Liveblogging The Pennsylvania Returns

[ Posted Tuesday, April 22nd, 2008 – 16:01 UTC ]

[Note: this is my first experience in "liveblogging" -- providing continuous rolling commentary -- so we'll just have to see how it goes. Posts will be made throughout the night, with newer posts at the top. If you're reading this for the first time, start at the bottom and work your way up. And don't forget to refresh your browser (reload the page) every once in a while, in order to see new postings.]


11:35 PM (EDT)
Hillary Clinton -- 1,148,600 votes -- 55%
Barack Obama -- 947,730 votes -- 45%
[precincts reported] -- 93%

This is going to be my final posting on this liveblog. It's been an interesting experience, I have to admit.

It doesn't look like the numbers will change much at this point, at least not until the wee hours of the morning. The last 7% of the votes will trickle in, but it's looking like Hillary may be able to claim exactly what everyone was saying she needed to viably stay in the race for now -- a double-digit win in Pennsylvania. People who predicted a win for her of around 200,000 voters turned out to be amazingly accurate.

The delegate count hasn't changed much in the last half-hour, so while this may be the real story here, we will not know the results of that story until tomorrow. Over half the delegates have not yet been awarded, so there's still room for some movement here one way or the other.

So the race continues. The next contest will be on May 3. On to Guam!!


11:10 PM (EDT)
Hillary Clinton -- 1,014,769 votes -- 55%
Barack Obama -- 825,562 votes -- 45%
[precincts reported] -- 83%

Clinton has broken through the million-vote barrier, with only 17% of the votes left to count. She has opened up a solid 10% lead of almost 200,000 votes, which will help make the meaningless number of "total votes nationwide" closer. It's a meaningless number for several reasons, but at this point it is a big part of her argument to the superdelegates, so take that for what it's worth.

But the pledged delegate race appears to be tightening somewhat. Clinton's pledged delegate total stands at 40, to Obama's 37 -- a difference of only three delegates. Now, there are still 81 delegates left to win, so this could seesaw throughout the night. But for now, it looks like even with a 10-point margin of victory, Hillary won't have appreciably cut into Barack's delegate lead much.


10:35 PM (EDT)
Hillary Clinton -- 785,504 votes -- 54%
Barack Obama -- 665,751 votes -- 46%
[precincts reported] -- 68%

With just over two-thirds of the vote reported, Hillary is holding firm with an eight-point lead. Since there hasn't been much movement in this lead for a while, it's looking like the chances are she'll win by either 6, 8, or 10 points. Hillaryland has got to be pretty happy with those numbers, after some of the dire predictions which were made in the past week or so.

Delegates are still being divided up, and Hillary's lead there is down a bit, at least so far. As of now, CNN is reporting she's got 37 delegates to Barack's 31, a lead of only six. Ninety more to go....


10:05 PM (EDT)
Hillary Clinton -- 571,654 votes -- 54%
Barack Obama -- 478,487 votes -- 46%
[precincts reported] -- 51%

Clinton momentarily opened up a ten-point lead, but it dropped back down to eight and has stayed steadily there ever since. In raw numbers, she's almost 100,000 votes ahead. If this holds throughout the night, she'll wind up with 200,000 or so more votes than Obama for the night.

With just over half the votes in, we're starting to get some delegate numbers. So far, Clinton has snagged 28 delegates to Obama's 19, a lead of 9. Pledged delegates left to be divided up: 111.


9:50 PM (EDT)
Hillary Clinton -- 364,216 votes -- 54%
Barack Obama -- 310,023 votes -- 46%
[precincts reported] -- 33%

I just realized I've been posting all my times as East coast times, instead of Pacific, as they were noted. This has now been corrected -- sorry for the confusion!

Hillary is widening the gap steadily. She's now got an 8-point lead which shows no sign of abating. Since there are only two candidates, and since there will likely be few throwaway votes ("Mickey Mouse," for instance), the spread will likely wind up being an even number. Every point Hillary gains comes at the expense of one point for Barack, so every time the numbers change, they'll change by two. This means the options are: 2 points, 4 points, 6 points, 8 points, or double-digits. Two doesn't look likely at this point, unless Obama surges in a big way pretty quickly. Four points would be "less than five" which is where some have put the bar for success for tonight's contest. Conversely, six points would just barely clear that bar. But a Clinton win of eight, ten, or more would definitely breathe some life back into her campaign. Her only worry should she win by eight or more would be whether she can translate such a win into big enough campaign donations. If it is four points or less, she'll be facing "get out now" cries from party stalwarts. Six points is likely going to be considered sufficient for her to stay in the race, though.


9:25 PM (EDT)
Hillary Clinton -- 164,004 votes -- 53%
Barack Obama -- 142,616 votes -- 47%
[precincts reported] -- 14%

Obama seems to be closing the gap somewhat, although I caution that I expect the numbers to fluctuate wildly for a while, at least until half of the votes have been counted.

Interestingly, over on the PA official state site, although they only report 8.63% counted, their numbers are higher -- 190,830 Clinton (51.9%) to 176,783 Obama (48.1%). But I can't believe it is going to turn out that close, because I don't think all the news organizations would have called it this early if it truly was within 4 points.


9:15 PM (EDT)
Hillary Clinton -- 112,145 votes -- 55%
Barack Obama -- 93,488 votes -- 45%
[precincts reported] -- 10%

Looks like all the news organizations have now called the race for Hillary.

The big question which remains is what the spread will be. With 10% of the votes counted, Hillary is up by 10 percent. This, if it held firm, would be an enormous boost for her campaign, and allow her to soldier on into the next contests. If that lead slips over the course of the night, however, doubts will resurface. That's my guess, anyway. If she finished exactly how the exit poll predicted (52/48), with only a four-point victory, that may not be enough. But I would say anything over that is going to mean she keeps going, and the race continues.


8:55 PM (EDT)
Hillary Clinton -- 46,334 votes -- 56%
Barack Obama -- 36,094 votes -- 44%
[precincts reported] -- 3%

NBC News just called the race for Clinton. But stay tuned, since "by how much?" is still a vitally important question. No call made yet from CNN.


8:52 PM (EDT)
Hillary Clinton -- 32,826 votes -- 55%
Barack Obama -- 26,922 votes -- 45%
[precincts reported] -- 3%

Either someone got it wrong before, or it's wrong now -- the official state site is now reporting that there are 9,211 total districts reporting. Did Pennsylvania just suddenly double in size when nobody was looking?

Of these, a total of 28 have now reported, meaning that at this pace, it could be a long night. Because of only counting a handful of votes, I'm going to assume Hillary Clinton's first numbers -- 67%, an incredible 33-point lead -- are going to be her high-water mark for the night. Maybe the numbers came from Johnstown.

OK, that was tasteless, I admit, but I just couldn't help myself.


8:38 PM (EDT)
Hillary Clinton -- 1,629 votes -- 67%
Barack Obama -- 819 votes -- 33%
[precincts reported] -- 0%

Finally, some numbers!

These are ridiculously early numbers, so I won't even address them yet, but wanted to mark when the process started.

On the news, both candidates' campaign rallies seem awfully quiet... and very tense.


8:30 PM (EDT)
Hillary Clinton -- 0 votes -- 0%
Barack Obama -- 0 votes -- 0%
[precincts reported] -- 0%

A half-hour after the polls have closed, we have absolutely no numbers reported yet. NBC's national network news is starting, so I'm going to take a ten-minute break to see what they have to say.

Note: If you want your election returns straight-from-the-horse's-mouth, you can check the official Pennsylvania state election site. Random fact: there are 5,591 districts to report, statewide.


8:15 PM (EDT)
Hillary Clinton -- 0 votes -- 0%
Barack Obama -- 0 votes -- 0%
[precincts reported] -- 0%

While we're waiting for numbers here, I just have to plug CNN's "Divvy up the Democratic delegates" game page. Playing around with this extra-wonky game for a few minutes shows how daunting the math is for Senator Clinton's chances of winning. But, like I said, it's a good time-waster to play with while waiting....

Random facts: Pennsylvania has 187 delegates, of which 158 will be decided in the primaries, and the remaining 29 are superdelegates.


8:05 PM (EDT)
Hillary Clinton -- 0 votes -- 0%
Barack Obama -- 0 votes -- 0%
[precincts reported] -- 0%

Well, CNN hasn't immediately called the race right after the polls closed. That's a sign that it's going to be somewhat close, but it is also a sign that they're being very cautious tonight.

Numbers are still zeroes across the board. No results yet, in other words. Stay tuned!


8:00 PM (EDT)
Hillary Clinton -- 0 votes -- 0%
Barack Obama -- 0 votes -- 0%
[precincts reported] -- 0%

Welcome to the first time I've ever attempted "liveblogging." Since we've been waiting six weeks for Pennsylvania to vote, and since my evening will be spent glued to the media to see what happened, I thought I would share my evening with you, the reader. If the experiment goes well, maybe I'll do this sort of thing in the future. If it horribly crashes and burns, then this will be my first and last attempt at liveblogging!

Program note -- our servers did actually crash (but not burn) earlier today, so our apologies for that. We seem to be up and running strong again, so hopefully we won't have technical glitches to worry about tonight.


So here we sit, six weeks after Mississippi voted. During this excruciating pause in the campaign, one cannot help but feel that it would be nice if this process ends at some point in the near future. One cannot also help but wonder what it has been like for the voters of Pennsylvania, who by now must feel they've been trapped in an unmoving elevator for a month and a half with both candidates, having to decide which one to eat alive in order for the rest to survive.

Ahem. Maybe this stream-of-consciousness thing is a little too immediate. Sorry, I'll try to exercise some editorial control here.

For me, the hardest thing, especially in the past few weeks, has been watching the mainstream media discover Pennsylvania voters, as if they're conducting some anthropological study in a remote land. This is Pennsylvania for Pete's sake, whose eastern half is part of the Eastern Seaboard where all these media types hail from. It's not Timbuktu!

The barely-concealed condescension dripping from their voices as they breathlessly reveal some heretofore unknown fact about small towns in America should show everyone just who truly is the "elitists" in this process. "Oh, look, these people actually like bowling! Isn't that quaint?!?" "Gosh, some of these people actually agree that they're 'bitter' about the economy!" "Clinton was seen drinking an exotic concoction in these parts, which we've learned is apparently called a 'boilermaker' -- isn't that cute?!?"

Like I said, it's pretty obvious who the elitists are here, and they're not running for office.

Of course, the Democratic candidates weren't perfect on this aspect either, promising not to raise taxes on all those "middle class" people making up to $250,000 per year. In a town where the average house still costs $45,000. I mean, really.

But enough of that. The inane coverage is past us now, and the only thing that matters is the vote count. All numbers I'm using here tonight are from CNN, I should mention, because I've found theirs to be more trustworthy than most this election cycle.

The three big questions are going to be:

"Who wins?"

Well, obviously, that's the biggest question.

"If Hillary wins, how many points did she win by?"

If she wins by less than five points, then the cries for her to exit the race are going to become loud and, possibly, overwhelming.

"How many delegates did each pick up?"

This last one may not be answered fully tonight, it should be noted.

Although others have already released this info, I am holding back on publishing this until the polls have already closed in the entire state of Pennsylvania. So I cannot immorally influence the race at this point by revealing that the exit polls show a 52/48 split, with Clinton edging it out. But these exit polls have been wrong before, so we'll have to see.

Even if the race is called extremely early, I will still be posting here to cover the media's reaction into the night.


-- Chris Weigant


9 Comments on “Liveblogging The Pennsylvania Returns”

  1. [1] 
    echothebat wrote:

    Chris - thanks so much for the recap of last night. It is National Turn Off week so I couldn't watch TV last night (girls are keeping us parents honest ;-) BUT I can use my computer for work - heh heh, maybe not for blogging.

    So the 10 point win translates into something like 200,000 votes, yes? If so, what do you think about the 168,000 republicans who switched their affiliation before the primary? Trying to remember where I heard that number quoted - NPR possibly. Anyway, that is a significant number to jump ship, there must have been a motive. -Ginger

  2. [2] 
    Michale wrote:

    Well, it looks like I may have to start shopping around for a black robe and a funky collar.. :^/



  3. [3] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    echothebat -

    With 99% reporting, the final numbers are:
    Clinton - 1,259,832 - 55% - 81 del.
    Obama - 1,044,663 - 45% - 69 del.

    8 delegates left to be decided.

    Crossover GOP voters may have had an impact on this, as in Texas, you're right.

    Michale -

    At least you didn't promise to dress as the leading Thrall character. Finding a tinfoil bikini would be next to impossible!

    Heh heh.


  4. [4] 
    akadjian wrote:

    Dang. As am Obama fan, I was pulling for 'ya Michale. Tip: Don't get the red outfits. The ones in red always get it first when they go down to the planet!

    Too bad, though. Was hoping to see a shift. Unfortunately, Hillary has done a good job of changing the conversation so Obama is playing on her turf.

    She's used the Republican strategy of making your opponent look weak.

    Here's my Obama tip of the day: find a way to make her play on your turf.

    Suggestion #1: Challenge her publicly to a positive campaign in the name of the party. She says 'yes,' she's on your turf. She says 'no,' she appears selfish. Either way, Obama wins.

    Suggestion #2: Explain how sticking to your ideals is the stronger position. Do voters want a President willing to compromise her ideals? Willing to compromise in order to win?

    What do you think, Michale? I keep hoping he will take the attack to her, but keep it positive.

    And the reason I think this is important is that overall, Democrats need to find an effective way to counter when Republican accuse them of being weak.

    Here's to Guam!

  5. [5] 
    Michale wrote:

    At least you didn't promise to dress as the leading Thrall character. Finding a tinfoil bikini would be next to impossible!

    As often as I disagree and argue and "fight" with the people on here, even *I* couldn't be so cruel as expose ya'all to THAT horrendous sight! :D


    I honestly thought that Obama would be able to keep it close enough to give the Party elite some real leverage over forcing Clinton out..

    As an outsider looking in, here is how I see things.

    Hillary simply can't win and here is why. It's become apparent that the decision is going to rest with the Superdelegates.. That's a widely accepted no-brainer.. It's also widely accepted that Clinton cannot catch Obama in any meaningful way. The two relevant columns (popular vote and delegate count) are firmly with Obama and, barring a catastrophe, Clinton cannot catch up..

    Given these accepted facts, there are only two ways things can go..

    If the Supers override the popular vote and delegate count, then the Democratic Party will be in a civil war. The Dems will lose one of their most populous and loyal groups and send them into the voting booth to vote GOP.. The 1968 Dem Convention will look like a tea party by comparison..

    Now, it can be argued that the same thing could happen if the Supers nominate to Obama. But I don't think so. Because it's logical and rational that the nomination would go to Obama, because he leads in the relevant categories.. (as an aside, didn't ya love that Clinton made the argument that "Hillary is winning in the electoral vote category" That was a hoot!! :D)

    In short, if the supers nominate Obama, it will be seen as the right thing to do. Sure, the Clintonistas will, on the surface, grumble and moan and scream and yell. But, deep down, they will acknowledge the logic and rationale of the decision and eventually accept it. Whether they will accept it in time to help the Dems in the general election is open to debate..

    However, (this is "in short"??? :D ) if the supers nominate Clinton, it can only be viewed by the Obamabots (I usually hate facetious labeling, but since I did it to Clinton, I must with Obama :D )as a backroom deal designed to steal the nomination from the rightful winner. And, by and large, they would be right.. While there are some logical, albeit weak, justifications for this move by the supers, I don't think it will be enough to placate the Obama supporters.

    If Clinton has ANY party loyalty left, she should bow out..

    Now, I have stated there are only two options, but there are also other possibilities that are remote, yet still possibilities. An Obama/Clinton ticket is probably the best way out for the Dem Party. But I honestly can't see this happening, although it's not being dismissed out of hand as much anymore, so it's possibly becoming more of an option. I don't think we will see a Clinton/Obama proposal as that would infuriate the Dem black groups even MORE than the supers handing the nomination to Clinton..

    Finally, on a personal note, I am really torn here. Intellectually I know that a Dem fight is the best thing to happen to insure a GOP victory.. But, I have to admit that I am always disappointed when I see a Hillary win that allows her to continue to fight.

    It's a contradiction in attitudes I have a hard time explaining..


  6. [6] 
    Michale wrote:

    This sums up the Democratic Party's problem perfectly...


    Link in case IMG tags are not supported...

    @CW, if there are copyright issues, feel free to delete this post...


  7. [7] 
    Michale wrote:
  8. [8] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    Michale -

    Luckily, you forgot that my comments accept angle brackets for tags again, (heh heh) so I was not forced to deal with copyright issues at all!

    But the link works, (the one two comments above) and I urge everyone to take a look, because it's really funny! Thanks for the laugh, M.


  9. [9] 
    Michale wrote:

    De nada.. :D

    And I am going to tattoo "" on my forehead!!! :D


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