The Corner

Clintonian Thinking

From her campaign just now:

To: Interested Parties

From: The Clinton Campaign

Date: May 6, 2008

RE: Tie-Breaker

In April, Barack Obama called Indiana a ‘tie-breaker’ for the Democratic nominating process: “You know, Sen. Clinton is more favored in Pennsylvania and I’m right now a little more favored in North Carolina, so Indiana right now may end up being the tiebreaker. So we want to work very hard in Indiana.”

At the time, Senator Obama’s comments seemed to be part of an elaborate plan to lower expectations for the Indiana contest.  After all, roughly 20% of Indiana Democratic primary voters have been exposed to Senator Obama for years because they live within the Chicago media market.  He’s never lost a state that borders his home-state of Illinois.

The fact that Indiana was an open primary – Republicans and independents can vote in the Democratic contest – also augured well for Senator Obama.  He has regularly argued that he should be nominated because he “appeal[s] to Republicans and Independents in a way that none of the other nominees can.”

Throw in the fact that Senator Obama outspent the Clinton campaign by a 2 to 1 margin on Indiana television and Indiana seems to be more of a lean-Obama state than a toss-up.

So Hillary’s victory in Indiana – fought out against the backdrop of an ailing economy – is all the more incredible.  We started out behind in both the public and internal polls. 


For example, our March 13 poll showed Hillary trailing by 8 points, while our latest poll gave Hillary a 5 point lead.


We saw Hillary Clinton’s margin flip from -19 points among men in Indiana back in March to +1 among men in our final poll.  Among women, Hillary’s margin increased from +1 in March to +8 now.


Similarly, in mid-February, the Howey-Gauge poll had Barack Obama 15 points ahead of Hillary Clinton (Feb 16-17: Obama 40 / HRC 25).  By April 23-24, Hillary had narrowed the gap to only 2 points in the same poll (Obama 47 / HRC 45).  The late momentum was critical – according to the exit poll, Hillary won by 18 points among those who made their decision in the last three days.


Hillary won by appealing to voters in almost every key demographic group.  According to the exit poll, Hillary won among men and among women, in northern, central and southern parts of the state, among those who earn more than $50,000 per year and those who earn less, union voters and non-union voters, suburban and rural voters, churchgoers, gun-owners, and those who have not graduated from college.


Hillary also won among those who say the economy is the most important issue, those who are affected by the recession, those who say health care is most important, electability and experience voters.  Hillary also led Obama on commander-in-chief.


What drove Hillary’s strong support – especially among downscale voters, suburban and rural voters, churchgoers, gun-owners and those who are affected by the recession?


         Gas tax summer holiday – making oil companies pay the gas tax instead of American families through a tax on oil company windfall profits

         Tough stance on NAFTA and other trade issues

         The only candidate – Democrat or Republican – with a health care plan that covers every American

         Support for cutting middle-class taxes

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