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Tuesday, February 19, 2008

What the Hell Happened in New Hampshire (And why do we care)?

I've been mulling this for a while but I haven't actually looked at the numbers before.

The conventional wisdom at the time was that, if Barack Obama had won New Hampshire, the Clinton campaign would have been over. Because how could one recover from such a crushing victory in such a large and populous state?

So, looking at the numbers, Clinton won 39% to Obama's 37%. She won 7,479 more votes.

I'm going to say that again: 7,479 votes. This is particularly stunning to me since this is approximately the population of my home town in Nebraska - and it ain't big.

So, without that, Clinton would have been out. Can someone explain to me how this was a remarkable "comeback"? (And how many of those votes were because she cried?) Less than 7,500 votes? (RCP says that Obama has over 400,000 more votes thus far, even including Florida.) Because of that we're going to be doing this crap until June

I think this illustrates the tenuous nature of the Clinton campaign.


Comments on "What the Hell Happened in New Hampshire (And why do we care)?"


Blogger Anonymoustache said ... (1:25 PM) : 

I agree that Clinton's campaign is hanging by a thread; I think she is finished. But I disagree that she would have quit if Obama had taken NH. And she did get some significant votes over Obama in several prominent states (about 400,000 more votes in CA, about 300,000 more votes each in NY and FL, and about 200,000 more votes in MA). And the Clinton camp probably knew that they had huge vote blocs in these (and other) states in the bag. No way they were finished after NH, no matter what.
Also, I think this protracted battle (albeit kinda one-sided lately) is to Obama's benefit. Some of the ludicrous stuff can be gotten out of the way. The embarrassingly funny plagiarism allegation, for instance, would have gotten more play and, in my opinion, gotten more traction amongst the conservative fundies, if it had come up during general election mud-slinging. Now it has been treated for what it is---silly stuff. Going against the Clinton machine, even if it gets ugly, only helps Obama---I am convinced of it.
It is a win-win for him. He comes off as somewhat of a sympathetic figure, yet also comes off as strong and statesmanlike in his against-the-odds triumph over a seasoned political machine. He is fresh enough not to have extensive Washinton-taint on him, yet will have built a case that he is politically savvy enough to get things done. Heck, he'd have gone 15 rounds with the Clintons and bested them!
Well, it wont go 15 rounds, but it has gone far enough. I think he takes Ohio and Texas and (somewhat sadly) puts an end to this valuable full-contact practice for the general election.


Blogger Robb said ... (9:03 PM) : 

I wrote a really long response to this and then my computer shut down for some reason.

Here's the short version: the media wanted a horse race so they played up a razor thin victory as a "comeback". This buoyed Clinton enough to keep her from getting beat worse on Super Tuesday. It just kept her unnaturally alive ala Teri Schiavo.

Also, New Hampshire? Can't we get past that?


Blogger Anonymoustache said ... (7:52 AM) : 

I agree that the media plays up things to get a better story. I dont buy that it buoyed Hillary. I think most of the voting, especially this year, has been unaffected by media hype. If you believed the media, Giuliani would have a lot more votes. Heck they were making fun of Ron Paul when Paul had a better showing overall than ol' Rudy. So the media successfully affects public perception only in absentia, i.e., by marginalizing candidates; they are not so good at promotion, cos most people can see thru the bullshit of most of these candidates. McCain was widely reported to have been bankrupt and done; yet people voted for him and see where he is now.
But back to the marginalization issue----that is serious and sad. Even in this age, relatively few people have access to/time to evaluate and digest online content etc. So they do rely on mass media to bring them the candidates. I think that even Edwards, a fairly mainstream candidate suffered due to the media largely ignoring his issues and making a big deal out of his freaking haircut. I didn't the same media calling W out constantly for the irresponsible drunk and crackhead that he is. Anyway, marginalizing Edwards could be really bad for this country---inordinate disparity in incomes and wealth-distribution is the first step to widespread societal illness. If we don't quit treating the poor like inferior humans we are in for bad bad trouble. A disturbingly large number of conservatives espouse social Darwinism, probably without even realizing it 'cos it is all cloaked in the flag and the republican-Jesus interpretation of the Bible. The mass media should do a better job of keeping this issue on the frontburner, but I'm not holding my breath.
Anyway, sorry to go off on a tangent, but the main point is that the media cannot effectively buoy a candidate----ultimately people see the presented candidates for who they are; the media can only help destroy a candidate by not presenting them in terms of time or fairness.


Blogger Robb said ... (8:03 PM) : 

BUT, if they DON'T marginalize a candidate when they should be, they are artificially keeping them afloat.

So, you say that people can see through the bull$#!# of the candidates but you also say that they only get their info on the candidates through big media. The former, I completely disagree with and the latter supports my point.

People do not have any idea who candidates really are. They see a carefully crafted persona. I have no doubt that that goes for Obama as well. Real people are too difficult to sell in bite-sized packages.

PS: I agree that poverty is bad.


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