Politico’s Five things to watch in Kentucky:
If the state gives her a victory anywhere close to the 41-point landslide she got out of neighboring West Virginia last week, Team Clinton will have considerably more evidence to buttress its argument about her electability.
It would embolden her to assert she could win Kentucky in the general election against presumptive Republican nominee John McCain, and to claim that Democratic frontrunner Barack Obama is unable to expand the Democratic electoral map into states like Kentucky.
If Clinton wins by a larger margin than the one by which Obama is expected to beat her in Tuesday’s other primary in Oregon, it would also amplify her assertion that she’s ahead in total votes, if Florida and Michigan are counted.
A Kentucky landslide would serve another purpose: it would bolster her case that Obama can’t win over the blue collar and elderly white voters who fill the state’s voters rolls and who, the Clinton campaign argues, are necessary to beat McCain in November.
With that calculus in mind, here is what Kentucky political strategists and experts will watch for Tuesday:
How goes Montgomery County? In 1988 and 2000 – the last elections with no incumbent president on the ballot – this county of less than 25,000 residents in the Outer Bluegrass region of the state was within 5 percentage points of the actual statewide primary results. [snip]
The power of John Edwards. Kentucky could provide a good litmus test for whether the former North Carolina senator’s endorsement will help Obama make inroads with the blue collar and elderly white voters who have flocked to Clinton. [snip]
The role of race. Exit polls in neighboring West Virginia found one in five voters admitted race was a factor in their vote. Of those, more than four in five voted for Clinton. [snip]
The battle for Louisville. Both candidates have strongholds in the state’s biggest city, which is home to more than 700,000 of the state’s 4 million residents, so turnout will be key. [snip]
In order for Obama to hold down her winning margin, he needs to do well in Louisville and Lexington, home to the University of Kentucky, and in the relatively affluent northern Kentucky suburbs of Cincinnati. [snip]
Since the eastern part of the state is home to the areas in which Obama hopes to be competitive (Louisville, Lexington, the Cincinnati suburbs) and since cities tend to report more quickly than rural areas, early results may make it appear a closer race than it is.
Politico’s Five Things to watch in Oregon:
Oregon seems tailor-made for Barack Obama. [snip]
“Oregonians seem to like the cool, cerebral type,” Oregon pollster Tim Hibbitts said. “They liked Harding. They liked McCarthy. They liked McGovern. They seem to like that kind of Democrat. And, without putting an ideological implication on it, I think that Obama stylistically appeals to Oregonians.”
All of this portends a strong showing for Obama in Tuesday’s mail-in primary. A better-than-expected performance for Hillary Rodham Clinton would do wonders for her campaign, but few, if any, Oregon political experts predict such an outcome.
Here is what Oregon political strategists and experts will be watching Tuesday:
How quickly is the race called? Good news for the East Coast-based TV networks: Oregon, already three hours behind on Pacific Standard Time, isn’t expected to take long to count the mail-in ballots because of their electronic tabulating machines. [snip]
Be careful not to read too much into the early tabulations, which are likely to heavily favor Obama because they will come out of Portland and Multnomah County, said Paul Gronke, a Reed College political science professor.
The showing in the strongholds. Heavy voting in Portland and surrounding Multnomah County are a good sign for Obama. He is expected to beat Clinton by a 2-to-1 margin in this metropolitan area “full of young Democrats under the age of 35,” said William Lunch, a political analyst with Oregon State University.
Clinton needs to perform well in southern Oregon and east of the Cascade Mountains – areas that are considered more rural and conservative. Following the strategy followed in other states, that’s where Clinton sent her husband to campaign. Look to Bend’s Deschutes County, Medford’s Jackson County and Pendleton’s Umatilla County, experts said. [snip]
How goes Marion County? The county, which is home to more than 300,000 residents and the state capitol of Salem, has yielded votes within 5 percentage points of the actual statewide primary results in 1988 and 2000 – the last elections with no incumbent president on the ballot. There is a mix of income levels in the area, from upscale liberals to blue collar workers. [snip]
Follow the demography. Political observers expect women to comprise as much as 58 percent of the statewide vote. That would appear to be a promising sign for Clinton, but polls in Oregon have shown Obama leading among women voters.
West of Portland, Washington County will be a good gauge of suburban female voters. If Clinton has strength in the state other than in rural and small-town areas, she could find it in this county, said Wiener.
To test Obama’s support among blue-collar Democrats, look to heavily industrialized Albany in Linn County about 70 miles south of Portland, Hibbitts said. [snip]
For a glimpse at the Hispanic vote, look to Woodburn in Marion County, where half of the 20,000 residents are Latino. Good advance work led Obama to eat lunch at a local Mexican restaurant there earlier this month.
To measure college activity, keep an eye on Corvallis in Benton County. Home to Oregon State University and high-tech workers at the major employer, Hewlett Packard, Obama should win the area by a 2-1 margin, Lunch said.
What’s the turnout? With the presidential primary and closely contested Democratic primaries for U.S. Senate (the seat held by Republican Gordon Smith), attorney general and secretary of state, experts are predicting a “turnout” of 60 percent or more. In Oregon, which conducts elections by mail, the measure of turnout is actually the percentage of ballots returned.