Clinton Aides: Best Case Scenario is 3 to 6 Point Ohio Victory

ABC reports that privately Clinton aides hope for a 3 to 6 point victory in Ohio at best, and a extremely close win in Texas:

Clinton campaign advisors say their own internal polls show the race tightening in Ohio and remaining very close in Texas. ...

In their best case scenario, Clinton aides hope she could win Ohio by 3 to 6 points and squeak out a victory in Texas. They would consider that a good night and reason to fight on to Pennsylvania, which holds its primary on April 22.

Other scenarios, they admit, are not so pretty.

If Clinton wins only one of the two big states, it is much better for her to win Ohio, because Ohio's demographics hold out hope for a similar win in Pennsylvania. However, if she does not win both states, she will face pressure to drop out.

Redhorse is predicting a Clinton win in Ohio and loss in Texas, with a Clinton sweep possible.

New Quinnipiac and SUSA Polls Inconsistent

The polling is all over the place. A new Quinnipiac poll shows Obama closing the gap to 4 points, just outside the 3.5 point margin of error and 5 points closer than one week ago:

49% (51%) Clinton
45% (40%) Obama

However, a new poll from Survey USA shows Clinton holding steady with a ten point lead (3.4 point margin of error):

54% Clinton
44% Obama

New Ohio Poll: Clinton Up By About 9 Points

The University of Cincinnati has released its final Ohio Poll concerning tomorrow's election and a relatively easy win by Clinton is projected:

51.3% Clinton
42.3% Obama
6.0% Edwards
0.4% Other

For this poll, undecided voters were allocated to the candidates they are most likely to support. 624 probably Democratic voter were interviewed between Feb. 28th and March 2nd and the potential sampling error is 3.9%.

This poll contrasts sharply with the Zogby two-day tracking poll that shows the race deadlocked but trending Obama's way.

Obama Considering GOP Figures for Cabinet

The Times of London reported yesterday that the Obama camp may be planning to neutralize McCain's appeal to independents in the general election by identifying independent GOP figures such as Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE) and Sen. Richard Lugar (R-IN) for cabinet positions, or even as running mate:

The scene is set for a tussle between the two candidates for the support of some of the sharpest and most independent minds in politics. Obama is hoping to appoint cross-party figures to his cabinet such as Chuck Hagel, the Republican senator for Nebraska and an opponent of the Iraq war, and Richard Lugar, leader of the Republicans on the Senate foreign relations committee.

Senior advisers confirmed that Hagel, a highly decorated Vietnam war veteran and one of McCain’s closest friends in the Senate, was considered an ideal candidate for defence secretary. Some regard the outspoken Republican as a possible vice-presidential nominee although that might be regarded as a “stretch”.

As to that last bit, John Kerry toyed with John McCain as a possible running mate in 2004 and it was a disaster. Let's not have any more of that.

Obama: "I Pray to Jesus Every Night"

Barack Obama in Nelsonville yesterday (as reported in the Dayton Daily News), deflecting internet rumor-mongering about him secretly believing in Islam:

"Here are the simple facts," Obama said. "I am a Christian. I am a devout Christian. I have been a member of the same church for 20 years. I pray to Jesus every night."

It makes me cringe that the issue even needs to be addressed, but plainly it does. As detailed by Steve Kroft during a report on Sixty Minutes last night, an unemployed factory worker in Chillicothe confessed to hesitating over supporting Obama based on the rumors:

Schoenholtz told Kroft he is leaning towards Obama, but that there were a couple of issues he was “not too clear” on.

Asked what they were, Schoenholtz said, “Well, I'm hearin' he doesn't even know the National Anthem, you know. He wouldn't use the Holy Bible. He's got his own beliefs, got the Muslim beliefs. Couple issues that bothers me at heart.”

“You know that's not true,” Kroft remarked.

“No. I’m just…this is what I've been told,” he replied.

So that's what Obama has to do, over and over and over, is repeat that he is a Christian. And while he is praying, pray that people hear what he is saying and put aside the vicious rumors.

More on NAFTA Remarks by Obama Advisor to Canadian Consular Officials UPDATE

Last Thursday I posted about a Canadian TV report that a senior Obama advisor told the Canadian ambassador not to "take seriously" Obama's "heavy swings" at NAFTA on the campaign trail, then updated the post when the Canadian embassy and the Obama campaign both denied any such contacts with the ambassador.

The story has squirmed and twisted and refused to die since then, with the location of the conversation shifted from the Canadian embassy in Washington to the Canadian consulate in Chicago and the Obama advisor identified as Austan Goolsbee of the University of Chicago. The latest report indicates that there is a memo prepared by a consulate employee regarding a 40 minute "introductory visit" by Goolsbee, during which perhaps two or three minutes were spent discussing NAFTA. Goolsbee disputes the memo's description of his comments. Goolsbee recounts his remarks this way:

[T]he Canadians asked about Obama's position [on NAFTA], and [Goolsbee] replied about [Obama's] interest in improving labor and environmental standards, and [the Canadians] raised some concerns that Obama sounds like a protectionist.

Obama NAFTA Mailer 2.0

Over the weekend I received a new mailer from the Obama campaign about NAFTA. This time the debunked "boon" quotation is gone, and the padlocked factory photo appears only once and only inside the fold-over piece. This time the front has a smiling Obama on it, although the message continues to be that Obama has consistently opposed NAFTA while Clinton has not. The last one had more assertive headlines about Clinton ("Hillary Clinton was not with Ohio when our jobs were on the line"), while this one poses the issue more as a question ("Is Hillary Clinton running away from her own record on trade deals that have cost Ohio nearly 50,000 jobs?") followed by five Clinton quotations.

Poll Craziness: Dispatch Has Clinton Up By 16 Points

The Dispatch mail-in poll released yesterday has Clinton up by a huge margin over Obama:

56% Clinton
40% Obama
4% Other

This result is far out of synch with other recent polls. The two-day Zogby tracking poll now has Obama up by two points (within the 3.6 margin of error), and the average of polls at Pollster.com has Clinton up by only six points.

However, the Dispatch concedes that the actual result will determined by voter turnout and may vary greatly from this poll result. The 16 point lead anticipates the "usual turnout scenario dominated by loyal, older party voters -- especially if women show up in force." If there is an "unusual influx of young and black poll-goers" then the lead drops to "healthy single digits," according to the pollster. This poll sampled only registered Democrats, so the result would be further affected by a big turnout among independents, who have strongly favored Obama in other polls. In short, not a reliable poll.

Clinton in Ohio Election Night, Obama in Texas

Signaling their expectations, the Clinton campaign announced yesterday that she will be in Columbus when election results come in tomorrow night (location not yet revealed), while Obama stays in Texas. Polls have suggested that Obama's doing a little better in Texas than here, and NPR reported this morning that Obama aides privately said Obama has "a real good chance" in Texas (campaign speak for expecting to win).

"Arcade Fire" to play Obama events at Beachland and Stuart's Opera House

Dave at Left of Ohio beat to the punch on this one. The indie band "Arcade Fire" is going to play two free Obama events in Ohio and at two of my favorite venues. I'm hoping that the gigs will be PACKED so that more progressives get a chance to experience two very COOL venues.

Tomorrow night, Sunday March 2, 2008, they play at Stuart's Opera House in Nelsonville, which is just north of Athens. Then they'll be at the Beachland Ballroom Monday night (March 3, 2008) on the east side of Cleveland in the North Collinwood neighborhood.

Here's the email message I received from Tim Peacock (the manager at Stuart's):

Members of Internationally known band, Arcade Fire will be performing at , this Sunday night, tomorrow night, March 2nd at 7:00 p.m., for FREE!

This event is being put on by Arcade Fire and the Barack Obama campaign. Stuart's Opera House is a non-partisan venue that the organizers are renting. Regardless of how it happening, we are extremely excited to have members of the Arcade Fire on our stage, wow! Here is their press release:

"Win Butler, Will Butler, Regine Chassagne, Jeremy Gara, and Sarah Neufeld of the Arcade Fire will be playing a free concert on Sunday, March 2nd at in Nelsonville, Ohio in support of Barack Obama's bid for the Democratic nomination. The show is at 7 p.m., first come first serve.

Though known as a Canadian band, Win and Will were born and raised in the U.S. (and spent their formative years in Texas), Regine is a dual citizen whose dad served in Vietnam, and Jeremy Gara and Sarah Neufeld are just a really nice Canadians who like playing music and are sick of explaining to Americans what universal health care means."

Stuart’s is a restored Victorian era theater in downtown Nelsonville and a FANTASTIC venue. It's one of the best small performance spaces in our region. And even though we live at the diagonal opposite end of Ohio, we still make the trip down whenever we can. GREAT music, LOW prices, wonderful atmosphere. We’ve gone there to see performers such as Karan Casey, 2007 Grammy winner Tim O’Brien, John Doyle and Liz Carroll, Richard Thompson, Steve Earle, Balfa Toujours (an INCREDIBLE Cajun band) and the Del McCoury Band.

Upcoming shows include Richie Havens, The Cherryholmes Family and Rhonda Vincent and the Rage.

The Beachland is also a super venue. I've been to the Ballroom to see bands like Railroad Earth, and Donna The Buffalo (I'm a member of "The Herd") and the smaller Tavern room to see acoustic acts, like John and Liz.

It's so cool that we are finally starting to develop a circuit of independent venues in the Buckeye state, including places like the Kent Stage over in Kent, and the superb CityFolk events in Dayton.

Because of my kids' upcoming musical, I have to miss the incredible Irish band Dervish, at the Victoria Theater in Dayton. If you are in that area on Friday March 14, do not miss it!

Votes for Edwards, Thompson, and Romney Will Be Counted

Terry Orlander reports in The Plain Dealer today of the five presidential dropouts on the ballot, votes for two (Dennis Kucinich and Rudy Giuliani) will not be counted, but votes for the other three (John Edwards, Mitt Romney, and Fred Thompson) will be tallied because they never formally withdrew from the primary. The latter three are eligible to be awarded delegates if they win 15% of the vote in any congressional district.

Before you laugh, consider that the Ohio Poll released on February 25th showed Edwards with 19% support in southeastern Ohio (he was at 9% statewide). That part of the state includes all or most of the 6th and 18th congressional districts. On the GOP side, the poll showed Romney with 17% support in central Ohio (also 9% statewide). That region presumably includes all or much of the 7th, 12th, and 15th districts. If those voters don't switch their allegiance, Edwards and Romney could actually pick up delegates.

New M-D and Zogby Ohio Polls: Obama and Clinton in Statistical Tie

The latest polling shows the Ohio primary between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama deadlocked just three days before the vote.

A Mason-Dixon poll taken February 27-29 for The Plain Dealer finds the gap between the candidates right at the 4 point margin of error:

47% Clinton
43% Obama

This poll shows Obama leading among African American voters by 83% to 8%, notably higher than the approximately 75% to 20% ratio reflected in other recent polls.

A poll released today by Zogby International, commissioned by Reuters, C-SPAN, and the Houston Chroncle, has the race exactly even (figures in parens from two days ago):

45% (44%) Clinton
45% (42%) Obama
1% (1%) Gravel
3% (5%) Someone Else
6% (9%) Not Sure

The latter poll has a margin of error of 3.8 ponts. It shows the "someone else/undecided" voters breaking decidedly for Obama over the last few days.

Pollster John Zogby comments on the tight race:

"In Ohio, Obama continued his march to catch Clinton in the race there, erasing her two-point lead in yesterday's tracking poll. The two are now tied - down to the tenth of a percent. As is the case in Texas, Obama leads in the big Democratic cities – Ohio’s Cleveland and Columbus, now the biggest city in Ohio where thousands of unionized state government employees live. Clinton's strength remains in the more rural areas, and among Catholics, an important demographic group in Ohio.

Gravel Lawsuit Against Pro-Clinton Group Dismissed

As I reported a week ago, attorney Subodh Chandra has filed a Federal Election Commission compaint against the pro-Clinton outside group American Leadership Project, charging that it is a political advocacy group subject to a registration requirement under the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law. However, the FEC has lacked the necessary quorum to take official action on complaints since New Year's Day because Congress is deadlocked over four pending nominations to the FEC by George Bush.

I learned this morning that an attorney for Democratic presidential candidate Mike Gravel, Jared Beck of Florida, filed a federal lawsuit against ALP in Toledo alleging that it is a political committee subject to registration with the FEC, and seeking an injunction against ALP airing ads that promote Clinton. Beck argued in support of the lawsuit that Gravel should be excused from filing the otherwise mandatory complaint with the FEC because the lack of a quorum there renders any such administrative filing futile.

Alas for Gravel, U.S. District Judge Jack Zouhary didn't buy the argument. In a seven-page order issued yesterday, the judge ruled that it has no jurisdiction in the matter:

Plaintiff cannot avoid the FEC by taking a shortcut through the federal courts, even if Plaintiff believes the required statutory procedure will take him nowhere. Congress has made it clear where he must start his journey, and that is at the steps of the FEC, not the Toledo courthouse.

No word yet on whether Gravel will appeal the ruling.

Video - Jack Nicholson Endorsement of Clinton

I think this video is a riot:



Nicholson had in fact endorsed her. He announced it in a call to the "Rick Dees in the Morning Show" on Los Angeles’ MOVIN’ 93.9 FM on February 4th.

Clinton Campaign To Narrow Focus to Ohio?

Yesterday Clinton campaign advisors told reporters that "they believe unless Obama sweeps Ohio and Texas, as well as the smaller contests in Rhode Island and Vermont, that is a signal from Democratic voters that Clinton should stay in the presidential nomination race," a big turnabout from the comment by Bill Clinton ten days ago that "a loss in Texas or Ohio would likely doom her candidacy."

If Clinton's famous Ohio-Texas firewall is shrinking, which of the states is now the "must-win" primary for the Clinton campaign? Poll averages at Pollster.com show Clinton now trailing 48.4% to 44.2% in Texas, but hanging on in Ohio 49.5% to 42.3%. That suggests we may see a shift of resources here, if it's true that pulling out one big win is now Clinton's bottom line for staying in the race.

Hillary Clinton in Cleveland 3/2

03/02/2008 - 8:15pm
03/02/2008 - 9:15pm

Join Hillary Clinton in a "Solutions for America" Rally in Cleveland this Sunday, March 2nd.
Details after the break.

Obama in Westerville 3/2

03/02/2008 - 12:00pm
03/02/2008 - 2:00pm

The Obama campaign has announced that Senator Obama will hold a town hall meeting in Westerville on Sunday, March 2nd.

Details after the flip.

Cincinnati Enquirer Endorses Obama

The editors praise both candidates but choose Obama for his health plan and his potential to cross the partisan divide:

[I]t is Obama's ability to reach beyond the partisan divide and gather in support that prompts The Enquirer to give him our endorsement ...

The true differences on policy between Obama and Clinton - on Iraq, on trade and a host of other issues, are narrow.

On health care, we prefer his approach of lowering costs rather than mandating participation. ...

Obama has been on the national stage for a relatively short time, but in that time he has demonstrated an ability and a willingness to work with others. He does not waste time demonizing those with different views. ...

But perhaps Obama's most impressive achievement so far is the excitement he has engendered in the political process itself. ...

Obama has an undeniable appeal that is attracting people of divergent backgrounds. He seems able to find ways to work even with people who don't share his views.

We believe that of the two, he has the better chance at quickly creating the working coalitions that would allow for the progress a new administration will need in dealing with the issues at hand.

The Enquirer joins The Plain Dealer and The Toledo Blade as major Ohio papers endorsing Obama. The Akron Beacon Journal endorsed Hillary Clinton.

Is Bill Clinton Campaigning for Barack?


Counting Votes

USA Today's story about problems the experts see coming due to unbelievable turnout for this cycle's election is only a backdrop for the nightmare expected election night this Tuesday in Ohio and Texas, and possibly nationwide come November.

"The biggest problem during the primary season has been too many voters," says Doug Chapin, director of electionline.org, which tracks voting issues. "Time and time again, the problem has been turnout being up higher than even the most optimistic projection."

Right on cue, Ohio Daily Blog reports that turnout will be huge.

Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner had a conference call with reporters today (reported on Openers , The Daily Briefing, and Politics Extra) in which she forecast a 52% voter turnout. That is vastly greater to turnout in the 30% to 35% range for the last three presidential primaries (when Ohio's vote was not nearly so important). It is about the same as the 53.2% turnout in the 2006 general election and about 19% less than the record-breaking 2004 general election turnout.

The USA Today article tells us where the trouble spots should be, including:

In Ohio, which has faced myriad ballot-box problems in recent years, the Cleveland area will test new optical-scan paper ballots in next Tuesday's primary; officials may not finish counting until midday Wednesday.

So, how's that going?  If you guessed badly, you win.

Weekend Obama Canvassing Details

After the flip ...

Two Polls Diverge: One Shows Clinton Ahead, The Other Nearly Tied

Fox News:

46% Clinton
38% Obama

Rasmussen Reports (figures in parens from 2/25):

47% (48%) Clinton
45% (43%) Obama

New Will.I.Am Obama Video

We are the ones...


Voter Turnout Will Be Huge

[UPDATED to add info from Politics Extra.]

It looks like Ohio is set to follow a lot of other states in producing an enormous voter turnout in Tuesday's primary, at least on the Democratic side where the contest is close.

Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner had a conference call with reporters today (reported on Openers , The Daily Briefing, and Politics Extra) in which she forecast a 52% voter turnout. That is vastly greater to turnout in the 30% to 35% range for the last three presidential primaries (when Ohio's vote was not nearly so important). It is about the same as the 53.2% turnout in the 2006 general election and about 19% less than the record-breaking 2004 general election turnout.

Other notable points:

* "Brunner said as many as one-fifth of the roughly 4 million voters expected to cast votes in Tuesday's primary will do so by absentee ballot, or at least 800,000 voters. The previous record for absentee ballots cast was 707,856 in the 2006 general election."

* "Brunner [said] the demand for absentee ballots suggests high interest. As an example, she said the Montgomery County Board of Elections was deluged with absentee ballot requests after Democratic candidate Barack Obama spoke to 15,000 people at a Dayton rally. (At the Obama events I've attended the speakers always stress early voting, and it appears to be working.)

50 State Blog Network Roundup

Fresh and hand-picked blog posts from across the nation:

California
   Karen Bass will become the new Speaker of the Assembly. She will team with Senator Darrell Steinberg to lead the California legislature for the next two years. She is the first female Democrat to lead the Assembly.

New York
   Daily Gotham reports on endorsements in a Congressional race beginning to heat up in New York's 13th District. This one is all that stands between us and a free-of-republican-Congressmen New York City.

Continued after the break.

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