Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Don’t call it a comeback

I am surprised and disappointed by last night’s results. Every time I see Hillary Clinton, I feel less enthusiastic about her. Maybe it’s one of those “not good on TV” type things. I don’t know, but I sure hope that this doesn’t mean something bigger about her prospects. I found the highlights of her victory speech to be particularly flat and uninspiring.

Why the polls were wrong

Two factors. New Hampshire voters pride themselves in their independence. That certainly played a role as everyone was predicting an Obama victory. But more than that, the number of undecided in NH were much greater than in Iowa and it looks like those undecided votes went to Hillary.

That being said, the notable trend is that she won the women vote this time. The CNN anchors are falling all over themselves with the theory that her “tears” helped win over women but I’m not buying that. There’s no data to support it and it just seems overly simplistic. Instead, I think that, in an odd twist, she won the more traditional democrats (Obama is clearly more progressive and that would seem his natural base) in a relatively conservative and older state. The demographics didn’t help Obama. He won Iowa but lost the “older” vote. In NH, there were more older people than young people and he came up short.

Why I’m opposed to Clinton

In addition to previously mentioned factors, there are two factors which really stand out at this point. First, a president must be able to use the power of the bully pulpit to sell policies and rally support for important legislation. Bill Clinton was able to do that at times (when his sex scandal allowed) and Reagan was a master at it as well. Neither of the Bush’s were particularly good (aside from Iraq – for both) at it and all indications are that Hillary is an uninspiring speaker. Obama has that special something that transcends politics and suggests that he could use the power of the presidency to spur real, progressive change in our country. I have great confidence in his rhetorical abilities and even if he’s not as experienced as Hillary, he’s sufficiently experienced and more able to unite and lead than she ever will be.

The other factor is the universal hatred dynamic. Hillary is, without a doubt, a divider. She won’t win over independents or Republicans and the GOP will do their earnest to block her at every move. Now, you can argue back and forth over the morality or ethical nature of that sort of politics but I won’t. I’m simply viewing the world from a realist lens. The Clinton’s are the GOP’s most reviled and hated political family. Anyone who thinks that Hillary can overcome that hatred is fooling themselves.

Edwards is playing the Ralph Nader Role

Really John, I like you. I think you got important things to say. But what are you doing? If there is a divide between you (and Obama) and Hillary as you so suggest, then how can you reasonably continue given that you’re ciphering votes away from the frontrunner who shares your vision and actually has a chance to win?

I get you want to be president. And I get that it’s got to be a hard dream to give up. But the writing is on the wall. Allow me to tell you in simple terms: You will never be president of the United States of America. It’s time to accept that and move on. Get behind Obama. You can help him. Divided we fall, united we stand.

The media need to buy a brain or two

This can’t be considered a huge comeback because all the polls had Obama with a lead after Iowa. But the media loves a story and they’re pimping this one big time. Let’s look at the data.
Prior to Iowa, Obama was losing by as much as 17 points. After Iowa he went up and was leading by as much as 13 points. That’s a 30 point swing and is indeed significant. Had this election been held on Monday, I have no doubt that he would have won. However, and I admit to not seeing this yesterday, the Hillary decline (Obama bump) stopped on the 6th. The very last polls showed Hillary trending back up from 28 to 34.

That is significant. Remember, this is a state in which Hillary had a huge lead. Obama almost won it (and probably should have). The fact that Hillary won was surprising, but to label it an upset or to call her the “comeback kid” is lazy journalism at best and outright dishonest at worst (like her CNN interview this morning where she claimed that she was down by 15 points two days ago – not true holmes).


The race is wide open. If Obama goes on to win Nevada and South Carolina, then that will regenerate some of the momentum that he has “lost” from NH. I think that likely. But, after seeing yesterday’s outcome, I have a strong feeling we won’t be seeing an end to this race any time soon.

That being said, I’d like to thank Gravel and Richardson. Great knowing you. Now please go away. Edwards – It’s VP time.



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