Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Disclaimer: The Parliamentary Library does not warrant or accept liability for the accuracy or usefulness of the transcripts. These are copied directly from the broadcaster's website.
Expert makes predictions eve of Pennsylvania -

View in ParlViewView other Segments

Expert makes predictions eve of Pennsylvania presidential vote

Reporter: Eleanor Hall

ELEANOR HALL: A short time ago I spoke to our regular commentator on the US election, Professor of
Politics at Stanford University, Dr Simon Jackman, for his views ahead of tomorrow's vote.

ELEANOR HALL: So Simon Jackman, how critical is this primary - Pennsylvania primary - for both the
Democrat Senators?

SIMON JACKMAN: It's critical for Hillary Clinton to win this one. I think she has been able to stay
in this race because she has been able to sort of eke out a win at critical moments and this is
another one of those critical moments.

ELEANOR HALL: Hillary Clinton was always expected to win Pennsylvania by quite a large margin. She
is still ahead in the polls but what is your assessment of how much she must win by to stay in the
race?

SIMON JACKMAN: I think any win frankly at this point. It has been interesting watching that
critical margin sort of get ratcheted down by either Hillary Clinton herself or people speaking on
her behalf.

At one point it was, oh Hillary needs to win by 10. Now it has become she needs to win by five and
you know, that wouldn't be a bad guess frankly. That she will win by somewhere between five and 10
per cent. That is sort of the consensus of a lot of the polls out there at the moment and funnily
enough, that is the number that the Clinton camp have pegged it as the threshold she ought to win
by in order to keep her campaign going.

ELEANOR HALL: Well, that won't be making Senator Barack Obama very happy with the Clinton camp
recasting victory. It doesn't look like Hillary Clinton is going to leave this race easily,
whatever the result tomorrow, does it?

SIMON JACKMAN: No, not at all. She has signalled for a while that she is in for the long haul.
Every utterance, every move by that campaign suggests that they are settled in for the longer haul
here.

ELEANOR HALL: This is the longest primary campaign since Iowa and the strain does appear to be
showing. Barack Obama has issued a couple of significant clarifications over his comments about
bitter voters and about saying that John McCain would be a better President than George Bush. How
damaging have these been for him?

SIMON JACKMAN: I think the line he uttered out here in San Francisco and that got replayed over the
air waves about the bitter voters clinging to their guns and to their god. That line does not play
at all well in rural Pennsylvania.

So that seemed to have stopped some momentum that he seemed to be closing Hillary's lead in
Pennsylvania pretty steadily and that seems to have petered out so that has hurt him and has
prompted some people to just take a second look and dear oh dear are the Democrats about to
nominate someone who the Republicans could tag as "elitist". That has been a sort of winning
formula for a Republican presidential campaigns and so I think some people have sort of taken pause
with that remark by Obama. Not just for the indiscipline of the moment but maybe we are actually
learning about something, the way the guy really thinks about the world.

ELEANOR HALL: And what about his comments about John McCain being a better President than George
Bush going somewhat against the general Democrat party line.

SIMON JACKMAN: Yes, that is not the party line is it? And of course, Hillary Clinton and her camp
immediately onto it and desperate for some traction in this last 24, 48 hours before the polls.

ELEANOR HALL: The negative campaigning has really intensified in the last week or so and for Barack
Obama in particular, that is a change in tactic isn't it? Is it working?

SIMON JACKMAN: Well, it is hard to say. I mean what he would really, really love to do is to be
able to beat Hillary in Pennsylvania. Now if he could do that it would be a knock out blow. It
would be an end to this run of saved by the bell primary wins by Hillary and would also signal to
the super delegates who are frankly the major audience at this point.

It would signal to the Democratic super delegates that look, I've won a state that is a must win
state in November. A blue-collar state and I've taken that away from Hillary - at this point, isn't
it over and I think that is what is underlying this strategy of going a little negative on Hillary
Clinton. If they could knock her out now, we could get on with the main game and focusing on John
McCain and the election in November.

ELEANOR HALL: And what's your polling showing? Does he have a chance of doing that?

SIMON JACKMAN: Um, not really. I think Pennsylvania is probably headed, that momentum that he had
built up has been checked a little and I think Clinton may eke out yet another one of these wins.
That will be enough for her to stay in the race and it is people in the Obama camp say you don't
ask the king and queen to leave nicely. You've basically got to have a beheading here. A definite
end to it and they haven't been able to deliver that knock-out blow yet.

ELEANOR HALL: So what do you think? Will it be decided before the convention in August?

SIMON JACKMAN: I tend to think so. I tend to think that we will get to the end of the scheduled
primaries in June (laughs). In June. At that point I think the pressure on the super delegates to
sort of declare will be fairly enormous and I think that if the Democrats weren't at war with one
another right now, the fundamentals of this cycle would have asserted themselves.

That is it is a very good environment to be a Democrat running for President right now and that the
only reason it is particularly close in the national polls is precisely because the Democrats
haven't settled on who their nominee is.

ELEANOR HALL: And that's Dr Simon Jackman from Stanford University - our regular commentator on the
US election speaking from San Francisco.