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NH: View from Sunday Morning

Topics: 2008 , New Hampshire , The 2008 Race

So as of this morning we have seven new polls conducted all or in part after results of the Iowa Caucuses were known. The spin-debate dejour is whether Barack Obama received a "bump," and if so, how much. It is, unfortunately, hard to answer that question given the uncertainty of weekend interviewing and the hard decisions that New Hampshire Democrats are now working to make. Let's look at what we know.

Obama is certainly rising, the only question is by how much. As the table below indicates, all seven polls show some increase in Obama's share of the vote. It ranges between 2 and 10 percentage points, with an average of gain of six points and a median of 5, although the most respected New Hampshire pollster on the list -- CNN/WMUR/University of New Hampshire -- shows a smaller slightly smaller 3-point gain.

01-06%20NH%20summary%28400%29.png

With two notable exceptions (ARG and RasmussenReports), the surveys show a very close race. The average of the seven gives Obama a three-point edge, while the median shows Obama up by two. Our regression trends (which should update on our New Hampshire page shortly) show Clinton with a one-point advantage (33% to 32%) on the standard estimate, but a point down (32% to 33%) on the more sensitive estimate. All of these differences fall well within the the margin of real-world and "sampling" error.

However, Obama appears to be gaining. So how big will the bump be? Firm conclusions are premature for two important reasons.

The first involves the issue of weekend interviewing, or more specifically, surveys based on interviews completed entirely on Friday night and Saturday. Most campaign pollsters are reluctant to put too much faith in interviews conducted at those times, when younger and more mobile voters are less likely to be home. In my 20+ years of looking at surveys conducted for campaigns, I can remember only one we did based solely on Friday and Saturday interviewing. In that case even after we weighted by every demographic variable available to make it comparable to others conducted just days before, we produced a weighted sample that appeared much more engaged in politics and better informed about issues and candidates (and thus, more likely to be "certain" about their initial vote preferences).

On the other hand, I cannot claim much experience with weekend interviewing -- my sample size is just one survey. Media pollsters are obviously more willing to conduct such surveys, particularly over the last weekend before an election. So I am willing to suspend disbelief, although I will have a lot more faith in the releases based on interviews conducted through Sunday night.

An aside: When pollsters like me worry about "weekends" we mean Friday night and Saturday, not Sunday. Actually, late Sunday afternoons and evenings are among the best times to catch people at home, especially in the winter. And I see much less to fear from a survey that begins calling on Friday and finishes on Sunday, so long long as all of the "no answer" numbers from Friday and Saturday get dialed again on Sunday night.

The second and more important reason to be cautious about this Sunday morning snapshot is that New Hampshire voters are still in the midst of a difficult decision. The CNN/WMUR/UNH survey tells us that only 52% of Democrats are "definitely decided" about who they will support, while 26% are "leaning toward someone" and 23% are "still trying to decide." Obama has an advantage over Clinton among the definitely decided (41% to 35%; n=183), while Clinton has a slight edge -- for the moment at least -- among those leaning or uncertain (31% to 23%; n=173).

But as you step away from the trial heat results and look at other internal measures, we see why the choice is difficult. Voters like all three of the leading candidates. For example, among the 82 respondents that are "still trying to decide:"

  • 92% rate Obama favorably, only 3% unfavorably

  • 81% rate John Edwards favorably, only 5% unfavorably

  • 75% rate Clinton favorably, only 5% unfavorably

Those same uncertain voters (n=82) also choose:

  • Obama over Clinton as "most inspiring" (68% to 8%)

  • Clinton over Obama as the candidate with "the right experience" (53% to 4%)

  • Obama over Clinton -- though narrowly and with more uncertainty -- as "most likely to bring needed change" (34% to 22%). Obama has a bigger advantage on this measure (40% to 27%) among those who are "leaning" to their choice.

One more thing. I cannot point to an academic study to prove this, but most campaign pollsters will tell you that when a candidate is gaining, vote preference is usually the last thing to change. The movement usually shows up first on internal measures. So on that score, consider that the UNH survey, which shows the smallest "bump" also shows a huge shift on perceptions of electability. Ten days ago, likely Democratic primary voters in New Hampshire considered Clinton the "candidate with the best chance of defeating the Republican" by a a two-to-one margin (45% to 22%). Obama has closed that margin on the most recent survey to a single percentage point (Clinton 36%, Obama 35%).

 

Comments
Alex:

I really appreciate this analysis. Thanks for the insight!

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CalD:

I heard an interview with the director of the UNH Survey Center on the radio just before the Iowa caucuses. He predicted then that whoever won in Iowa would get about a 7-point bump in NH right off the bat. That seems to be about in line with what we're seeing so far -- enough for Obama to catch or nose past Clinton, depending on whose poll you look at. Of course what happens next is anyone's guess.

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Polling data from today will be the most useful, as it follows the debate last night, which should serve to either change or solidify opinions. In any case, the point about the actual candidate vote decision being the last piece of the puzzle was very interesting.

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Jason:

They are now saying that obama is the the best choice to go up agianst the republican. I would turn that down...becuase he does not have the experience! The republican candidates do. If they want a chance they must vote hilary. And i for one...would vote out of my party and pick her.

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CalD:

Looks like John Edwards is up significantly on the Change® and electability questions since early December too. Might be something to keep an eye on.

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Jason,

What good is experience when none of the 'experience' candidates have anything to show for it?

They have been mired in divisive politics for decades and now they tell us that their experience is meaningful.

They have not shown a capacity or willingness to reach across the aisle and do the right thing for the people.

Give hope a chance. Obama '08

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nancy:

Jason - I'm with you. I will vote republican if Obama wins the nomination. For me, experience does matter - we're moving into a recession and i'm concerned about his lack of foreign policy experience. To me, Obama sounds like Bush living in la-la land over change......

I've got to go with experience and Clinton clearly has it over the others hands down.

she will give the republicans a run for their money, no questions.

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Kevin:

nancy: Obama is far from la-la land. One recent example is he said he would bring more people to politics, and Iowa had its largest caucus turnout ever. His message is real if you are not too cynical to believe it. Yes, Bush burned us with his reformism, but Bush is also a liar and he surrounds himself with liars (similar to Clinton with Penn). Obama has integrity, and while his message of hope may sound la-la to you, he at least is not a liar and will work to remain consistent with that message while he is in office. Why do I believe that? Simple. It's in his record. Can Clinton say the same? Didn't think so.

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Chris:

HRC's Experience?! Look at what we know from the public records: White house years gave us secrecy, travelgate, missing billing records, paranoia over conspiracies, endless soap opera stories and New Gingrich in congress... In the senate, a vote for a WAR without reading the 200-something pages (should not take a 'certified genius' too long...) while knowing that none of her staffers had the clearance to do so... That's what I call rolling the dice! HRC will not get the entire democratic vote, no republicans will cross over, and she does NOT attract the independent voters enough to overcome this. SHOULD she win, the country will be more divided "from day one", no matter how ready she is to lead.....
GO, O!

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MarkDaShark:

Now more than at any time in many years it appears inspirational leadership is key. Clinton is surely capable, but considered divisive in spite of anything she might say or do. I think that's what voters are sensing... The need for a clean break from politics as usual seems to be outweighing the experience factor here. Barack, maybe even Edwards, appear to have shaped the right message for the time, the winning message, and it look's to me, too, late in the game for Hillary to change course... to re-package her message in just a few days. And I believe now a few days is all she has.

If Obama wins NH, the reluctance of black Americans to support this black candidate will evaporate, and SC will follow. Super Tuesday will only certify it... I'm betting Barack wins the nomination going away... Really amazing.

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I'm concerned about Sen. Clinton as a choice for many reasons, but sticking just to the "horse race", my biggest problem is that she's so divisive that I don't think she'll win against a strong Republican candidate. Even if she does, so many people will come out to vote against her that close downticket races for House and Senate will go Republican. What good would a Dem president be with a Republican Congress once again? Obama doesn't have the negatives, in fact many Republicans like him. I think he's the best chance for a clean sweep of the White House and Congress.

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Helen Judd:

I am a lifelong Democrat but if Barack Obama is chosen as the Democratic nominee and John McCain is the Republican nominee, then I will definitely switch registration and vote for John McCain.

Over and above anything else, I want a mature, seasoned, experienced President next time around.

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Mich Yost in NH:

I am an Independent who will be voting for Mr. McCain on Tuesday. There is no way the young rookie senator Obama is going to the Whitehouse if responsible and intelligent voters have any say in it.

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Diane in Iowa:

Those of us in Iowa who caucused for Joe Biden, are very disappointed because of the outcome. Hillary isn't liked or trusted, Obama has the worse record on abortion and Edwards wouldn't be able to fight all the big drug companies and the rest without some help from the republicans.We've seen enough of the Clinton dynasty and the misdirected women who want a woman president, don't realize she is the wrong woman.The so called "lower tier" candidates didn't have much of a chance with the media hoopla for the top three.

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ogre:

My... looks like the sockpuppets are out in force.

Either that or an unusually high number of bigots read here.

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kaspian:

Ogre: I love the term sockpuppets.

You do have to wonder, when two "different" commenters in a single thread claim to be Democrats who will cross over and vote Republican if Barack get the nomination.

If they're both for real (which I doubt), then one thing's for sure: they certainly won't get stuck in heavy traffic, because the rest of the voting public will heading in the opposite direction as fast as they can.

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Jane:

Ogre and Kaspian,

With respect, I believe it is offensive to assume that people are either misrepresenting themselves, or are bigots because they don't support Obama.

I am young, party-faithful democrat, who was initially a fervent Obama supporter when he announced his candidacy. In fact, my best friend and I were planning to volunteer to work on his campaign. After the first of the debates, his seeming naivete about a number of issues, bothered us so much that we began researching him, looking for his blueprint for change, a decisive plan for achieving positive change. Guess what? There isn't one. On the other hand, in the course of our research, we found a number of troubling instances where his election promises and his votes as a new senator were sadly inconsistent with each another.

Our conclusion is that Obama's overarching ambition outpaces his skills, ability, knowledge, and experience in a very troubling manner.

I give the man his due as a orator, but both my friend and I will be breaking with the party line if he wins the Dem nom, and voting for someone else -- possibly McCain if he wins the Rep nom, likely a third party candidate if he does not. And I'm neither a sockpuppet nor am I a bigot, just for the record.

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Lynn:

Polls are worthless and used to sway public opinion. They should be outlawed during election years.

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hardheaded liberal:

So we can add "Lynn" to the sockpuppet basket!

Ogre and Kaspian, no "party-faithful democrat" would fail to capitalize Democrat!

This looks to me like the work of the McCain campaign, since McCain is the only candidate likely to benefit much from discouraging waivering "party leaners" and independents.

Could MAYBE be a desperation ploy by Mark Penn and company, but I doubt it - if Penn orchestrated this and it leaked, Hilary would be down for the count and LOTS of lobbyists would be red-faced when they explain to their clients why the lobbyists told their clients to flush all that money down the Clinton drain!

What "party-faithful Democrat" would suggest that Obama has "overarching ambition"? Relative lack of maturity, lack of experience in crisis decision-making, lack of management experience are all legitimate concerns, but I have NEVER heard a Democrat suggest that Obama has "overarching ambition"!!

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Jack:

Wheeeeee. This is fun for once. In Illinois we have lousy sports teams but great politicians! Get on the Barak-wagon, baby! Your friends will think you're cool.

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True Dem:

I agree with many of my fellow democrats in that Obama is surely not the right candidate for the job. Alongside that I too agree in that he is far too ambitious and indirectly seems to be resembling himself as a new JFK or a semi/Martin Luther King. All he wants is to make it in the history books and to me that is surely selfish. You can tell just by his tone of voice, body language, monotone speach, and lack of humbleness that he showed when he won Iowa. As other Democrats mentioned, I too will break ranks with my own party (Dems) and vote for the Republican candidate if he is the Democratic nominee. I am voting for Hillary, godbless her. (Male and in early 20's)

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Sha:

With all do respect for McCain's age and his experience in Washington I have to ask this question Why are we in such a bad mess today. Over 30 years in Washington he could not made any change that is worth counting besdes his duty working as a senator. Instead McCain supported these things: 1. He supported the war that led to the death of over 4000 American soldiers and over 50,000 wounde
2. He looked the other way while illegal immigrants were flocking to his state of Arizona and when Americans started taking note of this issue he immediately decided to provide them AMNESTY. Now he says he did not offer Amnesty. McCains says it is not amnesty as the illegal immigrants will have to pay a fine. How much fine-$5000. Senator McCain should know that for $5000 fine half the world would be willing to become American citizen. It's a joke-$5000 is hardly a fine.It is a slap on the wrist for breaking the law.
3. Under his watch big corporations are shipping all jobs to India and China causing unemployment and even recession in America.
This list can go on and on...
Those who favor McCain must keep these facts in mind before they commit another mistake that might take America onto the path from where there is no return. Unfortunately those signs are on horizen. As you may know McCain himself had realized that he may have to quit the campaign in the early statges but his campaign was boosted and RESUSCITATED by Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut and by endorsement of a few news papers.Is it worth making Mcacin the president??

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Jane:

True Dem,

I'd have to think long and hard about voting for a GOP candidate other than McCain. My biggest concern is an Obama/Huckabee presidential race, in which case I hope a strong Independent candidate would emerge.

HH Lib -- I believe that I am the one you want to call names, not Lynn. You were apparantly so eager to start bashing me that you failed to notice the user name on the post that so offended you. So sorry for having an opinion that you've "never heard of," although, judging by your post, I would have thought that this would be a rather common occurance for you. Peace out, dude.

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Sha:

McCain's Plan For Illegals:
Illegal immigrant No problems!
Pay $5000 fine and become a US citizen.

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schaf:

I have read each comment and I believe the feeling is mutual that we need Change in Washington.....but I also will break away from the democratic party and vote republican if Obama is the party nominee. This country needs change and whats a new look in Washington. I have worked for one of the largest employee unions in the US and let me tell you that it is a DREAM that Edwards or Obama will get the big money special interests out of DC if/when they are president. Frankly that is a joke and we really do not want that to happen. Special interest groups such as employee unions are the ONLY voice we have in government. They actually lobby for the memebers interests. Do you really believe that Barrick Obama is going to go to DC and make his "new America" when he gets there. A President has limited powers and in all my years in the political arena as lobbyist and working in state government politics, politicians 'SELL YOU A LINE OF BS" and don't deliver. Bill Clinton and Al Gore had a political agenda when they ran for office and completed 85% of what they campaigned on. That reaches above any other campaign promises. The end result may not have been what we would have liked, but at least they tried. Obama is reaching people that have not voted or been part of the process before and has excited them, but can he deliver? His inexperience and 'rockstar" qualities will not be admired by leaders of other countries. And are we ready to hand over an America that is so unstable and a nation that is so unrespected to a man that has NO foreign policy experience. I am not. I believe he is a very bright or perhaps brilliant man but lacking in experience at this critical point in our country is not a good idea. Clinton's administration left this country with the lowest unemployment in history, the middle class that had a bright future and small businesses that were not taxed to death. He may have not been anyone's favorite person, but still commands great respect in our country. And what a valuable tool as a President's spouse. Let's stop with personal attacks on the candidates and look at records and experience if we want to see our children HAVE a future.

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Jeff:

You know, if everyone is truly worried about this experience issue, if everyone is truly believing that one must have loads of experience to become president, then they should have supported Biden or Dodd. If they truly wanted experience, they should have supported Richardson. You know, people play up this experience issue like mad, but in reality one needs only to have enough experience, not the most. Senator Clinton makes the case that she is the most experienced and therefore the most capable to "change" Washington. By that logic, that the person with the most experience is best able to change Washington, she is NOT the right person for the presidency. That honor would go to Richardson. Her argument is full of holes that people just accept because she is the wife of Bill Clinton. Don't get me wrong I love Bill Clinton but if I wanted him to serve another term I would pass an ammendment not vote for her. And for all of those who believe that Experience is the primary qualification for the presidency, maybe it would please them that we changed the constitution and put in place a paragraph where the longest serving Senator or Governor, or Representative, or Beaurocrat became President of the United States. However if we had their ideal form of government we would have never had Lincoln or Kennedy, instead we would have had Seward and Nixon. There would be no "Four Score and sever years ago" nor "Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your Country". There would be only blandness, a leading elite and a following underclass. Those leaders inspired others to lead, to serve. There is no inspiration in Clinton, there is no brightness, no hope, no light that exudes from her to me. There is policy, yet a polarizing nature that would make her hopes for progress hopeless. She likes to fight, she likes to bruise and batter the Republican, and for that matter any group that would question her. There will be a time when the Presidency and the future of this country is decided by 50% plus 1. Let us hope that it is this year. Vote Obama 2008!

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Jeff:

correction. There will be a time when the Presidency and the future of this country is not decided by 50% plus 1. Let us hope that it is this year. Vote Obama 2008!

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Jeff:

Also just to counter the worry about the economy. You know Clinton had little experience going into the White House and he did mighty fine with the economy. You know it is "the Economy Stupid"

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jane:

Jeff. Please. Clinton was Governor of Arkansas for twelve years before elected president.

Also, I take exception to your statement that HRC loves to "bruise and batter" Republicans. That is directly contrary to the compromise position that she has maintained in the US Senate for eight years.

I would also suggest that you read through the comments again. No one is suggesting that the person with the "most experience" be elected, and it's a little disingenuous and misleading to suggest that this is the case.

Like it or not, experience counts. That's why Obama was the only candidate to get himself embroiled in an international controversy by claiming that, if elected, he'd send US troops into Pakistan. These are the kinds of rookie mistakes that are rooted in inexperience. I believe Obama has a promising future. I would have considered voting for him in 2012 and, if he lived up to his early promise, definitely in 2016. Now, I simply believe his ambitions have outran his ability.

And please take a look at his voting record. I think you may be surprised that he has, more often than not, voted maintain the status quo rather than to generate substantive change.

I agree with you about Biden, believe or not. I would have been equally happy with Biden or with HRC as our demo nom.

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Matt:

Sorry to bring this back on track, but the discussion about who is home on the weekend skewing the demographics has me thinking about cell phones. Myself and two friends, all of whom live in New Hampshire and work in the tech industry, no longer bother with landlines. All we have is our cells. We don't get poll calls. I wonder if this is starting to skew the demographics as well?

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steve:

Can anyone cite a single example in American history where the inexperience of a president led to significant problems? The link between inexperience and problems can't just be fortuitous, it needs to be causal. My own view is that the significance of experience is vastly overstated since a president is so dependent upon the information and advice that is given by others. There may be good reasons to prefer Clinton over Obama, but it seems intellectually lazy to base such a preference on the dubious notion that experience has much significance in the success or failure of a presidency.

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Can we get back to the polls?

I think other campaigns and some of the media think Zogby is too political but his final polls are among the most accurate.

I have heard Republicans discount everything except weekend polls because good Republicans are working during the week often late and only shiftless Democrats respond.

So far we haven't seen a dramatic difference in any study comparing landline phone voters versus those with only wireless but Obama would have the edge with his younger voters.

I think the newer polls will show more mo with Obma and to a lesser extent Edwards.

Prediction: Big win for Obama.

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What a lovely speech, Jane.

However, I have to ask myself the question: What is most likely, a young political activist switching horses like you claim to have done, or a young (or not so young) political activist fashioning a convincing conversion story and posting it anonymously on an online forum?

Not only did you switch horses, you did it in favour of "political experience"? What kind of young democrat are you? Even if you're genuine, you're not convincing me there are many like you :-)

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Obama has about 11 years of experience as a legislator (1997-2007) compared to 7 for Clinton (2001-2007).

Obama has a bit more than 3 years of public service as a community organizer (1985-88) when he was single. Clinton has two years public service (1973-75) when she was single. Both taught part-time after they married and before getting involved in politics. Overall Obama has a bit more individual experience in public service than Clinton

On the other hand, Clinton's husband has 20 years of experience in major public office and as his spouse, she was closely involved with his campaigns. This gives her 27 years of experience in electoral politics for major office, something Obama entirely lacks (his sole major election was a cakewake because his opponent destroyed himself).

So Obama has a bit more experience in public service than Clinton, while she has a great deal more experience in electoral politics.

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Jane:

Um, hello, Harold? Please show me where I have ever claimed to be a political activist. If you read my posts, you will see that I note it was Obama who first moved me toward the idea of campagain volunteering.

If you're going to critique my comments and make ugly implications that I'm deceptively "fashioning a conversation story," I'd appreciate it if you'd at least read my post, and understand why I have taken the position that I have, rather than putting words in my mouth as you have done.

I've never seen so many accusations that I am posting as something I'm not in many years of posting on various boards. It must be true that politics brings out the worst in people, but it does kind of make me wonder what you all are hiding that you're so quick to assume everyone else is being so duplicitous.

And I'm simply stating my views on here, like everyone else is, Harold. There are a number of people who disagree with me. I have no problem with that. It's a shame you do.

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Jeff:

In response to some of those comments made about mine, one should remember that those "rookie" mistakes were accepted by Clinton at the last debate. She originally said that it was "naive" to openly say that you would attack Osama bin Laden in Pakistan, now she endorses such a position. That kind of surprises me. So is she a rookie and naive or does Obama have the correct position? In response to the comments made about the candidate having the most experience, if her argument is that you should vote for her because she has the most experience then her argument is that of Nixon and Seward, no one if they read their history can deny that. Now again to the polling. I do believe that Clinton is more formidable than many give her credit for. My predictions are that Obama will win New Hampshire in a land slide and will go on to win Nevada and South Carolina. However, I do believe that she will either win or come in a very tight second in California. She will win New York and maybe New Jersey. However again Obama will have a good chunk of those delegates as well. Obama will go on to win many of the smaller, predominantly African-American primaries and caucuses on Feb 5th. My predictions is that it may come down to Texas on March 4th. Keep in touch.

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Jane:

Jeff -- HRC endorsed sending troops into Pakistan without its consent? I honestly missed that one. Can you provide a link? I've searched the internet using several different word combinations, but I'm not able to find anything to substantiate that claim (not saying it's not there, just that I can't find it). That would be quite odd. I do know that she has come very close to out-and-out saying that Musharraf was responsible for the Bhutto assassination, and has suggested the possiblity of sending UN troops into the country to stabilize if for elections, but I haven't heard that she endorses sending US troops into Pakistan either to ensure election stablity, or to track Osama down.

Also just want to clarify that I've never suggested that the person with the most experience should be nominated. As I said in my initial post, experience wasn't even an issue for me until after the first couple of debates, which did not showcase Obama's grasp of the issues well, IMO.

Once again, I agree with the rest of your post. As a Californian, I'll go a step further, and say Obama will likely take California (all of my contemporaries are excited about him, and all the older libs I know just want someone who can get get the Repubs out of the White House). I too think there's a very good likelihood that this race will come down to Texas.

So, I'm interested ... what are your thoughts on Edwards? He was my candidate of choice in 2004, but I am unhappy with any candidate who sows divisiveness as a political platform, which I believe Edwards is doing with his angry "us against them" attitude. I don't respect him for trying to ride along on Obama's coattails at the last debate either. Do you think he's aligning himself with Obama in the hopes of another vice-president nod?

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Anonymous:

Well I just turned 18 so yeah I have been following politics since 13. Edwards might make an excellent Attorney General or Attorney in Manhattan, Rudy Giuliani's old district. However as for Edward's as a possible VP pick, not likely. Obama will try and pick someone with a bit more foreign policy experience or someone who is from a swing state. Maybe Governor Kaine of Virginia or Senator Biden. He won't pick Senator Clinton nor would she pick him. There is a bit too much bad blood between them. I'm from Texas so I can tell you that the younger more liberal demographics are for Obama as are the independents. Older Democrats like my Aunt or for Senator Clinton, however on a whole she would be very competetive here.

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Harald K:

Relax, I'm sure you state your views honestly, Jane. I just don't quite buy the story of how you came to them. And I do mean it when I say it was a nice speech. You know your rhetoric, which is why I'm wary about taking your statements at face value.

I still would be skeptical, even if I hadn't said so. Isn't it better that I say it?

I'm not hiding anything. I only watch the US election from outside, so I'm perhaps a bit more disinterested.

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