First, as a frame of reference…
What type of campaigning will we see in the next week? How will Obama try to close the gap? How will Hillary try and stop the bleeding?
Mrs. Clinton appears to have the edge going into the coming week. Polling conducted since the middle of January — after her thin-but-surprising victory in the New Hampshire primary — shows that she holds a decisive and often double-digit edge over Mr. Obama in eight of the 10 most important Super Tuesday states. These states collectively will deliver more than 1,500 delegates; 2,025 are needed to lock up a nomination.
But that advantage may be less solid than it seems. Recent polls in California, Arizona, Illinois and Tennessee show anywhere from 1 in 10 to 3 in 10 Democrats still undecided.
At a Clinton rally in Phoenix last week, Benjamin Taylor, a 29-year-old attorney, said he doesn’t agree with the claims by Mrs. Clinton and husband, Bill, that Mr. Obama lacks experience. “People said the exact same thing about Bill Clinton when he first ran. If you’re intelligent enough, you deserve to be president,” said Mr. Taylor, who says he wants to see Mr. Obama speak before making a decision. He will get his chance Thursday when Mr. Obama visits the state.
Though a poll conducted a week ago in Arizona shows Mrs. Clinton with a 10-percentage-point lead over Mr. Obama, it may not account for any bump he might have gotten from a recent endorsement by Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano. Ms. Napolitano plans to campaign with Mr. Obama during his visit to the state.
Statewide polls are often unreliable. And because it’s expensive to poll, they often fail to come out frequently enough to reflect changing voter sentiment on the ground. A poll in Massachusetts conducted Wednesday gave Mrs. Clinton 59% of the vote — a nearly 3-to-1 edge over Mr. Obama. But the Kennedy endorsement could carry substantial clout with Massachusetts voters. And Mr. Obama has the backing of the state’s other senator, John Kerry, as well as Gov. Deval Patrick.
Interesting times ahead…