Monday, May 5, 2008

Primary Trends

Many believe that Rev. Wright’s sermons (as they were presented in the media) did substantial damage to Barack Obama’s advantage in North Carolina. Recent polling data supports this interpretation, but polls don’t present a consistent picture and they aren’t the only source of information we have available to analyze this issue. In addition, we have information on the demographic make-up of Indiana and North Carolina. We also have exit poll data.

Exit poll data show that an increasing proportion of white men and women are voting for Clinton, while Clinton’s share of the black vote is declining. Note that Rev. Wright’s sermons were broadcast around March 10 and Obama’s speech on race (responding to the Wright furor) occurred about a week later, March 18. The Ohio Primary was March 4 and Pennsylvania’s was April 22. Judging just from the trend from Ohio to Pennsylvania, it looks like Obama handled the situation well enough not to lose votes to Clinton, at least not during March and April.

Another way of putting this is, if Pennsylvania had the same demographic profile as Maryland, he would have won over 60 percent of the vote there. Based just on the race and gender distributions of Indiana and North Carolina’s populations, as well as voting rates and voting patterns by race and gender, I predict that Obama will win 56% of the vote in North Carolina and Clinton will win 52% of the vote in Indiana. Or, put another way, Obama will collect 114 delegates to Clinton’s 104 (calculations are available on request).

It may happen that, because I have not completely accounted for the recent downward trend in Obama support among white voters, I am underestimating share of the vote that Clinton will win in Indiana on Tuesday. Yet, I don’t think this is as much an issue in North Carolina since there has also been an upward trend in Obama support among African Americans and Obama continues to hold strong among whites who attended college. North Carolina has a fairly well-educated population.

Here are some tables to support my claim above that if Pennsylvania had Maryland's population composition, it would have been a big Obama win.

Tomorrow's post will be about unemployment trends.

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