In a memo issued today, Obama campaign manager David Plouffe appears to anticipate narrow victories in Ohio and/or Texas by Clinton, urging a sharp focus on delegates rather than victories in primaries:
[N]arrow popular vote wins in Texas and Ohio will do very little to improve [the Clinton campaign's] nearly impossible path to the nomination. If they do not win Texas and Ohio by healthy double digit margins – and they led by healthy double digit margins as recently as two weeks ago - they will be facing almost impossible odds to reverse the delegate math.
While the Clintons gamely continue to try to move the goal posts, at some point there has to be a reckoning. It is a very simple question – what is their path to secure the nomination? No amount of spin can change the math. We look forward to their tortured answers on Wednesday morning.
Plouffe points out in the memo that Clinton strategist Mark Penn wrote on February 13th that the Clinton campaign expected to be "virtually tied" in delegates after March 4th, that Clinton aide Guy Cecil said on February 13th that the Clinton campaign expected to be "within 25 delegates" after March 4th, and Clinton spokesman Howard Wolfson said on February 11th that he thought Clinton would be ahead in delegates after Ohio and Texas.
Narrow victories in Ohio and/or Texas would leave Clinton campaign still trailing substantially in delegate. The Obama campaign currently figures that he is ahead by 162, CNN shows Obama ahead by 102, and MSNBC shows Obama ahead by 157. Razor-thin victories in Ohio and/or Texas will not deliver enough net delegates to affect the lead.
Another new poll, more support for the notion that Clinton has regained the momentum in Ohio (figures in parens are from 2/28):
50% (47%) Clinton
44% (45%) Obama
6% (9%) Undecided
During the preceding two weeks Rasmussen had shown Clinton at around 47% or 48% while Obama gained steadily from 38% to 45%. Today's poll reverses that trend.
A new poll (.pdf) from Public Policy Polling suggests that the outcome in Ohio may be very different from that in previous hard-fought primary states. “This is the first key state PPP has polled in where Clinton did better the weekend before the election than she was doing ten days out,” writes Dean Debnam, President of PPP. Their poll last week showed Clinton up by only four points, but in this poll she is ahead by 9:
The key finding is that younger voters are not flocking to Obama they way they have in other states. His margin among voters aged 18-29 is just 49% to 46%, and among voters aged 30-45 he is behind 44% to 48%. Clinton's lead among femal voters (54% to 38%) is much greater than Obama's lead among male voters (47% to 46%).
The poll involved 1,112 Democratic likely voters on March 1st and 2nd and has a margin of error of 2.9 points.
I just got a robocall from Gov. Ted Strickland, telling me that in order to turn Ohio around he needs to have Hillary Clinton in the White House. Clinton, he said, is the only candidate who will deliver real solutions to the problems Ohioans face.
Steve Black (D-Indian Hill), reduced to funding his own campaign, has poured his remaining resources into smearing Dr. Victoria Wulsin (D-Indian Hill) with this sleazy fear-bomb of a TV ad:
I'm not aware of any evidence that establishes that Wulsin did anything more than perform a review of literature and clinical trial data as a paid consultant to the Heimlich Institute in 2004, an engagement that was abruptly terminated when she submitted a draft report critical of its experiments involving African AIDS patients with malaria. There is a complaint pending with the Ohio Board of Medicine, filed by a frequent critic of the Heimlich Institute, but it doesn't include any factual substantiation for its claim that Wulsin participated in the African experiments or engaged in a cover-up, and the board has made no finding to that effect. This TV ad amounts to a nasty scare tactic and attempted character assassination by a desperate candidate, and hopefully it will backfire in tomorrow's vote.
Here's a link to my Saturday blog post for Sky News, the international television news network based in London, commenting on campaign calls, volunteers, and ads. I have just submitted another for today,
no link yet and here is the link. (I'm alternating with Dave of NixGuy.com.)
The Obama campaign has revealed a two-minute TV ad that it will run during evening news time slots across Ohio tonight. (View the ad here.) Ohio campaign director Paul Tewes has this to day about the ad:
For the past four weeks, Barack Obama has met with Ohioans in every corner of the state, discussing ways in which we can bring back good paying jobs to Ohio, make health care affordable and accessible for all Americans, and make our trade agreements work for working Americans. Ohio voters will judge candidates based on who has been consistent about standing up to special interests and who is capable of uniting and mobilizing Americans of different viewpoints and backgrounds to finally bring the change this country desperately needs.
UPDATE: The Ohio version of this ad follows exactly the same script as the Texas version, which has different graphics at the beginning:
The script is after the break.
The Clinton campaign has released a new TV ad for the last day before Ohio votes. Ohioans are portrayed saying the economy is horrible and that workers need a leader in the White House. With trumpets playing in the background, Clinton promises to be a "partner" to the American worker and a president who will stand up for the middle class:
The script is after the break.
Blogger DHinMI at DailyKos has been examining FEC filings by outside groups supporting Obama and Clinton and made this discovery (emphasis added):
In Ohio, [AFSCME, the American Federation of Teachers, and Emily's List] have continued the model of what worked well in the early states [in support of Clinton] — lots of direct mail, probably directed at women, followed up with phone calls. In Ohio, they have boosted their program. Whereas in most states they appear to have sent about 6 pieces of mail, it appears that in Ohio their target audience has received up to 8 pieces. They have also run a small amount of media, and are now following up the mail with phone calls. The total expenditures come to about $500,000.
FEC reports indicate that SEIU will probably spend over 5 times as much as AFSCME and EMILY's list in Ohio. They've spent $400,000 in mail, almost matching AFSCME and EMILY's List. In addition to the mail, they have also spent $200,000 on phones, $425,000 on a paid canvass program, and $1.4 million on electronic media. All together, with staff, production and other expenses factored in, SEIU has spent over $2.6 million in Ohio.
The SEIU endorsement of Obama just came in a few weeks ago. Obama didn't have this kind of support on Super Tuesday or in New Hampshire. If Obama defies the latest polls and wins Ohio, the huge expenditures and GOTV effort by SEIU could be the biggest reason.
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.
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):
The University of Cincinnati has released its final Ohio Poll concerning tomorrow's election and a relatively easy win by Clinton is projected:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Dispatch mail-in poll released yesterday has Clinton up by a huge margin over Obama:
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.
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).
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
Join Hillary Clinton in a "Solutions for America" Rally in Cleveland this Sunday, March 2nd.
Details after the break.