Divination class, electoral division

I’m starting to like Obama’s chances once again.

Going into the weekend before Hyper Tuesday, it looks to me as if Obama is in reasonably good shape.

The Gallup and Rasmussen daily tracking polls are showing slightly different numbers, but the same basic picture: Obama slightly behind and gaining.

In the two nights of Rasmussen polling since Edwards dropped out, it’s HRC 44, Obama 42; HRC was running about 9 points ahead before South Carolina. Gallup’s three-day average shows the gap shrinking from 11 points to 3 since Tuesday. It seems that Obama is picking up most of the Edwards voters who have made up their minds since Edwards dropped out. What’s more, he’s closing the gender gap.

I’m not sure how much the flood of endorsements from politicians, unions, and newspapers (plus Move On) will matter, other than the obviously powerful boost from Ted Kennedy. But it certainly shows where some parts of elite opinion are trending, and in the case of the politicians it shows a belief in Obama as the superior candidate in November, a disbelief in HRC’s inevitability, or both.

My two personal favorites among Obama pickups:

* Alma Rangel, the wife of Charlie Rangel, who has backed HRC but who urged Obama to run. If that means that support for HRC is fading in Harlem, where the Clinton Foundation has helped generate a major economic revival, that could be big news. But up until now he was up against a fairly solid phalanx of the Harlem leadership, including not only Mr. Ways and Means but also Calvin Butts, pastor of the Abyssinian Baptist Church. (Butts is the successor, save one, of Adam Clayton Powell, Jr.).

* The Yale Daily News, the original home of Doonesbury, choosing a Harvard Law grad over two Yale Law grads.

California is obviously going to be close, one way or the other. Connecticut is a toss-up. HRC has some edge in Massachusetts, but not a huge one. It’s already clear that Obama is going to do far better in New York than is Clinton in Illinois, which after all is where she was born. RCP, including polls from as much as two weeks ago, shows him down 22 in New York; he’s up 36 (!) in Illinois. Presumably those numbers, like the national numbers, have been moving in Obama’s direction.

It’s easy to imagine that Obama could do well enough in Illinois to balance out New York and New Jersey. And with a wider TV buy for the final weekend, he could run much better than he’s polling in some fly-over states.

So I’m not putting any champagne on ice, but having kept my optimism under fairly good control since New Hampshire &#8212 I’ve regarded an HRC nomination as likely, but not certain &#8212 I’m now slipping back into hopefulness. The betting markets still give the edge to HRC, 60-40. On the one hand, that tempers my optimism. On the other, I’d like a piece of that action. Right now, from where I sit, it doesn’t look any worse than even money.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com