Candidates Mobilize As Race Grinds On
By: Wall Street Journal
By CHRISTOPHER COOPER and AMY CHOZICK
After campaigning for more than a year, spending more than $180 million between them, and facing voters in more than half the states, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are essentially tied in their battle for the Democratic presidential nomination.
Super Tuesday did nothing to break the deadlock. With the dust still settling, the New York senator as of yesterday afternoon claimed 1,000 delegates out of the 2,025 needed. Her Illinois colleague had 902.
Now the race heads into a prolonged series of smaller contests, from Louisiana and Maine this weekend, to next Tuesday’s “Potomac Primary” of Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C.
The next big battles: Ohio and Texas on March 4. If those don’t settle anything, there’s Pennsylvania on April 22. Then come Montana and South Dakota on June 3. And then it’s onto the floor of the Pepsi Center in Denver, where the Democratic nominating convention is being held starting Aug. 25.
Each candidate heads into the next phase with different strengths and weaknesses.
Sen. Clinton still has more establishment support and more experienced field strength — though Sen. Obama has made great headway in catching up on those fronts.
And he seems to have much stronger finances. Sen. Clinton said yesterday she loaned her campaign $5 million last month — a month when Sen. Obama raised $32 million to her $13.5 million. “I think the results last night proved the wisdom of my investment,” she told reporters.
The Super Tuesday voting showed Sen. Obama retains a huge advantage among African-American voters and young voters, and is making headway with white voters. Sen. Clinton has maintained loyalty from Latino voters, and from women.
Below, a look at the four major factors shaping the race in the coming weeks: raising money, navigating demographics, shoring up their organizations and settling on tactics for upcoming states.
Both candidates dug deep into their fund-raising coffers to pay for the coast-to-coast campaign blitz leading up to Super Tuesday. Now, they must go back to donors and try to rebuild the campaign treasuries.
This will be an easier task for Sen. Obama, whose $32 million January haul set a monthly record for a Democratic presidential primary with more than one candidate. The windfall of support came from 170,000 new donors, according to the campaign.
Sen. Obama also has more small-dollar donors than Sen. Clinton does, meaning he can keep going back to them. A greater portion of Sen. Clinton’s donors have already hit the $2,300 individual maximum allowed under the law.
Sen. Obama’s deluge of cash gave him an early advantage in the states that will hold contests Feb. 9-12. Since Monday, the campaign has been airing ads in Nebraska, Louisiana, Maine and other states or territories that will hold contests Feb. 9-12. As of yesterday, the Clinton campaign had no ads in these states.
Clinton Campaign chairman Terry McAuliffe — one of the most prodigious fund-raisers in Democratic Party history — shrugged off rumors that the campaign may be strapped for cash. “Look, if there’s one thing Hillary Clinton doesn’t have to worry about, it’s money,” Mr. McAuliffe said after Sen. Clinton’s victory rally on Tuesday night.
Campaign finance laws say that only half of a couple’s jointly held funds can be used to aid a campaign. A Clinton spokesman said the $5 million loan came against her portion of the couple’s funds, which totaled between $10 million and $50 million, according to a June financial disclosure form. Sen. Clinton’s ability to tap into her net worth can potentially help offset Sen. Obama’s fund-raising advantage.
Other Clinton advisers say Sen. Clinton is behind in the fund-raising battle and are trying to play that as an advantage by painting her as the underdog. “People rejected the increasingly establishment campaign of Sen. Obama and accepted the substance-oriented campaign of Sen. Clinton,” says Sen. Clinton’s chief campaign strategist Mark Penn.
According to the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonpartisan, nonprofit research group that tracks money in politics, the Clinton campaign spent $77.7 million through 2007, leaving her with $37.9 million on hand and $5 million in debts. Sen. Obama spent $83.5 million through the same period, was left with $18.6 million on hand and nearly $800,000 in debts.
Sen. Clinton and Sen. Obama have outraised Republican candidates by 2-to-1, and in some cases more, this political season.
The Clinton campaign is expected to hit up deep-pocketed donors in New York, California and New Jersey in the coming days. These donations would help the campaign pay for advertising and travel to the states that vote later this month. They would also fund larger operations planned for Ohio and Texas, both of which vote on March 4 and have a large number of delegates up for grabs.
As polls showed Sen. Obama gaining momentum heading into Super Tuesday, Sen. Clinton’s fallback was her strong support from Latinos.
The Clinton campaign reached out early to the Hispanic community and picked up the endorsement of the United Farm Workers Union, which represents over 20,000 mostly Latino farm workers in California. The Union’s co-founder, Dolores Huerta, appeared in ads and at events with Sen. Clinton.
Hispanics tend to favor Sen. Clinton not only because of her early and aggressive Spanish-language outreach, but also because of her emphasis on child welfare and early education, issues that are disproportionately important to Latinos, according to polls.
Sen. Obama tried to make inroads with the endorsement of several Spanish-language publications and the support of Massachusetts Sen. Edward Kennedy, who appeals to Hispanics’ long-running affection for John F. Kennedy, and is a hero among some for his championing of more lenient immigration laws. But the attempts turned out to be in vain.
In 16 states voting Tuesday, nearly two-thirds of all Hispanics who voted in the Democratic contest backed Sen. Clinton, according to exit polls conducted by Edison/Mitofsky Research for the National Election Pool. In California, where 29% of all voters were Latino, 69% chose her, compared with 29% for Sen. Obama, according to exit polls.
Eight out of 10 black voters in California cast their ballot for Sen. Obama.
Since the South Carolina primary, the Clintons have seen their once strong support among black voters deteriorate. National exit polls show 82% of black voters chose Sen. Obama, leading to victories in such states as Alabama, Georgia and Missouri and foreshadowing strong finishes in states like Maryland and Louisiana that hold contests in the coming days.
Both he and Sen. Clinton had the support of about half of white male voters on Super Tuesday, marking a big improvement for the Illinois senator who had struggled with this group in the past.
He may have gotten a boost by the departure of former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards who had a quarter of white male voters behind him before pulling out of the race.
This is a group the Clinton campaign says it will try harder to recruit in the coming weeks, especially as the race moves to Ohio, which has a large white, economically stressed population. “There were a lot of voters who were supporting Sen. Edwards who had a very short time to make up their minds,” said campaign’s Mr. Penn.
Sen. Clinton worked hard to maintain her advantage with middle-aged white women. On the eve of Super Tuesday, the former first lady answered questions in a nationally televised interactive “town hall” meeting that aired on the female-friendly Hallmark Channel. Sen. Clinton had the support of almost six in 10 white women on Tuesday, according to exit polls.
Less-educated, low-income people overwhelmingly chose Sen. Clinton, while a coalition of more liberal, more educated and higher-income voters flocked to Sen. Obama. Sen. Clinton’s focus on the economy, boosting unemployment benefits and universal health care has given her a broad base of support among lower-income voters. She often speaks to this segment of voters in her stump speeches.
In remarks to reporters yesterday Sen. Obama said Sen. Clinton has an organizational edge. “She’s got a political machine that’s been honed over two decades,” he said.
Political machines typically handle the complex logistics of a campaign, from operating phone banks to driving voters to the polls on election day. They rely on hundreds, even thousands of staff and volunteers.
Sen. Obama’s own machine has caught up quickly. In South Carolina, for example, his campaign’s grass-roots tactics of reaching out to a wide swath of voters directly won voters even as the Clinton team had worked hard to curry favor among the political establishment.
The Super Tuesday states where Sen. Obama employed a similar grass-roots formula — Georgia, Minnesota, Colorado and Idaho — were also the states where he carded his biggest wins.
The Obama campaign likes its chances in places where it has the most sophisticated organizations and the biggest numbers of volunteer staff. They include Louisiana, Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia.
Sen. Obama is expected to make a full-bore organizational bid for Texas, and has already started opening offices there. Texas has one of the most unusual electoral setups: Two-thirds of the delegates are awarded in a primary election and one-third of them are awarded after the state holds a caucus contest that involves some 8,000 precincts. Because caucus states require a greater degree of community organization, Sen. Obama tends to do well in them.
Polling in Texas has been sporadic, but it is generally believed Sen. Clinton has the edge.
If the next round of elections follows the standard pattern that has marked the Obama and Clinton campaigns, Sen. Clinton will again focus on the states that offer the largest number of delegates and have the largest concentration of white voters. Sen. Obama will seek to make his mark in caucus states and heavily Republican states where Sen. Clinton is less popular.
The outlines of this strategy began emerging yesterday when Sen. Obama laid plans to travel to New Orleans after casting an afternoon vote in the Senate. Louisiana, along with Nebraska and Washington as well as the U.S. Virgin Islands, will all hold contests on Saturday. Some 161 delegates are at stake in these contests. After a rally at Tulane University today and a walking tour of one of New Orleans’ storm-savaged neighborhoods, Sen. Obama intends to travel on to Nebraska and Washington. He will end the week in Maine, which holds its contest on Sunday.
With the exception of Louisiana, what these states have in common is that they all employ the caucus system. Generally speaking, voters in caucus states tend to be swayed by personal appearances by candidates.
The Clinton campaign is putting its emphasis on Ohio and Texas, which carry 161 and 228 delegates, respectively, and hold their contests on March 4. Sen. Clinton’s ability to draw in lower-income white voters bodes well for her in Ohio where recent polls of likely voters put her ahead by as much as 23%.
In Texas, the campaign has an extensive on-the-ground operation planning events in the coming days. It is hoping to reach out to the large number of Latino voters in cities like San Antonio and El Paso in addition to economically strapped white voters across the state’s vast rural regions.
Pennsylvania, which holds its primary on April 22 and offers 188 delegates, could also present a land of opportunity for the Clinton campaign. The state has one of the oldest populations in the country, many of whom have been laid off of factory jobs and struggle with access to affordable health care, one of Sen. Clinton’s centerpiece issues.
In the meantime, the campaign says it is sending high-level surrogates like former President Bill Clinton and daughter, Chelsea, among others, to Washington, Nebraska, Virginia and other states that will vote in the coming days.
While the campaign doesn’t currently have ads running in Maryland or Louisiana, two states where the black population gives Sen. Obama an edge, it denies that it is overlooking states in which Sen. Clinton is the underdog.
“[Obama] has some primaries coming up that are likely to be more favorable to him,” says Guy Cecil, the campaign’s national political and field director. “In the end we really see the key states as Ohio and Texas.”
Write to Christopher Cooper at email@example.com and Amy Chozick at firstname.lastname@example.org
* Content From the Wall Street Journal supplied by Elva Ramirez:
200 Liberty Street, 12th Floor
NY NY 10281
212. 416. 4260