The Effect of Shifting Expectations

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The numbers out of Indiana show a narrowing race — the difference between the candidates is roughly 33,000 votes out of just under a million cast. That’s a four percent lead for Hillary Clinton.

The response from the TV pundits: Is a two-point or three-point victory for Clinton effectively a loss? Does Clinton’s massive loss in North Carolina and her tiny victory in Indiana mean that she needs to exit the race? Will superdelegates take her seriously after those results?

What’s so interesting about this is that a week or two ago, a lot of polling showed Obama winning Indiana by one to five percent. Almost all of it showed him winning North Carolina by double digits. But Obama had such a miserable two weeks going into today’s vote that the expectations shifted. Ironically, the beating Obama has taken recently may have helped him.

Update: Just want to add something quickly. The Clinton campaign surrogates on TV tonight are latching onto Michigan and Florida as their lifeline. If only Obama hadn’t blocked a revote in Michigan and Floriday, they say, this would be an even race. I’m not sure that’s true. If you assume Clinton nets 50-70 delegates in those two states (and that’s being very generous), Clinton is still losing the pledged delegate count. That’s how large Obama’s lead is at the moment.

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