January 27, 2008

Gaming Obama's Chances on Super Tuesday

Jay Cost of the RealClearPolitics Horse Race blog tries to divine with demography Obama's chances on Super Tuesday.

"This is what we do know. Clinton has done well among Hispanics. Obama has done well among African Americans. Depending on where and when, white voters vary their support. How will that play out on Super Tuesday?....white voters make up a majority of the Super Tuesday population - but African Americans and Hispanics are important minorities. And remember that it is probable that in most states the electorate will oversample from African Americans and Hispanics, both of which tend to be Democrats.

And so, it seems to me that the key to Super Tuesday rests upon three questions:

First, will white voters follow the pattern they followed in Iowa and New Hampshire, in Nevada, or in South Carolina? And remember that viability, favorability, and vote can go go hand-in-hand. The current polling that shows Clinton with a large lead among whites could change in as a consequence of Obama's win. Remember that after Obama's victory in Iowa, Clinton's margin among white voters shrunk to just +8%, according to ABC News/WaPo.

Second, will African Americans "out perform" Hispanics? This is an interesting question. The exit poll found that African Americans and Hispanics each comprised 15% of the total electorate. But Nevada as a whole is 6.6% African American, and 19.7% Hispanic. If Super Tuesday African Americans "out perform" Hispanics as they did in Nevada - then Obama will be in a better position than what the above table suggests.

Third, what happens to Edwards' voters? It is unclear to me who they will go to if Edwards drops out. More importantly, it is unclear to me whether Edwards can sustain the level of support he has received to date. Voters can be brutal with their evaluations of viability. If they see Edwards as hopeless, it is quite possible that they will abandon his candidacy. If they do, where do they go?