Cleveland Plain Dealer Poll: NAFTA Not Defining Race

A Cleveland Plain Dealer poll conducted by Mason Dixon of registered Democratic voters who plan to vote in the primary, has Hillary Clinton ahead of Barack Obama, 47% to 43%, with 90% of voters decided on their choice. (Actual poll results are here (pdf.) The margin of error is 4%. There are some geographic and issues differences that may be worth noting.


Voters surveyed said they see little difference between the candidates' positions on the North American Free Trade Agreement, which many Democratic voters blame for the loss of jobs in Ohio and which has been a central theme of both campaigns.

On health care, those surveyed prefer Hillary's plan to Obama's, 33% to 18%. Then there's the geographic difference, which may be significant:

The Plain Dealer poll shows that Clinton's biggest lead is among voters in southeast Ohio, a poor region of the state whose voters supported Bill Clinton in 1992 and 1996. She leads Obama there, 55 percent to 32 percent; Obama's biggest lead is in the southwest, where he is up 52 percent to 36 percent.

It's not just that Bill Clinton won those areas in 1992 and 1996. It's that John Kerry and Al Gore didn't, and even though they blasted Bush in the northern parts of Ohio, they lost the state because of the southeastern rural vote. And, as Ohio goes, so tends to go the country in November: No Republican since Abe Lincoln has won the presidency without winning Ohio. On the Democratic side, in the last century, only FDR and JFK won the presidency without winning Ohio. (FDR lost Ohio most likely because the Republican VP candidate was from the state.)


If Hillary wins the counties in southeast Ohio, considering it's an open primary where Independents can vote, I think it shows she's a very viable candidate in November against John McCain.

Here's a map showing how Ohio voted by county in past elections. As you can see, the southwestern counties, where Obama leads Hillary now, are going to go Republican. So his lead there isn't particularly meaningful.

But if Hillary wins the southeast counties in the primary, just as Bill Clinton did in 1992 and 1996 (and Kerry and Gore did not in 2000 and 2004) it's a good sign that she could take them in the general election, plus get the usual share of the Democratic vote in Northern Ohio, which means she would take Ohio in November.

As between Texas and Ohio, since Texas is unlikely to go Democratic in November and Ohio, given the right Democratic candidate very well may, I'd say Ohio is the much more important state to focus on Tuesday.

< Obama Camp: Ohio Looks Tough, Texas More Promising | The One Group Who Should Not Urge Hillary To Drop Out: Obama Supporters >
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    Just skimmed the original (none / 0) (#1)
    by NJDem on Mon Mar 03, 2008 at 12:52:17 AM EST
    article and it shows HRC has about a 20 point margin over BO with women, but he has the same margin with men.  But the article didn't say % of men/women.  I'd have to think they under-sampled women or she would have a larger margin of victory--no?  I'd like to know more about the poll's methodology.

    I'm not surprised with the rural (southeast) vote going for HRC as it did for BC--and that is good news for the Dems if she's the nominee.  I've been reading that she's been campaigning in the bigger cities and he's been going to the smaller-rural venues.  Seems like it may be working.

    Not really (none / 0) (#4)
    by muffie on Mon Mar 03, 2008 at 01:14:47 AM EST
    Suppose you assume women break 60-40 for Hillary, and vice versa for Obama.  Then if the turnout is 60% female, 40% male, then it works out to a 52-48 victory for Hillary.  In other words, even a fairly large gender split doesn't translate into that much of a discrepancy in the final outcome.  Based on past results, I'm guessing Obama's margin among men is slightly lower, and that the percentage of female to male voters is also less extreme, but these tend to counteract each other.

    Both Clintons have campaigned - (none / 0) (#26)
    by liminal on Mon Mar 03, 2008 at 09:11:51 AM EST
    quite a bit in SE (otherwise known as Appalachian) Ohio.  Bill's made two tours through the area, and Clinton made one.  They've been on local news in the area nearly every night between reports about possible stops, and actual events.  

    Michelle Obama made a campaign stop at OU in Athens, Ohio, and Barack Obama made another stop at Hocking College in Nelsonville, but those are the only campaign stops they've made.  

    Believe me, people in SE Ohio love the attention, and will remember it come fall if Clinton is the nominee.  


    you can read the poll results here (none / 0) (#2)
    by Jeralyn on Mon Mar 03, 2008 at 12:54:56 AM EST
    link to poll (pdf)

    Thanks! (none / 0) (#3)
    by NJDem on Mon Mar 03, 2008 at 01:01:30 AM EST
    That was very informative, but am I missing something?  Or did it say the %/ratio of men/women and ages polled in the sample.  Interesting that HRC is still holding on to the union vote.  

    Thanks, math isn't my thing (none / 0) (#5)
    by NJDem on Mon Mar 03, 2008 at 01:20:50 AM EST
    but she was also ahead with 50+ voters, so if they're turnout is larger, shouldn't that add a few points?  Again, I realize I may be wrong--I haven't even tried to crunch the numbers :)  

    NAFTA may not be... (none / 0) (#6)
    by OrangeFur on Mon Mar 03, 2008 at 01:28:37 AM EST
    ... but what about being wishy-washy on what you think about NAFTA? The AP has gotten a copy of the memo the Canadian consulate in Chicago wrote up after meeting with Goolsbee--see this diary at MyDD, for example:


    At the very least the Obama folks were deceptive and close to outright lying when they strenuously denied having contact with the Canadian government. The AP article, of course, doesn't mention this obvious backtracking.

    The Canadians certainly seemed to think that the rhetoric wasn't meant to be taken seriously.

    I Was Just Coming Here to Post This (5.00 / 1) (#7)
    by BDB on Mon Mar 03, 2008 at 01:31:58 AM EST
    If this was Clinton, it would be a major issue.  Since it's Obama and it doesn't matter what Obama or any of his advisors say about policy - the only thing that matters is whatever his website says his policy is, not the man himself - it probably won't matter.  

    Although I do await the reaction of all of the bloggers who oppose NAFTA.  The acrobatics should be quite amusing.  And I know that said group of bloggers does not include you, BTD.


    Or all the supporters... (none / 0) (#8)
    by OrangeFur on Mon Mar 03, 2008 at 01:36:11 AM EST
    ... who took Obama at his word that the story was completely false and had no merit.

    In online settings, I wouldn't really blame them for pivoting and fighting at the new line of defense--yes, they had a 40-minute discussion, but the Canadians were mistaken. You have to fight for your candidate.

    Privately, though, I wonder if some of them feel deceived.


    Irony.... (none / 0) (#14)
    by p lukasiak on Mon Mar 03, 2008 at 06:01:58 AM EST
    The most interesting aspect of this little fiasco is that whenever any candidate "talks tough" about NAFTA, and renegotiating it, the talk is about environmental and labor standards -- and Canada's are already as good, if not better, that the USA's.

    In other words, every candidate who talks tough about renegotiating NAFTA is talking in code about Mexico.  (Not to mention the fact that NAFTA isn't terribly popular in Canada either -- especially in the oil exporting provinces.)


    Once again, the logic is faulty (none / 0) (#9)
    by Tano on Mon Mar 03, 2008 at 02:08:38 AM EST
    and the results not quite so good for Hillary.

    The fundamental assumption that Jeralyn rests her argument on is that somehow winning the Democratic primary against a Democratic opponent is any indication that that winner will do better in November than the loser would, against a Republican.

    I dont see it.

    And here is the key, at least for this poll.
    It is a poll only of DEMOCRATS.

    It says nothing about how independents will be voting. Clearly, Bill was able to win the SE, and only Bill won it amongst Dems, by appealing to independent voters, and maybe some Republicans. How else would you explain that the region went for the GOP every other time.

    The key to winning Ohio, including the SE is to win independents. This poll says NOTHING about the relative strength of the two candidates on that point.

    Furthermore, since it is an open primary, and one can imagine that Obama will do better amongst indies than Hillary, the bottom line result of this poll is probably biased in her favor.

    to that last point (none / 0) (#10)
    by Tano on Mon Mar 03, 2008 at 02:21:09 AM EST
    I have no idea what percentage of the vote on Tuesday will be from independents. Does anyone know of any estimates?

    The danger for Hillary is that maybe it might be similar to Wisconsin. There independents made up 28% of the vote, and Obama had a 33% lead on Hillary.

    If you tack another 28% on this poll result, with Obama up by 33 in that group, then the overall result given this poll's rsults for Dems, would be to have Obama ahead by 3.


    Totally off-topic and... (none / 0) (#11)
    by Oje on Mon Mar 03, 2008 at 03:56:06 AM EST
    I expect this to be deleted.

    But, it looks like tomorrow's drudgery will focus on Hillary Clinton's response to an Rorschach test. To Josh Marhall's credit, he does not indicate whether it is an Obama Rorschach or a Clinton Rorschach, but the nature of the emails which provoked his post point to the likely debate.

    Honestly, as an atheist, I cannot fathom the question. My thinking is that Democrats consider religious beliefs to be categorically personal. We  base many of our most cherished personal liberties on the idea that religious belief is deeply personal, from abortion rights to privacy.

    Clinton responds in just this vein. There is nothing really that proves or disproves a person's religious beliefs besides their own statements and practices to that effect. Clinton responds exactly as a Democrat should:

    "Of course not. I mean, that, you know, there is no basis for that. I take him on the basis of what he says. And, you know, there isn't any reason to doubt that," she replied.

    Of course, that is not good enough in our current political world, driven by rightwing religious performances and Clinton Derangement Syndrome. A clear repudiation of "any reason to doubt that" is no longer sufficient for the MSM or the blogosphere.

    Further pressed for knowledge about a subject that most Democrats accept as unknowable -- based solely in a person's spoken words -- and a subject that most Democrats would not bother to investigate or examine as germane to any civil political debate -- with factual or objective criteria -- Clinton says only what any Democrat can say, "As far as I know."

    This of course will lead to endless hand-wringing among the Obama-intelligentsia who have no qualms with Barack's exploitation of MSM memes about Clinton's "claws," race-baiting, "periodically feeling down," multiple personalities, etc., etc. It is much more important that Hillary Clinton answer for the racism of the rightwing Republicans in a way that McCain does not have to.

    Of course, our enlightened left blogosphere does not see the equivalence with Russert's demands that Obama answer for Farrakhan's antisemitism. Nope, we must spend the next 24 hours parsing Clinton's words to uncover the abject racism of her thought. Oy!

    I was watching this (none / 0) (#12)
    by Kathy on Mon Mar 03, 2008 at 04:28:55 AM EST
    and I thought that she gave an answer that sounded very like an answer Obama would give.

    Take that for what it is.

    (that same interview--60 Minutes--showed Obama with what looked like a shadow over his upper lip, sort of like he was trying to grow a mustache.  Frankly, I think that'll hurt him more than anything that was possible said...)

    I think either of the above might equally influence how people vote tomorrow.  It's all about perception at this point, not about truth or even narrative.


    It is off topic (none / 0) (#22)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Mon Mar 03, 2008 at 07:33:07 AM EST
    Please keep the comment on topic. I mention that post from Marshall in my most recent post. Discuss it thre if you wish.

    Texas is the state to watch (none / 0) (#13)
    by barryluda on Mon Mar 03, 2008 at 05:41:07 AM EST
    Jeralyn, I assume when you say:

    As between Texas and Ohio, since Texas is unlikely to go Democratic in November and Ohio, given the right Democratic candidate very well may, I'd say Ohio is the much more important state to focus on Tuesday.

    that your focus is on trying to predict nine months in advance which of Clinton or Obama would more likely beat McCain.

    Not only is the logic flawed, but even if looking at Ohio would do a better job of predicting who -- as of today -- might win against McCain (which I don't believe, but will concede for this point), it's clear that as between Texas and Ohio, Texas is the much more important state to focus on Tuesday for purposes of predicting who will win the democratic nomination.

    Should the winner of Texas be Obama, then I'd think that Obama is much more likely to win the democratic nomination.  The question then becomes: how do we best put one of our democratic candidates into the White House versus McCain?  I think the answer to that would be for Clinton to drop out of the race.

    So... (none / 0) (#15)
    by Chisoxy on Mon Mar 03, 2008 at 06:16:15 AM EST
    even though Obama would have won none of the big states Dems should carry, him winning a state that Dems probably wont win means hes the most electable?  Maybe Im misunderstanding something, but that makes very little sense.

    He won Illinois... (none / 0) (#17)
    by sar75 on Mon Mar 03, 2008 at 06:32:26 AM EST
    ...does that count? Or not, because it's his home state?

    Does anyone here really - honestly - think he's not going to carry California, New York, and almost certainly Michigan as well (given the economy)?  I just don't think these states are in play, and I fail to see how Clinton's victories there (especially in Michigan - or Florida for that matter) mean anything at all for the general.


    No, (none / 0) (#19)
    by Chisoxy on Mon Mar 03, 2008 at 06:49:16 AM EST
    Its more about the big contested states like Ohio. I just dont understand the reasoning behind saying him winning a state the Dems probably wont win, over a state they will need, should secure him the nomination.

    If Obama cannot beat Hillary, who is not favored by the media like McCain, has less National Security cred than McCain, and who has run a cleaner campaign than what the republicans are going to do, does he honestly have a chance in the general?

    McCain and Co are going to completely destroy Obama and his "Iraq speech=superior judgement on everything" campaign.


    Well.... (none / 0) (#23)
    by sar75 on Mon Mar 03, 2008 at 07:45:06 AM EST
    ...I think much too much stock has been placed in this "must win big states in the primary in order to be electable in November" argument.  And now, increasingly, it's not really "big states," but one "big state," Ohio, that seems to matter.

    I agree that Ohio is very important for the general (although not crucial - the Democrat gets to 273 without Ohio and Florida simply by adding Colorado, Iowa, and New Mexico and keeping everything else).  But I fail to see how a difference of a couple of points in Ohio shows that Clinton, especially if she loses Texas and all of the other states she's lost, is a better general election candidate.  I expect, though, that I'll be hearing that if she squeaks out a win there.

    If, though, Obama wins Texas and Ohio, everyone here will, I suppose, have to concede that he's the better general election candidate.

    Actually, I think she may win both Texas and Ohio, if only just, and not in a way that affects the delegate math.  It may carry her through to Pennsylvania, but barring some really big mistakes on Obama's part or a scandal, I don't see how she catches up in pledged or superdelegates even if this goes through June.


    But Texas means nothing (none / 0) (#21)
    by sancho on Mon Mar 03, 2008 at 07:32:53 AM EST
    in the GE. Jeralyn's point is that Ohio may tell us something important about the GE. And what it is telling us is a significant indicator of why Obama may (likely)  lose and Hillary win in Novemeber.

    except that it is not telling us that at all (none / 0) (#27)
    by Tano on Mon Mar 03, 2008 at 11:44:42 AM EST
    as explained upthread

    Not just NAFTA that's low on the list... (none / 0) (#16)
    by sar75 on Mon Mar 03, 2008 at 06:27:53 AM EST
    I just read elsewhere that an ABC/Washington Post poll found that only 1% of voters in Ohio rank national security/terrorism as their most important issue.  If that's the case (and I'm sure Clinton's pollsters know this), I wonder why they've been stressing national security these last few days.

    Offtopic: Obama's days as state senator (none / 0) (#18)
    by jerry on Mon Mar 03, 2008 at 06:34:22 AM EST
    I am not sure what to make of this article, but it sure is interesting.

    Houston - News - Barack Obama and Me

    When asked about his legislative record, Obama rattles off several bills he sponsored as an Illinois lawmaker.


    It's a lengthy record filled with core liberal issues. But what's interesting, and almost never discussed, is that he built his entire legislative record in Illinois in a single year.


    in 2002, dissatisfaction with President Bush and Republicans on the national and local levels led to a Democratic sweep of nearly every lever of Illinois state government. For the first time in 26 years, Illinois Democrats controlled the governor's office as well as both legislative chambers.

    The white, race-baiting, hard-right Republican Illinois Senate Majority Leader James "Pate" Philip was replaced by Emil Jones Jr., a gravel-voiced, dark-skinned African-American known for chain-smoking cigarettes on the Senate floor. Jones had served in the Illinois Legislature for three decades. He represented a district on the Chicago South Side not far from Obama's. He became Obama's ­kingmaker.

    Several months before Obama announced his U.S. Senate bid, Jones called his old friend Cliff Kelley, a former Chicago alderman who now hosts the city's most popular black call-in radio ­program.

    I called Kelley last week and he recollected the private conversation as follows:

    "He said, 'Cliff, I'm gonna make me a U.S. Senator.'"

    "Oh, you are? Who might that be?"

    "Barack Obama."

    Jones appointed Obama sponsor of virtually every high-profile piece of legislation, angering many rank-and-file state legislators who had more seniority than Obama and had spent years championing the bills.

    "I took all the beatings and insults and endured all the racist comments over the years from nasty Republican committee chairmen," State Senator Rickey Hendon, the original sponsor of landmark racial profiling and videotaped confession legislation yanked away by Jones and given to Obama, complained to me at the time. "Barack didn't have to endure any of it, yet, in the end, he got all the credit.

    "I don't consider it bill jacking," Hendon told me. "But no one wants to carry the ball 99 yards all the way to the one-yard line, and then give it to the halfback who gets all the credit and the stats in the record book."

    During his seventh and final year in the state Senate, Obama's stats soared. He sponsored a whopping 26 bills passed into law -- including many he now cites in his presidential campaign when attacked as inexperienced.

    It was a stunning achievement that started him on the path of national politics -- and he couldn't have done it without Jones.

    The article is interesting for many reasons, if only to read about a very local paper that spawned both Seymour Hirsch and David Axelrod.

    (Found via Amy Alkon)

    Southwestern=Republican crossover (none / 0) (#20)
    by ineedalife on Mon Mar 03, 2008 at 07:04:37 AM EST
    Southwest Ohio brings up images of Mean Jean Schmidt who kicked the press out of the 2004 vote counting, and her county magically produced a  Bush margin large enough to give him the state. The collar counties around Cincy are republican strongholds. The only component of Obama's demographic that are there are Dem-for-a-day Republicans. Solid McCain voters in the fall. If Obama is winning SW Ohio 2:1, and he wins the state because of that, it is hello President McCain.

    Obama saying he is not ready to be a president (none / 0) (#24)
    by mpop on Mon Mar 03, 2008 at 08:42:41 AM EST
    watch Obama on youtube saying he is not ready to be a president.


    I saw that on CNN once last week. (none / 0) (#25)
    by magisterludi on Mon Mar 03, 2008 at 09:07:25 AM EST
    I am sure the McCain campaign can and will use that footage in the GE. They'd be crazy not to. Could just be the kiss of death for the BHO campaign.