A new poll by Zogby International for Reuters, C-SPAN, and the Houston Chronicle shows the race virtually tied in Ohio:
Although Clinton is a statistically insignificant two points ahead, the pollster suggests that the trends actually give Obama the upper hand, with undecided voters more likely to go his way:
[Clinton's] strength stems from the same demographic groups that carried her to victories earlier in the campaign, but the trend appears to favor Obama, as late deciders are more likely to support him over her, the survey shows, and 9% of Ohio Democrats say they have yet to make up their minds. ...
Among those who made up their minds "more than a month ago," Clinton leads 63% to 37%. Obama leads by margins as big among those who made up their minds less than a month ago, a week ago, and within the past few days. In the same vein, Clinton leads by 6 among those who have already voted.
The pollster also surveyed Texas, where Obama leads Clinton by 48% to 42%. On the GOP side, McCain has a solid lead in both statates, 62% to 19% in Ohio and 53% to 27% in Texas.
Other recent polls have shown the Democratic race in Ohio tightening, but this is the first to point to a victory for Obama rather than a close race still favoring Clinton. The cross-tabs are similar to other recent polls:
Clinton leads among Democrats, women, voters over 50, and everywhere outside the three big cities. She also leads among Catholics, voters in union households, and moderates. Obama leads among voters under 50, especially those under 30, and among liberals.
As to the Ohio Democratic results, the poll included 708 likely voters and has a margin of error of of 3.8 points.
The Dispatch blog The Daily Briefing reports that Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones (D-Cleveland) will stand by Hillary Clinton as long as she is in the race, even if Ohio and her own district go against her in Tuesday's primary:
[Superdelegate Tubbs Jones] says she will stick with Clinton even if Obama wins Ohio and Tubbs Jones' 11th congressional district on Tuesday. ...
... Tubbs Jones says as long as Clinton is in the race she remains by her side.
"I am a woman who has been in politics 26 years. All you have is your word," said Tubbs Jones, noting she committed to Clinton early on and has long been friends with Clinton. "I have chosen her (Clinton) based on her background and experience."
Rep. Tubbs Jones, co-chair of Clinton's national campaign, is the first female African American member of Congress from Ohio and is a revered figure in the northeast Ohio black community. However, recent polls shows three-quarters of African American likely Democratic voters favoring Obama. The 11th Congressional Distict is 56% African American.
Hillary Clinton is campaigning in southeast Ohio today, where she is focusing on combating poverty. Poverty is prevalent in the hard-hit Appalachian region of the state, and low-income white voters are key to Clinton's chances in the Ohio primary. However, Amy Chozick suggests in a Wall Street Journal story today that her emphasis on poverty may also reflect Clinton's hope of obtaining the endorsement of John Edwards:
Poverty hasn't been a dominant issue in the campaign since the withdrawal of former Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina. Mr. Edwards hasn't endorsed a candidate, and both Sen. Clinton and Sen. Barack Obama have been courting his supporters. "He made poverty a centerpiece in his campaign, and it needs to be a priority," Sen. Clinton has said of Mr. Edwards.
There is also an important tactical reason to focus on southeast Ohio. The 6th and 18th congressional districts have an odd number of delegates, so the winner of 51% or more of the vote in each of those districts scores a net gain of one delegate. Districts with an even number of delegates require a tally of nearly 60% of the vote to avoid splitting the delegates evenly.
UPDATE: After I posted the following account of a disturbing report about a conversation between a senior Obama aide and the Canadian ambassador about NAFTA, the Canadian embassy issued a statement denying the report (h/t Ben Smith at Politico):
A spokesman for the Canadian Embassy to the United States, Tristan Landry, flatly denied the CTV report that a senior Obama aide had told the Canadian ambassador not to take seriously Obama's denunciations of Nafta.
"None of the presidential campaigns have called either the Ambassador or any of the officials here to raise Nafta," Landry said.
The Obama campaign has also issued a strong statement:
“The news reports on Obama's position on NAFTA are inaccurate and in no way represent Senator Obama’s consistent position on trade. When Senator Obama says that he will forcefully act to make NAFTA a better deal for American workers, he means it. Both Canada and Mexico should know that, as president, Barack Obama will do what it takes to create and protect American jobs and strengthen the American economy -- that includes amending NAFTA to include labor and environmental standards. We are currently reaching out to the Canadian embassy to correct this inaccuracy,” said Obama spokesman Bill Burton.
A Canadian national television network reported last night that a senior campaign aide for Barack Obama contacted the Canadian ambassador and told him that Obama would be taking "heavy swings" against NAFTA while he campaigned in Ohio, but it was "campaign rhetoric" that should not be "taken seriously":
If Barack Obama wins the nomination, how effective will he be in fending off attacks by John McCain? Yesterday's rally in Columbus provided a sneak peek preview:
The Obama campaign has announced a statewide door-to-door canvassing campaign to being today. Locations for Canton, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, Toledo, and Youngstown after the break.
R&B singer-songwriter Avant, a Cleveland native who records on the Geffen label, will host a fund-raising event for Barack Obama at his home in Solon this Sunday (3/2) at 2:00 pm, at which Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) will be a featured guest.
Details after the break.
This video is a stirring statement by William J. Rausch of Marengo, Ohio explaining why he is supporting Barack Obama, and also a reflection of the excitement that is building around this election all parts of Ohio:
The Toledo Blade has come out with an endorsement of Senator Barack Obama for president in the Ohio Democratic Primary Election.
However, they "hedge their bets" by going on to say that "We are not yet ready to say who we will endorse in November." I have always questioned the whole point of newspapers and other media outlets who endorse in both parties before a primary election.
And although not unexpected, this has to be seen as a disappointment for those northwest Ohio Democrats, such as State Senator Teresa Fedor who have been campaigning for Senator Clinton.
As a side note, this comes too late to impact the decision of what I think will turn out to be record numbers of voters who have already cast their ballots. Wood County Democratic Party chair Mike Zickar has indicated that this may be the first election in recent memory where Democrats request more absentee or early ballots than Republicans in Wood county, where typically the older GOP supporters have traditionally dominated absentee voting.
"The times they are a changin'"
UPDATE: Here are some highlights of what the Blade editorial board had to say. -Jeff
[W]e believe that Mr. Obama's inspiring life story, keen intellect, strong but quiet confidence, ready grasp of public policy issues, and his fresh and optimistic world view are what America needs after eight years of an administration that repeatedly has shown open contempt for the American people and for the Constitution.
Join state and national NOW leaders for an "I'm Ready for Hillary Party" in Cincinnati with NOW leaders on Sunday, March 2, 2008.
Details after the flip.
The Foreign Policy Leadership Council & The 500 Club invite you and your guests to an Insider's Lunch with Hillary Clinton's Foreign Policy Advisors in Cinncinnati on Thursday, February 28th.
Details after the flip.
Scary message -- will it be you?
In case you are wondering about that 15 million figure, here is a useful report at FactCheck.org that calls it "a dubious statistic." Bottom line, Clinton's plan "would likely lead to somewhat higher levels of coverage" than Obama's, but there isn't a solid basis to say it's fifteen million, and some studies "find only a small discrepancy between the types of plans" that the two are proposing. The candidates' plans are actually a little too vague for the experts to make solid calculations.
Clinton got the 15 million number from a particular column in The New Republic last spring, but it was an estimate rather than a "hard and fast calculation."
UPDATE: A reader points out this newer post at FactCheck.org on the candidates' claims about their health plans, which I missed when I wrote the original post. It is perhaps harsher on Obama than Clinton, and is more supportive of Clinton's claim about 15 million people going without coverage under Obama's plan.
The Obama campaign has announced three ads that will run in Ohio. Here is one, called "Plan," about his economic plan:
The next one, "Quiet," is about energy policy and previously ran in New Hampshire; the anecdote is familiar from Obama's stump speech:
The last one, "Cost," is about NAFTA. It doesn't appear to be on YouTube yet but can be viewed here. It contains the statement that Obama is "the only candidate to have always opposed NAFTA," certain to provoke more feuding about the candidates' respective records on opposing the treaty.
Bumped to the top - Let's make this a great fundraiser for WVKO! -- Paul
National radio talk show host Stephanie Miller is going to be making an appearance in Columbus on Saturday, March 1st.
The event will take place from 5pm to 10pm at:
The Makoy Center
5462 Center St.
Hilliard, OH 43026
(Click Here For A Map)
Tickets to this event are $25 per person, $40 per couple.
To learn more and to find out how to order your tickets online, visit the WVKO website here.
This is a fundraising event to support the management of WVKO who have gone to great expense to bring Progressive radio back to central Ohio. It is critical that we support this station so progressives can have their voices represented on the radio.
Please buy your tickets today!
The Obama for America campaign got good news from outside Ohio today:
* Civil rights icon and superdelegate Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) has officially switched from supporting Clinton to supporting Obama, confirming a premature report in the New York Times last week.
* Superdelegate Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-ND) announced his support for Obama today, identifying trade policy as the principal reason. "Senator Obama has never felt ... that NAFTA was good for America," Dorgan said. "He and I feel the same way. We both believe in trade and plenty of it. We just insist it that it be fair to our country — the rules be fair."
* A new poll from Quinnipiac University shows that Clinton's lead over Obama in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania (April 22nd primary) has shrunk from 16 points two weeks ago (52% to 36%) to just six (49% to 43%).
Everyone did a great job covering the debate. There is so much blog coverage that it almost seems pointless to add another full diary so I think I'll just bullet point some of the things those of us with tickets were able to experience that others may not have:
- Pre-Debate Banter - At the reception, the food was good, and the excitement level was high. There were so many familiar faces (a theme through out the night), it seemed like every prominent democrat in Ohio was there. The banter was excited but reserved, no one really wanted to rock the boat and the "2 great candidates" meme was repeated often. Occasionally, people made friendly pokes at the candidates with remarks like: "the wheels are going to come off the O'train" and "this was Hillary's last stand".
- The Rule - The rule that "we were not to display our support for a candidate during the debate" was repeated over and over. First, in a letter we recieved last week, then in the program, and in every speech from everyone involved (ODP, CSU, MSNBC) leading up to the debate. We were told that this could hurt our preferred candidate and the broadcast because MSNBC will try to edit that stuff out (making the telecast seem jerky) and in the end, it will just throw your candidate off. Still, When Hillary made "the pillow" remark everyone gasped and boos could be heard from the bleachers. From that moment on, people seemed less concerned with following the rules. People readily laughed at Obamas jokes and sadly, people laughed at some of Hillary' more sillier attacks.
I think Hillarys' supporters did hurt her when they applauded loudly during Hillarys' comment on being the first women candidate. The applause kinda cut off her longer point and seemed kinda cheap. It was like she was asking us to "applause if you are a female". I don't think that was her intent but it played out like that after the applause interupted her. In review, I think the Hillary supporters just wanted something to applause loudly about since the crowd seemed to be favoring Obama.
- Celebrities! - Welcome to the E! portion of my debate round up. Several celebrities came to the debate and all were extremely kind and accessible. Celebrities at the event included, Fisher Stevens, Timothy Hutton, Matthew Modine, Harold Perrineau and my personal favorite Dennis Haysbert.
Michelle Obama returns to Ohio to hold five public rallies in two days. If you have not heard her speak you should. She is terrific.
Details after the flip.
Grassroots activists are running this radio spot in support of Barack Obama, as an independent expenditure not coordinated with the campaign:
Lisa Cherry Dewey writes that "we have great things going on in Erie County and look forward to bringing our area for Obama." They would like the audio to be available to others whom might want to run it in other markets, after changing the "paid for by ..." part at the end. Contact me for mor information.
Here is my post on the debate at Sky News.
Audio is not working on the video, unfortunately. Audio is fixed! Per their request, I didn't analyze the content of the debate, instead reacting to the experience and what it was like for people outside the venue.
Bottom line, Clinton landed some blows but no big haymaker. Obama struggled a bit at times but held up well enough. This event was not a momentum-changer.
From First Read:
Watching local TV here in Ohio, it feels like Obama has a 4-to-1 advantage -- with SEIU, UFCW and Obama just blitzing the airwaves compared with Clinton. ... In fact, per TV ad expert Evan Tracey, Obama has outspent Clinton $23 million to $14 million in the last 30 days.
State Rep. Tracy Heard (D-Columbus) thinks her preferred candidate spoke confidently and concisely, and has improved with each debate:
In an Ohio Poll [pdf] released by the University of Cincinnati this morning, Barack Obama fares slightly better than Hillary Clinton against John McCain in close head-to-head match-ups:
The pollster notes that both Democrats fare better among women, while McCain leads both among men, although the margins are larger in the Clinton/McCain race. Obama wins 99% of the African American vote against McCain. The percentage of undecided respondents was a little higher in the Obama/McCain match-up (4%) than in the Clinton/McCain match-up (1%).
The margin of error is 3%.
WILLIAMS: Thanks to our candidates for being here on a snowy night in the great city of Cleveland, Ohio.
A lot has been said since we last gathered in this forum, certainly in the few days since you two last debated.
Senator Clinton, in your comments especially, the difference has been striking. And let's begin by taking a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLINTON: You know, no matter what happens in this contest -- and I am honored, I am honored to be here with Barack Obama. I am absolutely honored and...
And, therefore, I think it's important that you stand up for yourself and you point out these differences so that voters can have the information they need to make a decision.
You know, for example, it's been unfortunate that Senator Obama has consistently said that I would force people to have health care whether they could afford it or not.
You know, health care reform and achieving universal health care is a passion of mine. It is something I believe in with all my heart.
CLINTON: And every day that I'm campaigning -- and certainly herethroughout Ohio, I've met so many families, happened again this morningin Lorain, who are just devastated because they don't get the health
care they deserve to have.
I'm in the Media Filing room with more than a hundred laptop-pounding reporters. The debate will start in about ten minutes and I'll post my reactions as it goes along.
9:03 pm: No rules for this debate, just "reasonable time limits on answers." Good luck with that!
9:10 pm: Brilliant way to open, showing tape of Clinton making nice at the last debate and then lashing out at Obama. Clinton goes with calling Obama's tactics "disturbing," a word choice that makes her sound reasonable, matter of fact. She is not showing any visible anger. Insists that her plan will cover everyone and be affordable. "We should have a good debate that uses accurate information."
9:15 pm: Clinton has jumped in twice, cutting off Williams. Obama isn't able to get a word in. Clinton is beginning to look distinctly angry. They are both shaking their heads while the other speaks. This isn't helping either, but Clinton is the one who needs to come off better.
9:19 pm: Ridiculous. Clinton complains about getting the first questions every time. Refers to the SNL skit. Groaning and booing in the media room. That didn't go over well.
9:27 pm: Clinton tries to disagree with Russert about being inconsistent on NAFTA, but it doesn't come off as credible because Russert laid out too many examples.
9:29 pm: They've been talking about NAFTA for over ten minutes, and Obama is finally getting into the emotional side, the impact on workers and families who lose their insurance and pensions along with their jobs.
Politico reports that the National Rifle Association endorsed Rep. Zack Space (D-Dover) today, making the supposedly endangered freshman legislator look even better for re-election:
The National Rifle Association endorsed Rep. Zack Space (D-Ohio) for re-election today, giving the freshman congressman key credibility among gun owners as he runs for re-election in a largely rural and solidly Republican district.
"During just my first term in Congress, the NRA and I have already forged a strong working relationship as we both seek to protect the gun owners and sportsmen in the 18th Congressional District,” said Space in a statement. ...
Republicans have had trouble recruiting credible candidates to challenge Space, despite the district’s Republican tilt. The four Republican candidates who have filed for the state’s March 4 primary have hardly raised any money in preparation for the campaign. ...
The NRA’s endorsement suggests that prospect for Republicans is increasingly unlikely, and that Space’s long-term prospects of holding the seat may be better than even he once expected.
Space has done everything necessary to lay the groundwork for continuing in office, with great fundraising, visibility, casework, and attention to issues his constituents really care about. I think he's in terrific shape to not only stay in for a second term, but for about as long thereafter as he wants.