MEMO from John McCain 2008

Strategy Memo: Democratic Primary Results

To: Interested Parties
From: Rick Davis
Date: April 23, 2008
Re: Pennsylvania Democratic Primary Results

The race for the Democratic Nomination will continue.

Hillary Clinton's victory in Pennsylvania last night has extended the primary to the next round of contests (Indiana and North Carolina on May 6) and has maintained the competitive nature of the race.

With her 10-point victory, we should expect her poll numbers and resources to increase in the coming days. Primary wins, especially in the 2008 election cycle, have had a direct impact on the national polling numbers for the candidates and when national polling numbers increase, so do campaign donations.

Since last night, the Clinton campaign reportedly raised $10 million dollars online - enough to make a significant dent in upcoming media buys in North Carolina and Indiana. Barack Obama continues to surpass fundraising expectations and will most likely continue to do so. We need help during this period of democratic turmoil so we can build are resources and be ready to fight when the race begins. [ed. - links to online contrib. page]

Pennsylvania exit polls tell an interesting story that has implications for November.

  • Fifty-five percent of Pennsylvania voters say they believe Barack Obama will be the nominee in November. And, one-fifth of Clinton's Pennsylvania supporters believe he will be the nominee in November. So, the victory for Clinton is seen as a bump in the road for Obama, even by some of her true believers.

  • Exit polls reveal why this poses significant problems for Obama if he becomes the nominee. The most important problem: Clinton voters don't automatically become Obama voters after he becomes the nominee. In fact, Obama leaves large portions of Clinton's coalition on the table in November.

    Obama only wins 72% of the Democratic vote in a general election match up among those surveyed last night. Clinton shows her broad coalitional strength and wins 81% in a general election match up against John McCain. A full quarter of the Democrats in Pennsylvania are not willing to cast their ballot for Obama against McCain (15% say they vote McCain and 10% say they stay home), however, Clinton loses only 17% of Democrats (10% for McCain and 7% would not vote). This gap of 8-points would be significant in a general election match up. President Bush lost Pennsylvania by 2-points in 2004, when 41% of the electorate were Democrats. That 8-point gap among Democrats is enough to swing the state the other way (8% of 41% is 2.8-points, turning Pennsylvania red). This dynamic is clearly visible in publicly released surveys; an average of April polls show McCain trailing Obama by an average of 3-points (3 surveys in April) and trailing Clinton by 8-points.
    The cracks in Obama's Democratic coalition in Pennsylvania mirror what we saw in Ohio, and those cracks could have implications in November.

  • Hillary Clinton cleaned up with Union households - like she did in Ohio.

  • In Pennsylvania, Clinton won 59% of Union members (Obama 41%). Obama won these voters by significant margins in Wisconsin (+9), but has lost his hold on their vote in both Ohio (Clinton 55% - 43%) and now Pennsylvania.
  • Clinton did better than Obama with lower income voters.

  • Our targeting and analysis of the 2008 political landscape puts voters who are on the lower economic brackets at the heart of either party's winning coalition. Hillary won at every income level below $150,000, and Obama only won with the wealthiest Pennsylvania voters. Obama's media foibles contributed to his inability to connect to voters who are suffering the real impact of this challenging economic environment.
    This is also apparent in the number of voters who feel Clinton is more in touch with their views. Fifty-six percent of Pennsylvania Democrats say Clinton cares about people like them - again a significant switch from earlier contests. Wisconsin exit polls shows Obama had a 12-point advantage on that measure. By the time Ohio held their primary, Clinton had switched the dynamic and led by 12-points.
  • Clinton won Catholic voters.

  • In Wisconsin, Clinton split the Catholic vote 50%-50% with Obama. Again, she changed the dynamic in Ohio and won Catholics by 27-points (63% - 36%). In Pennsylvania, she increased her margins and won by 38-points (69% - 31%). The strength of this coalition bolsters her argument that Obama would have had problems competing in Michigan and will not be able to carry key Midwestern states in November.
  • Clinton won Jewish voters.

  • In Pennsylvania, the first state where both candidates competed for a significant block of Jewish voters, Clinton won by 15-points (57% - 43%). Again, the data suggests Jewish voters, a key Democratic coalition, pose a potential problem for Obama.
  • Clinton increased her margins in suburban and rural areas - without losing ground in urban areas. Clinton won Pennsylvania suburbs by a 12-point margin and won rural areas by 22-points. And Clinton lost in urban areas by 14-points. This is similar to her Ohio performance. But, it shows an increase in her performance in urban areas from earlier contests (in Wisconsin she lost urban areas by 21-points). Clinton has figured out how to increase her margins among suburban and rural voters and cut into Obama's base of urban voters.

  • What does that mean for John McCain?

    Ultimately most pundits contend that Hillary Clinton still has more than an uphill battle to become the nominee. So, what does this victory mean for John McCain?

    While the Democratic nomination continues to unfold, our campaign is actively engaged in listening to voters' concerns and sharing John McCain's message with them. Senator McCain has an active schedule in the coming weeks. Last week, he gave a major economic address where he addressed short term concerns like enacting a summer gas tax holiday, he proposed a new "HOME Plan" to help those who are hurt by the housing crisis and he is proposing a student loan continuity plan to make sure America's college students aren't hurt from the credit crunch. In addition, Senator McCain has spent this week travelling to places many in our nation have forgotten and where our citizens have felt left behind but where hope, innovation and local solutions are helping to lift these communities up. And, next week, Senator McCain will visit various health care facilities and unveil his plans and solutions to help Americans improve access and affordability to good health care. In addition, the campaign is building our organization and resources for the campaign in the fall.