Super Tuesday Polling Snapshot: Down To the Wire

by: Chris Bowers

Sun Feb 03, 2008 at 07:53

Using only polls that were conducted entirely after South Carolina, here are the polling averages for Democrats in Super Tuesday states (all polls from, statistically significant advantages in bold):

Post-South Carolina, Super Tuesday Polls, Democrats
State Polls Clinton Obama Delegates
Delegates 4 246 157.5 2,025 to win
Alabama 3 46.3% 42.7% 52
Arizona 2 44.0% 40.0% 56
California 6 43.7% 39.5% 370
Connecticut 3 44.0% 41.0% 48
Delaware 1 44.0% 42.0% 15
Georgia 4 36.6% 50.0% 87
Illinois 3 29.7% 55.3% 153
Massachusetts 2 50.0% 35.0% 93
Minnesota 1 40.0% 33.0% 72
Missouri 5 45.6% 42.0% 72
New Jersey 6 47.2% 38.5% 107
New York 4 51.3% 35.8% 232
Oklahoma 2 42.5% 18.0% 38
Tennessee 4 46.8% 31.0% 68
Utah 1 29.0% 53.0% 23
National 5 47.0% 40.0% 0

  • My guesses on other states for Clinton: Arkansas (35), New Mexico (26)
  • My guesses on other states for Obama: Alaska (13), Colorado (55), Kansas (32), Idaho (18)
  • I haven't the foggiest: North Dakota (13)

Clinton's narrow national advantage (which is expanding according to Rasmussen, and shrinking according to Gallup) appears to be replicated across a wide range of states: Alabama, Arizona, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Minnesota and Missouri. Collectively, those states make up about 41% of the Super Tuesday delegates. It seems, then, that Obama needs to pick up about 4% pretty much everywhere in order to draw even with Clinton on Super Tuesday.

The margin of error for Obama on Super Tuesday is surprisingly narrow. As most commenters have noted, Obama is aiming for a draw on Super Tuesday, which would be adequate given that Clinton is still viewed as the frontrunner (thus Obama would beat expectations), that the February schedule is very favorable to Obama (thus he could build momentum), and that his enormous small donor base would give him a large fundraising advantage in a drawn out campaign (thus he could build a resource advantage heading into March and beyond). However, while a "draw" means about 9-12 states and 820-850 delegates, Clinton can actually deal what is more or less a knockout blow if she wins 950 delegates or more. With 950 delegates on Super Tuesday, she takes a 300 delegate lead, and reaches 60% of the magic number even before further super delegate backing (which would be likely if she "wins" on Super Tuesday) and the Michigan and Florida delegates are seated (and they will be seated). Catching up at that point would be virtually impossible for Obama, even when factoring in his post-Super Tuesday advantages.

So, we are talking about only a 100-125 delegate margin of error for Obama on Tuesday, which really isn't that much. If Clinton wins 850 delegates, the situation looks great for Obama. If Clinton wins 950 delegates, the situation is devastating for Obama. Right now, the polling numbers above crudely project to a 102-delegate advantage for Clinton on Super Tuesday, or about 895 to 793, which is almost precisely in the middle of the best case and worst case scenarios for Obama. Honestly, a few points in either direction could turn the campaign into a dead heat, or turn it into a solid Clinton advantage. With Gallup and Rasmussen pointing in opposite directions, it is difficult to determine what is happening. We will all find out in about 60 hours or so.  

Chris Bowers :: Super Tuesday Polling Snapshot: Down To the Wire

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I still think Obama needs to take decisive (0.00 / 0)
control of this race after super tuesday, or the institutional advantages HRC hold will prevail in the long run.  He needs to has serious credibility among pledged delegates in order to prevent florida and MI from handing her the nod, not to mention convincing the superdelegates to break his way.  At this point, he still seems like a long shot.

The Politics of Bruno S.

but how (0.00 / 0)
Hillary niced him to death in the last debate. And he's cornered himself in way because of his "uplifting" campaign. Maybe he needs to spend money on McCain ads to help boost his lead against HRC in polling. How can he shake up this race again? I think this is where Edwards withdrawal really kills him. Every time Edwards went on the attack Obama benefited. Now he doesn't have that surrogate any more.

Michael Bloomberg, prince of corporate welfare

[ Parent ]
Your right that there's not a lot of things he can do (0.00 / 0)
As I see it, he needs to just say on his game and hope things turn out for the best with a few lucky breaks.  If he could get Gore to endorse it would really help.  The Clinton people are going to try to throw him off because he has the momentum.  Does anyone know if there are anymore debates?  If anything is killing him, its that.

The Politics of Bruno S.

[ Parent ]
Does Obama play an instrument? (0.00 / 0)
He needs some fluffy big free media event. He needs to break out a mandolin, or make another appearance on Saturday Night Live, or streak at the Super Bowl tonight. Something to put him on the nightly news that makes him seem cool to get people interested in learning about him. I think Hillary with 100% brand recognition can only go down, so what Obama needs is more exposure, particularly of the kind that scores on general "likability".


Michael Bloomberg, prince of corporate welfare

[ Parent ]
Illinois (0.00 / 0)
Here in IL I'm inclined to believe the final Tribune-WGN poll over the combined polls. It puts the split at 55-24 for Obama. So depending on how the congressional districts break, Obama could win 100 or more delegates in his home state. The Trib poll also has another interesting finding:

Obama voters were also more sure of their choice than Clinton supporters. One-third of Clinton supporters said they could still change their mind before voting Tuesday, compared to one-in-five Obama backers.

No way to tell whether this holds in other states, but my bet is that Obama will significantly outpace the polls and pundit "wisdom" on Tuesday.

One more question (0.00 / 0)
CA looks like it will be closer than many thought.  If they more or less split those delegates, how does that effect your math?

The Politics of Bruno S.

By about 15 delegates (0.00 / 0)
Right now, the California polling average gives Clinton an advantage of about 15-16 delegates in California. So, that is how much it would impact the totals. She actually leads by about as many delegates in Massachusetts as she does in California.

[ Parent ]
delegates v states (0.00 / 0)
Chris - do your delegate count figures include proportional counts for those states that award by CD, etc?

If I get the message of NV and the Obama field operation, they are putting their attention on winning delegates where they can rather than solely focusing on the overall vote win ... but I'm not sure I have that right?

[ Parent ]
This is ignoring (0.00 / 0)
the 81 delegates awarded to the winner of California.

I think people are very much overlooking this when talking about delegates.  California awards 288 by proportion (241 by CD and 48 by state percentage).

However, 81 delegates are awarded to the winner of California.  The other states that I have looked at (NY and NJ thus far) do not have a similar bonus for winning the state.

[ Parent ]
I thought those were propotional, too (0.00 / 0)
Do the 81 delegates for the California winner all go to one candidate? If so, then Clinton is in a very strong position.  

[ Parent ]
The link (0.00 / 0)
is here:

While the statewide vote will provide a candidate with "momentum" and a victory, what is lost with this focus is that we are electing delegates to the Democratic National Convention-and that the bulk of the action here takes place locally, in each of our state's 53 Congressional Districts. 241 of California's 441 delegates are elected based on the share of the vote the candidates for President receive in those districts. Only 81 delegates are elected "at-large" and go to the winner of the statewide vote.

The remaining 119 delegates are selected (not elected). These include 66 "super delegates" (Members of Congress, Democratic National Committee (DNC) Members, and a former DNC Chair). Also 48 Pledged Party Leaders / Elected Officials (PLEOs) committed to candidates who receive at least 15% of the statewide vote and apportioned by their share of the vote. Another 5 are also appointed who are "unpledged" to any candidate.

[ Parent ]
Yeah, they are proportional (4.00 / 1)
At least according to the Greenpapers:

370 of 441 delegates to the Democratic National Convention are pledged to presidential contenders based on the results of the voting in today's California Presidential Primary: 241 delegates are to be allocated proportionally to presidential contenders based on the primary results in each of the State's 53 congressional districts; 129 delegates porportionally allocated to presidential contenders based on the primary vote statewide. A mandatory 15 percent threshold is required in order for a presidential contender to be allocated National Convention delegates at either the congressional district or statewide level.

If that wasn't the case, then Obama would need something approaching a miracle on Super Tuesday to stay in it.  

[ Parent ]
Here's another section from GP's (0.00 / 0)
Seeing the WINNER-TAKE-ALL primary as unfairly reducing the input of significant minority factions within the party in the presidential nominating process, the McGovern-Fraser reforms of the early-to-mid 1970's successfully promoted the so-called "PROPORTIONAL" type of primary as an alternative to be used in the Democratic Party's nomination process. In the PROPORTIONAL type of presidential preference primary, the district delegates are apportioned among the top vote-getters in each (usually congressional, but occasionally state legislative) district while the at-large delegates are apportioned among the top vote-getters statewide by the percentage of the vote received above a certain threshold (most often 15 percent: a figure actually mandated by the rules of the Democratic Party since 1992). This is the system used by the vast majority of the states holding presidential primaries in the Democratic Party; the Republican party (where WINNER-TAKE-ALL primaries are still permitted) uses it in far fewer states than the Democrats and, in the vast majority of these, the GOP usually started using the PROPORTIONAL type only because Democrat-dominated State Legislatures of the mid-to-late 1970's passed laws forcing both parties to use this type of presidential preference primary. The major difference between the two parties' PROPORTIONAL primaries is in the thresholds used by the Republicans, which can vary from as much as 20 percent or more to as little as virtually 0 percent. (as noted below, the Democrats are currently required by party rules to use a 15 percent threshold in all their PROPORTIONAL primaries).

The Politics of Bruno S.

[ Parent ]
One more (0.00 / 0)

Bill Bradley, having withdrawn from the campaign, is no longer entitled to receive At-Large and unpledged PLEO delegates (rule 9.C). The 15 At-Large and 9 unpledged PLEO delegates originally assigned to Bradley have been reassigned to Gore in our "Soft Pledged". The "Hard Total" however, shows the delegates as originally assigned.

The Politics of Bruno S.

[ Parent ]
Those delegates are proportional (0.00 / 0)
This diary explains it all...

"Don't hate the media, become the media" -Jello Biafra

[ Parent ]
This ambinder post says otherwise (0.00 / 0)

"Each congressional district in California has between 3 and 7 delegates to give; a total of 241 pledged delegates. The popular vote statewide determines the allocation of an additional 81 delegates, and 48 more are PLEOs -- but forget about the PLEOs for now."

The Politics of Bruno S.

[ Parent ]
Re: California (0.00 / 0)
Being from California, and having been raised by a man who has lived here since a month before Kennedy was assassinated, I can say that the mood here is that California, like it did in '68 for RFK (before he was killed), and to some extent for Clinton in '92 (though it was pretty much his by then), will decide the nomination. We haven't felt like this in a while, and the fact that it is still so competitive up to this point is what is creating this feel, and I believe it will drive up turnout. I have no idea who this will help more, as it really just matters who the majority of ex-Edwards supporters break towards (my parents both went to Obama, but this is obviously not representative of the state as a whole).

As far as the media is concerned, I think that if Clinton wins California, it will not get much play, unless she wins it by a lot (so if she only wins by single-digits, the media will not flip out). On the other hand, if Obama ties or barely beats her here, it will get SHITLOADS of play, since his expectations here are not very high, and he has only lead in one poll so far (Zogby), which isn't one controlled by any of the News stations.

At the end of the day, this is definitely going to be one of the most intense Super Tuesdays since they started having these massive Primaries.  

Former Edwards Supporter, Obama Supporter since January 30, 2008

[ Parent ]
Disagree somewhat (0.00 / 0)
I think there is a big difference, both real and in terms of spin, between Clinton winning by 2 0r 3 and Clinton winning by 8 or 9. I expect and hope it's the former (or better) rather than the latter but I'm not about to count my chickens on this one.

[ Parent ]
To clear up confusion (4.00 / 1)
The California Democratic Site suggests the 81 at large ARE proportional, and the link that I based my understanding on was wrong.

Sorry everyone.

[ Parent ]
An understandable mistake (0.00 / 0)
Since the article was wrong. I was fooled by it as well when I first read it.

[ Parent ]
FL and MI (0.00 / 0)
The question to me is whether Obama can build up enough of an edge with pledged and superdelegates to counter Clinton's advantage from FL and MI. On the one hand, he'll get plenty of MI's uncommitted, but on the other some of the Edwards supporters who became delegates may go for Clinton and others may be truly uncommitted and plump for Clinton in the end.

Not seating those delegates will piss off the state parties, but if Obama only gets a draw on February 5th (which is generally suggested to be his best case scenario, although I'm not absolutely convinced) then he's going to need resounding victories right through to March 4th, sufficient to hamstring Clinton's campaign, take some of her superdelegates and monopolise the later contests.

Forgotten Countries - a foreign policy-focused blog

My guess (0.00 / 0)
A Obama/Hillary draw on Feb 5 leave Obama is a great position to sweep the rest of February. IF he does that, I imagine the superdelegates will start to line up behind him - and it will be those superdelegates that make MI and FL irrelevant.  

"Don't hate the media, become the media" -Jello Biafra

[ Parent ]
As a reminder (4.00 / 1)
According to exit polls this cycle, at least 20% do not make up there minds until the final 72 hours, and this was in places where the race was contested for weeks.  My guess is 30% will not make up their mind in the Super Tuesday states until the final 72 hours.

% decided
in last 72 hours
% decided on
the day of
Iowa 11 9
New hampshire 21 17
Nevada 8 9
SC 10 11

This addresses some of the questions I've previously posted (0.00 / 0)
Don't know if this was intentional or not but this specifically addresses my main objection to some of your previous posts vis-a-vis the middle ground of possibilities and the point at or range within which an absolute loss would be a relative win for Obama.

I mostly agree with your assessment now. My one admittedly biased difference is that taking into mind momentum and turnout, these polls are quite likely overly skewed toward HC.

One more interesting aspect to keep in mind is that of time zones: Obama seems to have a western flow to his support. At what margin of hypothetical Clinton EST victories begin to depress turnout in the west? I'm not sure it would at all; I'm just sayin'.

Rural District Delegates (0.00 / 0)
In Nevada, Obama lost the popular vote but got one additional delegate due to winning most of the rural districts.  Does anyone have a clue if we might see a similar pattern on Super Tuesday?  Which other states award delegates by district?

If could happen in CA (0.00 / 0)
For example, if Clinton wins huge in LA/SF/San Diego she could amass a pretty spectacular popular vote lead, but if Obama performed well throughout the rest of the state, he could accumulate more delegates. Just like Nevada.
The statewide delegates could ameliorate this difference, but probably not by much.  

"Don't hate the media, become the media" -Jello Biafra

[ Parent ]
all states do (0.00 / 0)
Each state gets a certain number of district-level delegates and a smaller number of state-wide delegates.  Check the PDF at the site.  [Some states use districts which are not Congressional, like Montana and New Jersey.]

Assuming both people get at least 15%, remember that districts with 5 delegates can only split 4-1 or 3-2; 4 delegates:  2-2 or 3-1; 3 delegates 2-1.  So theoretically one could narrowly win the odd districts, lose the even districts but split the delegates, and still end up ahead despite losing statewide.

But of course in the big states it would be much more unlikely to overcome a state-wide deficit by a weird outcome in delegates.

New Jersey politics at Blue Jersey.

[ Parent ]
out of curiosity (0.00 / 0)
Why Alaska for Obama but not North Dakota?  As far as I know he's on the air in both, and Clinton isn't.

As an aside, I'm extremely tempted to pick Gravel for Alaska in my Super Tuesday pool, just because it would be fun to spend the evening talking up Gravelmentum.

Speaking of underestimated turnout effect (0.00 / 0)
Here's another post by Poblano making a plausible if not compelling case that Obama support has thus far been underpolled by about 4% (exactly what Chris says Obama needs to make up between now and Tuesday.)

Rasmussen California Poll (0.00 / 0)
Chris was the poll below included in your analysis:

Obama 45
Clinton 44

This poll came out at noon today.

What we have is both Rasmussen and Zogby giving a slight lead to Obama WITH A 14 TO 15 PT UN-DECIDED.

The only poll I believe that used Saturday night polling is Zogby who is doing tracking.

[ Parent ]
Yes, it was included (0.00 / 0)
so was today's Zogby and today's ARG, although I know that will cause people to groan.

[ Parent ]
Geography (0.00 / 0)
I think the other comments get to this, but my impression is that the geography is favorable to Obama. Early on I was reading he could lose California by 5 percent and still just about tie the delegate vote because he is likely to be strong in Congressional Districts with odd-numbers of delegates or is more likely to get a decisive blowout in Congressional Districts with the most delegates (because delegates are awarded based on past participation in Presidential elections, and districts with high percentages of black voters tend to vote the most).

My impression is that is true in other areas as well - for example, Obama may be competitive enough in New York outside of the city and that should help him really mitigate his losses.

Because of the way the delegates are apportioned, I'm not sure following tracking polls (except at the district level) would help much.

Delegate count (0.00 / 0)
Just for fun. Assuming state wide allocation of delegates.

State DelegatesClinton Obama
Delegates 157.5 Proj. Proj.
Alabama 52 24.076   22.204
Arizona 56 24.64   22.4  
California 370 161.69   146.15
Colorado 55 24.2     22.55  
Connecticut 48 21.12   20.16  
Georgia 87 31.842   43.5  
Illinois 153 45.441   84.609
Massachusetts 93 46.5     32.55  
Minnesota 72 28.8     23.76  
Missouri 72 32.832   30.24  
New Jersey 107 50.504   41.195
New York 232 119.016 83.056
Oklahoma 38 16.15   6.84  
Tennessee 68 31.824   21.08  
Utah 23 6.67     12.19  
Total Projected 911     770

Cunha for Congress (FL-06)

P.S. I'm not a big fan of John McCain


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