How Hillary Wins – Open Advice from Political Night Train

How Hillary Wins Hillary Clinton is down, but not out.  Can she be the next Clinton “Come Back Kid”?  And how does she do it.  Many weeks ago, before the Iowa caucus, Political Night Train set out a strategy whereby Hillary would go negative on John Edwards, rather than Obama.  The strategy was designed to draw off much of Edwards support.  Seems no one in the Clinton campaign took our open advice, and now they long for those delegates that are pledged to Edwards.  Had Clinton gone extremely negative on Edwards, she would now be ahead, may have won a few additional states, could have avoided having Bill Clinton inject the “race” issue in South Carolina.  As a side thought, Bill Clinton’s injection of racism probably did more to damage Hillary personally than any other single event.  Although the Clinton’s are most likely not out-and-out racists, they are perfectly capable of using racism to win an election.  This willingness to use racism went down bad with black leaders, and blacks in general, not to mention whites.  Just when a young generation of whites were willing to go to the polls and say race doesn’t matter, along comes an old fart like Bill Clinton to say race does matter. So how does Hillary win in Texas and Ohio?  Hillary’s last chance, and Political Night Train’s open advice to her campaign is to go negative not on Barack Obama, but on Michelle Obama.  What you say?  Yes, go very negative on Michelle.  Hillary should use herself as an example and say that Michelle would be overly influencing on a Barack Obama administration.  Point out the statements that Michelle has made about whites, especially those ignored by the main stream media during the days in Iowa.  Point out the significant influence the Rev. Jeremiah Wright and Trinity Church has had on Michelle.  Point out that Michelle’s agenda is blacks only, blacks first, at the expense of other minority groups. Hammer over and over again how Michelle would overly influence Barack to put a black agenda ahead of all other issues.  Everything in an Obama administration would be tinged with black overtones.  All as the expense of other minorities.  This strategy would work since Bill Clinton has already introduced the racism issue.  Hillary would have to use her shills, people like James Carville to promote these stories while she stays above the fray.  In other words, Hillary needs to Swift Boat Michelle Obama.  Hillary could even use Michelle’s senior thesis at Princeton against her. 

Panic In the Hillary Clinton Camp

 Just as Political Night Train predicted, the Hillary Clinton campaign is sensing a terrible loss in Iowa.  Internal polls show Hillary coming in 3rd, behind Edwards.  Their “crash and burn” plan is to step up the attacks on Obama, but this will only lead to greater loss.  The key is to attack Edwards, draw off his supporters.  A second place finish in New Hampshire, where Hillary has a good organization would spell significant trouble.MANCHESTER, N.H. (AP) – Hillary Rodham Clinton’s backup plan if she falters in Iowa can be summed up in two words: New Hampshire.

Clinton’s Democratic team is preparing television ads here criticizing Barack Obama’s health care plan and working to build what campaigns call a firewall. If the Obama presidential campaign ignites in Iowa, she wants to be ready to cool him off in a state where her organization is strong and her support has proven durable.

This past weekend, the Clinton campaign already had volunteers going door-to-door with fliers criticizing Obama on health care, and possible TV ads against him were screened for focus groups.

Advisers to the New York senator acknowledge there’s been uneasiness as Obama has risen in national and several early state polls, including Iowa and New Hampshire. But they insist their master blueprint – emphasizing Clinton’s experience, toughness and ability to withstand Republican attacks – remains sound.

“This is ultimately going to come down to two questions for undecided voters: Which is the Democrat best positioned to win in November, and which one is best qualified to start from the very first day give the country a fresh start,” said Tom Vilsack, a former Iowa Democratic governor who serves as national co-chair of Clinton’s campaign.

Still, with the former first lady locked in a tight three-way contest in Iowa with Illinois Sen. Obama and former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards, her campaign is working on two tracks: reinforcing her support there while creating a “Plan B” should she come up short in the state’s Jan. 3 leadoff caucuses.

Clinton advisers believe she can survive a loss there to Edwards, who is running well in Iowa but has smaller campaign organizations in the other early-voting states.

Edwards’ campaign, meanwhile, hopes for a repeat of the Howard Dean-Dick Gephardt scuffle in Iowa that resulted in John Kerry’s nomination four years ago. The former North Carolina senator is hanging back and hoping Clinton and Obama destroy each other.

Placing second in Iowa to the well-funded, well-organized Obama, the Clinton people acknowledge, could be a much more severe blow.

That’s why New Hampshire, which crowned Bill Clinton the “comeback kid” when he first ran for the Democratic nomination in 1992, has emerged as a prime target for his wife this time. The state holds its primary Jan. 8, just five days after the Iowa contest.

“The only thing you can do to insulate yourself is to make sure your organization is airtight and to make sure the people who are with you are with you through the end,” said Clinton’s New Hampshire director, Nick Clemons.

To that end, the Clinton campaign ordered focus groups in New Hampshire last weekend to test television ads against Obama on his health care plan, which does not mandate universal coverage as Clinton’s does. Her New Hampshire volunteers have begun going door to door with literature arguing his plan could leave as many as 15 million people uninsured.

Asked Tuesday about the Clinton campaign’s literature, Obama said he hadn’t seen it but believed it was “entirely legitimate” to compare candidates’ positions on health care and other matters.

Hinting at Clinton divisiveness, Obama said of overhauling health care, “The issue really is how are we going to get it done because there are all kinds of 10-point plans out there that are gathering dust on the shelf because no one was able to actually pull the country together to deliver.”

Voters in Iowa received a similar Clinton direct mail piece this week, signed by Vilsack. He and other Clinton strategists reject the notion that such an effort is negative.

“It’s an important distinction, not negative at all. Iowans want everyone covered,” Vilsack said in an interview.

Indeed, Clinton has toned down her sharp criticism of Obama, just days after raising questions about his character and accusing him of peddling “false hope.” Her advisers say she had needed to set the record straight after absorbing months of criticism from her rivals, but they have since concluded her barrage didn’t work.

Even so, Clinton’s tongue-lashing of Obama laid the groundwork for a story line her advisers believe will serve her well over time: that little is known about the young Illinois senator, and that his record bears considerably more scrutiny and vetting.

For her part, Clinton has a very different challenge: winning over voters who believe they know her too well.

With her long record in public life, her advisers are searching for ways to cast her as an agent of change in a political environment where voters – especially Democrats – say they are eager for a new direction. The campaign has sought to reframe the issue, painting Obama as someone who talks about change while Clinton actually makes it happen.

“You’ll see us continue to sharpen the message and illustrate that this is a very serious election,” Clinton’s lead strategist Mark Penn said. “The voters have a choice about who would make the best president, and every time it comes down to that choice, she comes out on top.”

Hillary Should Worry – Iowa, New Hampshire, SC – GONE!

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%.

IOWA
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.

NEW HAMPSHIRE
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.

SOUTH CAROLINA
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. 

http://firstread.msnbc.msn.com/archive/2007/12/09/506446.aspx

   

Edwards, Hillary,Obama – 3-Way Tie In Iowa

Edwards’ Internal Poll Shows Three-Way TieA new internal poll for the presidential campaign of former Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.) shows the race in Iowa a three-way dead heat with just 27 days left before that state’s crucial caucuses.The survey, which was completed by Edwards pollster Harrison Hickman on Wednesday night, shows Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) leading among likely caucus participants with 27 percent, followed by Edwards at 24 percent and Sen. Barack Obama with 22 percent. The race is even tighter when only definite caucus participants are included — with Clinton at 26 percent, Edwards at 25 percent and Obama at 23 percent.“When sampling error is taken into account, support for the top three candidates is so close that it is impossible to distinguish among them with the commonly accepted level of statistical confidence,” writes Hickman in the polling memo.The poll, which was included as part of an email sent by Edwards Iowa director Jennifer O’Malley Dillon to supporters in the state, is consistent with other recent results. The Post’s own Iowa poll showed Obama leading with 30 percent to Clinton’s 26 percent and Edwards’ 22 percent. The Des Moines Register survey, conducted by highly respected pollster J. Ann Selzer, had Obama at 28 percent to 25 percent for Clinton and 23 percent for Edwards.The conclusion to be drawn from this mass of data is that — in the words of Dan Rather — it is “tight as a tick” in Iowa. As we wrote this morning in the Line, the idea that Iowa is or will be a two-person fight between Clinton and Obama is simply not born out by the available data. While Edwards doesn’t enjoy the level of support he did prior to the entrance of Clinton and Obama, he has maintained a solid and loyal following in the state that seems unlikely to defect from him in the final days of the race.Remember that polling over the next 27 days will show Iowa results all over the map. We urge you — if you haven’t already — to go back and read our discussion of the difficulty of polling the Iowa caucuses.

http://blog.washingtonpost.com/thefix/2007/12/edwards_internal_poll_shows_th.html