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.