Liveblogging: Texas and Ohio returns

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Up next we have Wyoming (on Saturday), and Mississippi (next Tuesday) where Obama is expected to win. The big challenge ahead is quite a way off – Pennsylvania on April 22nd. In the intervening period both campaigns are going to have to find a way to build some fresh momentum. Expect the recent negative attacks from the Clinton side to continue – they’ve proved reasonably successful – while Obama will have to tread a fine line as a campaign that has tended to shy away from more negative tactics. As this race continues I’ll be continuing to blog about the campaigns so stay right here with Cherwell online for the latest analysis.

 

02:52:33 – We’re over two hours in and it now looks like Clinton will win Ohio though the size of the win is currently anyone’s guess. Texas meanwhile looks very, very tight. With 5% in Obama still has a 7-point lead. However this is skewed by early voting so we don’t yet know how closely this ties to the final results. In Ohio, with 21% or results in, Hillary leads by 20 points but the networks are yet to call it in her favour, suggesting that it is closer than it looks. This is partly the result of the rural areas which heavily favour Clinton tending to report earlier than urban areas. The major cities are yet to return any results. A CNN exit poll gave Hillary the narrowest of victories (3%) in both Texas and Ohio.

As McCain takes to the podium I’m heading to bed but I’ll be back in the morning to roundup the rest of tonight’s action and to reflect on the final tallies.

 

02:36:45 – Obama has a 7-point lead with 4% reporting in Texas. With 14% of results in Clinton has a surprisingly large 22-point lead.

 

02:27:00 – Rhode Island has been called for Hillary Clinton by MSNBC. She was expected to win the New England state but the relatively small margin of victory may be some cause for concern.

 

02:19:17 – Huckabee is speaking. With an extended baseball metaphor he says he tried his hardest; he ‘gave it his best.’ Huckabee confirms he has made a concession call to McCain and calls for party unity.

 

02:09:18 – Clinton is leading in Ohio 2:1 with less than 1% reporting. A bias in the early reporting of rural vs. urban areas means that Clinton will do better early on than when the final results are in.

 

02:05:36 – With no confirmed winners in Texas or Ohio yet The Washington Post has an interesting article which suggests that 2/3rds of Democrats would support the continuation of Hillary’s bid if she wins one of the states. Should she lose both only 49% would support a continuation.

 

02:00:57 – Polls shut everywhere. CNN projects McCain will win Rhode Island, providing enough delegates to secure the GOP nomination. No call for Hillary yet in Rhode Island.

 

01:57:30 – Lots of result predictions are coming in on the email. If any of you want to put your money where your mouth is George is back with the latest odds. Hillary is 1-14 to win Ohio and is also favourite in Rhode Island. Obama meanwhile is ‘clear favourite’ in Texas at 2-9 as well as in Vermont. No surprise with the latter in each case but the strength with which they are respectively favoured in Ohio and Texas is surprising.

 

01:53:24 – According to the blogosphere (yes, I stole that word. And it’s still horrible) Huckabee will be waving goodbye to the campaign in the next half hour or so with a concession speech and an endorsement of John McCain. Perhaps McCain won’t need to reach 1,191 delegates to wrap up the nomination for certain tonight after all.

 

01:48:51 – George asks: "Does Barack stand a chance in Ohio?" It’s a good question but at this point, with some precincts still open after the extension, it really is too early to call. I would speculate however that Hillary is going to win Ohio by a relatively small margin (five points max), which compared to the 20-point lead she held a few weeks ago isn’t great, but will certainly be enough for her to claim victory. Clinton will say she has halted Barack’s momentum and will live to fight another day. When it gets down to delegate counts in the long run however a mere five-point lead may prove much more damaging. George also reports that on Betfair right now Obama is 5-1 to win Ohio.

 

01:41:58 – On the Fox News web stream the pundits are addressing the question of the superdelegates. This is an issue which was very prominent across the networks a few weeks ago, but which has since died down. Many suggested that Hillary would look to use the superdelegates to win the nomination. However, with most voters making it clear in polling data that they feel the superdelegates should back the winner of the primaries and caucuses it looks less and less likely that this will be a viable strategy should it become necessary. It is simply viewed as undemocratic.

 

01:34:13 – Lots more speculation that the Democrat fight is going to continue "to Pennsylvania and North Carolina" according to Fox News. It does seem increasingly likely that – though the polls are still open in Texas – Ohio and Texas will be reasonably close. If that happens Obama won’t be able to knock out Hillary tonight and Hillary will be able to claim ‘victory,’ sufficient at least to keep her fighting into April. The New York Times certainly thinks Hillary is going to fight on; she’s saying she’s ‘just warming up.’

 

01:25:51 – Very little happening at the moment and Fox News have taken to showing off their interactive tv wall in an effort to keep the viewers excited. Their 24-style countdown clock to 2am (9ET – polls closing time) is quite cool though. Obama leads in Texas 58% to 41% with over 700,000 votes in from Texas but nothing is being called as not all of the precincts in the Lone Star state are closed.

 

01:10:17 – Exit polls from Texas c/o Fox News: Those who made their decisions in the last 3 days overwhelmingly went for Hillary Clinton. This perhaps in response to the already famous red phone ad which plays on terror fears and the consistent perception from voters that Hillary Clinton is more experienced and better equipped to deal with national security. Barack tried to mount a response, pointing particularly to his opposition to the Iraq war as proof of his better judgment. If this polling data holds up it would appear that this approach hasn’t worked.

 

Some precincts will stay open in the city of Cleveland until 2am. No results can be run until all the polls are closed so consider the final Ohio result to be pushed back another hour.

 

01:06:33 – This is definitely going to be a long night now so settle in. The networks are reporting that the secretary of state has asked for polls to remain open in one Ohio county until 2am. No clear answers for a while then, but Fox News have got Karl Rove (strategy guru to President Bush) waxing lyrical and O’Reilly’s up soon so what’s not to like?

 

01:02:05 – All killer no filler right here so as we wait for some actual results to come in it’s time to get you lot involved. This story , which suggests that Hillary’s campaign doctored footage of Barack to make him appear blacker, is presented for your viewing pleasure courtesy of everyone’s favourite Isis editor, while reader Mohsin Khan offers his two cents. He says, "I reckon Obama’s not going to win in either Texas or Ohio tonight. A shame, as two days ago I would have him given him Texas nicely. We’ll see." Keep the comments coming.

 

00:47:20 – A word on the Texas voting format: Texas is highly unusual in that it holds both a primary and a caucus with voters able to participate in both. It is only the results of the primary which are expected this evening. The caucuses, worth 64 of the 193 pledged Texan delegates, will not report this evening. Of course, Obama has consistently performed much better than Hillary in caucuses since Iowa so expect him to do slightly better in delegates than tonight’s results suggest in the long run.

 

Meanwhile, Fox News are covering a story that the Obama campaign is applying right now to a Federal Judge for some of the polls in Ohio to be kept open longer over suggestions that in some places ballots ran out.

 

And for those who are interested this website is providing exit poll data as it comes in.

 

00:42:17 – Polls close in Texas and Rhode Island at 2am for those asking. If you want to get in touch leave a comment or click on my name to send an email.

 

00:38:33 – The polls in Vermont closed thirty-eight minutes ago and all the major networks called it for Barack immediately as expected. The margin however is very large: 30 points plus. Polls in Ohio have now closed but don’t expect results too soon. There are still paper ballots in some parts of the state and counting will be very slow. Meanwhile Ohio and Vermont have been called for McCain.

 

00:25:24Will she stay or will she go?

 

So here’s the deal with what’s at stake today for the Democrats. 4 states will be voting: Vermont (15 pledged delegates, 8 unpledged), Rhode Island (21, 11), Texas (193, 35) and Ohio (141,20). In the most recent polls Barack and Hillary have been statistically tied in Texas, with Hillary slightly ahead in Ohio. Obama is expected to win Vermont, while Rhode Island seems wrapped up for Hillary.

 

Bill Clinton said last week that Hillary must win Texas and Ohio if she is to win the nomination but the Clinton campaign has since backed down from this. It’s going to take a Barack sweep in Texas and Ohio to knock Hillary out of the way in the next few days. I was going to lay out all the possible outcomes and what they would mean at this point, but The Guardian have already done it better, so just look at that. While I’m passing on links here’s a great breakdown of the messages and visuals behind the various campaign ads of the 2008 primary season.

 

For the Republicans John McCain is expected to pick up the vast majority of delegates as the presumptive nominee.

 

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