08 January 2008


Don't anyone tell me they saw this coming.

The Clinton campaign didn't even see it coming,
as reports came in all day that Bill and Hillary were huddling to decide who's heads would roll in the campaign and where to go from here.

Where will they go from here? South Carolina I guess.

Tonight's results, though close, were huge for Clinton.

A few weeks back, Clinton was ahead by roughly 10 points in New Hampshire. By last night she trailed Barack Obama by a similar tally. Some were writing the campaign's obituary and most - including me - assumed she'd be hobbling badly, at the very least.

And so now we have a race again.

Michigan is next, but those results don't count on the Democratic side because the party there is being punished by the national party for breaking its rules and holding their primary too early. (Imagine that, a big state with a diverse demographic makeup wanting to influence the presidential selection process.)

Beyond Michigan is Nevada, a week from Saturday. Obama was expected to get a big endorsement tomorrow from the hotel workers union - the largest union in the state. But that was when Obama was supposed to blow Clinton out tonight, so we'll have to wait and see on that endorsement.

And then it's on to South Carolina and Florida before Tsunami Tuesday.

The polls, which certainly weren't much help tonight, show Clinton with good leads in
Michigan, Nevada and Florida, while Obama is ahead in South Carolina.

In politics they often borrow cliches from the sports world. Tonight, the one to borrow is "that's why they play the games."


The results on the GOP side were not nearly as surprising. In fact, they pretty much mimicked most of the polls.

John McCain, as expected, was the winner. He lives to fight on, and is in pretty good shape in the long run.

Here's why.

Despite all his talk about two silvers and a gold, Mitt Romey has put up disappointing numbers in his two second-place finishes.

You'd think he'd do well in the next stop on the trail - Michigan - since his dad was a popular governor there and Romney grew up in the state.

But Romney is running neck-and-neck there with Iowa winner Mike Huckabee. John McCain may also get a bounce from tonight's win and would likely pull votes away from Romney in Michigan if he does get that bounce.

After that comes
Nevada, South Carolina and Florida. None of them are likely Romney states. If he doesn't win anything but Wyoming prior to Tsunami Tuesday he may get tossed aside by mainstream Republicans in favor of tonight's winner, McCain.

Huckabee seemed thrilled with a third-place finish tonight. That's better than expected. With the race heading down South, he stands to remain among the leaders in the GOP chase for some time.

As for Rudy Giuliani, you can look at the results a couple of ways.

He finished in pretty much a dead heat with Ron Paul for chrissakes.

But he never expected to win here. And as long as each race produces a new winner, Giuliani is in good shape to have a good showing on Feb. 5 and be right in the thick of things, just as he drew it up.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

That’s why they play the game.

The polls and the experts were uniformly wrong – apparently, so were the campaign managers in both Obama and Clinton camps – about the outcome of the New Hampshire primary.

The explanations abound, but few sound credible, especially one about people in New Hampshire wanting to show the world that they will not be predictable and therefore, the logic goes, will not vote as expected. Reminds me of the time Lyndon Johnson was going to appoint a Supreme Court justice but changed his mind because someone leaked it to the Washington Post.

In my mind, the logic of voting against expectation and against the polls defies logic. At minimum, you can’t get a whole state to operate like that – talk about conspiracies. And secondly, the underlying personality trait that makes the upset of Tuesday evening possible is independence of thought – the opposite of lemming-like behavior.

Of course, political myths and interpretations are based on experience and on knowledge that is never quite perfect. Further, I think this political season is like no other in the speed of reaction, the wealth of information (an at times mis- and dis-information) that is available to voters. And it all is happening at the speed of reheating Starbucks in the microwave. So reactions and counter-reactions and surprises may be the order of the day.

Sen. Clinton says she saw the light after the debate on Saturday evening and that brought about the teary-eyed diner clip. And that affected the (say it gently) senior women who flocked to her and made up most of the difference. Maybe. Who will be able to say?