Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Obama makes a rookie mistake

Buoyed by surging poll numbers, Illinois Senator Barack Obama went into yesterday's New Hampshire primary thinking he had donned the mantle of the new frontrunner for the Democratic presidential nomination.

He should have known better. Oh, he did get a wardrobe change alright -- but what he got fitted with was the jacket of extreme expectations.

There was a record turnout on the Democratic side in New Hampshire yesterday -- 280,000 people took Democratic ballots.

That's a lot of people... but more people than that voted in the 2006 judicial primaries in Cook County... and a heck of a lot of primary voters in Cook County skip the judicial ballot altogether. So the record-setting primary turnout from an entire state is less than half of those who voted in Cook County in an off year election.

Could I get some perspective with these New Hampshire results, please?

Here's my prespective: These early primaries aren't about winning the vote totals -- they're more like stock predictions. When XYZ Corp. posts its quarterly earnings, no one is happy unless those earnings 'beat the Street.' Even if XYZ posts a record profit -- if the profit was smaller than Wall Street's prediction, XYZ's earnings would be deemed a disappointment.

Now the analogy: It was only recently, we are told, that Obama was trailing by double digits in the New Hampshire polls. If he finished second in the voting and those were the last polls available, pundits would be proclaiming Hillary finished... and she might have been. But the polls changed. Dramatically.

Now I do not suggest for a moment that the Clintons found a way to manipulate the New Hampshire polling data. Nor would I object, seriously, even if an email blast could be traced back to Clinton headquarters advising all of Hillary's loyal followers to declare allegiance to Obama if asked by a pollster. I'm from Chicago, where Mike Royko once told us we had a civic duty to lie to pollsters. I do firmly believe, however, that in a past life, Bill and Hillary Clinton taught Nicolo Machiavelli all he knew about politics.

Obama's alleged surge in the polls could only inure to the benefit of Sen. Clinton. Even if he had won yesterday, but by single digits, Hillary's people could rightly claim that she bested expectations -- and that Obama disappointed.

We will see going forward if Obama has learned to discount polling data, especially 11th hour polling data, especially polling data that looks too good to be true....
On the Republican side, I have a question. I keep hearing about Ron Paul and how he's an Internet phenomenon. I keep hearing that, despite the herculean efforts and dark conspiracies of the mainstream media to keep his message from the people, Dr. Paul is catching fire with the electorate.

So my question is: Shouldn't that begin to translate into votes at some point?


The Beach Bum said...


One of the best on the NH Primary that I have read today - that includes the major newspapers.

Very Mike Royko like.

Have you ever considered giving up law and going to work for the Trib?

The Beach Bum

Jean-Luc Picard said...

I thought there were another 48 states to go?

Shelby said...

It certainly seems 'somebody' pulled a fast one. I don't know why I'm suprised. Eyes wide shut from now on.

Patti said...

Yes, I'm also a bit suspicious of the results.

The Curmudgeon said...

BB -- you know anyone hiring?

Jean Luc -- Don't try and apply logic to this process at any stage; it'll only frustrate you.

Shelby, Patti -- As near as I can tell from reading the papers, the reason the pollsters got it wrong was because they seem not to have realized that women were voting in New Hampshire. The pollsters working in New Hampshire must be very old indeed.