How in the world did Hillary resuscitate a moribund campaign in 24 hours? How did the polls -- not just the day-befores, but the exits -- get it so wrong? Everyone's got a theory! Pick your favorite!The Tonya Harding Moment.
The talking heads seem to be latching onto the emotive, teary-eyed moment
yesterday when Hillary sounded less like a telemarketer and more like a person. She didn't quite feel our
pain -- like her husband likes to do -- but she felt her
pain. And that meant she's not a cyborg. It also didn't help that Edwards responded by saying she wasn't macho enough to be President -- rekindling suspicions of sexism and generating a wave of last-minute grrl-power sympathy. Evidence: The exits say late-deciding voters went overwhelmingly for Hillary -- along with female voters.The Howard Beale Moment:
Less remarked upon has been this moment
from the Saturday NH debate when Hillary said (paraphrasing here), "Let's cut the bullshit!" I thought it was absolutely brilliant (although I have a special fondness for assertive women), but the mostly male pundits immediately pilloried her for being "angry" and "vicious" -- which seem to be the pundits' code-words-of-choice for when Hillary acts like a you-know-what. But such naked sexism may have backfired (just as with the reaction to the crying), while also proving that Hillary has a bit of fight in her.
Indeed, too many commentators have sotto vocce
suggested that Hillary gets only two choices: she can be a b-----, or she can be weak and emotionally unstable. That's a pathetic, outdated dichotomy -- and it would be sweet irony indeed if the visceral reaction of New Hampshire voters against
such tired cliches drove Hillary to victory.The Bradley Effect.
Or did it have something to do with Obama or, more troublingly, race? Some researchers have noted that the final vote tallies for African American candidates tend to drop precipitously from their support in the final polls -- ostensibly because Americans don't like admitting to another person they're not voting for the black guy. It's possible this effect overstated Obama's support -- he had anywhere from a 7 to a 13 point
. This effect wouldn't have shown up in Iowa, either, since those caucuses are public. This would bode ill for upcoming matches in South Carolina and Super Tuesday. Evidence: No one can really prove this at all.
Anyway, if you're into identity politics, there's your explanations! But it could also be due to...The McCain Drain.
NH voters unaffiliated with either party can request a Democratic or Republican ballot. Is it possible that a good number of New Hampshire independents -- those naturally inclined to vote for Obama -- decided that Obama had the race so wrapped up that they could give their vote to McCain, thus saving us all from the Huck & Mitt Show
? That might be a little too much strategery
for the average voter, but it wouldn't surprise me. Evidence: Someone crunch the exits and tell me!The "We're Part of History!!!" Bubble.
There's always been something slightly...messianic
about the support for Obama. His post-racial promises, his post-politics appeal, the poetry of his campaign -- any other 'P'-words you can think of. This weekend, it almost seemed like supporting him became a statement as much about your
values as his
. The same hipsters who loudly order a fair-trade latte, who pay with their hemp wallet, who sport a Kinks t-shirt -- they all rushed to get their hands on those purple "Stand Up For Change" signs. And they told everyone
that asked -- especially pollsters -- that they were part of the Obama wave.
But, whoops, then they either 1) didn't bother to show up to vote (scooter broke down!) or 2) changed their mind after the contact high wore off. This would be the slightly-better-for-America counter-part to the Bradley Effect thesis: it's not that such voters told pollsters one thing and did another because they're racist; they told pollsters one thing and did another because it impressed their barrista.The Polls Are Always Screwed Up Theory.
They messed up in 2000, 2004, 2006 -- why start getting it right now? Is it possible that calling listed landline phone numbers between the hours of 5 and 8 PM to demand 15 minutes of people's intimate thoughts on their vote for President doesn't exactly capture 98% of the electorate anymore?! Tell me that's not true!The Bill Clinton Jedi Mind Trick.
Somehow, some way, Bill Clinton angrily calling Obama a "fairy tale"
today activated some deep-seated, genetically engineered, governmentally controlled gene in the Democratic voter, commanding him or her to vote for Hillary and then commit seppuku to hide the evidence. You think I'm kidding -- but read Free Republic
tomorrow. Sith apprentice Michael Whouley
might also have something to do with it.The Wrath of Old People.
Hillary did very well again among voters over 40 -- just as she did in Iowa. But this time, they counted for more of the electorate. Older voters have always been a bit immune to Obama's appeal, and it's possible they simply came through for Hillary in greater numbers, enough to tip her over the edge.
Indeed, it might be the wrath of the whole historic Democratic coalition
, according to this excellent summary of exit-poll cross-tabs
: union households, low-income voters, Catholics, etc. They all broke for Hillary. Independents, professionals, and upper-income voters all stuck with Obama.
What's amazing about Hillary's rebuilding of the old-school liberal coalition (if it holds up) is that Hillary is the ostensible moderate
in the race -- the one who was supposed to have pissed off all these voters by tacking right in the last six years. Meanwhile, all the the post-docs and professionals and too-cool-to-care urban indies -- the ones who are supposed to be discerning fiscal moderates, the ones who loved Atari Dem Gary Hart and New Dem Bill Clinton -- are flocking to the liberal
candidate, Obama. This is a total inversion of traditional Dem politics.
Of course, in truth -- labels aside -- there's very little daylight between Obama and Clinton on most issues. But that just means we could be witnessing the fracturing of the left into camps divided more by temperament
than by policy
Do you want new, untested, idealistic, brazen, and inclined to fight -- or old, experienced, pragmatic, cautious, and inclined to deal? That may say more about your Presidential preference than any policy questionnaire or issue space.Upset over the quality of the BCS bowl games, the New Hampshire voters want to see this thing go 12 rounds. This is the
most likely explanation, in my book. After the LSU-Ohio State snoozer (and the impending NFL routs), voters want something competitive to keep them awake until the Groundhog pops up. And damnit, so do we!
So next week, when you're sitting in property or antitrust and can't stand the boredom, but you have something interesting to read in Slate
or the NY Times
or Huff Post
about national politics, say a quiet 'thank you' to the good people of Nashua, Hanover, and Dixville Notch. By engineering the perfect finish, they made sure this damn thing will never end.
Labels: Elections, Rabid Conservatives, Rabid Liberals