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April 2008
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Electoral College: New Mexico Flips to Obama

So just yesterday I talked about how there had been no good news for Obama in awhile in terms of these state by state contests. Well, of course as soon as I say such a thing, some good news comes in for Obama. However, it isn’t because of new information per se, but because I know know more about the past as it were. Pollster.com added a new New Mexico Chart which included a couple polls that I did not have yet, although they were not the most recent polls. They did however change my “last five polls” average. In this case New Mexico moved from “Leans McCain” all the way to “Weak Obama”. This changes several of the summary numbers.

Current Summary:

McCain Best Case – McCain 335, Obama 203
Obama Best Case – Obama 342, McCain 196

And if everybody gets their leans (and Obama gets DC) – McCain 278, Obama 260

Still extremely close. Even as we’ve had states slip out of the “leaning” category to go to one side or another, the range remains pretty well centered on the win line. Nice even unpredictable split.

A Little Here, A Little There

Two more superdelegates for Clinton.

Two more superdelegates for Obama.

Unforced Error

We’ve talked a bit on Curmudgeon’s Corner about how given the math, Hillary’s main path to a victory centers around just waiting around and hoping Obama stumbles and falls. This thing yesterday is exactly the kind of thing that should have both Hillary and McCain jumping up and down with glee.

You go into some of these small towns in Pennsylvania, and like a lot of small towns in the Midwest … they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.

— Barack Obama, 6 Apr 2008

Note the “…” of course. This is a small bit of a much larger statement. And in context what he says makes sense as part of a larger semi-academic analysis of why certain voters tend to prefer to vote on “values issues” even when it appears to go against their direct economic interests. Of course, even with the FULL CONTEXT the statement will rub a lot of people the wrong way, and offend many others. Let alone when you take just the little bit above with no context what so ever. People are already having a field day with it.

And guess which people are the most likely to have issues with this sort of statement? Well, of course those on the right that would never consider Obama anyway, but also those independants or center-right democrats that might consider an Obama, but right now are pretty uncertain about him. Many of those folks may be Hillary voters right now, or if they were not on Thursday, they are now. And guess what, there are a bunch of these kind of voters in some states, like say… Pennsylvania!

You know, I’m starting to get Ron Paul flashbacks here. I mean, I know part of the appeal is being straightforward and saying what you really think without being overly political or pulling punches or doing that say what the audience wants to hear thing… but there is certainly a time to just SHUT THE HELL UP and not say things that will get your opponants all riled up and push the folks on the fence AWAY from you.

Sigh.

Anyway, one good set of comments on this whole hoopla is here:

Obama’s “Gaffe:” Some Perspective
(Mark Ambinder, The Atlantic)

There is some truth to this. Even John McCain has expressed a similar sentiment about immigration politics.

But the perilous words for Obama are “bitter,” “cling to,” “guns” and “religion.” Those disinclined to put themselves in Obama’s head will read the sentences and see Obama dismissing both religion and American gun culture the opiates of the masses and suggesting that their faith and lifestyle are the product of their bitterness. Voters may believe that one’s position on cultural issues is a better reflection of their inner values than one’s position on economics.

The elite media and most Democrats will say… “yeah.. .So? Obama is simply describing world as we know it.” His opponents and people who are inclined to view Obama as an elitist will say, “he is dismissing the culture and religion of working class whites.”

Despite his working class upbringing, Obama’s hyperconfidence sometimes translates as holier-than-thou, elitist, aristocratic, Dukakis-esque. Republicans know that these attributes aren’t popular in middle America, so they will use every opportunity to remind independents and moderates about them.

There are tons of comments around on these comments and their potential effects, this is one of the first I saw that seemed to give somewhat of a real analysis rather than just “Gotcha!” posts from the right side of the blogosphere. :-) Of course, I’ve been doing some other things, so I’m about 23 hours behind in Google Reader right now, so I’m sure a ton more has been said by now. :-)

Oh yeah, to be clear, I don’t think this one thing is a campaign killer or anything. It is recoverable. It is just the sort of shooting yourself in the foot that is completely unnecessary. And several of these in a row could be a big problem. But Obama SHOULD be able to recover from this one. But he has been “catching up” in PA, and this may stop that trend.

(Edit on 13 Apr 2008: Corrected the date of the Obama quote from the 11th to the 6th. It happened earlier, just didn’t hit the blogosphere until the 11th.)