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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Poll Taken – Poll Reported Gap A Problem

The latest L.A. Times – Bloomberg Poll, taken 12/20-23 and the 26th, shows a statistical dead heat between Democrats Obama, Edwards and Clinton in Iowa and between Obama and Clinton In New Hampshire. On the GOP side the poll has Huckabee ahead in Iowa and McCain challenging Romney in New Hampshire, according to Janet Hook’s L.A. Times report.
The horse race polls are increasingly valuable for predictions in the closing days of the last week before primary season begins. However, supporters of these candidates would be wise to hold the high fives for a bit, because the 12/27 Bhutto assassination and the fallout in Pakistan could influence the choices of IA and NH voters. Here we have a classic example of how a late-breaking event can make the horse race numbers suddenly seem kind of dicey.
It’s not hard to imagine a host of questions about the impact of the Bhutto assassination on the IA and NH primaries: In the event of the possible ‘meltdown’ in Pakistan noted by Ed yesterday, will voters now look for more foreign policy experience, since Pakistan is a nuclear power? If so, what will that do to the Obama and Huckabee surges? Or Romney’s lead? Will Clinton benefit? As a veteran U.S. Senator, Will McCain be helped, as the Republican “best at fighting terrorism and protecting national security” in the poll, or hurt as a gung ho Iraq hawk? How much will it help Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Biden, who held a press conference yesterday showcasing his expertise on Pakistan? Will Huckabee’s gaffe — his inaccurate statement about Pakistan being under marshall law, which was lifted two weeks ago, clip the wings off his surge. (For a good round-up of the Democratic presidential candidates’ comments on the Bhutto assassination, see here and here.)
The Bhutto assassination may have no real effect on the early primaries. However, all of the aforementioned questions cast a measure of doubt about the shelf-life of the poll’s findings. One or more of the candidates in both fields could get a little bump or clip, which might provide a margin of victory or defeat, translating into bold headlines coast to coast. Small world.

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