Novak Premature In Predicting Clinton Advantage in Michigan and Florida

Robert Novak believes that the decision of the major candidates to abstain from campaigning in Michigan and Florida, in response to their change of caucus and primary dates in violation of party rules, will help Hillary Clinton.

Assume Clinton starts by losing Iowa and New Hampshire after more than a year of campaigning. That could be nullified by campaign-free Michigan, where a public poll gives Clinton a 19-percentage point lead over Obama. Assume Clinton also loses in heavily campaigned South Carolina. That could be nullified by campaign-free Florida, where polls show Clinton’s lead as high as 30 percentage points.

The logic is that, in the absence of having candidates campaign, the candidate who currently leads in the state polls will win. This fails to take into account the effects of the early primary votes assuming that Iowa and New Hampshire move up their votes as necessary to remain first and second. I wonder how many state polls showed John Kerry leading as of September 2003. If Clinton loses in Iowa and New Hampshire the results in Michigan and Florida could be heavily influenced by such votes.

I suspect that there will be a resolution to this situation before winter, but if not I wonder how it will affect Obama’s decision to limit debate appearances. If he is unable to campaign in Michigan and Florida, media coverage becomes more important. Obama’s original decision only affected debate appearances for the remainder of 2006. It would be surprising if he also stays out of any debates in early 2007 should he remain obligated to refrain from campaigning in Michigan and Florida. I doubt there will be any debates in late 2006 due to decreased attention around the holidays, but if there are any he might be better off participating in them as well.

Be Sociable, Share!

1 Comment

  1. 1
    absent observer says:

    Novak represent an unhealthy fixation on reporting the horserace, rather than substantive issues (E.g., is the electoral college still useful, is money corrupting politics, what characteristics should a candidate possess/does so-and-so hold those characteristics.)

    Decidedly unsexy material, I concede. But Novak’s no stud himself (pun accomplished clumsily).

Leave a comment