The power of 10: Liveblogging Pennsylvania

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02:49 – Popular vote | 42% in and it’s 55-45 Clinton. Lots of
discussion about the popular vote. Due to the way in which delegates
are distributed it is all but impossible for Hillary to catch up with
Obama in the delegate count and so catching up in the popular vote is
her only hope. The problem here is that there is some doubt over which
votes count. Michigan (where Obama wasn’t even on the ballot) and
Florida were both stripped of their delegates for moving their
primaries before February 5, but it is very much in Clinton’s interest
for these votes to count. One point that is worth bearing in mind is
that even if after tonight (and including those 2 heavily disputed
states) Clinton manages to move ahead in the popular vote it will still
be very difficult for her to stay there after the nine remaining
contests.


02:37 – Trust |
In a sign that the Bosnia scandal might have
hurt Senator Clinton more than has really been acknowledged, Fox has
some interesting data on the issue of trustworthiness. Just 56% of
voters polled in today’s primary believe that Clinton is trustworthy.
That’s against Obama’s figure of 68%. On the subject of recent attacks
Fox reports that the majority of Voters blame Clinton for ‘unfair
attacks’ and most of those voted for Obama – no data on that though.
Finally 25% of Democrats who voted for Clinton tonight don’t think she
will be the Democratic nominee. Just 5% of Obama’s supporters don’t
think he will succeed in Denver at the national convention. Hillary is
leading 55-45 with 31% of the vote in.


02:27 – Speeches |
There’s a bit of doubt at the moment as to
who will speak first this evening. Traditionally the loser goes first
but Obama is currently on a plane to Indiana which would make that a
little tricky. Hillary is reportedly scheduled to speak just before
10pm eastern (ie. in time for the evening news).


02:20 – Ending it |
How can Senator Obama win this? That’s the
question the analysts are currently pondering. According to one
Democrat analyst Obama should have been more negative in his attacks on
Hillary: I quote, he should have ‘taken a bat to her head.’ The
problem with negative attacks is that they push up the negatives of
both candidates. The bigger issue is whether this will matter in the
November. Will negative attacks now come back to haunt candidates
later? Essentially no-one is sure though the pundits are tending to
take the view that candidates shouldn’t be too worried about November
in terms of their negatives now.


02:09 – McCain |
According
to Fox News the McCain camp has released lashings of praise on Hillary
for her victory in Pa. Clearly Republicans are happy to see the
Democrats keep going at it, leaving McCain free reign to start his
general election campaign unscathed. There’s no doubt that the long
Democratic primary season has harmed both of the remaining candidates
with slides for both in polls against McCain in a general election
match-up. The recent negative tone of the attacks between the two
canndidates hasn’t helped matters either.

However, it is easy to
read too much into this. There’s no doubt that when the Democratic
Party finally picks a nominee he, or she, will recieve a bounce in the
polls. With the general election so far off at this point projected
match-ups against McCain have limited use and the real cost of this
prolonged nomination contest won’t be clear until general election
campaigning really gets going. For the moment however there is no doubt
that McCain is happy to let the two candidates attack each other.

With 10% of precinct results in Hillary leads 55-45.


02:04 – CNN |
In
a slightly amusing sidenote the rally for Hillary in Pa. has CNN on, a
network which hasn’t yet called the state for Clinton, and so there’s
no celebrating there yet.


01:56 – Tumbling numbers |
With 5% of the raw vote now in Hillary is now leading 53% – 47%. MSNBC have joined Fox News in calling Pa. for Clinton.

Over at Politico.com Ben Smith has posted
an early bit of spin from the Clinton campaign. They’re pushing the
suggestion that Barack should have delivered a knock-out blow given his
financial dominance and delegate lead, and the fact that he hasn’t is
an indication that he would struggle in November in the big states.
This is a line which Hillary surrogates are already pushing on the
cable networks and is something we’re likely to hear more of in the
next few weeks.


01:46 – Fox News calls |
Murdoch’s
network has called for Hillary. Of course it’s the margin that matters
so don’t go to bed just yet. Still less than 1% of the vote in so
the call is on the strength of exit poll numbers.


01:36 – Horse race |
Fox
have relucantly given their top line number – Hillary is leading by 6
points in their exit poll. But, they note, they are ‘very worried’
about the numbers and in the past Barack has done better in exit polls
than in the final numbers. If that’s the case it could be a good night
for Hillary. And finally some raw vote numbers: with less than 1% in
(literally about 2,000 votes) Hillary is winning 67% to 33% for Obama.


01:27 – Top line numbers |
In
an unusual move Fox News are refusing to release the top line numbers
from their exit polls claiming that it would be misleading to viewers.
They certainly have a point. Fox exit polls predicted a Barack victory
way back in New Hampshire and the network was left looking silly by the
end of the night. Drudge continues to report figures of 52-48 to
Clinton. Oh, and I should probably add that John McCain has won the
Republican primary. Of course, everyone else on the ballot dropped out
of the race over a month ago.


01:23
Finance | Still
no results so there’s time to consider one of the big factors that
Hillary will need to address in the next couple of weeks. Money. In the
last month Obama has spent $30m against Hillary’s $20m but the overview
is even worse for Clinton. Her campaign is $10m in debt while Obama has
a larger warchest for future weeks. If she’s going to keep going she’s
going to have to start bringing in more contributions, and fast.


01:12 – Montgomery County |
Bad
news if you were planning on heading to bed early. Officials have said
that Montgomery county, the third largest in the state, will not have
any results until 10 est. (aka. 3am). The networks are going round the
pundits at the moment churning over the exit polls without really
saying anything. Everyone’s waiting for the first results to come
through.


01:00 – Polls close |
Fox
has some early exit polls and things look really good for the New York
senator. Clinton is winning amongst seniors 2:1 ‘better than normal for
her.’ Clinton has won amongst Union households in a big way – 16 points
vs. the 5 point victory she normally manages. Obama has won 92% of the
black vote and 58% of the under-30s which isn’t as strong as he usually
manages. Obama has two-thirds of urban voters but is struggling with
independents: tonight they are split down the middle but Obama usually
dominates this category.


00:58 – Geography |
Fox
are listing the Obama strongholds. In the east of the county
Pennsylvania county is the big one. The size of turnout there will be
crucial in deciding how much of the vote he can claw back. Clinton will
be picking up big numbers in Pittsburgh in the west and in the rural
areas in the centre.


00:49 – Obama takes off
| 11
minutes till polls close (I’m holding out for some kind of dramatic
sweeping graphics from Fox at that point) and it’s time to answer the
first reader question of the night. Tom asks whether the fact that
Obama has already left Pa. for Indiana signifies that Obama has lost by
more than he expected. That seems unlikely – polls are too confused and
contrasting at this stage for him to really know and it’s simply an
established tradition for candidates to leave a state before polls
close if they know they’re going to lose. The big question tonight
remains how big Hillary’s victory will be. The big question for the
remainder of the nomination period is Indiana but more on that later.

If you’ve got a
question, a comment on the recent wave of attack ads or just feel like
musing on the returns be sure to comment in the box below.


00:45 – Exits |
Drudge
has Hillary 52-48 which would be pretty catastrophic for the Clinton
camp but don’t go to bed just yet. Drudge doesn’t provide any raw data
and exit polls haven’t been great at predicting much of anything thus
far.

On another note, whilst
analysts are talking about Hillary being in trouble if she wins by
fewer than ten points her camp has already sworn to carry on. They have
however admitted that she needs to win Indiana in two weeks time.


00:38 – Game time |
Fox
News have rebranded their ticker for tonight’s fun and games. As I join
them the discussion is focused around Hillary’s comment on Iran. On a
talkshow earlier today Clinton said that (and I’m paraphrasing here)
‘if Iran is foolish enough to attack Israel we will obliterate them.’

Meanwhile exit polls are up on the Drudge Report but there are many floating around with wildly different results.


19:20 –
It’s
been a while but here we are at yet another primary day in the race for
the Democratic nomination – make that the 18th day at the polls to be
precise.

Some 77 days after
Super Tuesday we still find ourselves without a Democratic nominee and
tonight could change that. Pennsylvania’s 188 delegates make up the
largest number held by any of the remaining states and given the
demographics if Hillary fails to win here its game over for the New
York senator. The polls
however suggest this is unlikely – Hillary is anything from 5 to 10
points clear at the moment. The key figure, most commentators seem to
agree, is 10. This is the margin Hillary won be in demographically
similar Ohio on March 4th and if she doesn’t win by this much again
Obama can claim to have fought back in an area which should be prime
Clinton territory. A few weeks ago Senator Obama was 16 points back and
with the notorious unreliability of polling in this election cycle
anything could happen.

Results from Pennsylvania will be in shortly after 1am when polls close and I’ll be back then with all the action.

In the meantime why not post your predictions below and here are some links to tide you over:

One enterprising YouTuber has mashed together debate footage and the Sarah Silverman spoof ‘I’m f-ing Matt Damon’ to create ‘I’m f-ing Obama’

Hillary Clinton has dropped Osama bin Laden into a newly released advert, leading to accusations of fear-mongering:

Hillary’s been in more trouble just this morning by threatening to ‘obliterate’ Iran.

The Guardian cartoonists have had some fun at the candidates’ expense.

And even though the Republican race was settled weeks ago John McCain has been doing his best to keep in the headlines. Today’s New York Times gives
him a headline, but perhaps not the kind he was hoping for. The article
alleges that McCain used his office to help a friend – a wealthy real
estate developer: A Developer, His Deals, and His Ties to McCain

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