Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Deja Vu All Over Again

Stop me if you've heard this one before. Clinton had a huge early lead in the state. As the election approached, Obama made big gains and narrowed the gap. The occasional poll showed him in the lead even (but those polls were universally outliers). On election day blacks vote heavily for Obama, women for Clinton, new voters for Obama, late deciders for Clinton. When all is said and done Clinton walks away with the victory by a bigger margin than most polls had indicated she would. Sound familiar?

History (at least as it relates to this election) played itself out again yesterday in Pennsylvania with Clinton again winning. This time by 10 percentage points. (That's squarely in the middle of the 8 - 12 point margin I fearlessly predicted earlier.)

As Obama points out, 10 points is a huge improvement over the 25 he was trailing Clinton just a few weeks ago. In fact, immediately after the Ohio and Texas primaries I remember him saying that anything less than 10 points would pretty much be a victory for his campaign. As the election approached, the pundits seemed to agree that a high single digit margin for Clinton would be a draw, less would be a win for Obama, more would be a win for Clinton. Thus, last night's 10 point loss puts the result in the draw shading toward win for Clinton column.

What Obama failed to achieve last night was a result that fell within the Margin of Plausible Victory (MPV). That's the realm in which, while not actually winning the state, a candidate can plausibly claim to have won anyway. To use a sports metaphor, it's like beating the spread. The pundits will probably end up spinning last night at a draw with Clinton spinning one way and Obama spinning the other way. But in the end, last night showed yet again that Obama is simply not able to score a decisive victory on Clinton when it matters. And that's just going to keep this race going longer and longer.

P.S. Speaking of not being able to get a victory when it matters, the Phoenix Suns lost to the San Antonio Spurs last night again. The Spurs always beat the Suns and I hate them. Between Obama and the Suns last night was pretty grim for me.

No comments: