Obama Moves Within Four Points of Clinton


The first Gallup Daily Tracking Poll to show an impact of Edwards dropping out of the race is out. Obama is now only four points behind Clinton and continues to show momentum. The poll covers the past three days and doesn’t provide a clear answer regarding where the Edwards supporters are going. Compared to the previous day, Edwards’ support is down four points. Obama has gained three points and Clinton has gained one point. I doubt this simply means that Edwards’ four percent went to Obama and Clinton in these numbers. Prior to Edwards dropping out the trend showed Obama moving up and Clinton falling. I suspect that if Edwards had not dropped out Clinton would have continued to fall. If more of Edwards’ support went to Clinton than Obama as I have predicted, this would account for Clinton moving up one point from yesterday with the addition of former Edwards supporters offsetting the fall she would have otherwise experienced.

News today might further impact the polls. Clinton and Obama meet in a one on one debate which might sway some voters. There are three stories which might have a negative impact on Clinton, with one of them appearing to be misleading. ABC News is reporting on Clinton’s time as a member of Wal-Mart’s board of directors. They report that Hillary Clinton “remained silent as the world’s largest retailer waged a major campaign against labor unions seeking to represent store workers.” This could cause a further erosion of her current support among Democrats, and could also cause the former Edwards supporters to back Obama instead of her.

The New York Times is reporting on Clinton’s fund raising for his charitable foundation in a story where Clinton appears to be using his clout in return for contributions. They report, “Mr. Clinton has vowed to continue raising money for his foundation if Mrs. Clinton is elected president, maintaining his connections with a wide network of philanthropic partners.” Josh Marshall writes, “Bill’s nuts if he thinks he’ll be able to keep raising money like this if Hillary’s president. It’s not even a close call.”

The third potentially harmful story to the Clinton campaign come from Jack Tapper taking a statement from Bill Clinton out of context. The story inaccurately reports that Clinton said, “we just have to slow down our economy” to fight global warming. Steve Benen compares what Clinton actually said to what was reported. Unfortunately even false information plays a part in impressions of the candidates, and we can be sure that the Republicans will be repeating this inaccurate story should Hillary Clinton be the nominee.

A misleading report from National Journal might potentially help Obama in the Democratic race but hurt him in the general election. They report that Obama came out as the number one most liberal Senator in 2007. He ranked 16th and 10th his first two years in the Senate but scored a higher percentage this year due to missing many votes while campaigning. The same happened to John Kerry in 2004 when his score was also artificially inflated after he missed several votes. Hillary Clinton was ranked the 16th most liberal Senator this year and came in 32nd last year. Such comparisons actually mean little, but this could be used to contradict the occasional attacks on Obama from Clinton supporters as being less liberal.

Besides moving up in the polls, the other good news for Obama is that he raised $32 million in the month of January alone. This included contributions from 170,000 new donors during the month and is approximately the same as his previous three month record.

John McCain will need a good month. He has expanded his lead in the Gallup poll over Mitt Romney to fifteen percent but ended 2007 with only $2.95 million cash on hand along with $4.52 million in debts. He raised about $10 million during the final quarter of 2007.

A Fairly Uneventful Republican Debate

Last night’s Republican debate represented missed opportunities for both McCain and Romney to seal the deal going into Super Tuesday. As McCain goes in the front runner, this does work to his advantage. The biggest controversy was a repetition of McCain distorting Romney’s position on Iraq timetables. I just don’t get why McCain bothers to lie about Romney’s position. McCain could probably blow out Romney in a real debate on foreign policy before a pro-war Republican audience without having to distort Romney’s position. If the debate comes down to what Romney’s position is, I’d tend to give Romney the benefit of the doubt that he knows his own position unless we have clear evidence (as on many social issues) that he has really taken both sides of the issue. If McCain’s point is to show that Romney is inconsistent there are so many other areas he can do this other than on Iraq.

In bickering over nonsense, McCain and Romney gave Ron Paul the opportunity to actually come off as the sane one when he said:

When I listen to this argument, I mean, I find it rather silly because they’re arguing technicalities of a policy they both agree with. They agreed going in, they agreed for staying, agreed for staying how many years, and these are technicalities. We should be debating foreign policy, whether we should have interventionism or non-interventionism, whether we should be defending this country or whether we should be the policeman of the world, whether we should be, you know, running our empire or not and how are we going to have guns and butter.

This is especially foolish for McCain considering that he could wind up running against Hillary Clinton. Against Clinton he might have had a strong case for being the honest candidate and could bring up all the lies Clinton has told during the campaign. When McCain pulls the same thing, even if not as badly as Clinton has, he reduces his ability to show a distinction between Clinton and himself on character. If the desire was to highlight Romney’s inconsistency, McCain also didn’t do himself any favors with an incomprehensible explanation of his own changing views on the Bush tax cuts.

Mike Huckabee again came across as being the best capable of arguing for his viewpoints, even when I disagree with him. I would never want him to be president, but if I had to spend time listening to any of them discussing their positions I’d go with Huckabee. For a guy who has expressed quite a few nutty ideas over the years he does manage to come across as the most articulate and sometimes even most rational of the bunch.

Obama Catching Up in National Polls

Obama has moved from a twenty-point deficit to within six points of Hillary Clinton in the latest Gallup daily tracking poll:

Barack Obama has now cut the gap with Hillary Clinton to 6 percentage points among Democrats nationally in the Gallup Poll Daily tracking three-day average, and interviewing conducted Tuesday night shows the gap between the two candidates is within a few points. Obama’s position has been strengthening on a day-by-day basis. As recently as Jan. 18-20, Clinton led Obama by 20 points. Today’s Gallup Poll Daily tracking is based on interviews conducted Jan. 27-29, all after Obama’s overwhelming victory in South Carolina on Saturday. Two out of the three nights interviewing were conducted after the high-visibility endorsement of Obama by Sen. Edward Kennedy and his niece Caroline Kennedy.

Tomorrow we’ll see the first effects of Edwards dropping out of the race. I think it is possible that Edwards’ twelve percent will break somewhat in Clinton’s favor, but it might not be enough to matter. Worst case scenario is probably eight percent to Clinton and four percent to Obama, and with this momentum Obama has a good shot of making up even more than four additional points.

A twenty point deficit would appear overwhelming if it had persisted. A single digit difference can change quite quickly. Considering how many voters in a primary change their minds at the last minute, and considering all the limitations in polling before a primary as opposed to a general election, things can go either way on Super Tuesday. Momentum is definitely in Obama’s favor. The deciding factor in the race might be the manner in which Clinton turned to dishonest tactics. If Obama wins it will be largely due to his added support from the anti-Clinton backlash for their recent tactics, which includes the Kennedy endorsements. This will probably also result in a higher percentage of Edwards supporters moving to Obama than would otherwise be the case. Resorting to a dishonest campaign might have doomed Clinton, but this assumes that Clinton would have still have won New Hampshire without the dishonest mailers about Obama’s positions. It is also possible that if Clinton hadn’t gotten dirty Obama would have won Iowa plus New Hampshire, and go on to totally dominate the race.In most years we are approaching the time when the insurgent candidate would start falling behind the establishment candidate. This year Obama has a number of advantages which previous insurgent candidates have not. Often it is the more educated Democrats against the bulk of the party. At the very least Obama adds the black votes to those who would otherwise vote for the insurgent. Clinton has a number of negatives which might make her less unbeatable than most establishment candidates. The support of people like Kennedy and Kerry also help Obama pick up many more core Democratic voters who would normally support the establishment front runner.

I suspect that things are now close enough that the tracking polls won’t pick up the exact vote and we will have to wait until Tuesday night to know how things will turn out. All the conventional wisdom about the race could be totally changed at that time. Mathematically it won’t be possible for one candidate to win the nomination on Super Tuesday, but we may or may not have a clear leader. If we see a number of 51% to 49% victories the race will remain tight. If one of the candidates should win the bulk of the states by substantial margins the winner will be hard to stop. At this point anything can happen.

Obama Takes on Bush/McCain/Clinton All At Once

Matthew Yglesias presents a portion of Obama’s speech in Denver:

It’s time for new leadership that understands that the way to win a debate with John McCain is not by nominating someone who agreed with him on voting for the war in Iraq; who agreed with him by voting to give George Bush the benefit of the doubt on Iran; who agrees with him in embracing the Bush-Cheney policy of not talking to leaders we don’t like; and who actually differed with him by arguing for exceptions for torture before changing positions when the politics of the moment changed.

We need to offer the American people a clear contrast on national security, and when I am the nominee of the Democratic Party, that’s exactly what I will do. Talking tough and tallying up your years in Washington is no substitute for judgment, and courage, and clear plans. It’s not enough to say you’ll be ready from Day One – you have to be right from Day One.

This is excellent, and what we will need to continue hearing between now and Super Tuesday. Obama shows how he will differentiate himself from John McCain by showing both how he is different from Hillary Clinton, as well as showing how Hillary Clinton represents just a continuation of the Bush/Clinton Dynasty.

One place where the conventional wisdom and most pundits got it wrong this year is in claiming there is not much difference between the Democratic candidates. There is a tremendous difference between Obama and Clinton. Alex Knapp, in commenting on the same speech, gets it right:

Now that Edwards is out of the race and John McCain is the GOP frontrunner, one of Obama’s great strengths in the campaign is his foreign policy positions. Bush’s foreign policy has become rather unpopular, and the fact of the matter is that McCain’s foreign policy is Bush-plus (Bush isn’t hawkish enough for him), and Hillary Clinton’s, frankly, isn’t much different–especially if we judge by her campaign advisors, her Senate voting record, and her husband’s record while in office.

It’s worth noting that while it’s a fashion among the punditocracy that there’s “hardly any policy difference” between Clinton and Obama, that isn’t exactly the case. True, large portions of their domestic economic policies are similar, but on crucial issues like civil liberties and foreign policy, there are important differences. Unfortunately, these aren’t exactly covered well by the media. Or at all.

If McCain is the Republican nominee he has an excellent chance to beat Clinton on both experience and integrity. Whether or not it is true, the race will pit the straight talker McCain versus Hillary Clinton, who has been widely branded as a liar and cheat by even her own party. By adopting a variety of dishonest tactics, and showing her true colors, Clinton saved herself from certain defeat for the nomination but might have made a general election victory unobtainable for her. Even without losing on the character issue, Clinton has far less to offer voters who desire a change in course than Obama does.

Update: Via Memeorandum I find that Pamela at The Democratic Daily cites this speech as a some sort of evidence that Obama is engaging in the politics of personal destruction. Such Clinton supporters frequently attempt to create a false equivalency between criticism of a candidate on issues and principles as Obama has done and outright lying about the opponent’s position and race baiting like the Clinton campaign.

In answer to the question she poses to Senator Kennedy, there are significant differences here between Obama and the Clintons. This is why Kennedy decided to get off the side lines, and why so many honest Democrats have been outraged by Clinton’s tactics. As Alex Knapp also said about today’s speech, “I think that this is an excellent attack, both in the fact that its substantive and there’s nothing really unfair about it.”

Pamela also repeats the other common Clinton talking point that “Obama speaks in platitudes on the issues, Hillary Clinton offers a clear, substantive vision of her plans for the future of our nation.” Obama does speak more in poetry than verse in such campaign events, but he has also laid out detailed plans as to what he would do. One major difference between Obama and Clinton comes down to judgment. From Iraq to health care to her various nanny state ideas, Clinton has a history of displaying poor judgment. She’s a self-professed government junkie who doesn’t understand the limits of government power as Obama does. It is also significant that Clinton supporters see Obama’s speeches as “platitudes” rather than principles. It is the easy abandonment of principles for political expediency which characterizes the Clintons and is why it is time for an end to the Bush/Clinton dynasty.

Edwards Quits Race, Possibly Giving Clinton a Needed Boost

Just when Obama appeared to have all the momentum going into Super Tuesday there has been another game changer which might work to Clinton’s advantage. John Edwards has dropped out of the race. He is not currently endorsing either of the candidates, leaving some question as to who this helps more.

Among conservative bloggers there appears to be a consensus that this helps Obama. Ed Morrissey sums up this viewpoint:

Edwards has until now split the Hillary opposition with Barack Obama. His departure provides a single point of focus for those who resent the Clinton influence within the party — a faction that has grown, undoubtedly, after the nasty and mean-spirited campaigning of Bill Clinton over the last month. Democratic pundits and politicians alike have raised their voices against the Restoration, and now Obama personifies the opportunity to prevent it.

Edwards essentially has taken himself out of the middleman role. Hillary now has to contend with Obama by herself, with no one to run interference for her, on the eve of the closest thing we’ve ever had to a national primary. This could very well be the tipping point for the Clintons.

Gaius also leans towards a similar view, even questioning if his supporters would go with Clinton if Edwards were to ultimately endorse her. The analysis of Democratic voters as being primarily for or against Clinton is the strongest argument that this will help Obama, and he will certainly pick up some support.

Obama will pick up more of the intellectual and better educated voters, and I suspect that more pro-Edwards bloggers will move to Obama than Clinton. Those who view the election in more abstract terms as being about “change” are hardly going to vote for Clinton.

The situation is different among the actual voters. Clinton and Edwards are both vying for the same downscale Democratic vote. They both appeal more to the “gimme” vote, or those who ask “what can my country do for me?” I’ve seen compelling arguments that Obama’s proposals would do more for poverty and the lower middle class than those of either Edwards or Clinton, but it is Edwards and Clinton who have been most effective at pandering appealing to such voters. We will have to see how Obama now responds to the challenge of appealing to Edwards voters.

The absence of Edwards from the race is also significant following the race baiting tactics of the Clintons. As seen in South Carolina, many of the voters who Clinton was successful in keeping from voting for a black candidate wound up going to Edwards as opposed to Clinton. It is not clear what they will do now.

The effect of Edwards’ departure from the race will vary among different types of voters, and the net effect could vary from state to state. On the whole I believe this will help Clinton more, but it might not be enough to change the results. The momentum is moving in Obama’s direction and it remains questionable if Clinton will pick up enough voters from Edwards to counteract this momentum as well as the backlash which is developing over her unethical tactics.

If nothing else, this change makes a primary battle which was already interesting even more so going into Super Tuesday, which does have the potential to settle the nomination in a two way race. Thursday’s debate now becomes a one on one event which might have significant impact going into the closest thing we have to a national primary. Both Clinton and Obama will be looking at appealing to Edwards supporters, the delegates Edwards has accumulated, and Edwards himself. Edwards has suggested that Obama is closest to his view of change, but his endorsement will come down to who offers more in return. An endorsement from Edwards would help either candidate, but the other factors I’ve discussed might remain more important in determining the future votes of many Edwards supporters.

The Biggest Losers Out of Florida: Rudy Giuliani and Hillary Clinton

The good news for Rudy Giuliani is that he was finally able to soundly beat Ron Paul. The bad news is that he came in a distant third place and will be leaving the race to endorse John McCain. At this point McCain is looking very hard to beat, and we will probably know for sure if he’s unstoppable next week. Unless the anti-McCain conservatives can quickly and effectively unite around Romney there’s no stopping McCain. Complicating matters, Huckabee will continue to draw the support of a large share of the social conservatives, reducing potential conservative voters for Romney. Further complicating the issue is that conservatives have good reason to doubt Romney’s commitment to their views.

The good news for Hillary Clinton is that she won. The bad news is that this is a Pyrrhic victory which highlights her growing problems. In terms of delegates, Clinton ties Obama, Edwards, and even Gravel at zero. By celebrating a victory Clinton highlights how she has broken the spirit of the pledges made by the Democratic candidates not to campaign in Florida. As The New Hampshire Union Leader wrote on Tuesday:

Clinton coldly and knowingly lied to New Hampshire and Iowa. Her promise was not a vague statement. It was a signed pledge with a clear and unequivocal meaning.

She signed it thinking that keeping the other candidates out of Michigan and Florida was to her advantage, but knowing she would break it if that proved beneficial later on. It did, and she did.

Clinton has lost a lot of credibility for zero delegates. She might manage to get the delegates at the convention, but if she squeaks by with a stolen victory in this manner she will have a hard time getting enough Democrats out to vote for her to win a general election.

An initial review of the results also highlights Clinton’s growing weaknesses. There was a disproportionate number of women and elderly voters compared to earlier primaries, suggesting that Clinton supporters were more likely to turn out. The Democratic vote was 59% female and 41% male. Greater turnout by Clinton supporters is hardly surprising considering that she was doing the most to appeal for votes in the state.

Clinton’s base remains women and the elderly, except those who are educated. Having Ted Kennedy campaigning should help Obama pick up votes among the elderly, the core Democratic voters, Latinos, and even some working class women. Obama picks up the young, the educated, blacks, and more independent minded Democratic voters on his own. Obama beat Clinton among voters who decided who to vote for in the past week, further showing who has the momentum.

Having John McCain as the likely opponent can also hurt Clinton among Democrats who are choosing based upon electability. McCain negates Clinton’s strengths. If Clinton wants to run based upon experience, McCain has her beat. McCain will be portrayed as the straight talker, running against a candidate who has been widely and accurately branded as a liar and a cheat by members of her own party. McCain has the support of many independents while Clinton’s support is limited to hard core Democrats, potentially reducing her constituency to those who voted Democratic during the party’s losing years.

Clinton offers nothing to inspire very many people to get out to vote for her over John McCain. Both supported the war. Neither is particularly strong on social issues or civil liberties from a liberal perspective, but neither is as awful as the current president. A government junkie like Clinton who has been a strong backer of presidential power and nanny state regulations is hardly going to expand her appeal. It’s really hard to find reasons why it is even worth the wear and tear on my shoes to get out to vote for Hillary Clinton and extend the Clinton/Bush dynasty for yet another four years.

Obama is the only Democrat who can take on John McCain. Obama has shown the ability to not only receive the support of the young, but the ability to get them out to vote, negating McCain’s advantage of strong support among the elderly. Obama, but not Clinton, can challenge McCain on his support for the war, providing a reason to ignore McCain’s greater experience. Obama, but not Clinton, can frame the election as a choice of looking towards the future instead of the past.

Is This “No More Rudy” Tuesday?

The Republican primary in Florida is playing a major role in their nomination battle. After a period in which a different candidate appeared to be winning every week, the race now appears to be down to McCain vs. Romney. Fred Thompson and Duncan Hunter have dropped out, with Hunter endorsing Huckabee. Huckabee appears to have a ceiling on his support which will keep him from winning the nomination. Rudy Giuliani’s strategy was to use a win in Florida to propel him to victories on Super Tuesday.

The problem with Rudy’s strategy is that candidates who do not win early are generally not taken seriously in the subsequent contests. Wesley Clark might have doomed his 2004 campaign from the start by not entering into the Iowa caucus. This year Giuliani’s support has gradually eroded, with the final polls showing him in a distant third place. He’s in a tight battle for third with Huckabee, but at least he appears to be on the way to a rare victory over Ron Paul.

Giuliani has predicted that the winner of today’s primary will win the Republican nomination and hinted he might drop out if he doesn’t wn. He might be right about the importance of Florida, especially if McCain or Romney is able to achieve a decisive victory over the other which provides a bounce for next week. Today’s primary, along with big states on Super Tuesday, are winner take all events. Even a string of narrow victories could give one candidate an insurmountable lead in delegates.

With the entire race possibly depending upon today’s results, the race between McCain and Romney became more heated. It even resembled the Democratic race in one respect. McCain pulled a Clinton in distorting Romney’s position, similar to the manner in which Clinton has been distorting many of Obama’s positions in her attacks. McCain distorted an answer from Romney in an interview from last April to claim that Romney supported a deadline to get out of Iraq.

Many conservatives have become upset with McCain for this tactic, similar to how many Democrats have protested the smear campaign launched by the Clintons. I wonder if this could be the start of a trend away from acceptance of this type of campaigning. The real test will be to see if this tactic can be kept out of the general election when there aren’t members of one’s own party who are as likely to be offended. In this case it was particularly strange for McCain to resort to this type of dishonesty. I wouldn’t think McCain would have much difficulty blowing out Romney in a debate over foreign policy. Sure, McCain is crazy to call for remaining in Iraq for one hundred years, but this is a debate before a Republican audience. If Giuliani is really knocked out after today, it is also possible McCain will benefit further from Republicans voters who are concentrating on their view of national security.

The Pettiness of Clinton Supporters

The pettiness of the Clinton supporters continues. In December the Clinton campaign attacked Obama based upon papers written in kindergarten and third grade. Some Clinton supporters responded to the endorsement of Obama by Caroline and Ted Kennedy by trashing JFK. The New York Chapter of NOW declared Senator Kennedy’s endorsement was the ultimate betrayal in an absurd statement which suggests that it is sexist to oppose a woman candidate regardless of the comparative merits of the candidates. To bring things into perspective, I would replay this video in which Lorna Brett Howard, the former President of Chicago NOW (National Organization of Women) discusses how she changed her support from Clinton to Obama after finding that Clinton was sending out mailers lying about Obama’s position on choice:


I have also posted two additional videos by Lorna Brett Howard which discuss how Obama has been a a critical advocate in the fight to preserve choice. She also states how Obama is one hundred percent pro-choice and one hundred percent honest.

Last night Clinton supporters came up with another ridiculous attack as they allege that Obama snubbed Clinton during the State of the Union when apparently there was no snub intended:

Obama chief strato-man Axelrod said The Snub wasn’t a snub, but simply a matter of Obama dealing with the “awkwardness” of the day and wanting to give Kennedy and Clinton a private moment.

Even if there was a snub, it wouldn’t be totally unexpected that Obama wouldn’t feel very comfortable around someone who has been repeatedly lying about his statements and record. This is hardly the basis for deciding upon a president. Besides, Obama has experienced being snubbed by Clinton in the past, as noted in this news report from last August:

The relationship began to change, according to several Democrats who are friendly to both senators, when Mr. Obama began musing aloud about a presidential bid. The day he opened his exploratory committee, several Senate observers said, he extended his hand and said hello on the Senate floor. She breezed by him, offering a cool stare.

It appears that it is only Hillary Clinton that Obama does not get along with well. In a discussion of whether Richardson will endorse one of the remaining candidates this story is told of how Obama saved Richardson at one of the debates:

“I had just been asked a question — I don’t remember which one — and Obama was sitting right next to me. Then the moderator went across the room, I think to Chris Dodd, so I thought I was home free for a while. I wasn’t going to listen to the next question. I was about to say something to Obama when the moderator turned to me and said, ‘So, Gov. Richardson, what do you think of that?’ But I wasn’t paying any attention! I was about to say, ‘Could you repeat the question? I wasn’t listening.’ But I wasn’t about to say I wasn’t listening. I looked at Obama. I was just horrified. And Obama whispered, ‘Katrina. Katrina.’ The question was on Katrina! So I said, ‘On Katrina, my policy . . .’ Obama could have just thrown me under the bus. So I said, ‘Obama, that was good of you to do that.'”

Richardson says that if he does endorse one of the candidates he will have his answer by the end of the week. The question is whether he will ignore his history with the Clintons in making an endorsement. He leaves his endorsement open in saying:

“If I do endorse, it’s going to be a gut feeling. It’s not going to be about statistics, about past ties,” Richardson said. “I’ve been on the campaign trail with both of them. I feel that I know them. I feel I know the issues. I feel I know what makes them both tick.”

Hillary Clinton Continues To Defy Party in Florida


Hillary Clinton continues to defy the agreements not to campaign in Michigan and Florida after the two states broke party rules by moving up their primaries. Clinton left her name on the Michigan ballot after other candidates including Obama and Richardson had their names removed. She has been claiming a victory despite running unopposed, and has been seeking to have the delegates seated despite. Clinton has repeatedly been making public statements to court the Florida vote and will be appearing at a fund raiser in Florida tonight. Signs promoting Clinton such as the one above are appearing in the state.

It is possible Clinton isn’t breaking the letter of the agreement but she is certainly breaking the spirit of the agreement. Clinton fails to realize that character has become a major issue in this election. Americans are getting tired of political leaders who skirt the rules in such manners.

As with the dishonesty seen in many of her recent statements, this type of action raises the question of how she would behave if elected president. We have experienced a president who also takes liberties with the truth and pushes to increase presidential power at every opportunity. Hillary Clinton might sincerely she is acting to do good, but I fear that she will be unable to resist using, and even expanding upon, the increased powers available to the next president. We need a president who can be trusted to resist these temptations and play entirely within the rules.

Obama Picks Up Support of Super Delegate

Despite Hillary Clinton’s attempts to play fast and loose with party rules regarding the Florida primary, it is Barack Obama who is picking up a delegate today. U.S. Rep. Raul Grijalva of Arizona, a super delegate previously backing Edwards, is shifting to Obama:

Grijalva cited Obama’s electability and his intention to “fundamentally change the rules of the game” in Washington, according to a statement obtained by The Associated Press in advance of a planned Tuesday conference call with reporters.L

The third-term congressman, whose southern Arizona district includes Yuma and parts of Tucson, is the second prominent Arizona Democrat to endorse Obama in the immediate run-up to the state’s Feb. 5 presidential primary.

Gov. Janet Napolitano endorsed Obama on Jan. 11 after being courted by Obama and rival Hillary Rodham Clinton. Since then, Napolitano has campaigned for Obama in Arizona, Colorado, Nevada and New Mexico.

Clinton has led Obama and Edwards in the first of two recent polls but the margin between Clinton and Obama decreased in the second.

Grijalva had endorsed Edwards on May 3, saying the former senator from North Carolina “has shown principled leadership on the way in Iraq and on economic opportunity in America.”

In the statement explaining his switch to Obama, Grijalva said it “was not a repudiation of Senator Edwards, rather the understanding that Senator Barack Obama is the future.”

“The best opportunity to win in November rests with Senator Obama,” Grijalva added. “I am proud to support Senator Obama as we move forward toward the nomination. This election is not merely about moving the pieces around in Washington D.C., but to fundamentally change the rules of the game. I am proud to help Senator Obama work toward that change.”

While Obama has won the most committed delegates in the primaries and caucuses to date, Clinton has a lead when the preferences of super delegates are included in the count. This shift demonstrates that early support from a super delegate does not ensure a vote at the convention. Clinton received more support from super delegates early, when she appeared to be the inevitable winner. With momentum moving in Obama’s direction, and with many Democratic leaders upset by the tactics being used by the Clintons, I would not be surprised if more super delegates wind up backing Obama.