Articles and Analysis


TPM Catches a Milestone

Topics: 2008 , Barack Obama , Gallup , John McCain , Rasmussen

Talking Points Memo has a headline this morning pointing out something we were too busy to blog yesterday: For the first time, Barack Obama's number on the our national trend estimate (47.1%) is now greater than Hillary Clinton's (46.0%).


We are doing a bit of an overhaul on our database to facilitate inclusion of the daily tracking from both Gallup and Rasmussen Reports. The chart does not yet include data from Rasmussen, largely out of a concern that their more frequent updates would dominate the trend average. We are hoping to revise the chart to include the Rasmussen data soon.


John SFL:

I know that national numbers become less important over time because many of the people being polled reside in states that have already voted. I think one thing we can take away from this "milestone" is that as disappointing as Super Tuesday was for Hillary, she really dodged a bullet. The argument that she somehow blunted his momentum on Feb 5th is a real misreading of what happened. His momentum started before Iowa and has continued unabated since then.



and the media have poured gasoline all over his momentum. i have never seen such biased reporting (well, except for howard dean's forced plunge and the embedded media silence on the war). oddly, even the conservative media have commented on it.



John, yes Obama has continued to pick up support since before Iowa. there's one problem with this however, her support hasnt gone down. in fact, its also gone up. Now there really are no more voters to pick up, so unless her support collapses, and it doesnt look that way from the polls, his momentum can't continue. There's no more fuel for that fire. He'sa about to hit a great big fire wall of primaries with mostly working class Americans.


Norman Hsu1:

Sorry s.b, your analysis is way off. Not only will his momentum continue, it will increase - incredibly enough. Just watch the Texas poll for the next week. His momentum is like a runaway freight train as someone said earlier. It is just beginning to pick up speed.

By the way, every state where Obama has campaigned has shown a marked increase in support for him there. So, as Texas tightens up, his campaigning there will allow him to win it on March 4th.

Where you are incorrect is that there aren't voters to be picked up. You are DEAD wrong on that point. In primaries only a small fraction of the electorate votes. What Obama has done is bring - and keep bringing in - people who normally would not be involved in that process. I agree with you that the hard cores for Clinton have remained true, however Obama has picked off her mediocre and weak supporters as well as pick up independents and Republicans. This is evident in turnout numbers. Where ever Obama campaigns for an extended period of time, there is a sizable shift in the voting percentages. So expect Wisconsin to go 60-40 to him, Ohio 60-40 to him, and Texas 55-45 to him as well. By the way, I don't want to toot my own horn here, but I did correctly predict a heavy bounce in Texas - check out my previous posts on the Texas poll page. We'll see if I can keep it going.




Funny, here's the latest incarnation of the old "Obama couldn't possibly continue to rise any longer!!" non-argument desperate declaration that we've been seeing from Clinton folks almost every day on here and elsewhere for weeks now, going back to before Super Tuesday.

Clinton's support has risen slightly overall recently as the race has consolidated down to the two candidates. But her support actually fell slightly over the last couple months of 2007, a time that correlates with the start of Obama's still continuing surge. This is most important because during the time when other candidates were dropping out, Richardson, Biden, Kucinich, Edwards, Obama's support skyrocketed, while Clinton's stayed mostly stagnant, or only slightly rose.

In other words, we continue to hear this "Obama must have topped out" even though it lacks any actual evidence.

The fact is, over the last couple months, obviously the most important part of the campaigns, Clinton has remained largely stagnant at around 40-45% support, while in the same period Obama support has more than doubled from 20 to 45%+.

When we start to see actual numbers that show Obama unable to continue to bring in and inspire more new voters, re-inspire old voters, and gain more recognition in general, there might be reason to say, "his support has leveled off".

Unfortunately for in-denial-of-reality Clinton supporters, we have yet to see any such trend (in fact we continue to see only the opposite), and we probably won't see Obama's support level off until after he secures the nomination after Clinton drops out, if she has any honor left in her, on or around March 6, after gaining only in Ohio and pretty much tying Texas, a position that will leaver her with a near mathematical impossibility of ever getting the delegates needed to catch up with Obama.




All u idiots splitting hairs about a % point; Most of them have err margins of > 4%. Even if u take avg of all polls, it does not reduce the error. Haven't u learned from Zogby or NH polls.


John SFL:

Nobody is splitting hairs about a percentage point. You can't deny that the trend-line for Obama is pretty remarkable. And the fact that he leads for the first time in an average of the national polls is pretty significant as well. No one is saying it's predictive of upcoming primaries. It's just one positive sign for Obama.

As for Obama having nearly reached his ceiling: I don't know about that. They're both around 45% which leaves ten percent Undecided/Other in most polls. I would also guess he can shave at least a few points off her total. He has room to grow in my opinion.


Mark F:

I've been watching this poll religiously for weeks now, waiting for this crossover. Only one thing matters now: whether Obama's momentum can continue into March 4th. If his trajectory holds for another couple of weeks, I think he's unstoppable.

We all know the polls have been wildly unreliable this season, which is why a comprehensive aggregation like this one is so important: because it ignores the outliers and shows us the trends. Starting in the last quarter of last year, Obama's trend began heading strongly up, while Hillary maintained a gradual path. If Obama hits the next three states with this sort of momentum, the Clinton campaign is going to be looking at some very disappointing results in the near term.



If Obama wins in Wisconsin and Hawaii, then he will have a shot at winning Texas. That will end Hillary Clinton's campaign. No more will they be able to say, "Obama can't carry the populous states needed to win the White House."



This whole idea of Obama needing to win big states to put them in play in November is ridiculous. Does anyone think Obama doesn't win CA, NY, NY, MA, etc. in the general election? Similarly, does anyone think that if Hillary wins Texas, that means she has a better chance of putting that in play? Please. The basic dynamic here is practically undeniable. Obama has far greater chance of putting any swing states, or mild-red states in play in the fall. Further, he is much more likely to lead an overall Democratic surge down the ticket, especially in swing/red states - that is why he is receiving so much support from red state Democratic leaders. If Obama is the candidate, you'll see a decided lack of enthusiasm from the GOP base for McCain, and a replay of what happened in 1992 with Bush I. With Hillary, the GOP base comes alive, and, at best, you have narrow victory by Hillary and minimal gains or status quo on down the ticket. Obama offers the chance to establish a durable majority to start fixing the damage from the last seven years, not to mention that he's more likely to be able to reach across the aisle.



For whatever it might be worth, that current national trend estimate almost perfectly matches the cumulative national popular vote for the two candidates through Super Tuesday, at least according to my calculations.



TPM has a particularly sharp eye for news that favors Sen Obama.


John SFL:

david: Are you serious? I guess you didn't catch this TPM headline: "Hillary Would Have Benefited From Winner-Take-All Primaries." Just like she would have benefited from receiving more campaign contributions, or receiving more votes, or not running such a horrible campaign?

Maybe it's just reality that has an anti-Clinton bias.




Great points on this latest false argument from the Clinton folks, "Clinton wins in the big states". Obama putting into play a lot of "red" states, turning them "purple" so to speak, is the real story here. Clinton folk are trying to negate that story by presenting it as if the opposite were true, even though in reality...

As John says above,

"Maybe it's just reality that has an anti-Clinton bias."

Great line, thanks for the laugh.



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