Articles and Analysis


The Stronger Democrat?

Topics: 2008 , National Journal

My NationalJournal.com column for the week, on the limitations of what national and state level polls can tell us about which candidate is strongest, is now online.



Nicely done. Thanks.




Especially this paragraph, pretty much refuting all of Hillary and her supporters' weak and rather disingenuous "arguments" :

"I come away with a warning: Although it is easy to make states light up as red or blue on a map depending on whatever poll, polling average or estimate you trust, the underlying data indicate a close race regardless of the Democratic nominee."

"The inherent shakiness of horse-race results at this stage of the campaign should give us all pause about reading too much precision into the current poll numbers."

Exactly, Mark! Trying to use polls to say outlandish & illogical things like "Hillary is the stronger candidate" simply makes no sense. Even more ridiculous is trying to get Super Delegates to overturn the will of the voters based on such ridiculous assertions. Kinda pathetic when you think about it....


richard pollara:

Mark: Perhaps you haven't been through a bitter divorce. There are wounds that just don't heal and words that reverberate long after the legal proceedings. I think your divorce analogy is apt but not in the sense that the wounds heal quickly after the settlement. In the real world, after the judge rules, there are bad feelings for a very long time. My sense is that which ever side loses is going to feel cheated. I don't think those people will come back and vote for the eventual nominee.



Excellent, as usual.

I would quibble with a bit of the wording though... "The Clinton campaign is trumpeting its candidate's stronger polling performance against McCain than Obama in Ohio and Florida... However, the available polls point to similar advantages for Obama in Iowa, Colorado and Wisconsin."

It sounds like you are saying Clinton's advantage in those swing states is roughly balanced out by Obama's advantage in the other three. But in the context of this column - who (if anyone) has an advantage in November, there is no equivocating. FL + OH = 47; IA + CO + WI = 26. Big difference.

Likewise, in the following paragraph, "In a report released this week, the Gallup organization found similar evidence"... what Gallup found is that "Clinton's main advantage is that her [swing] states -- including Florida and Michigan -- represent nearly twice as many Electoral College votes as Obama's." That's a big difference. I'm not saying you misrepresent Gallup; their report absolutely did say what you say it said - in terms of the polling. But in the context of this column - who has the advantage in November - its the EV count that matters. You do follow up with "Give Clinton the edge here, if only because her potential advantages extend to more electoral votes than Obama" - but there's no "if only" in the context of the column. EVs are the whole enchilada.

So my quibble is just a wording thing. But I can see why you'd want to tamp down any sense that these findings are somehow definitive or strongly predictive of the November outcome. I certainly agree with the main point of your column, and it probably can't be repeated often enough.



I forgot to mention the divorce analogy - I agree with Richard Pollara - this is not just a matter of disappoinment over the nomination process or 'the heat of the moment'; its also a matter of having formed a strongly negative opinion of Sen. Obama because of his behavior related to the nomination and/or other factors. To convince me to support him rather than abstain in Nov., that campaign is going to have to do something affirmative to change my opinion of the Senator... and I don't know what that something would be.



pundits. they only react. they never see the forest through the trees. they have no idea how scorned clinton's base feels. they underestimate human nature. there is a lot of truth in the hurt feelings and the fact that national polling has consistently charted hillary stronger against mccain than obama. media turns a jaudinced eye from her. pelosi does. the dnc does.

but what i really see here in the polls and i am rather surprised mark has not picked up on this, is the really lush and over grown forest through the trees.

if the three are running consistently neck and neck in all permutations, and the DNC is in obvious turmoil, and the RNC has a steadily eroding base, we are talking the end of the old two party system and none too soon.

it is a system that is only one of tradition and expediency. not fiat. and the electorate has shown a nimbleness and willingness to make up their own minds and not vote the party. this kind of sophistication and enthusiasm makes it all too ripe for a coalition/third party.

two of the candidates, mccain and clinton have consistently reached across the aisle. the only
dyed in the wool party partisan is obama. blurring the boundaries between the parties began with these excellent senators.

i hope hillary continues on her courageous march and does not shy from the obvious. sure she'll be taunted and accused of sour grapes. given the media's allergy to her it hardly matters.

those who despise her as witnessed on this chat site, will not change their minds. but those who are ready to make the move will applaud her creativity. we are ready and i hope someone from her campaign reads this and the predictable vituperative reactions and starts making the move.

getting back to mark, i wonder if he could figure out if any pollsters could start asking the question, "given the mess at the DNC and the three way race polling neck and neck, is it time for a new party to form?"



I appreciated you analysis... Ciccina... and I agree.

I think you speak for many who have indeed formed negative opinions of Obama. I am afraid that with Obama's current campaign team that he will not be doing anything that is truly useful in terms of affirmative change. They seemed to be insulated from the reality of the authentic concerns of voters outside their circle.

If Obama is really serious about reaching out to all voters, he will first have to get himself a new campaign manager and new strategies.

Additionally, former Congressman Harold Ford, Jr. wrote an excellent op-ed giving advice to Obama on how to deal with the "race" issue in that Obama needs to make himself more accessible to voters by letting people get to know him personally at their level.

Actually, Hillary could now give him some good advice on populist campaigning. And Obama should observe McCain who undertook a tour to venues not friendly to Republicans. Obama needs to take a tour to venues not friendly to Obama. I really admire Jesse Jackson for seriously campaigning in West Virginia in 1988 when he did not have a chance there against Dukakis. But in so doing Jackson walked his talk. Obama needs to do the same. I think it really hurt Obama among voters inside and outside West Virginia and Kentucky to not invest his time and effort in those states. Paid political advertising can only go so far.



Mark in your "The Stronger Democrat?" article you state that Hillary is the stronger candidate, huh?

Mark maybe because I have a computer and can read makes me biased. Educated, yah that's it. With that being said, most on the web must be educated also. Every where I look on the internet, people are so tired of Hillary and of her gorilla warfare styled campaign. One doesn't have a chance if you are going to keep changing the goal post, position or campaign retoric. So for you to find these people who say that Hillary is the better canidate must not have an education, a computer or your poles were biased to have not included people from the internet.



@ jim:

I must take issue with your slur against Poles. In my experience they are far from biased; in fact, they are friendly and open-hearted.

I do agree about the gorillas, though - they can be right feisty.




Not to worry. I think Mark had already put a caveat on whatever poll findings may mean in his disclaimer that polls are volatile and really can't be counted on months away (or even days for that matter).

The negativity and bogus statements such as "formed a strongly negative opinion of Sen. Obama because of his behavior" are not representative of the majority and certainly won't be in November. Even RIGHT NOW, Obama polls better than McCain according to Poblano. Guess what will happen in November? I see a landslide victory for the Democrats......with or without the "disgruntled" Hillary supporters. Apparently for them, any negative truth revealed about Hillary is "sexism" or "misogyny". There is no point trying to have a rational debate with people like that. Hillary will always be the poor, innocent victim, no matter the heaps of evidence to the contrary. The irony, it seems, may never reveal itself to them.....

As you stated Jim, (despite all those racists) there is much more virulent Hate against Hillary now than against Obama - and The Right hasn't even put forth ONE teensy attack against her. The poor Clinton supporters have no idea the sh!tstorm that awaits Hillary if she would be on the Democratic ticket in any way shape or form. Even in Michigan, she brings down Obama according to the latest SUSA polling! She is useless politically at this point and needs to be put out of her misery. Good thing Nancy Pelosi will end all of this nonsense in about 5 days if Hillary doesn't concede by then. Now there is a woman with brains, leadership, and dignity. I wish she would be on the ticket with Obama. I have always loved her passion, and I think she would be a great role model for women. I shudder to think of the number of women Hillary has duped into thinking that she is their only chance to see a woman in the White House. I think a woman with grace, dignity, morals, and intelligence should be paramount. Not someone who has no conscience and is ethically challenged. What kind of example would that set for our young girls? That they should say or do anything to achieve their dreams? Even staying with an adulterer for whatever ambitions he may help fulfill? Yikes, that is something I hope we never put up with again, just for our own personal, selfish satisfaction.

Jim, as far as the people who support Hillary on the net, maybe one of these clowns has a hook-up at their local KKK hang-out:




I can't resist another post.


"I think a woman with grace, dignity, morals, and intelligence should be paramount."

I suppose grace and dignity are the top two - or at least two of the top four - qualities you look for in male candidates too?

That would certainly knock Jim Webb out of the running; quite a few others as well.



I don't like Webb much. to answer your q, yes I look for those in males as well.....although in males, grace isn't the word that is used, perhaps "refined" is what they would call it.

By grace/refined, I mean not rough around the edges, or having a grating personality - like a mccain, bush, cheney, bolton, rendell or webb.

We don't need standoffish leaders. We need ones that are eloquent and elegant - whether they are male or female.....

you will catch more flies with honey than with vinegar......


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