Political Odds and Ends

Obama stronger in favorable media markets; Clinton's troubles with superdelegates; mum on McCain and the Times.

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• Take a look at the map of the results of Wisconsin's Democratic primary. What do most of the counties Hillary Clinton carried have in common? They're at the edge of the state and in non-Wisconsin media markets. Which is to say, they're counties where Barack Obama presumably didn't have the 3-to-1 or 4-to-1 advantage in ad buys he had in the rest of the state. Note that none of them is in the state's southern tier of counties. Those counties get Illinois media, which has been lavishing favorable attention on Obama for four years, since his come-from-behind victory in the 2004 Senate primary. Implications for Ohio and Texas: Obama appears to be able to outbuy Clinton in both these states.

• Ariel & Ethan, a Washington-area polling firm I'd not heard of before, has E-mailed a report on a survey of 55 uncommitted Democratic superdelegates. Here are a couple of excerpts from the press release:

Meanwhile, a lopsided majority (88 percent) say that a contentious battle on the convention floor could cause irreparable harm to the Party.

Despite the concerns over a potential fracture over the tight nominating contest, the superdelegates interviewed for the study were unanimous in their view that their key concern is determining which candidate will be best positioned to defeat presumptive Republican nominee John McCain....

The study also delved into the highly contentious issue of seating delegations from Michigan and Florida, which were stripped of their delegates after scheduling their primaries earlier than party rules allowed. While opinions varied on the best resolution to the dilemma, most superdelegates indicated that a solution that ensured both states' voters were not disenfranchised without breaking the party's agreed-on rules would be the best solution. A majority stated the delegates should not be seated so long as their states remained under penalty status.

This survey suggests that the Clinton campaign may have a hard time winning over superdelegates and reversing the unseating of the Michigan and Florida delegations. Current national polls have Obama leading John McCain 48 to 43 percent but McCain leading Clinton 47 to 45 percent. There's an argument, which the Clinton people have been making, that Clinton would be a stronger candidate: Obama has a glass jaw and a bigger downside potential; Clinton has been tested; and while half the voters don't like her, half the voters do—her numbers are not likely to change much. But that argument may not prove terribly convincing to those looking at today's numbers.

On Michigan and Florida, it sounds as if these superdelegates want all good things—seat the delegates to enfranchise the voters (every vote should count) and don't seat them (don't change the rules after the game has been played). But the bottom line seems to be the latter. If I were running the Obama campaign, I would have someone get commitments to vote against changing the rules on Michigan and Florida from uncommitted and declared-for-Clinton superdelegates, and maybe from pledged Clinton delegates as well. Then give the names to the media. The point would be to show that even if Clinton wins Texas, Ohio, and Pennsylvania and draws closer to even in the delegate count, she still can't prevail on seating Michigan and Florida. Come to think of it, the media should be polling superdelegates on this as well. We know who they are, and it's not hard to get their telephone numbers and E-mail addresses.

• I'm not going to comment on the New York Times's pathetic story today on McCain. Let me just associate myself with opinionjournal.com's James Taranto, who as usual has the links for anyone who wants them.