fact, perhaps my biggest gripe with the national media coverage has been their insistence on treating the primary more as a series of national mini-elections than actual state-by-state contests.

They give Hillary credit for "comebacks" when she wins. In fact, her wins have been by fractions of her earlier margins in those states.

They continue to say things like, "Obama can't close," and "The voters are saying, 'not so fast.'" They act as if the same people are moving from state to state to recast their votes.

I hate it.