Friday, May 09, 2008

Primary Forecasts

CQ Politics breaks down the upcoming Democratic primaries. Hillary has an advantage in West Virginia, Kentucky and Puerto Rico, while Barack has an advantage in Oregon, Montana and South Dakota.

To get an idea of how Tuesday’s primaries in Indiana and North Carolina reshaped the Democratic presidential race, consider that there were almost as many pledged delegates at stake in those two states than there are in all of the states that haven’t voted yet. Hillary Rodham Clinton is vowing to stay in the race, even if the combination of her blowout loss in North Carolina and narrow victory in Indiana this week allowed Barack Obama to make a net gain of at least a dozen pledged delegates out of 187 at stake. Plus, he picked up more unpledged “superdelegates” (including North Carolina Rep. Brad Miller and Washington state Rep. Rick Larsen , who endorsed Obama on Thursday); and emerge with 210,000 popular votes than Clinton among those two states.

Five states and Puerto Rico round out the Democratic voting over the next 26 days, and they have a combined 217 pledged delegates. Obama leads Clinton by 1,840 to 1,684, according to a count by the Associated Press that includes the votes of superdelegates who have made their preference public. (Clinton narrowly leads Obama among superdelegates, 272 to 259, and about 270 superdelegates are undeclared or have not yet been chosen). Not including Florida and Michigan, it takes 2,025 delegates to clinch the Democratic nomination.

Here’s a quick look at those six jurisdictions that will conclude all Democratic caucus and primary voting. Clinton appears to have the edge in two states and in Puerto Rico — provided she continues to stay in the race — and Obama seems to have an advantage in three states.

West Virginia (May 13; 28 pledged delegates). One factor that militated against Clinton’s withdrawal after Tuesday’s contests in North Carolina in Indiana was that, regardless of the outcome, she was going to win West Virginia more convincingly than most other states. West Virginia demographically is well-tailored to Clinton’s campaign: its residents overwhelmingly are white and have lower levels of income and formal education than the nation at-large.

Clinton on Wednesday appeared as a rally in Shepherdstown, located in the state’s eastern “Panhandle” region, at which she said West Virginia was the type of partisan “swing” state that the Democrats needed to win this November against the presumed Republican nominee, Arizona Sen. John McCain . Clinton has been making the case to superdelegates that she would be a stronger general election candidate than Obama.

Kentucky (May 20; 51 pledged delegates). Clinton should win here rather easily as well. In Tuesday’s Indiana primary, she dominated most of the counties in the southern part of that state that are near or on the Ohio River across from Kentucky. She also dominated southern Ohio in that state’s March 4 primary and should run well in the northeastern Kentucky counties that abut Ohio. Southern Kentucky abuts Tennessee and southwestern Virginia, two other pro-Clinton regions.

Oregon (May 20; 52 pledged delegates). Obama should be able to offset an expected loss in Kentucky with a victory in left-leaning Oregon. He should run well in Portland, the district’s most populous city, as well as in the academic centers of Lane County, which includes the University of Oregon in Eugene, and Benton County, which includes Oregon State University in Corvallis.

Puerto Rico (June 1; 55 pledged delegates). Puerto Rico lacks full voting representation in Congress and doesn’t have any Electoral College votes, but it does have more than 3.8 million people — more than in nearly half the states — and 55 pledged delegates at stake. Puerto Rico should favor Clinton, if only because it is basically exclusively Hispanic — a voting bloc Clinton has been winning. More U.S. Hispanics of Puerto Rican descent live in Clinton’s home state of New York than in any other state.

Montana (June 3; 16 pledged delegates). Obama has the edge in a state that has stuck to its early June primary for decades — the major reason why Montana last held a competitive Democratic presidential primary in 1980, when President Jimmy Carter defeated Massachusetts Sen. Edward M. Kennedy.

South Dakota (June 3; 15 pledged delegates). Along with its neighbor to the northwest, South Dakota is holding the last Democratic presidential contest and also favors Obama.

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