Wednesday, January 09, 2008

What Happened in New Hampshire?

While the pollsters and pundits who believed the pollsters scrambled around last night trying to justify and/or understand why they were so wrong, the fact remains that in the New Hampshire Democratic primary yesterday, people voted for the person they believed could win the election for president next November. Last night, everyone and his Aunt Maude floated reasons why the polls were wrong. The one I loved was that the polls were right, but voters can’t be trusted: i.e., voters changed their minds at the last minute and voted for Hillary Clinton because she had come close to tears the day before. Others said women voters made Clinton the victor. And still others said pro-union people decided the primary in Clinton’s favor. The most likely scenario is that the voters had been in Clinton’s camp from the gitgo, listened to what Obama had to say, but voted for Clinton. As ever, the trouble with polls is that the sampling is too small to give a real picture of the topic being polled. In New Hampshire, the polls relied on as few as 600 queries. As far as the Republican winner McCain is concerned, it was no contest. For the voters to know beyond a doubt way before the primaries were held, that Romney is an opportunist and liar, that Giuliani is a loose cannon neocon with ethics problems, that Huckabee is terminally ignorant and a religious fanatic and that Thompson is an aging actor with leukemia who was pushed into the fray by his trophy wife, left only one nominally viable candidate: John McCain. The campaign strategists want us to know today that Clinton and McCain came out ahead because the strategies were brilliant and the strategies influenced the voters at the last second to vote for Clinton and McCain. Wrong. Clinton won because the voters knew months ago she was the right choice. And McCain won because he may be an old fool but he’s not Romney, Huckabee, Giuliani or Thompson. What’s the mystery? What’s the wonderment? There is none. The outcome just figures.

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