Washington Post: Clinton, Obama are Even in Indiana

To my knowledge, there has been no polling of the presidential race in Indiana since February and that’s what makes this analysis in the Washington Post interesting:

EVANSVILLE, Ind. — Something unusual appears to be developing in the Democratic presidential race in this state: a fair fight.

Wedged between Illinois, which is Sen. Barack Obama‘s home state, and Ohio, which Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton dominated on March 4, Indiana may be the one state remaining on the primary calendar where both candidates begin with a roughly equal chance of coming out ahead.

That fact alone makes it stand out from states such as Pennsylvania, where the playing field for the April 22 contest offers big advantages to Clinton (N.Y.), or the Oregon race a month later, which clearly tilts toward Obama.

In Indiana, Obama has a home-field advantage, while Clinton has the backing of the popular Sen. Evan Bayh and may have an edge on the kind of economic issues that are likely to dominate the discussion before the state’s Democrats vote on May 6.

My gut tells me (and my gut has been wrong) that Indiana is fertile territory for Obama. 20% of the population lives in Chicago media markets, so they must view Obama as something of a favorite son and that area should go to Obama easily (Obama has not yet lost a state that borders Illinois). Also, Obama is opening 10 offices in the state which ought to give him an advantage in the ground game and if you combine that with his superior air war gained from his fundraising advantage over Clinton, Obama is in good shape here.

On the other hand, it seems that the Limbaugh effect (Republican voting in Democratic primaries to prolong the Democratic primary process) has the potential to play a major role here since Indiana has an open primary. The Clintons have already been campaigning aggressively throughout the state and that should help them quite a bit. Obama needs to get serious in Indiana by holding more rallies (he’s been in Indiana once since Indiana started to matter) and sending surrogates to get local media coverage.

Bottom line? With an aggressive campaign, Obama should win Indiana in a close race.


8 responses to “Washington Post: Clinton, Obama are Even in Indiana

  1. I’m an Obama supporter, but I think Clinton has the advantage in Indiana. Democrats in that state pretty much think Evan Bayh is God.

  2. Kip,

    I agree with your assessment of Evan Bayh. But do you think proximity to Chicago and its media could make a difference?

  3. I’d disagree with your assessment on Bayh here.. of course, my experience is limited to my circles of friends and acquaintances, but Bayh seems to be more tolerated than revered. He’s tolerated simply because he is a Democrat who can win in state-wide elections. I can’t see him having all the much pull with Democrats and GOTV.

    Another thing to consider is that Democrats here had to endure 8 years of family dinners and barbeques hearing about how the Clintons were the spawn of Satan, so I think that has rubbed off on a certain level and has probably played a factor in other relatively conservative states that Obama won.

  4. Either way, I think it bodes well for whoever the nominee is that democrats in this red state seems to be so psyched right now.

  5. There has been polling in Indiana. I don’t know how accurate this Indiana poll is, but it shows Obama with a big lead over Clinton: http://www.howeypolitics.com/2008/02/26/howey-gauge-poll-feb-16-17-2008/

  6. Thanks, Fred. Though that poll is from February, I doubt the dynamic in this state has changed much since then.

  7. What’s wrong with this picture? Our campaign runs a TV ad Monday saying that the presidency is the toughest job in the world and giving examples of challenges presidents have faced and challenges the next president will face — including terrorism, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, mounting economic dislocation, and soaring gas prices. The ad makes no reference — verbal, visual or otherwise — to our opponent; it simply asks voters to think about who they believe is best able to stand the heat. And we are accused, by some in the media, of running a fear-mongering, negative ad.

    The day before this ad went on the air, David Axelrod, Barack Obama’s chief strategist, appeared with me on “Meet the Press.” He was asked whether Hillary Clinton would bring “the changes necessary” to Washington, and his answer was “no.” This was in keeping with the direct, personal character attacks that the Obama campaign has leveled against Clinton from the beginning of this race — including mailings in Pennsylvania that describe her as “the master of a broken system.”

    So let me get this straight.

    On the one hand, it’s perfectly decent for Obama to argue that only he has the virtue to bring change to Washington and that Clinton lacks the character and the commitment to do so. On the other hand, we are somehow hitting below the belt when we say that Clinton is the candidate best able to withstand the pressures of the presidency and do what’s right for the American people, while leaving the decisions about Obama’s preparedness to the voters.

    Who made up those rules? And who would ever think they are fair?

    I am not making any bones about the fact that our campaign has pointed out what we believe are legitimate differences between Clinton and Obama on important issues. We have spoken out when we thought the Obama campaign made false distinctions, such as when it ran advertising in Pennsylvania on standing up to oil companies, particularly when Clinton was the one who did stand up to the oil companies by voting against the Bush-Cheney energy bill. And we believed it was appropriate to debate Obama’s comments about working people in small towns, because they expressed a view of small-town Americans with which Hillary Clinton strongly disagrees.

    But throughout that debate, Clinton deliberately focused on the content of Obama’s comments without making sweeping statements about his character.

    It’s an important distinction. The Obama campaign has chosen from its inception not to treat Clinton with the same respect. In fact, the Obama campaign has made an unprecedented assault on her character — not her positions, but her character — saying one thing about raising the tone of political discourse but acting quite differently in its treatment of Clinton.

    Obama’s campaign manager, David Plouffe, held a conference call with reporters and called Hillary “one of the most secretive politicians in America today” — a striking personal charge in the era of Dick Cheney.

    Axelrod described Clinton as having “a special interest obsession.”

    Obama himself has joined the character assault from time to time, saying, for example, that Clinton “doesn’t have the sense that things need to change in Washington” — a patently false and demeaning observation.

    In the Philadelphia debate last week, Obama incorrectly said that his campaign addressed Hillary’s misstatements on Bosnia only when asked to by reporters. In fact, Obama’s campaign has organized several conference calls on the topic, including one this past weekend in which the featured speaker said that Clinton lacks “the moral authority to lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier on Memorial Day” (a statement the Obama campaign thankfully repudiated after we called it on it). Even though many reporters participated in those calls, Obama’s misstatement in Philadelphia was almost completely ignored.

    The bottom line is that one campaign really has engaged in a mean-spirited, unfair character attack on the other candidate — but it has been Obama’s campaign, not ours. You would be hard-pressed to find significant analogues from our candidate, our senior campaign officials or our advertising to the direct personal statements that the Obama campaign has made about Clinton.

    The problem is that the Obama campaign holds itself to a different standard than the one to which it holds us — and sometimes the media do, too.

    Hillary Clinton is a strong and determined person, and she will continue to discuss real solutions to America’s problems and the need for strong leadership to implement those solutions — even if she must play by a different set of rules than Barack Obama. But wouldn’t it be better if in this campaign what’s good for the goose were also good for the gander? After all, in America, fair is supposed to be fair.

    The writer is a strategist for Sen. Hillary Clinton’s campaign.




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