(not in so many words...despite or because of polls showing that Obama is now leading or tied with Hillary Clinton nationally.).
February 4, 2008
To: Interested Parties
From: David Plouffe
RE: Putting Tomorrow into Perspective
Two weeks ago, a Clinton campaign adviser told CBS News that they believed they could “wrap up” the nomination on February 5th. As the “inevitable” national frontrunner, tomorrow should be the day when she sews up the nomination or builds a formidable delegate lead. But because of Obama’s growing momentum across the country, the Clinton campaign is now unlikely to reach their stated goals of wrapping up the nomination tomorrow.
Senator Clinton is certainly the favorite on February 5, given the huge leads she has held in many of these contests throughout the course of the campaign and the political, historical and geographic advantages she enjoys in many of these states.
For example, California, which Clinton led by 25 points in October and 12 points two weeks ago, was once seen as the Clinton campaign’s firewall and where they planned to run up an insurmountable lead in delegates. Former Governor Gray Davis, a Clinton supporter, said on MSNBC last week, “I am pleased to be for Hillary Clinton and I expect her to do very well in Super Tuesday. I expect her to win California by a sizable amount, at least double digits, do well in New York and New Jersey and Connecticut.”
Based on her huge head start, Hillary Clinton should still win California, but is unlikely to achieve her goal of getting a sizeable share of the delegates.
Our path to the nomination never factored in a big day for us on February 5. Rather, we always planned to stay close enough in the delegate count so that we could proceed to individually focus on the states in the next set of contests.
I'm sorry. Hold up, time out. What?? Unless every Obama adviser I've spoken to over the past year has out and out lied to me, a big day on Feb. 5 has always been a big part of Obama's nomination strategy. That doesn't mean they always expected to win it...just that, for months, the campaign devoted unusual amounts of resources to building robust organizations in the states...and claims 75,000 active volunteers.
Seems like the Obama campaign is setting expectations way low so they can beat them as easily as the Giants front four beat through the line to Tom Brady.
There's no question that Hillary Clinton's campaign has had to dial back their projections before every contest, a testament to Obama's stunning rise and topsy-turvy nature of the season. (Mark Penn this week said that the campaign is now preparing to go all the way to the convention.)
But at some point, Obama has to accept the fact that he has already vanquished the leading lord, that he has surmounted the insurmountable, and that just because he hasn't won this thing doesn't mean that Hillary Clinton is still the inevitable frontrunner with unspecified political and geopgraphic advantages.
Obama has outrasied Clinton... has won more delegates than her... is, as I said, tied or leading in major polls... has name ID almost as high as she does... has favorable ratings that exceed hers.... and still claims to be the underdog. That's one stretch of a definition.
We fully expect Senator Clinton to earn more delegates on February 5th and also to win more states. If we were to be within 100 delegates on that day and win a number of states, we will have met our threshold for success and will be best positioned to win the nomination in the coming months.
So there's the number: 100 delegates. If Clinton exceeds Obama by more than 100 delegates tomorrow, then Plouffe will OK with the press's declaring Obama "lost."
A performance that exceeds those benchmarks, while unlikely, would put is in a surprisingly strong position heading into the rest of the February contests.
While the Clinton campaign is furiously trying to spin the expectations game, it is important to look at where they were in some of the key states just a few weeks ago.
(You can read the rest after the jump.
Less Than Two Weeks Before February 5th, Clinton Led Alabama By 15 Points. According to polling done by Rasmussen released on January 25, Clinton led Obama by 15 points, 43% to 28%. [Rasmussen, 1/25/08]
Less Than Two Weeks Before February 5th, Clinton Led Arizona Obama By 21 Points. According to a poll done for the Arizona Republic that was released on January 23, Clinton led Obama 45% to 24%. [Arizona Republic, 1/23/08]
Hartford Courant: Two Weeks Before February 5th, Clinton Led Connecticut By 14 Points. According to polling done for the Hartford Courant released on January 20, Clinton led Obama by 14 points, 41% to 27%. [Hartford Courant, 1/20/08]
October 2007 Poll Found Clinton Leading Obama By 24 Points. According to polling done by Farleigh Dickinson that was released on October 10, Clinton led Obama by 24 points, 41% to 17%. [Fairleigh Dickinson, 10/10/07]
In December 2007, Clinton Led Georgia By 7 Points. According to polling done by Strategic Vision released on December 12, Clinton led Obama by 7 points, 34% to 27%. [Strategic Vision, 1/22/07]
Survey USA: Two Weeks Before February 5th, Clinton Led Massachusetts By 37 Points. According to polling done by Survey USA released on January 24, Clinton led Obama by 37 points, 59% to 22%. [Survey USA, 1/24/08]
October Poll Found Clinton Leading Obama By 25 Points In Minnesota. According to polling done by Mason Dixon released on October 2, Clinton led Obama 47%-33%. [Star Tribune, 10/2/07]
Less Than Two Weeks Before February 5th, Clinton Led Missouri By 19 Points. According to polling done by Rasmussen released on January 25, Clinton led Obama by 19 points, 43% to 24%. [Rasmussen, 1/25/08]
Before February 5th, Clinton Led New York By 28 Points. According to polling done by USA Today and Gallup released on January 28, Clinton led Obama by 28 points, 56% to 28%. [Gallup, 1/28/08]
Less Than Two Weeks Before February 5th, Clinton Led New Jersey By 17 Points. According to polling done by Quinnipiac released on January 22, Clinton led Obama by 17 points, 49% to 32%. [Quinnipiac, 1/23/08]
Three Weeks Before February 5th, Clinton Led Oklahoma By 20 Points. According to polling done by Survey USA released on January 14, Clinton led Obama by 20 points, 45% to 25%. [Survey USA, 1/14/08]
Less Than One Week Before February 5th, Clinton Led Tennessee By 33 Points. According to polling done by Insider Advantage in Tennessee on January 30th, Clinton led Obama by 33 points, 59% to 26%. [Insider Advantage, 1/30/08]