17 February 2008

Will Texas be Hillary's Alamo?

There seems to be a general consensus among most politicos that Hillary Clinton must win in Ohio, Texas and Pennsylvania to keep her candidacy alive.

Ohio, at least according to the polls, doesn't seem to be a big problem for Clinton.

The same is true for Pennsylvania, though that race is two months away and who knows what can happen by then?

Texas, on the other hand, is a lot more problematic.

The Dallas Morning News on Sunday did a long, analytical piece about the Democratic race in the state, interviewing party officials, campaign operatives and political experts.

Based on that analysis and recent polling, it's beginning to look like Clinton may not pull off the kind of win she needs in Texas, and may pick up fewer delegates there than Barack Obama, whether or not she wins the popular vote.

"Hillary needs to maintain her advantage with women voters, which seems to be slipping nationally," said Democratic consultant Glenn Smith in the Dallas Morning News article.

American Research Group's Texas poll, released Friday, indicates Clinton seems to be OK there. She
leads among women 54% to 42%.

Wayne Slater, who wrote the piece for the paper described a winning coalition for Clinton this way:

"The Clinton blueprint suggests getting two-thirds of Hispanics, a majority of women and enough moderate 'yellow dog' Democrats in East Texas to win."

This is where the problems start for Clinton, at least in the last ARG polling.

The poll shows Clinton leading among Latino voters in Texas by a 44% to 42% margin.
In the Democratic races as a whole so far, Clinton has been able to reach the needed two-thirds threshold among Latinos.

But she didn't do nearly as well in the last round of races - the Potomac primaries. In Maryland Clinton got 55% of the Latino vote to Obama's 45%, according to exit polls. In Virginia, Clinton trailed Obama among Latinos 46% to 54%.

The Potomac primaries were held two days after Patti Solis Doyle - the first Hispanic to manage a presidential campaign - resigned as Clinton's campaign manager.

The move has angered some Hispanic leaders, who feel Solis Doyle was being scapegoated for the candidate's current losing streak.

The move clearly is not going to help Clinton in Texas, where the latest ARG poll shows her trailing
overall to Obama 48% to 42%.

(Editor's note: ARG polls tend to run contrary to the overall body of polls. For example, most polls have Clinton leading Obama in Texas by a number in the upper-single digits. And you may have noticed ARG (in the link above) shows Clinton leading Obama in Wisconsin by six points. Most polls have it the other way around. Still, with ARG showing Clinton and Obama virtually tied among Latinos it is hard to imagine ARG is so far off that Clinton could still have the two-to-one margin she needs in that voting block.)

Democratic political consultant Ed Martin told the Dallas Morning News he thinks Hispanic turnout will be heavy, but in proportion with overall turnout.

But he said
"The real vote change could be urban: African-Americans. I think (African-American turnout) is going to be much, much larger."

Having won the African-American vote by an 8-1 margin so far, a bulge in turnout by that constituency in Texas, obviously, would help Obama there.

Whether or not these two factors will be enough for Obama to beat Clinton in the popular vote in Texas, it seems clear they will at least allow him to keep Clinton from the 20-point victory she needs in the state (as well as in Ohio and Pennsylvania) to bring her back to even with Obama in the number of committed (voter-picked) delegates to the convention.

In fact, as the Dallas Morning News points out in its Sunday article, it's is entirely possible that Clinton could win the popular vote in Texas and still lose the delegate tally.

"As it happens, the state Senate districts with the most delegates – Austin, Houston and Dallas – are all seen as prime Obama territory. As a result of that and other quirks in the process, it is possible that even if Mrs. Clinton wins the popular vote on March 4 – and declares victory that evening – Mr. Obama could actually come away with more delegates."

Having said all that, there's still the matter of Wisconsin, and with most polls showing a spread of roughly four or five points, Obama is no lock there and an upset this Tuesday would cast a whole different light on next Tuesday.

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