Obama Bubble About to Burst

While Barack Obama handily won South Carolina and seems to be a sunny, fresh alternative to Hillary Clinton, he’s got an uphill climb to the nomination, Christopher Cooper and Amy Chozick explain in the WSJ.

Mr. Obama heads into the 22-state showdown as the underdog. The Illinois senator trails Sen. Hillary Clinton of New York by large margins in polls in most of the big states voting Feb. 5. And he lacks the time or resources to campaign intensively in many of those far-flung races to close the gaps.


But for all of the attention Mr. Obama has garnered since his Iowa caucus victory at the beginning of the month, Mrs. Clinton has maintained her big lead in national polls — and in polls in the big states with delegate prizes far greater than any state that has voted so far.

Among the major Super Tuesday contests, Mrs. Clinton has wide — in some cases double-digit — polling leads in California, New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Arizona, Missouri and Alabama. Mr. Obama leads in his home state of Illinois and in Georgia.

The demographics in many of those states also seem to play more to Mrs. Clinton’s strengths, with big populations of Latinos and white women, groups that helped carry her to victory over Mr. Obama in New Hampshire and Nevada.

Some representative polls:

Super Tuesday Polls - Democrats

In terms of momentum, Clinton is expected to handily carry tomorrow’s Florida primary. Unless she manages to reverse the party’s ruling, the delegates she wins won’t count; but it’ll still be treated as a victory in the news media and help rebuild the perception that she’s the odds-on frontrunner.

While it’s unlikely Super Tuesday will be decisive in a mathematical sense, the nomination will likely be all but Hillary’s by day’s end. Obama is both the candidate most appealing to the Democratic base and the one best positioned to win in the general election; a rare combination, indeed. He’s unlikely to be the nominee despite that, though, owing to the compressed schedule and Clinton’s superior support network.

FILED UNDER: 2008 Election, Public Opinion Polls, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. SoloD says:

    If I may disagree, I think that we will see much closer races than these polls indicate. First of all, I think that the attentions of the Ultra Super Duper Tuesday voters have not been as focused on the race as they will be in this upcoming week — I think this helps Obama given his momentum and the press swoon he has received.

    Also it is difficult to predict voter turnout in many of these polls and how much name recognition plays in the responses that are given. Again I think that Obama’s momentum will help close some of the gap.

    I expect Obama will win Illinois and Georgia. Hillary should win NY, and California. Interesting to watch will be Mass, NJ and CT. If Obama can keep it close or even win one (maybe Mass or CT w/ the Kennedy endorsements)he could end up being the declared “winner” at the end of the night.

  2. Eneils Bailey says:


    I agree with you on:

    I think that we will see much closer races than these polls indicate.

    And how many of these state apportion delegates based on, “winner take all,” by Congressional district, or a percentage of vote?

    A “winner take all” makes John Edwards less of a factor in those states. In states where delegates are allocated by other than “winner take all” keeps him in the race as a King/Queen maker.

    As a white, Southern, conservative Republican; if I had to make decision between B. Obama and Hillary Clinton, B.Obama would get my vote. This is a relative judgment, character and honesty does matter. To me, this does not make him the shining moral beacon on the hill, just the better alternative in a convoluted dilemma.

  3. Tano says:

    Brave man with those predictions, James.
    I would have thought that by now most prognosticators would have thrown up their hands and just decided to sit back and watch the show.

  4. Dave Schuler says:

    Although I’ll cast my Democratic primary vote for Obama a week from tomorrow, I continue to believe that Hillary Clinton will be the party’s nominee when the dust has settled.

  5. tom p says:

    While it is hard to argue with the point of view that Hillary will win the nomination anyway (I still have not wrapped my head around the whole “super delegate” thing and why every one assumes they will go to Hillary) , I continue to hope. And contribute. I am a 50 yr old Union carpenter and for the first time in my life I am actually giving to a political campaign (sp?).

    It ain’t over till the fat lady sings.

  6. tequila says:

    If the results in NH and SC haven’t disabused you of relying upon polls this election cycle, then pretty much nothing will.

  7. What's Going On Here? says:

    The tide has turned. Clinton has alienated the base, these numbers will not hold.

    If Clinton DOES somehow manage to steal the nomination over the objections of her party, it will be the best thing ever for the Republican party.

    Republicans and Democrats have come to hate Hillary and company.

  8. Bob says:

    The tide has not turned. Look at the rassmussenreports daily tracking poll. At yesterday’s national poll Clinton has the same 8% lead. Obama is doomed.