The Momentum Question

I have long argued that the primary seems to be more about delegate counts than momentum:

With both campaigns digging in for the long haul and the media switching its focus to delegate counts, wins in South Carolina and Florida will mean less. Super Tuesday may easily even out the counts, keeping the primary alive well into the spring.

So far, it seems this has come to pass. According to MyDD's delegate counter, Obama is leading Clinton by 3 delegates (or Clinton is leading Obama by about 70 delegates if you count MI and FL). The margins are extremely tight, the polls remain close, and because of the way delegates are given out, it is unlikely we'll see anyone reach that 2000-odd delegate threshold needed to tie up the nomination before the convention.

This, to me, means momentum doesn't exist in this race. My roommate and fellow blogger Alex Thurston disagrees.

To paraphrase a discussion we've been having for about two weeks now, he feels you can't count out the power of media narratives and individual emotions just yet. To reduce the primary down to a discussion of numbers, polls, and proportionally apportioned delegates unnecessarily takes the human equation out of the picture. Even though Barack Obama may not tie up the nomination definitively, if he keeps racking up wins in the primaries - no matter how slim those wins are - they could affect later races and eventually power him to the nomination. Additionally, the combination of high-profile endorsements for Obama and a string of primary victories could create strong pressure for Clinton to drop out before the convention.

I disagree. To me, the term momentum has a very specific definition. A candidate can only be considered to have momentum if they either a) rack up a series of wins that puts them over the 2000-odd delegate threshold or b) win so conclusively without getting 2000-odd delegates that the other candidates in the race drop out. Because neither seems likely to happen - as discussed above, a mathematical win seems highly unlikely given the polling and Clinton doesn't seem like the type to drop out given these margins - I argue that momentum simply doesn't exist in this race. At this point, I only see two ways the primary ends before the convention: a) One candidate offers the other a deal, or b) someone runs out of money.

In discussions with Alex, I have conceded that perhaps I'm being too harsh. If Barack wins a state by 1%, that still is a victory, and it still does contribute to a national feeling of momentum. So, I'll to say that while momentum may exist, it doesn't matter that it exists. (How's that for semantics?)

I'm prepared to eat my words, however. If Obama keeps winning states, and if he wins them by decent margins, you just might see the momentum needed to force the issue before we all get to Denver. With his tight lead in Wisconsin and close race in Texas, anything can happen. And if super delegates keep moving from Clinton to Obama, well...

Still, nationally, it's clear Democrats are a party divided. Clinton would have to be a fool of a politician to drop out when she still had half of of Democrats lined up behind her, no matter if she's winning primaries or not. As long as those numbers hold, I'll stand by my "no momentum" theory.

Feel free to take sides in this little debate. Does momentum exist? If it does, does it even matter?

Tags: 2008 elections, Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, momentum (all tags)

Comments

81 Comments

Re: The Momentum Question

Just FYI, Obama is leading Clinton by a lot more than 3 delegates. Don't go by the myDD counter.

by beanbagz 2008-02-16 11:55AM | 0 recs
Re: The Momentum Question

Agreed.  Jerome is counting SDs which is a mistake in my opinion... since they are fluid, I'm with Chris... don't count them until after the primaries.  

Even WITH the SDs, its off of Demconwatch's numbers which are...

1270-1213 without FL and MI
1321-1405 Clinton leading with FL and MI.

Without SDs, Obama leads either...

With FL and MI he is up 22 pledged delegates, and thats with all the uncommitteds still uncommitted.

Without FL and MI he is up 133 PDs.

by yitbos96bb 2008-02-16 12:01PM | 0 recs
The overall point is

The delegate count is close no matter how you cut it.

by J Ro 2008-02-16 12:06PM | 0 recs
Actually

There's a huge difference between Obama being ahead by 100 and by 3. If he were really only ahead by 3, there'd be a completely different dynamic at play, with Clinton heavily favored for the nomination due to her strengths in the upcoming states.

by animated 2008-02-16 12:10PM | 0 recs
Re: Actually

I guess. I don't buy it. A 100 delegate lead, while objectively more significant than a 3 delegate lead, is still less than 1% of the pledged delegates so far. Statistically, it means little.

by J Ro 2008-02-16 12:12PM | 0 recs
Re: Actually

Less than 1%? Really? There are over 10,000 delegates?

by beanbagz 2008-02-16 12:15PM | 0 recs
Re: Actually

Ugh. Bad math. So, a hundred delegate lead out of the 2000 or so already pledged works out to...5%.

by J Ro 2008-02-16 12:18PM | 0 recs
Re: Actually

And his pledged lead is actually around 140, so it's more like 7%. It isn't a huge lead, admittedly, but it is very difficult to overcome with the delegates that remain outstanding.

by beanbagz 2008-02-16 12:21PM | 0 recs
Re: Actually

Precisely.

by crackerdog 2008-02-16 12:31PM | 0 recs
Re: Actually

What percentage of the total delegates it is isn't really relevant.

The only thing that matters is how difficult it is to overcome Obama's lead, based on the outcomes of the remaining contests. Given the proportional nature of things, and the fact that he is likely to still win a number of states, it will be challenging for Clinton to surpass him even if she does win Ohio, Texas, and Penn. Whereas if she really did have a 3 point lead at this point, the advantage would clearly be hers.

by animated 2008-02-16 12:25PM | 0 recs
Re: The Momentum Question

Just so I'm clear here, how do you count the MI delegates?

Do you give none of the delegates to Obama?  Half the uncommitted?  What?

by TL 2008-02-16 06:42PM | 0 recs
Bill's financial deals - Hillary's politics

I arrived in the US at the height of the primary season, just three days after New York's. At every dinner party or other gathering I attended in the past week, all of them with white, educated professionals, the majority around the table was invariably for Obama. Clinton supporters were shouted down, the distaste many Obamaites feel for her being transferred to anyone who voted for her. Not only is it not cool to be for Clinton, it is portrayed as being old-fashioned, corrupt even. And this is in New York, her home state, and the city that is supposedly her power base.

http://www.smh.com.au/news/us-election/i t-seems-only-luck-can-save-her/2008/02/1 5/1202760599966.html

excerpt

Not so long ago, Bill was seen as Hillary's secret weapon. Now, he is the person who can bring her down - and perhaps already has. It is not just the fear of another "bimbo eruption" - although the Republicans are said to have six of them waiting in the wings - nor his red-faced, finger-jabbing outbursts of anger that have reminded the media of how much they hate him, nor his appearing to play the race card in the South Carolina primary.

No, the turning point for many people I have spoken to was the disclosure in The New York Times on January 31 of what has become known as the "Kazakhstan deal".

The article reported a questionable deal involving a $US131.3 million ($145.6 million) donation to Bill Clinton's charitable foundation from a Canadian mining magnate whom Clinton accompanied to Kazakhstan in late 2005. They dined with the President, secured the rights to the nation's substantial uranium deposits in a multimillion-dollar transaction that stunned the global nuclear industry, and thereafter Bill Clinton backed the Kazakh President to head an international organisation that monitors elections and supports democracy.

The trouble was, apart from the cosy financial deal and the eye-popping fee for Bill, that the endorsement went against US foreign policy, which has criticised Kazakhstan's poor human rights record, a policy that has been supported by Hillary Clinton.

It was not the first time that a financial deal of Bill's has been at odds with Hillary's political work.

In 2004, Bill was a paid adviser to Dubai on how to handle the political uproar that followed a Dubai company trying to take over a number of American ports. Again, Senator Clinton opposed the deal and, on national security grounds, helped kill it.

Not a good look when you are running for president. Billary was always problematic, but it is now a liability.

Just a few weeks ago, Hillary Clinton was the presumptive candidate. She seemed unbeatable, with her huge war chest and her political pedigree.

Now that dream is in tatters. She needs big wins in Texas, Ohio and Pennsylvania just to stay in the race. She was relying on her 50/50 strategy (women over 50, people earning less than $50,000) to get them, but even these groups are now "catching the fire", as going over to Obama is called.

Obama is acting as if he has already won, no longer even engaging Clinton but directing his political fire at McCain.

History may have already passed Clinton by. She will need all the luck that's around to save her now.

The trouble was, apart from the cosy financial deal and the eye-popping fee for Bill, that the endorsement went against US foreign policy, which has criticised Kazakhstan's poor human rights record, a policy that has been supported by Hillary Clinton.

It was not the first time that a financial deal of Bill's has been at odds with Hillary's political work.

In 2004, Bill was a paid adviser to Dubai on how to handle the political uproar that followed a Dubai company trying to take over a number of American ports. Again, Senator Clinton opposed the deal and, on national security grounds, helped kill it.

Not a good look when you are running for president. Billary was always problematic, but it is now a liability.

by dearreader 2008-02-16 12:31PM | 0 recs
Re: Bill's financial deals - Hillary's politics

One could equally post a long excerpt from a very glowing article about how much Bill has helped Hillary.  

by Larissa 2008-02-16 02:44PM | 0 recs
Re: The Momentum Question

I don't think momentum has existed in this race. People are voting for the candidate they want as President most of all, since both have had an equal chance of winning.

Now if Obama wins Wisconsin and one of the two big states coming up, I think we'll see momentum, but more likely Hillary dropping out of the race before that happens.

by Progressive America 2008-02-16 11:56AM | 0 recs
Re: The Momentum Question

Yeah, that's my basic argument. Lots of people are undecided, sure, but a very many have made up their mind and are voting their conscience, not what the media tells them,

by J Ro 2008-02-16 11:58AM | 0 recs
Re: The Momentum Question

Of course Obama has momentum.  With eight straight victories, it's silly to say that he doesn't.

The question is what happens after March 4.  Latest Rasmussen polls show Hillary leading by about 15 points in both Ohio and Texas.  If those margins hold, who will have momentum then?

by markjay 2008-02-16 11:57AM | 0 recs
Re: The Momentum Question

I guess this would go for my moderated view: momentum exists, it just doesn't matter too much.

by J Ro 2008-02-16 11:59AM | 0 recs
Re: The Momentum Question

Well the latest ARG has OBAMA up in Texas so there...

Seriously, I hate when people try to "prove" something with 1 polling outfit.  Either use the Pollster or RCP average.  But I would agree she is ahead in both states, although as has been show, Obama could win the delegate battle in Texas.

by yitbos96bb 2008-02-16 12:03PM | 0 recs
Re: The Momentum Question
Whenever an ARG poll predicts something, expect the opposite =)
Their polls showed the following winners:
Iowa: Clinton
New Hampshire: Obama
Michigan: McCain
South Carolina: Huckabee
Florida: Giuliani
by frankies 2008-02-16 12:26PM | 0 recs
Re: The Momentum Question

Yes, but Wisconsin if it goes to Obama will provide further momentum.  

If Hillary wins Wisconsin, then the momentum could be stunted.

The polls in TX & OH will tighten as he hits those states.

2 weeks and 2 states (forgetting for a moment RI & VT) is a lot better for Obama than 9 days & 22 states.

by swarty 2008-02-16 12:48PM | 0 recs
Re: The Momentum Question

Every time someone thinks they have momentum it seems that they don't. The primary has been momentumless imo.

by Ga6thDem 2008-02-16 11:57AM | 0 recs
Re: The Momentum Question

I agree that momentum does not matter if there are 1% margins -- in that case it's just a media narrative. On the other hand, Obama's recent wins have been by big margins, like 2 to 1. Those indicate that the later races might break more in Obama's favor than current polling would suggest.

Of course it's not over until one candidate has a convincing delegate lead.

by Mark Wallace 2008-02-16 11:59AM | 0 recs
I think

momentum does exist but it goes back and forth and also can diminish.

Off topic...

Could I get some support for a Hillary Clinton diary at Dkos?
http://www.dailykos.com/story/2008/2/16/ 164511/925/467/458194

by kevin22262 2008-02-16 12:00PM | 0 recs
Re: I think

I didn't know there was such a thing as a pro-Hillary diary on Daily Kos!  The last time I was there was Super Tuesday - Kos wrote off Hillary quite dismissively - he said it was all over, she had no chance of ever winning, world without end, amen.

by Larissa 2008-02-16 02:29PM | 0 recs
Re: The Momentum Question

According to the Gallup tracking poll, Obama is pulling ahead in national numbers, now outside the margin of error http://www.gallup.com/poll/104383/Gallup -Daily-Tracking-Election-2008.aspx

Senator Clinton is leaving Wisconsin a day early, on Monday morning, thereby implying that she doesn't believe she can win the state.  http://www.jsonline.com/watch/?watch=1&a mp;date=2/16/2008&id=35716

It seems to me that there's no some real momentum, which will hurt Clinton's ability to win enough delegates in OH and TX to make any real difference.
This is particularly true as Clinton loses superdelegates and Obama gains them -- Obama is +18 on superdelegates this week.

by mainelib 2008-02-16 12:07PM | 0 recs
Re: The Momentum Question

What I meant was that CLINTON has no real momentum.

 So if Clinton supporters are waiting for momentum to switch, it sure doesn't look like that is happening...esp as Obama is gaining in TX.
http://www.pollster.com/08-TX-Dem-Pres-P rimary.php

by mainelib 2008-02-16 12:38PM | 0 recs
Re: The Momentum Question

First of all, your point about slim margins is simply untrue. Since Super Tuesday, Obama hasn't won by less than 19 points. It's Hillary who squeaked out a fraction of a point win in New Mexico, and it's Obama who managed to keep some of her Feb. 5 states close enough that he still came out with a decent number of delegates.

Second, momentum does matter. Obama clearly had it going into New Hampshire, but was stopped. He got another good head of steam after South Carolina that enabled him to withstand Super Tuesday. We'll see if his current momentum is enough to put him over the top in Wisconsin and Hawaii.

That said, I do think this race is more about a state by state, district by district race for delegates than many past races. Demographics seem to play such a significant role that it kind of blunts the impact of momentum. She has her base of supporters, he has his, and the outcome seems to depend more than anything else on the characteristics of the electorate in each state. But Maryland and Virginia represented the first break from that basic pattern, so we'll see if continues...

by dmc2 2008-02-16 12:07PM | 0 recs
Re: The Momentum Question

The point about the big wins since Super Tuesday are good ones, but of course, even say a 5 point win by Hillary in Texas could erase those gains delegate wise.

by J Ro 2008-02-16 12:13PM | 0 recs
Re: The Momentum Question

Apparently not, because several analysts are predicting that even if Hillary wins the popular vote in Texas, Obama will come out with more delegates because of the local delegate allocation scenarios.

by dmc2 2008-02-16 12:17PM | 0 recs
Re: True

Howmany extra delegates is a 55/45 win?

by poserM 2008-02-16 12:32PM | 0 recs
Re: True

Single digits in all likelihood. It cuts both ways; when Obama wins Texas, as is likely, he won't gain many delegates from it.

The idea that you can ignore the little states and make it up in big ones is based on a false comparison with the general election. In the primary, the math of it never made sense. In terms of delegates, Washington + Virgina = Texas. Read that sentence again. The number of delegates is the same.

This is why the big state strategy never made sense.  Ohio and Texas put together do not have as many delegates as the contests of the last two weeks, and even if Clinton wins both states, it won't be by the margins Obama has been winning by (18 to 80 percent).

by EMTP democrat 2008-02-16 01:10PM | 0 recs
Re: The Momentum Question

Considering that just weeks before Super Tuesday, Obama was double digits behind Hillary and managed to not only pull even with her by Super Tuesday, but win more delegates, then continued winning by bigger and bigger margins and now leads in national polling by about 7 points, I'd say Obama started nearly 20 points behind and has steadily and continually rose to the lead. I'm willing to bet that if Super Tuesday were held today, Obama would perform even better than he did on 2/5, because he has had steadily rising support, and that is, by definition - momentum.

by Reality Bites Back 2008-02-16 12:07PM | 0 recs
Re: The Momentum Question

Doesn't that just show that nearly all Edwards supporters hopped over to Obama?  I don't think a one-time event like that can be called momentum, but I could be wrong.

by frankies 2008-02-16 12:31PM | 0 recs
Re: The Momentum Question

Considering that Obama's rise has at this point been almost twice the total support Edwards had in the first place, I'd say yeah - I'm sure he got many of Edwards' supporters - and then some, and then some more. Surly a number of Edwards' supporters went for Hillary as well, but I think Obama's main increase is coming from the huge margin of undecideds leaning towards him. I also know a number of people who are leaving Hillary for Obama for a variety of reasons, not least of which down ballot considerations.

by Reality Bites Back 2008-02-16 04:56PM | 0 recs
Re: The Momentum Question

No momentum? Look at how quickly Obama closed the gap from 10 to 20 point deficits ACROSS THE COUNTRY to come out ahead on Super Tuesday.

A week before Super Tuesday, a lot of people including front-page bloggers on this site were saying they couldn't see him winning any more than IL and GA. And a week later, he walked away with more states and more delegates.

If that's not momentum, I don't know what is.

by animated 2008-02-16 12:13PM | 0 recs
Re: The Momentum Question

This is a key point. The retroactive narrative of Obama on Super Tuesday is that he under-performed.

The reality is that he went from a 20 and sometimes 30 point defecit almost across the board and managed to gain so significantly that he walked away with wins in states like Missouri, Connecticut, and Delaware. He kept things close enough in the big states and blew her out in states like Idaho and Georgia so much that he won the delegate race.

That is real momentum. If you want an even clearer picture just look at the trendlines for him nationally. It is a steady upward sweep while Clinton remains fairly even.

Finally, his running start at Ohio and Texas from 8 huge wins in a row may give him enough strength to contest one of those states. As the Clinton campaign admits, in obvious desperation, a loss in either of those states will spell the end of their campaign.

by beanbagz 2008-02-16 01:07PM | 0 recs
It's all perception

Fascinating question, and a very relevant one.  As I like to point out: Politics is marketing, marketing is perception, and perception is reality.

I think this momentum issue is analogous to asking what paper money is worth.  It's intrinsically almost valueless, but you can use it to obtain other things, but only at a rate determined by what other people think it's worth.

Obama has inarguably won a series of primaries.  Is this fact significant?  That's just as clearly a personal decision.  Some of our orange friends would say it's a Sure Sign of Impending Victory, while some of us would say the race is a virtual dead heat, Big Mo or not.

The question then becomes: How are voters who have yet to pull a lever or mark a box or whatever swayed by this would be momentum?  With a fair number of states yet to vote, I suspect it will have some effect as people climb aboard the Obama bus, and Clinton supporters refuse to concede.

The other big question is how much super delegates will be swayed.  I think it's clear that with Al Gore and other "party elders" pushing the SD's to remain quiet and let the people vote, that the possibility of a stampede toward Obama (by the SD's) fueled by the perception of momentum and genuine emotion has been largely eliminated.  Sure, some will still want to jump on the Obama bus, but many more, I hope, will vote with the voters.  Whether that means the national vote totals or state level (paging Ted Kennedy) is a whole other can of worms.

On the whole, I think that right now there is a slight, net momentum effect for Obama, which could grow considerably or be wiped out depending on events in the coming days.  I sincerely hope that the exit polling in upcoming primaries includes questions about not just when people made up their minds but what influenced them.

We'll be reading books about the 2008 cycle for decades, one way or the other.

by Lou Grinzo 2008-02-16 12:17PM | 0 recs
Re: It's all perception

Perception...yeah. As a marketer by trade, I find it a bit odd to be arguing against the power that perception and marketing is having on this election.

As for SD's, I wouldn't be too surprised if we had something of a dues ex machina scenario, with party elders brokering deals or sealing things up before the convention. I don't think anyone wants a real floor fight, especially w/MI and FL in the balance.

by J Ro 2008-02-16 12:24PM | 0 recs
Re: The Momentum Question

Hmm... if Hillary wins Wisconsin and then goes on to do better than recent polls in Ohio and Texas? Where to attribute it to....? Barack could win wisconsin and then that may not move ohio or texas too much.  I think momentum can be important but it's really overemphasized sometimes.  

by cgvcu 2008-02-16 12:18PM | 0 recs
Re: The Momentum Question

This blog should be renamed MyHL standing for MY HILLARY LOVE.  Seriously, something like 80% of the posts here are nothing more than convoluted attempts to make it look like Hillary is leading or really close in this race.  Here are a few facts:

1.)  Obama leads by a much larger margin than 3 delegates if you count only what can be counted right now.  As we've already seen, Superdelegates can and do change sides.  So, in the pledge delegates, which are highly likely to vote as pledged, Obama is well ahead.

2.)  Florida and Michigan DON'T COUNT.  Period.  If they are to count, they'll count based on a legal vote in which both candidates actually campaign in the states.

3.)  Obama hasn't even started to campaign very hard in Texas or Ohio and one poll already has him leading in Texas.  Not that polls really mean anything but the trend has been that Obama enters a state race, within a few days the tide turns and then he buries Hillary.  I don't think we'll see him destroy her in Texas but a very close race there will all but guarantee she won't be able to catch him in the delegate race.

4.)  Hillary isn't doing well in the head to head polls against McCain.  Do you want another 4 years of Shrub Lite running the country?  Independents HATE Hillary.  I happen to like her but think Obama is better.  Giving up the middle of this election, independents, will be impossible to overcome.

All the best to the regulars here.  I've read this site on and off for years and have always enjoyed it and found it enlightening.  Hillary hacks are about the only people who could feel that way now.  

by crackerdog 2008-02-16 12:24PM | 0 recs
Re: The Momentum Question

Just FYI, I voted for Obama on Super Tuesday. I'm just trying to call em like I see em.

by J Ro 2008-02-16 12:25PM | 0 recs
Agreed n/t

by responsible 2008-02-16 12:26PM | 0 recs
Re: The Momentum Question

Momentum matters. At the start of 2008 Clinton had a national lead of approximately 15 percent. Now, a month and a half later, Obama has a national lead of approximately 5 percent. I wish the Obama campaign could say that they gained 20 points in 45 days or so due to ads and groundwork, but I don't think that is all of it.

Momentum is a surge in support due to positive media coverage generated by wins. Momentum is not stringing together wins leading to becoming the nominee. That is such a stringent definition of momentum that it would be difficult to ever meet it.

I would argue that having donations to your campaign triple nearly overnight shows momentum. I would argue that doubling your poll numbers in 2 months shows momentum. I would argue that winning 22 states shows momentum when you were only up in the polls in 2 prior to the primaries starting.

by Obama08 2008-02-16 12:24PM | 0 recs
Re: The Momentum Question

A super book on this from a political science course is The Rational Voter by Popkin.  He explains that a series of primary wins delivers information to voters in upcoming states about what previous voters thought.  People think of previous voters as fellow partisans who "vouched for" the winning candidate.

By the way, the back of the book includes praise from James Carville and the author was an advisor to the 1992 Bill Clinton campaign.  

by mainelib 2008-02-16 12:43PM | 0 recs
If you define momentum

however you want, then you can prove anything you want about momentum.  You just defined momentum as 'winning the nomination' and no, no one has yet won the nomination.

Unfortunately, that is not even close to the meaning of the word, even in the metaphorical world of an election.  One could argue, but I think the going understanding by anyone who talks about politics on an ongoing basis would be that there is momentum if early victories make later victories more likely.  I think we can say with some assurance that if Obama had not won South Carolina, he would not have nearly the day he had on Super Tuesday.  He had momentum going into Super Tuesday (the poll trends make that pretty clear). That's one example.

Your real question is does he have momentum now?  That is, does his present string of victories make later victories more likely.  It's debatable but as far as I can tell you give no evidence one way or the other, other than to assert that no on is winning by very much,  Uh... so?  He could be behind by 500 delegates and still have the momentum and vice versa.

by responsible 2008-02-16 12:25PM | 0 recs
Re: If you define momentum

Thank you for noting this. If the best argument you can make against Obama having momentum is to redefine momentum as actually winning, that's a telling sign.

Accepting this definition, though, I would say that Obama is on the downhill slope gathering up steam as he barrels toward his inevitable momentum...

by alvernon 2008-02-16 01:03PM | 0 recs
Momentum

To illustrate the general directions in the race, I plotted the daily numbers of Rasmussen and Gallup on the same graph, and tried to approximate a trendline. An obvious trend was present (Here's a link to the graph: Blue is Obama, red is Clinton (randomly picked.))

by MILiberal 2008-02-16 12:29PM | 0 recs
Re: Momentum

There's probably not enough data to make this very meaningful, but a graph of the derivative of this data would show how rapidly Obama's support increased on the days immediately following his wins; if we saw an increased rate of change on those days, I think we'd have some good reason to believe that momentum was operating on the results of the tracking polls, at least.

It's a little difficult to eyeball it, but it looks to me like, post 2/5 and going into the caucus weekend last week, Obama was picking up steam pretty well; he's gained support since then, but at a more constant rate.

by seand 2008-02-16 12:40PM | 0 recs
One of the main problems

is that Rasmussen and Gallup have somewhat different results. Rasmussen had a massive Obama surge up into a double digit (49-37) lead, followed by a gradual falling back to a smaller lead (currently 47-43.) In retrospect, the initial surge was probably an outlier - or perhaps the Potomac primaries caused a lot of Clinton supporters to change to Obama briefly and then changed back.

Gallup, on the other hand, has a steadily widening lead for Obama, up to 49-42. So currently, its not quite certain if Obama still has the momentum. In analyzing this, however, it is important to note that on February 5th, Clinton was significantly ahead nationally (47-40 according to Rasmussen, 52-39 according to Gallup), while she is now significantly behind according to both of them.

My trendline probably isn't very accurate - I don't have too much experience with statistics, so I tried approximating them as fourth degree polynomials. I wonder how the people at Pollster.com did theirs - that would probably be a better method than mine.

by MILiberal 2008-02-16 12:54PM | 0 recs
Your definition of momentum...

looks pretty narrow to me- but as you define it, of course no one has momentum, since you have to win the nomination, either by delegates or by elimination, in order to count as having momentum.

But on a more reasonable definition of momentum: something like - 'gaining more support on the basis of the perception of a gain in support' - it looks to me like Obama's been pushed along by momentum since SC, if not earlier.  

That said, momentum definitely hasn't been a factor in this primary in the same way that it was in 2004, when Kerry's early wins led to a perception that he was the guy we needed to rally around to beat Bush. I take it the difference this year lies partly in a reduced sense of urgency as to getting a nominee out there, and partly in (despite what you'd think from reading dKos and MyDD) the much stronger field we've had this year: no need to decide, quickly, who's the best of a mediocre bunch.

by seand 2008-02-16 12:36PM | 0 recs
Re: Your definition of momentum...

I think that's the basic disagreement between Alex Thurston and myself. To me, momentum only matters (and if you're being philosophical about it, only exists) if it sways the results. I don't doubt there is a trend, but for me it's ends and means.

by J Ro 2008-02-16 12:39PM | 0 recs
It depends on how you define the results.

Certainly, Obama's momentum has at least won him a few delegates (such as the Clinton superdelegates who switched to him), and probably allowed him to eke out popular victories in close states such as Missouri.

by MILiberal 2008-02-16 12:58PM | 0 recs
Re: Your definition of momentum...

There is a critical difference between saying "momentum won't be decisive" and "momentum doesn't exist." You are arguing that momentum is not an important factor, which is very different from saying that there is no momentum.

by EMTP democrat 2008-02-16 01:18PM | 0 recs
Re: Your definition of momentum...

Sure. I suppose I am. To me, unless momentum is decisive, it doesn't matter, but like I said, that's a pretty reductive view if you look at it in a certain light.

by J Ro 2008-02-16 09:08PM | 0 recs
Re: Delegate Counter

I wonder if he's making adjustments to the superdelegate counts.

In the last week or so, Clinton has lost 3 superdelegates and Obama has gaine 15, giving him a net of +18.

by mainelib 2008-02-16 12:39PM | 0 recs
Clinton scales back campaign schedule here (WI)

From Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
http://www.jsonline.com/watch/?watch=1&a mp;date=2/16/2008&id=35716

Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton has scaled back her Wisconsin campaign schedule by a full day, and is now planning to leave the state after Monday morning instead of Tuesday morning.

The move suggests the campaign does not think it can overtake rival Barack Obama here. Obama has already campaigned in the state Tuesday night, Wednesday, Friday, and today. He also has single events planned for Sunday (Kaukauna) and Monday (Beloit).

While the two have exchanged hard-hitting TV ads here, Obama began airing ads a week earlier and has spent much more on TV.

Today is Clinton's first day of campaigning in the state, with an event in Kenosha and a state party dinner in Milwaukee, where Obama also will appear. Clinton will campaign Sunday in De Pere, Wausau and Madison, and is expected to do one event in the state Monday morning before leaving.

While recent public polls suggested Obama began the run-up to the Feb. 19 primary here with only a small lead, the Clinton campaign has wrestled with the tradeoffs of spending time and money here versus the Ohio and Texas primaries March 4, which Clinton cannot afford to lose.

by poserM 2008-02-16 12:45PM | 0 recs
Re: The Momentum Question

Again, there's an issue of definition. In my view, to say something 'matters' is to say that it affects the outcome, though not necessarily decisively.

There is a real ambiguity here, though: you might say, for instance, that the touchdown the Pats scored in the Super Bowl didn't matter, because they weren't enough, in the end. But they did matter in the sense that they could have been enough, had things been just a little bit different: they mattered, but they just didn't matter enough.  Similarly, if Hillary loses, then her victory in New Hampshire will have mattered- it just won't have mattered enough. I'm inclined to say the same thing about Obama's momentum.

So I think the right thing to say here is that there's a sense of 'matter' in which Obama's momentum definitely matters, and a sense in which we'll have to wait and see whether or not it does. Whatever you call it, though, it does seem clear that a perception that he's winning has been helping Obama to win in the past couple of weeks.

by seand 2008-02-16 12:50PM | 0 recs
Re: The Momentum Question

For the record, this was meant as a reply to J Ro's reply to my last comment.

by seand 2008-02-16 12:51PM | 0 recs
Re: The Momentum Question

Yeah, that's the crux of the issue. Perhaps it's an odd definition, because you can only prove it one way or another after the fact, but momentum to me only matters if it actually makes the candidate win.

by J Ro 2008-02-16 01:04PM | 0 recs
Re: The Momentum Question

That's like saying a gunshot wound only matters if you die. Poor logic.

by EMTP democrat 2008-02-16 01:21PM | 0 recs
At end of contest

After June 3, when all the nominating contests are over, how many pledge delegates count as a win for securing the nomination as far as you Obama supporters are concerned?

Two delegates? One?

I'm very interested in your answers....

by Zeitgeist9000 2008-02-16 12:53PM | 0 recs
Re: At end of contest

Let me be clearer: by what margin does Obama have to win the nominating contest in pledged delegates for Obama to be the nominee?

by Zeitgeist9000 2008-02-16 01:01PM | 0 recs
Re: At end of contest

I mean, he just has to cross that 2000-odd threshold. Margins aren't really part of the deal, if you're going by the straight rules. Otherwise, he basically has to beat the super delegate margin to be assured of victory, which means 900 or so...

by J Ro 2008-02-16 01:05PM | 0 recs
Re: At end of contest

Neither candidate will cross that threshold if both stay in. That's why I have the sinking suspicion that Obama would rather Clinton just drop out because if she stays in she wins by shear inertia. Not momentum. Inertia.

by Zeitgeist9000 2008-02-16 01:30PM | 0 recs
Re: At end of contest

Clinton may win if she sticks it out to the end, but it won't be from inertia. Inertia is when you keep going because no countervaling forces are trying to throw you off course.

If this campaign is still going after Pennsylvania, there will be no inertia. There will be a chaotic, clawing and scraping, full-on war within the party. At that point the winning candidate will need to crawl across the finish line -- nobody will coast to the end.

by alvernon 2008-02-16 01:40PM | 0 recs
Re: At end of contest

For the candidacy of hope, you do a poor job of representing the future!

by Zeitgeist9000 2008-02-16 01:59PM | 0 recs
Re: At end of contest

Says someone who thinks nominating Obama guarantees a McCain victory in the fall...

by alvernon 2008-02-16 02:36PM | 0 recs
Re: At end of contest

If it's very close AND Florida and Michigan never did a "do-over", I'd be OK with super delegates overturning the will of the people if the head to head polls showed both doing about even against McCain.  

Any other set of facts and the Supers ought to leave it alone even if the lead is only ONE delegate.

by crackerdog 2008-02-16 01:05PM | 0 recs
Re: The Momentum Question

If we are being honest, I would guess that our answers would mirror each other's exactly.

by swarty 2008-02-16 12:59PM | 0 recs
Re: The Momentum Question

The paradox of this diary is as follows: Why does the author, a Clinton supporter, want to deny the existence of momentum, especially after his candidate has lost eight contests in a row by double digit margins? Why not concede that Obama has momentum, which Clinton is trying to overcome? Especially as the other logical explanation for these blowouts is that voters just don't like Hillary Clinton.

The answer is clear. If you admit Obama has momentum, it strengthens his status as front-runner and makes a Clinton victory seem less likely. This in turn hurts her chances.

If there were no momentum, it wouldn't matter if Hillary Clinton was seen as falling victim to it. In other words, the only reason to write a diary denying the existence of momentum is . . . to try and blunt Obama's momentum.

by EMTP democrat 2008-02-16 01:28PM | 0 recs
Re: The Momentum Question


Well the idea of momentum is hard to pin down. The media has been pro-Obama since the primaries started so the assertion of who has the momentum is largely driven by those who print the headlines. Funny how it was recently reported that Hillary won New Mexico but that didn't get much coverage.

Obama's eight straight victories don't mean much because Obama plays this game where he will get trounced in a state but point to the delegates he accumulated. For Obama, it's a win when he's won "eight straight" but to lose Nevada, for example, doesn't mean anything because he got more delegates. His hypocrisy on this is so transparent.

The bottom line is that the candidates are neck-in-neck when it comes to votes and delegates, and that is what is going to influence the superdelegates. If we want to go by who has won what, I would point out that Obama, outside of Illinois which is the state he represents, has proven over and over so far that he cannot carry a big state. New York (Hillary's home turf, I know), California, Florida, New Jersey, Michigan. And now we have Ohio and Texas. If Obama wants to make a case for the nomination, then he needs to show his ability to carry a delegate-rich state, and thus far he has failed to make that case. Can we Democrats afford to cede California to McCain in November? The general election is winner-take-all, not proportional. This is very important for all of us to remember. Obama is winning states that won't matter in the general election and crowing about it. He thinks he is fooling people, but he isn't fooling anybody.

by EightMoreYears 2008-02-16 01:43PM | 0 recs
Re: The Momentum Question

You're missing the same thing that the Clinton campaign's been missing. Many of Obama's wins have come with a significant margin in delegates also. Many of Clinton's have not. That is why Obama has an almost insurmountable lead in pledged delegates and the Clinton campaign is touting superdelegates and seating FL/MI.

by dmc2 2008-02-16 01:58PM | 0 recs
Re: The Momentum Question

Obama has momentum. Clinton has inertia. In a vacuum, inertia trumps momentum. Continued close delegate totals is the closest thing you could have a vacuum in a nominating contest. Therefore, Clinton will win.

by Zeitgeist9000 2008-02-16 01:44PM | 0 recs
Re: The Momentum Question

See above. I actually voted and support Obama. I'm just trying to call it like I see it.

by J Ro 2008-02-16 09:09PM | 0 recs
Re: The Momentum Question

My prediction: John Edwards will endorse Hillary which will help significantly in Ohio and PA. Bill Richardson will endorse Hillary which will help significantly in Texas. My guess and as good as any other these days.  

by fillphil 2008-02-16 01:41PM | 0 recs
Re: The Momentum Question

I like your prediction!

by Zeitgeist9000 2008-02-16 01:44PM | 0 recs
Re: The Momentum Question

It's hard to believe the momentum theory, when very little time has really passed by.  I mean, we are talking only a few weeks since this thing began.  How can one dismiss so many votes that Hillary received, just because one state got together one week before the other?  And all the demographic talk can be misleading - maybe the people in a certain demographic in one state feel differently than those in another, for entirely separate reasons polls don't measure.

by Larissa 2008-02-16 02:33PM | 0 recs
Re: The Momentum Question

Also the momentum theory doesn't take into account the caucus victories and the disadvantage to elderly people, people who work, people with families, people who don't feel like getting yelled at for 3 hours, etc.

We've got a sample of apples and oranges, and apples and oranges grown in different climates (different varieties).  

Then on top of something already not consistent, we are trying to analyze patterns so we can predict an outcome.  

And why?  The only reasons could be that one is not patient enough to wait a couple more weeks to let everyone have their say (or as much of a say as they can with the caucus system) OR to influence the upcoming elections.

by Larissa 2008-02-16 02:41PM | 0 recs
Re: The Momentum Question

The real question: does Joementum exist, and, if so, how do we contain it?

by rfahey22 2008-02-16 03:56PM | 0 recs
Re: The Momentum Question

you don't have to contain it, just re-direct it to people named joe that aren't republicans or "in-duh-pendents"

by Doug Tuttle 2008-02-16 07:21PM | 0 recs
Re: The Momentum Question

"Clinton would have to be a fool of a politician to drop out when she still had half of of Democrats lined up behind her"

Actually Clinton has a significant lead among Democrats, far more than half.  

Coupled with her resounding victories in closed primary states is her wider victory margins in those open primary states she's won when only Democratic voters are considered.

For example, her 3 point win in New Hampshire becomes a 12 point win among Democrats only.

I strongly believe that only Democrats should be allowed to pick Democratic Party candidates.

On two occasions in the past, my state's Democratic primary has been gamed by independents and Republican crossovers.

Our primary system is in serious need of reform and among those reforms should be closing every primary.

by cal1942 2008-02-17 06:09AM | 0 recs

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