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Looking Silly in a Crowd of Silly People

Wednesday, January 09, 2008
Like virtually every other political analyst, pundit, and informed observer in the United States, I expected Barack Obama to win the New Hampshire primary. The state looked like a good fit for him, he had momentum, and the Clinton campaign was reeling from negative coverage and an incoherent strategy. And, like everybody else, I was stunned by Clinton's victory. To risk sounding uncharitable, I think her victory was a little flukey - it had less to do with her organization or campaign and more to do with other factors: sympathy from women who didn't like how she was being bullied, late-deciding and Biden/Dodd voters breaking for Clinton, Obama's own weaknesses with working class white voters, Edwards' weak performance, the fact that a lot of male independents probably took Obama's victory for granted and voted for McCain - there are a ton of potential reasons.

But you can't take away the fact that Hillary has lived to fight another day. The onus is now on Obama to win in South Carolina. If he loses there, he's finished. If he wins, then the campaign really is a toss-up. Any number of factors could shape the outcome: when Edwards drops out and where his supporters go (which really isn't clear), what Florida does even though no one is allowed to campaign there, how the media treats the delegate-less Florida and Michigan, how Nevada votes. But the ultimate test will, I believe, be controlled by the rival campaigns of Obama and Clinton. Whoever is the best candidate, with the best message, will probably win. Which is exactly as it should be.

This really is the weirdest election cycle I can remember.
Posted by Arbitrista @ 9:05 PM
  • I was wondering when you were going to post about this. :) Did you see Gloria Steinum's op-ed in the times? Good stuff there.

    By Blogger Silk Stocking, at 9:16 PM  
  • i too, though i am by no means a political anything, was surprised, i totally thought obama had it.

    By Blogger JustMe, at 2:53 AM  
  • I agree that the New Hampshire Primary Results are weird, but for competely different reasons. First, Clinton was billing herself as making a comeback based on the model of 1992 when Bill Clinton placed second. However, Bill Clinton came in 8 points behind Tsongas, much worse than Obana's 2 point margin. Plus, if the 1992 model is really appropriate, then the 2nd place winner, Obama, should become the nominee, not the first place winner, Clinton. Third, in every single poll the larger the sample the bigger Obama's margin of victory. Thus, a high-turnout election should have produced a 13-17 point margin of victory, especially since Obama was gaining 3 points per day over 5 days. The polls can be wrong, but the margin of error is statistically impossible. Even the exit polls were declaring a 10-point Obama victory. It is quite possible that women came to Clinton's rescue because the men were ganging up on her in the debate and she got emotional in a cafe. However, the is a phenomenon that cannot be repeated. Every other poll was dead on about the level of support for each candidate, except Clinton and Obama. I have never seen that happen, and I don't think it will happen again in this primary season. Ultimately, I don't think there will ever be an explanation that can be corroborated by the polling data. On the other hand, the exit polls did reveal that Clinton did well with registered Democrats and that Obama did well with Democrats, Republicans and Independents. If nothing, New Hampshire demonstrates why an Obama nomination would produce a landslide victory and a realignment while a Clinton nomination would reinforce political polarization.

    By Blogger Marriah, at 8:18 PM  
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