Hillary Clinton: The Right Choice for the Democratic Party – Facts and the Figures
No candidate will emerge from the primaries and caucuses with enough pledged
delegates to claim the nomination – assuming the millions of votes from Florida and
Michigan will be counted. At the end of this process, more people will have voted for
Hillary Clinton than for any other potential nominee in the history of the Democratic
Party, or of the country. She will emerge as the candidate with the best chance of
taking back the White House in November.
This memorandum offers automatic delegates key metrics that Hillary Clinton is winning
in this primary race: the popular vote, a broad coalition of supporters, and millions of
new Democratic voters who registered to vote for her. It also sets forth why, having
amassed more ballots than any other Democratic primary candidate in history, she is
best poised to beat John McCain and win the White House in November.
I. Hillary Clinton Will Lead in the Popular Vote for the Democratic Nomination
At the conclusion of the primary season on June 3rd, Hillary Clinton will have the most
popular votes. Hillary Clinton already leads in the popular vote, including those who
voted in Michigan and Florida, based upon AP’s state-by-state vote totals for states that
release vote totals and ABC’s vote total estimates for the four states that do not release
vote totals. Given the remaining contests, we expect this number to increase between
now and June 3rd.
More than 17 million people already have cast their votes for her. Indeed, since March
1st, she has won over a half million more votes than Senator Obama (difference:
Regardless of the decision on how to seat the delegates from Florida and Michigan,
which will increase the number of delegates the successful nominee must reach to up
to 2210, the votes there represent the popular will. Based on the results of every
contested major state on February 5th, there is no evidence that these two states would
have voted any differently if they had voted outside the early state window.
On February 8th, Senator Obama said that if someone had the most pledged delegates
and the most votes in the country, that “it would be problematic for political insiders to
overturn the judgment of the voters.” It appears that when all the votes are counted
on June 3rd, Hillary Clinton will be the candidate with the most votes. The automatic
delegates then face the choice between one candidate with more pledged
delegates and another candidate with more popular votes.
II. Hillary has put Together a Winning Coalition of Democratic Primary Voters.
A look at exit polls shows how strong Hillary’s coalition of voters has held together and
even strengthened in the last rounds of primaries. Here are the basic facts:
1. Women - Among all women, Hillary leads 51% to 43%, and since the round of
primaries that started on March 4th she has led 55 % to 44%. Among white
women, Hillary leads 61% to 34% and among Latinas, Hillary leads 58% to 25% for
those states reporting Hispanics in exit polling.
2. Seniors - In all the contests so far, Hillary has won 58% of those ages 60+
compared to Senator Obama’s 35%. Among those who have voted since
March 4, Hillary leads 62% to 36%.
3. Latinos - Hillary has won Latino voters by 56% to 30% – nearly two to one;
excluding the presidential candidates who subsequently dropped out, Hillary has
won Latinos 65% to Senator Obama’s 35%. In California’s primary, where Latinos
comprised 30% of the voting population, Hillary won 67% to Senator Obama’s
32%. Latino turnout in New Mexico’s Democratic caucus was 35%, and among
Latinos Hillary won 62% to Senator Obama’s 36%.
4. Working Class - Hillary has consistently won the working class vote in key
Democratic swing states, and on average she leads 50% to 45% among voters
earning under $50,000. In Ohio, Hillary won these voters 56% to 42%; in
Pennsylvania 54% to 46%, in West Virginia, Hillary won these voters 71% to 23%;
and in, Kentucky she won the working class vote 67% to 29%. Furthermore, Hillary
leads among union voters 52% to 43%.
5. Rural Voters - Hillary has been winning an overwhelming percentage of
America’s rural voters – 53 % to 41%. Since March 1, Hillary has won 58% and
Senator Obama 40% of rural voters. In Kentucky, Indiana, West Virginia,
Pennsylvania and Texas, Hillary won over 60% of rural voters.
III. Hillary Clinton Has Brought More New Voters into the Process than any Other
There has been a dramatic increase in participation in the primaries.
In every state that had both a caucus and a primary, the primary had far greater
participation and a stronger vote for Hillary Clinton – this was true in Texas, Washington
State and Nebraska. When participation expands, Hillary’s vote expands. For example,
in the February 9 Nebraska caucus when less than 40,000 people participated, Senator
Obama won with 68%, but in the May 13 Democratic primary when more than twice as
many people voted – nearly 94,000 – Hillary’s and Senator Obama’s respective votes
were 2 points apart (HRC 47 / BHO 49).
The increase in participation in the primaries has been driven by core groups favoring
Hillary, led by women, Latinos and older voters.
Overall, more than 22 million Democratic primary voters were over the age of 45 this
year, compared to less than 10 million who voted in the 2004 Democratic primaries.
Women primary voters rose from 7.56 million in the 2004 Democratic primaries to more
than 21 million to date in 2008 – from 54% to 58% of the Democratic primary electorate.
At the same time, Latinos increased from 9% to 12% of the Democratic primary
electorate, from 1.26 million in 2004 to 4.42 million in 2008.
In Ohio, for example, women rose from 52% of the Democratic presidential primary
voters in 2004 to 59% in 2008. And, in California, Latinos made up 30% of Democratic
presidential primary voters in 2008, compared with 16% in 2004.
In both the 2000 and 2004 general elections, 17% of voters were under age 30, while the
percentage over the age of 45 rose from 50% in 2000 to 54% in 2004. Those results, and
the 2008 primaries, suggest that any strategy built on an increase in the Democratic
voting base should take into account women, Latinos and seniors.
Hillary Clinton is the Most Electable Candidate vs. John McCain
IV. The road to Pennsylvania Avenue goes through Ohio and Florida – Hillary is
winning those states.
There has never been a race this close and never before have the automatic
delegates been called upon to select from among two such closely competitive
nominees – one who has more pledged delegates, the other who has more popular
votes. Given this outcome, it is essential to determine who is most likely to win in
Hillary’s advantage in the general election polls against Senator McCain has become
even clearer in the closing weeks of the campaign. The latest Gallup tracking poll
shows her ahead of Senator McCain by 3 points; Senator Obama trails by 3 points
(Gallup Daily Tracking, May 21-25, 2008).
The state-by-state polls illustrate that only Hillary is positioned to take the two states that
were critical to the last two elections – Florida and Ohio. The latest Quinnipiac University
poll (May 13-20, 200
Florida compared to Hillary’s 7 point lead there against Senator McCain (in the
Rasmussen poll released on May 19th, Hillary leads Senator McCain by 6 points (HRC 47 /
McCain 41); Senator Obama trails him by 10 points (Obama 40 / McCain 50).
Quinnipiac also shows that Hillary is 7 points ahead of Senator McCain in Ohio while
Senator Obama is behind Senator McCain by 4 points there.
She is more likely to win Ohio and Florida. Without these two states, it is a difficult road
to the White House, especially against a candidate like Senator McCain, who is from
the Southwest and enjoys considerable support among Latinos.
The key reasons for her support include the experience she has to be Commander-in-
Chief and the belief she is best equipped to deal with the economic crisis. HRC is seen
as the best steward of our economy and the most ready to fix the economy. Nearly 6
in 10 (59%) voters say Hillary has a plan to fix the economy, and she beats McCain on
‘would do the best job on the economy’ by 8 points, a larger margin than Obama
does, according to a recent poll conducted by Public Opinion Strategies/Greenberg
Quinlan Rosner for NPR released May 15. She also is viewed as being the most
prepared to be Commander-in-Chief in recent polls. In the April 25-29th CBS / NYT poll,
46% of voters nationwide said they had confidence in Hillary’s ability to deal wisely with
an international crisis vs. 39% for Senator Obama. Hillary also leads Senator Obama
among Democrats and Democratic leaners on who can best handle the war on terror
in ABC / WP’s April 16th poll (HRC 47 / Obama 42).
V. The Electoral Path to the White House
The current electoral map shows Hillary has a clear path to victory and is leading
Senator McCain in electoral votes.
The states Hillary Clinton has won in the primary have a total of 308 electoral votes; the
states Senator Obama has won have a total of 224 electoral votes. Hillary won 7 of the
8 states with the most electoral votes – Senator Obama won his home state of Illinois.
ABC News published Karl Rove’s electoral vote analysis, which states that if the election
were held today, John McCain would win 238 electoral votes while Barack Obama
would win 221, with 79 electoral votes in toss-up states that are too close to call. Hillary
would win 259 electoral votes against John McCain’s 206 electoral votes with 73
electoral votes in toss-up states that are too close to call. (ABC News, May 19, 200
A different analysis (www.electoral-vote.com) shows that Hillary outperforms Senator
Obama against John McCain in the key swing states with the largest number of
electoral votes – Florida, Ohio, Michigan, and Missouri – as well as smaller swing states
like New Hampshire, West Virginia and Arkansas.
And yet another analysis, using recent public polls with general election match-ups in
each state, shows that if the election were held tomorrow, Hillary Clinton would defeat
Senator McCain with more than 300 electoral votes (329, when 270 is required to win)
while Senator Obama would lose to Senator McCain with fewer than 250 electoral votes
(246, to be exact).
Importantly, Hillary leads Senator McCain in Florida, Ohio, West Virginia and Arkansas –
all states in which Senator Obama trails Senator McCain. And a May 22, 2008
Rasmussen poll shows Hillary leading Senator McCain in Kentucky 51/42, while Senator
Obama trails Senator McCain by 25 points.
VI. Hillary Has a Broad Geographic Base of Support
Hillary enjoys a broad geographic base of support. Indeed, she has won 1,654
counties; Senator Obama has won 1,299 counties.
Hillary’s broad geographic support means she can win more parts of the country –
especially rural areas – and she can help House and Senate candidates in close
elections in these parts of the country.
For example, in following states, Hillary won the following number of counties:
State Counties Hillary Won Total Counties in State
Arizona 13 15
Arkansas 72 75
California 39 58
Indiana 83 92
Kentucky 118 120
Missouri 109 115
New Jersey 16 21
New Mexico 27 33
New York (home state) 61 62
The Democratic Party’s success – and failure – with presidential nominees has hinged
on winning in rural areas. Senator Kerry’s underperformance in these areas cost him
Ohio (-20 among rural voters); West Virginia (-11); Missouri (-33); and Nevada (-43) – all
states with whose rural voters Hillary performs strongly.
According to a recent poll conducted in NH, PA, OH, MI, WI, IA, MN, MO, FL, VA, CO,
NM and NV by Greenberg Quinlan & Rosner and Greener & Hook for the Center for
Rural Strategies, Hillary and Senator McCain both enjoy the support of rural America.
Hillary ties Senator McCain among rural voters, who cast 23% of general election
ballots; Senator Obama trails Senator McCain by 9 points with the same voters.
VII. Hillary is also Winning the “Tough” Districts
In 2006, Democrats retook Congress by picking up 31 seats. 20 of those freshman
Democrats are in GOP-leaning districts that voted for President Bush in 2004. These
districts are heavily rural – half of them are more than 40% rural.
Of those 20 “tough” districts, Hillary has won 16, most by large margins, as posted on the
Politico on May 18, 2008.
Furthermore, Hillary has won 10 of the 15 districts rated “toss-ups” for 2008 by the Cook
Political Report. They are:
• AL 05
• PA 10
• TX 22
• AZ 01
• MS 01
• NJ 03
• NY 25
• NY 26
• OH 15
• OH 16
VIII. Hillary Has the Support of Several Coalitions Critical to 2008 General Election
In 2004, Bush’s victory over John Kerry was a result of the shift of two groups – Latinos
and white women – in Bush’s favor. These are two of Hillary Clinton’s strongest groups.
Hillary has won these two groups overwhelmingly in the Democratic primaries, and
Hillary also generated huge turnout increases among both groups.
Assuming she could maintain Senator Kerry’s ‘04 map, Hillary would need to win either
Ohio or Florida to win the presidency. Importantly, Hillary’s base in Ohio is composed of
the constituency groups that Senator Kerry lost in Ohio in 2004, so she can take the
groups he won, such as those earning less than $50k and union households, and add to
them the groups he lost that constitute her base of support (women, suburban and rural
In addition to Ohio and Florida, it is likely that Hillary will add to the map states like
Arkansas, which President Clinton won in 1992 and 1996 and which she won in the
Democratic primary with 70% of the vote; West Virginia, where capturing working class
citizens is key to a general election victory; and states like New Mexico and Nevada,
where the Latino vote is pivotal.
Another critical constituency to Democratic presidential victories is the African
American community, which Senator Obama has won consistently and with increasing
margins over the course of the race.
Both candidates will have to bring together all of these constituencies to ensure a
victory in November. In addition to the constituencies she has been winning, Senator
Clinton’s will continue to reach out to African American voters. She has a lifetime of
commitment to issues about which African Americans are passionate – extending as far
back as her work with the Children’s Defense Fund and registering African American
and Latino voters in Texas.
Hillary appreciates and respects the choice of many African American voters to
support Senator Obama but she has never stopped working to gain their support. She
has earned the endorsement of so many prominent African American leaders because
they know her lifetime record of service on behalf of issues that are important to the
African American community – working to help create the Children’s Health Insurance
Program; fighting to raise the minimum wage; expanding and improving early
childhood education; working to revitalize our cities; and sponsoring the Count Every
Vote Act to ensure that every vote counts and every vote is counted. They know she
will continue that work as President.
Hillary is committed to unifying the party, and she will never stop campaigning for the
votes of African Americans in the race for the White House.
IX. Too Polarizing? – Unfavorable Ratings of Competitive Candidates are High
Because our country’s electorate is relatively divided along party lines, presidential
candidates who are competitive and have been in the public arena for a period of
time typically have higher unfavorable ratings.
For example, Hillary and Senator Obama have comparable unfavorable ratings – in the
most recent Newsweek poll of national registered voters, 43% are unfavorable to Hillary
and 40% are unfavorable to Senator Obama. Senator McCain has similar unfavorable
ratings – 40% are unfavorable to him in that same poll.
As might be expected, Senator Obama’s unfavorable numbers have steadily risen over
the last two years – in a May 2006 Newsweek poll, 10% said they were unfavorable
towards him. By July 2007, that number had risen to 19%; 8 months later it was at 28%,
and in the two most recent Newsweek polls, conducted in April and May of this year, his
unfavorable rating is at 40%– 4 times higher than it was two years ago. Hillary’s
unfavorable rating has remained relatively steady (according to the same Newsweek
polls, in May 2006, her unfavorable rating was 45% — it is now 43%). Similarly, Senator
McCain’s unfavorable ratings have likewise remained relatively unchanged (according
to the same Newsweek polls, in March 2008 his unfavorable rating was 35%; 41% in April
2008, and 40% in May 2008; Newsweek did not record unfavorable ratings before
March 2008 for Senator McCain).
More importantly, candidates’ unfavorable ratings do not indicate they are too
polarizing to win the Presidency; to the contrary, these ratings reflect the divisions in our
country between our parties as candidates become known and associated with the
Democratic or Republican Party.
Never before in the history of the modern primary system have we seen a nominating
contest go down to the wire like this.
The race will be decided by automatic delegates, with no candidate getting the
majority of total delegates needed. Hillary Clinton will finish the primary season with
more votes, the lead in public opinion polls as to who is best able to turn the economy
around and be an effective Commander-in-Chief, and with the better chance of
putting together the electoral map to win in November and take back the White