Presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama’s campaign manager, David Plouffe, in memo today downplayed expectations of a sweep on Tuesday, saying the Illinois senator instead hopes to stay within striking distance in the all-important delegate sweepstakes.
Rival Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, a New York senator, will win most of the 24 states with primaries or caucuses on Tuesday, Plouffe wrote. But Obama will win substantial numbers of delegates, which will allow him to stay in the race beyond tomorrow.
Keep in mind, campaign managers don’t publicly disseminate their strategy memos so this email is an intentional rather than leaked statement. But after a weekend press blitz over Obama’s momentum, his team sounds worried that a failure to wow the nation at the ballot box tomorrow and exceed expectations will deflate the campaign.
Here’s what Plouffe wrote:
Two weeks ago, a Clinton campaign adviser told CBS News that they believed they could “wrap up” the nomination on February 5th. As the “inevitable” national frontrunner, tomorrow should be the day when she sews up the nomination or builds a formidable delegate lead. But because of Obama’s growing momentum across the country, the Clinton campaign is now unlikely to reach their stated goals of wrapping up the nomination tomorrow.
Senator Clinton is certainly the favorite on February 5, given the huge leads she has held in many of these contests throughout the course of the campaign and the political, historical and geographic advantages she enjoys in many of these states.
For example, California, which Clinton led by 25 points in October and 12 points two weeks ago, was once seen as the Clinton campaign’s firewall and where they planned to run up an insurmountable lead in delegates. Former Governor Gray Davis, a Clinton supporter, said on MSNBC last week, “I am pleased to be for Hillary Clinton and I expect her to do very well in Super Tuesday. I expect her to win California by a sizable amount, at least double digits, do well in New York and New Jersey and Connecticut.”
Based on her huge head start, Hillary Clinton should still win California, but is unlikely to achieve her goal of getting a sizable share of the delegates.
Our path to the nomination never factored in a big day for us on February 5. Rather, we always planned to stay close enough in the delegate count so that we could proceed to individually focus on the states in the next set of contests.
We fully expect Senator Clinton to earn more delegates on February 5th and also to win more states. If we were to be within 100 delegates on that day and win a number of states, we will have met our threshold for success and will be best positioned to win the nomination in the coming months.
A performance that exceeds those benchmarks, while unlikely, would put is in a surprisingly strong position heading into the rest of the February contests.
While the Clinton campaign is furiously trying to spin the expectations game, it is important to look at where they were in some of the key states just a few weeks ago.
Less Than Two Weeks Before February 5th, Clinton Led Alabama By 15 Points. According to polling done by Rasmussen released on January 25, Clinton led Obama by 15 points, 43% to 28%. [Rasmussen, 1/25/08]
Less Than Two Weeks Before February 5th, Clinton Led Arizona Obama By 21 Points. According to a poll done for the Arizona Republic that was released on January 23, Clinton led Obama 45% to 24%. [Arizona Republic, 1/23/08]
CONNECTICUTHartford Courant: Two Weeks Before February 5th, Clinton Led Connecticut By 14 Points. According to polling done for the Hartford Courant released on January 20, Clinton led Obama by 14 points, 41% to 27%. [Hartford Courant, 1/20/08]
October 2007 Poll Found Clinton Leading Obama By 24 Points. According to polling done by Farleigh Dickinson that was released on October 10, Clinton led Obama by 24 points, 41% to 17%. [Fairleigh Dickinson, 10/10/07]
In December 2007, Clinton Led Georgia By 7 Points. According to polling done by Strategic Vision released on December 12, Clinton led Obama by 7 points, 34% to 27%. [Strategic Vision, 1/22/07]MASSACHUSETTS
Survey USA: Two Weeks Before February 5th, Clinton Led Massachusetts By 37 Points. According to polling done by Survey USA released on January 24, Clinton led Obama by 37 points, 59% to 22%. [Survey USA, 1/24/08]MINNESOTA
October Poll Found Clinton Leading Obama By 25 Points In Minnesota. According to polling done by Mason Dixon released on October 2, Clinton led Obama 47%-33%. [Star Tribune, 10/2/07]MISSOURI
Less Than Two Weeks Before February 5th, Clinton Led Missouri By 19 Points. According to polling done by Rasmussen released on January 25, Clinton led Obama by 19 points, 43% to 24%. [Rasmussen, 1/25/08]
Before February 5th, Clinton Led New York By 28 Points. According to polling done by USA Today and Gallup released on January 28, Clinton led Obama by 28 points, 56% to 28%. [Gallup, 1/28/08]
Less Than Two Weeks Before February 5th, Clinton Led New Jersey By 17 Points. According to polling done by Quinnipiac released on January 22, Clinton led Obama by 17 points, 49% to 32%. [Quinnipiac, 1/23/08]
Three Weeks Before February 5th, Clinton Led Oklahoma By 20 Points. According to polling done by Survey USA released on January 14, Clinton led Obama by 20 points, 45% to 25%. [Survey USA, 1/14/08]
Less Than One Week Before February 5th, Clinton Led Tennessee By 33 Points. According to polling done by Insider Advantage in Tennessee on January 30th, Clinton led Obama by 33 points, 59% to 26%. [Insider Advantage, 1/30/08]