Clinton No Longer Should Worry Just About Iowa
Posted: Sunday, December 09, 2007 8:50 AM by Chuck Todd
From NBC’s Chuck Todd, Mark Murray and Domenico Montanaro
As Political Night Train predicted days ago, Hillary Clinton is in serious trouble in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina. Polls are just now beginning to show just how much trouble she is in. The problem with most of the public polls are that they are measuring trailing indicators, and as such are probably 3 – 5 days behind actual public opinion. Clinton, Obama and Edwards are all running their own internal polls and focus groups and measuring leading indicators, those that predict where public opinion is headed. And for Hillary, most of those indicators are bad news. Here’s some further interpretation of the MSNBC/McClatchy/Mason-Dixon polls reported below. None of the public polls takes into account the “Oprah Effect”. In Iowa, Oprah most likely is good for 8-10 points, and they will largely come from Hillary’s women. This is enough of a push to give Obama a win with 32-24% of the caucus vote. The big question for Hillary, will she finish 3rd behind Edwards. A second place finish for Edwards would energize his campaign going in the short days following Iowa. Right now, the only way for Hillary to finish second is to go extremely negative on Edwards. Going negative on Obama may be seen by women as going negative on Oprah. Hillary cannot be seen as getting into a cat fight with the “O”. Trotting Bill Clinton out probably is not of much help in Iowa as his real strength is with black women. In New Hampshire, Obama is very likely to finish first, but by only a few percentage points ahead of Hillary. If Edwards can gain some ground in New Hampshire, he could finish in a statistical tie with Hillary, and thus a win in the Edwards camp. It’ll be tough for Edwards, yet if he can break 15% in New Hampshire, he stays alive. Popular wisdom is that Bill Clinton will carry black women in South Carolina for Hillary, but this is only with the over 50 group of black women. The under 35 group of black women are better educated, less tied to a church, and more likely to embrace Obama’s focus on change. The under 35 group of black women may also be Oprah fans. Prediction for South Carolina, Obama by 30+ %, Hillary at no more than 28% and Edwards at 25%, although Edwards could match Hillary and thus claim a win over her. This just in . . . . 30, 000, mostly black, mostly young at Oprah event in SC. Pay particular attention to how the Obama (na Oprah campaign) campaign effectively used the audience to gain attention through text messaging. This is a technology very well understood by the under 35, and especially under 35 black female crowd. You would not expect this from a Hillary crowd of over 50 women, black or white. The Oprah Effect In High Gear In South Carolina The majority of the crowd who attended was black. Among the white voters who attended, many appeared more reserved about openly embracing Obama because of Oprah or that Oprah would in anyway influence their vote. However, two young women did say that they were definitely more open to Obama because of Oprah’s endorsement.
The campaign attempted to organize that enthusiasm by asking the crowd to text their cell phone numbers to the campaign. Jeremy Bird and Anton Gunn, the campaign’s field and political directors, took the stage to ask the crowd to text their phone numbers to Obama’s campaign. They also broke a Guinness World Record by conducting the world’s largest phone bank, 36,426 people in the audience called four names of South Carolinian voters listed on the back of their tickets and asked them to support Barack Obama.
According to the Obama campaign, 18% of the first 8,500 people who signed into the event said they wanted to volunteer. Sixty-eight percent of people who got tickets online to the event had never been contacted by the campaign before. http://firstread.msnbc.msn.com/archive/2007/12/09/506930.aspx With just 24 days to go before Iowa, it appears the race for the Democratic nomination is no longer a tight 1-state contest, but a truly competitive race across the country.
In three new MSNBC/McCLATCHY/Mason-Dixon polls of Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina, the national frontrunner, Hillary Clinton, leads in all three states but her lead is not outside the margin of error in any of those states. Her largest lead is three points, statistically insignificant. Her leading challenger, Barack Obama is nipping at her heels, trailing in Iowa by 2 points and trailing in New Hampshire and South Carolina by just three points.
John Edwards is a major factor in Iowa and South Carolina but trails badly in New Hampshire.
Iowa: Clinton nabbed 27%, followed by Obama at 25% and Edwards at 21%. No other candidate scored double-digits, including Richardson who came in at 9% and Joe Biden who rec’d 5%. As for the all-important second-choice category, all three Dem frontrunners are tied, with 30% picking Obama, 29% naming Clinton and 27% selecting Edwards.
New Hampshire: This is the tightest result for any New Hampshire Dem primary poll this year. Clinton gets 30% to Obama’s 27%. Edwards barely cracks double-digits with 10%, with one in five primary voters undecided.
South Carolina: Clinton gets 28% to Obama’s 25%. Edwards is a competitive third at 18%. [Note: An earlier version of this post accidentally reprinted the results from N.H.]
A few more macro observations about the surveys:
— Bill Clinton is still VERY popular among Democrats, in most cases, more popular than all of the actual contenders, though Obama matches the FPOTUS in FAV rating in New Hampshire.
— Hillary Clinton wins the experience issue by a landslide in all three states, while Obama wins decisively on change.
— Hillary Clinton’s support is what you’d expect: women, folks over 50 and union members.
— Obama does very well among Democrats under 50. In fact, the biggest demographic gap is generational, not gender.
— And here’s a trend line the Clinton folks might want to worry about, in all three states, she’s seen as having run the most negative campaign to date.
Let’s get into the weeds of these Dem state polls, all of which were conducted Dec. 3-6. Each survey is of 400 likely caucus or primary voters with a margin of error of 5%.
Don’t write off John Edwards. Of the big 3 candidates, the former North Carolina senator has the highest FAV rating, trailing only Bill Clinton in popularity. This could bode well on the second choice front.
Clinton is seen as the least honest and trustworthy and the candidate who least represents change. That’s bad news for her because those are the two top things that Iowans are looking for. Her advantage is on issues and experience, a category in which she leads by a whopping 52% to 14% margin over Richardson.
How much progress has Obama made in this state? He’s now the Democrat with the highest FAV rating (matching Bill Clinton).
Like Iowa, Hillary leads among women, but a quarter of women are undecided. Can Oprah make a difference for Obama here? Obama’s support is overwhelmingly among independents and those under 50.
Also of note, we tested potential 2-way Dem primary matchups between Clinton and Obama and then Clinton v. Edwards. Edwards voters break overwhelmingly for Clinton in New Hampshire, while Obama voters break nearly 3-1 for Edwards. If Clinton and Edwards are sharing some supporters, doesn’t that signal that those two may begin going after each other more so than Obama, gambling that the Illinois senator’s support is younger and less likely to vote?
Looking at what voters most want in a candidate, Obama leads overwhelmingly on change and is seen as more honest than Clinton. That’s good news for him, because those are two of the top three things voters are looking for in a candidate. Issues, though, is No. 1 and Clinton leads that by 12 points.
Obama may have dispelled those doubts among black voters, as he leads Clinton by 16 points among African-Americans. But among whites, Clinton leads by 16.
It’s the same story here as the other two states, Hillary is seen as the least honest and trustworthy and doesn’t represent change. Obama leads in both of those categories. Clinton leads overwhelmingly again on experience, but as in the other states, experience doesn’t appear to be all that important to voters. She is seen as most right on the issues, which is important.