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Sweet: Clinton pollster Mark Penn Nevada memo. A lowering expectations in Nevada pre-emptive

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LAS VEGAS, NV.--The Clinton campaign, a little late in the game, continues to complain about voting in nine at-large precincts in hotel casinos where the workers are represented by a union backing Barack Obama. Here's Clinton chief pollster Mark Penn's memo, which gives Obama a five point running start because of the at-large voting.

A Clinton friendly teachers union tried and failed in their lawsuit to shut down the casino precincts, but a federal judge sided with the Nevada state party and the Culinary Union. Clinton claimed her fingerprints weren't on the lawsuit, but she--and Bill--sure agreed with it.

Click for Penn memo...

To: Interested Parties

From: Mark Penn, Chief Strategist

Date: January 18, 2008

Regarding: Will the polls be predictive in Nevada?

The public polls are in and they show Hillary Clinton with a lead in the Nevada caucuses. The Review Journal poll done by Mason Dixon shows Hillary ahead 9 points by 41 to 32, and the Zogby poll puts it at 5 points.

Unlike the tumultuous few days after Iowa when the media was wall-to-wall with coverage of Obama’s Iowa performance and key moments occurred, absent anything dramatic on tonight’s news we are heading into a very normal end of the campaign in Nevada.

So the question is – will these polls be reflective of the result? Turnout is uncertain since the last election saw only 9000 voters come out in 2004. This time the state is in the limelight, and 1800 people were in the debate audience alone, so we may get a significant turnout that could make the results broadly reflective of the polls.

But while union endorsements are usually helpful to candidates they have never come with their own self-contained precincts before. Nine caucus sites have been set up essentially for members of the Culinary union, who have endorsed Senator Obama. Because of a unique weighting system., these sites will count disproportionately in awarding delegates. This should give Obama a clear 5-point advantage starting out.

Can we make that up? Senator Obama's National Field Director said, "The Nevada election is going to come down to: Whoever gets the endorsement of the Culinary Workers Union, more than likely, is going to win Nevada."

On the other hand, we have a great organization, huge crowds and a great candidate delivering strong message. So stay tuned.

But if the polls turn out differently from the result, there may be an easy explanation for it this time.


Paid for by Hillary Clinton for President


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Lynn Sweet

Lynn Sweet is a columnist and the Washington Bureau Chief for the Chicago Sun-Times.

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This page contains a single entry by Lynn Sweet published on January 18, 2008 6:18 PM.

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