Obama Essentially Tied With Clinton Nationally, Brokered Convention Looms

There can be no doubting Obama's momentum now:
Gallup Poll Daily tracking shows Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama as close as they have been since the polling program started at the beginning of 2008. Forty-four percent of Democratic voters nationwide support Clinton, while 41% support Obama, within the poll's three-point margin of error. The data suggest that Obama has gained slightly more -- at least initially -- from John Edwards' departure from the race. In the final tracking data including Edwards in all three days' interviewing (Jan. 27-29 data), Clinton had 42%, Obama 36%, and Edwards 12%. Since then, Clinton's support has increased two points and Obama's five. Tomorrow's release will be the first pure post-Edwards three-day rolling average.
In their post-Edwards polling, Gallup and Rasmussen now have nearly identical numbers, showing Clinton up by about 2% nationwide. In such a close campaign, it will become virtually impossible for one candidate to reach 2,025 entirely via pledged delegates, since there are only 3,253 pledged delegates. When only 2% separates the candidates nationwide, no candidate can possibly win over 60% of the pledged delegates. So, unless Clinton's early voting advantage will overwhelm Obama on Tuesday, it certainly looks like Super Delegates will decide who wins the Democratic nomination.

Long-term, right now I think the most likely scenario for the nomination is that Clinton and Obama remain pretty close in pledged delegates, but through early voting in February 5th states, super delegates, and arguments over Florida and Michigan, Clinton eventually cobbles together enough support to seal the nomination sometime in March. The best analogy might end up being the way Mondale, despite losing almost all of the final primaries to Hart, eventually sealed the nomination via Super Delegates in 1984. The party will be divided, and the Republican nominee will be strong. And so, despite having the most favorable national electoral outlook Democrats have seen in over thirty years, we will actually be significant underdogs in the presidential campaign.

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