In the wake of Barack Obama's comments about "small-town" voters, Hillary Clinton has extended her lead in some recent Pennsylvania polls. Survey USA has her up by 14 points, compared to eight a week ago. (See update below.) Rasmussen gives Clinton a nine-point ...
In the wake of Barack Obama's comments about "small-town" voters, Hillary Clinton has extended her lead in some recent Pennsylvania polls.
Survey USA has her up by 14 points, compared to eight a week ago. (See update below.) Rasmussen gives Clinton a nine-point edge, up from five points in their prior poll. An ARG survey showing Clinton ahead by 20 has raised a lot of eyebrows. Meanwhile, a Quinnipiac poll released this morning shows her six-point lead unchanged since last week.
It's hard to know what to make of all this data. What does seem clear is that the firestorm over Obama's remarks has halted the tightening we observed in Pennsylvania earlier this month.
But amid all this volatility in the polls, an important question remains: what kind of margin of victory does Clinton need in Pennsylvania to put a dent in Obama's pledged delegate lead?
A Congressional Quarterly analysis posted this morning suggests she would need to win by extremely large margins to really affect the pledged delegate tally:
How many delegates might each candidate win in Pennsylvania, which is the most populous of the states and territories that have yet to vote?
That answer will be mainly determined not by the sum of the votes Clinton and Obama win in Pennsylvania, but rather by the state’s parts. Pennsylvania will send 187 Democratic delegates to the party’s national convention in Denver this August, and most of them — 103 to be exact — will be allocated according to the votes the candidates receive in each of the state’s 19 congressional districts.
And a CQ Politics analysis of the political circumstances in Pennsylvania’s congressional districts, detailed below, projects an edge to Clinton — but by just 53 district-level delegates to 50 for Obama under the Democratic Party’s proportional distribution rules.
These numbers suggest that Clinton, even with a victory in Pennsylvania, would make only a small incremental gain against Obama’s overall lead in the delegate race.
As the article explains, in most districts it takes huge swings in the popular vote to affect the allocation of pledged delegates:
One doesn’t need great predictive powers to estimate how many delegates Clinton and Obama will win in most of Pennsylvania’s 19 congressional districts. That’s because the district delegates are awarded on a proportional basis, and each candidate’s delegate allocation is rounded to the nearest whole number. That means the delegate allotments can be the same for a wide range of popular vote percentages.
CQ goes on to predict the proportional delegate breakdown in each of the state's congressional districts. It's worth a look.
UPDATE: Due to a misreading of the data, this post originally stated that Survey USA showed Clinton extending her lead. In fact, her 14-point edge in the latest poll is down from her 18-point lead a week ago.