Thursday, January 10, 2008

Why the polls missed in New Hampshire

So far the only answer the polling gurus can offer is both obvious and trivial: there were a large number of late deciders and they broke for Hillary.

However, an article in by Rebecca Traister suggests it was motivated in no small part by outrage on the part of women about the media treatment of Hillary Clinton. This explanation actually makes a great deal of sense because it would account for why it was late-breaking, and in some cases involved women voting for Hillary Clinton who actually preferred Barack Obama, and a powerful unidirectional trend. If there is a strong surge of support in one direction TC thinks there must be an explanation. So far this is the one that makes the most sense.

I can't believe I'm saying this, but had I been a New Hampshire voter on Tuesday, I would have pulled a lever for the former first lady with a song in my heart and a bird flipped at MSNBC's Chris Matthews, a man whose interest in bringing Clinton down hovers on the pathological, and whose drooling excitement at the prospect of her humiliation began to pulse from the television last week before most Iowa precincts had even begun to report results.

Before any tallies were in, Matthews was observing, based on early projections, that if Clinton received the expected 30 percent, it would mean that seven of 10 Iowa voters did not like her, a mean little metric that he did not apply to the other candidates. "It's hard to call yourself the people's choice if two-thirds of the Democrats are voting against you!" he burbled.

He was not alone in his glee. There was the Washington Post's Eugene Robinson, announcing before the caucuses had concluded that if Clinton lost Iowa, she would likely lose New Hampshire too! And South Carolina! She'd be lucky to scrape by with small states like Nevada, Matthews crowed. Newsweek's Howard Fineman was also excited. "If [Obama] wins this thing, even by one vote in Iowa, then that five-point lead of Hillary's [in New Hampshire] is going to disappear in a second," he said. Pat Buchanan recommended that in her still purely imagined concession speech, Clinton "be very, very gracious." It wasn't just the guys. Andrea Mitchell might as well have had canary feathers hanging from her mouth as she reported from Clinton's Iowa campaign headquarters on the "manufactured" crowd gathered for Clinton's concession speech.

Ding-dong, the witch is dead! Which old witch? The Clinton witch!

Read the whole thing here. Also look at the Gloria Steinem article cited in the Salon piece.

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