Thursday, January 10, 2008

Dewey Defeats Clinton?

Posted By on Thu, Jan 10, 2008 at 6:32 AM

QUESTION FROM A READER:

Was Hillary Clinton’s come-from-behind win in New Hampshire as historic as pundits — such as Keith Olbermann, who called it “the Titanic of political upsets,” and Brian Williams, who invoked “Dewey Defeats Truman” — would have us believe?

CLANCY’S ANSWER:

The short answer is no. I’m not convinced that Hillary Clinton was ever that far behind Barack Obama in New Hampshire. For starters, New Hampshire has always been good to the Clintons; voters there have had a near-love affair (pardon the metaphor) with Bill since 1992, and Hillary clearly benefited from his appearances there on her behalf this go-round. Also, give her the credit she deserves. Like her or hate her, Hillary is a tenacious campaigner and a smart politician. Also, Obama’s political strength is also his underbelly — young voters. Yeah, they turned out for him in Iowa, comparatively speaking, but in New Hampshire they returned to form … and stayed home in droves. Moreover, the Iowa caucuses are small-turnout affairs to begin with, so even a relatively small spike in young voter turnout there can (and, in this case, did) have a dramatic impact. The opposite happened in New Hampshire, leading to Obama’s second-place finish.

As for the so-called pundits’ over-the-top descriptions of Hillary’s “comeback,” my sense is that the “experts” blew it by proclaiming Obama the winner before the votes were cast — and therefore they HAD to resort to hyperbole in analyzing her win. The only alternative would have been to admit that they didn’t know what the hell they were talking about in the first place … and you know that ain’t gonna happen.

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