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Super Tuesday Preview: The Democrats

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The Democratic showdown in more than 20 states on Super Tuesday could be one for the ages. A national shift to Barack Obama has definitely taken place during the past week. Obama is in the lead or tied with Hillary Clinton in 3 of the 7 national polls taken during the past few days. Previously, Obama had tied or led in just 4 of the past 201 polls dating back to late 2006, with Clinton boasting double digit leads in the majority of them.

Due to the proportional system in which state democratic parties award delegates, it is extremely unlikely that a winner on the Democratic side will emerge on February 5th. The headline, however, will not simply be that Obama 'remained competitive' to stay in the race, but that the Illinois junior Senator won several key states in which Clinton had previously held the momentum. That outcome - even if the two candidates come out nearly equal in the delegate count - would be a severe blow to the Clinton campaign.

There are several states (at least 8) that are unlikely to be in play on Super Tuesday. Clinton is poised to do very well in her home states of Arkansas and New York in addition to Massachusetts, Oklahoma, and Tennessee. Oklahoma is one of the few states in which the well-funded Obama campaign decided not to run any media spots. Obama, meanwhile, is running strong in Georgia, Illinois, and Utah.

Of the remaining 14 states, California is the big prize, and Smart Politics predicts Obama will win the most votes in the Golden State where Oprah Winfrey and the state's First Lady Maria Shriver campaigned on behalf of Obama this weekend.

Clinton once had the upper hand in Northeastern states like New Jersey, Connecticut, and Delaware, but recent polls in all those states show them to be up for grabs. Smart Politics predicts that although the races will be tight, Clinton will prevail in at least two of them.

Several states, especially in the West and Midwest, will be holding caucuses on Tuesday: Alaska, Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Minnesota, New Mexico, and North Dakota. Polling is very scant in these states, with the only recent poll coming in Minnesota (released last week by Minnesota Public Radio and the Humphrey Institute), which showed Clinton with a 7-point lead. Smart Politics predicts that Obama will prevail in a majority of these caucus states, including the Gopher State, where he has run a big ad campaign.

That leaves the Southern states of Alabama and Missouri and the Southwestern state of Arizona. Polls in all three states are very close and these are definite 'toss-up' states. Whoever wins them will not win a large majority of the delegates.

Missouri might be the bellwether state in determining who has the ultimate advantage as the campaigns move forward past Super Tuesday, as it is the neighboring state to both Clinton (Arkasnsas) and Obama (Illinois).

The final tally Smart Politics expects to see on the Super Tuesday Democratic scorecard: 12 states for Clinton, 10 states for Obama.

A Republican Super Tuesday Preview will be posted later today.

Previous post: California a Toss Up for the GOP
Next post: Super Tuesday Preview: The Republicans

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Remains of the Data

Gender Equality in the US House: A State-by State Quarter-Century Report Card (1989-2014)

A study of 5,325 congressional elections finds the number of female U.S. Representatives has more than tripled over the last 25 years, but the rate at which women are elected to the chamber still varies greatly between the states.

Political Crumbs

Small Club in St. Paul

Mark Dayton is one of just three Minnesotans ever elected to three different statewide offices. Dayton, of course, had previously served as State Auditor (1991-1995) and U.S. Senator (2001-2007) before winning the governorship in 2010. At that time, he joined Republicans Edward Thye and J.A.A. Burnquist on this very short list. Burnquist was elected lieutenant governor in 1914 but then became governor after the death of Democrat Winfield Hammond in 1915. He then won the gubernatorial elections of 1916 and 1918 and eight terms as attorney general two decades later (1939-1955). Thye was similarly first elected lieutenant governor of the Gopher State and became governor after the resignation of fellow GOPer Harold Stasson in 1943. Thye won one additional full term as governor in 1944 and then two terms to the U.S. Senate (1947-1959). Twenty Minnesotans have been elected to two different statewide offices.


Respect Your Elders?

With retirement announcements this year by veteran U.S. Representatives such as 30-term Democrat John Dingell of Michigan, 20-term Democrat George Miller of California, and 18-term Republican Tom Petri of Wisconsin, it is no surprise that retirees from the 113th Congress are one of the most experienced cohorts in recent decades. Overall, these 24 exiting members of the House have served an average of 11.0 terms - the second longest tenure among retirees across the last 18 cycles since 1980. Only the U.S. Representatives retiring in 2006 had more experience, averaging 11.9 terms. (In that cycle, 10 of the 11 retiring members served at least 10 terms, with GOPer Bill Jenkins of Tennessee the lone exception at just five). Even without the aforementioned Dingell, the average length of service in the chamber of the remaining 23 retirees in 2014 is 10.2 terms - which would still be the third highest since 1980 behind the 2006 and 2012 (10.5 terms) cycles.


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