Clinton to ride out Obama surge

Al Jazeera's Dave Marash on the Democratic battle for New York.

    Clinton is set to battle off the challenge of Barack Obama [EPA]

    If Barack Obama can pull off upsets in any of the three states in the New York City area - New York, New Jersey and Connecticut -  it could be a sign of a national landslide in next week's "Super Tuesday" presidential polls, political observers say.

    But, they agree, this is very unlikely to happen.

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    Maurice Carroll, a former New York Times political reporter who now runs the respected Quinnipiac Poll, says Obama has been making up ground in recent weeks. 

    "Hillary Clinton had a two to one lead just a month ago, and making up that big a difference seems all but impossible," says Carroll.

    Obama's best chance may come in New Jersey, Carroll says, where polls show the Illinois senator closing a smaller gap than the one in New York. 

    Clinton machine

    In both New York and New Jersey, the Clinton campaign has signed up almost all the local Democratic leaders, putting at its disposal, election-day operations which can, especially in New Jersey, be very efficient. 

    Super Tuesday

    A total of 24 US states are holding primaries or caucuses on 5 Feb

    It is the day when the largest number of nominating delegates for both Republicans and Democrats are up for grabs

    52 per cent of Democratic delegates and 41 per cent of Republican delegates are at stake

    Key states include California - with the most amount of delegates for a single state - Georgia, Illinois and New York

    Started in 1988 after some southern US states decided to hold primaries simultaneously to boost southern influence in choosing a candidate

    While Obama has been endorsed by some younger legislators in all three states, none of them has the political organisation to match up to what Clinton will have available. 

    It was a similar alliance, Clinton and the state Democratic leadership, that worked well in Senator Clinton's key win in the New Hampshire primary last month. 

    Analysts say some New Hampshire voters who had pledged support to Obama did not follow through on election day, in part, perhaps, because they were not pushed to the voting booths as efficiently as the state party's pro-Clinton turnout machine.

    One troubling sign for Obama in New York at least, there has been no surge of new voters signing up. 

    Record numbers of young, first-time voters, made the difference for Obama in his victory in the Iowa caucus, and almost bought him a second victory in New Hampshire.

    Hispanic vote

    Latino voting patterns in both New York and New Jersey, both early-finishing East Coast states, will also be closely watched on Tuesday night for possible insights into what Hispanic voters in later-voting Western states like Colorado or California might do. 

    But, analysts say, this kind of speculation should be done very carefully. 

    East Coast Hispanics, mostly from Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic, often have different political imperatives than the largely Cuban and Central American Hispanics of Florida, and the overwhelmingly Mexican-born Latinos of Western states from Texas to California.

    Making up ground on the former First Lady is something Obama has been doing across America, but in the three states surrounding New York City, just closing the gap will not help Obama’s candidacy.

    Dave Marash is an Al Jazeera presenter and reporter based in Washington DC.


    SOURCE: Al Jazeera


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