Dazed and Confused

The TV media people are tripping over their feet today trying to explain away Hillary Clinton’s win in New Hampshire. Of course, the whole “come from behind against tremendous odds” meme is ridiculous on its face — Clinton led consistently in New Hampshire until a couple of days ago; why are we so surprised that she eked out a victory? But apparently we’re supposed to be. Even the news reports that note her months-long lead in the polls call her 3-point win “huge” and “stunning”.

It seems the media, having been embarrassed by its forecasts of an Obama blowout and a Clinton demise, now has to to force-feed us some kind of excuse for its misstep. I’m hearing everything from “white voters lied to pollsters” to “voters felt sorry for Hillary Clinton”.

First of all, as I already pointed out above, Clinton had a steady lead in New Hampshire until last week’s Iowa caucuses. It’s to be expected that Obama’s win there would give him a bounce in the polls, but there’s no guarantee that all those newly identified supporters actually showed up to vote. I’ve also read speculation that Obama’s surge, and the resultant premature declaration of victory in the media, led some independents to use their votes for McCain. And if some white voters lied about their intentions, there weren’t many — Obama was a close second in a strong field of candidates. Really, this isn’t like the dilemma of New Hampshire Republicans, who last night chose John McCain as their least of the evils.

Second, I don’t buy that voters chose to support Clinton because they “felt sorry” for her. Reporters, who use words for a living, should give a little thought to phraseology. There is a big difference between feeling sorry for Hillary Clinton and being angry on her behalf. One implies that she is, or should be, the object of pity; the other reflects a perfectly appropriate response to the shitstorm of sexism that has blown through the media over the past few days. Actually, given that shitstorm, maybe the reporters are just following up on their emotional woman theme with a sly “bless her heart”.

I expect there were voters who turned out yesterday to express their anger at the implication that showing a little emotion disqualifies a woman from serving as president, while Mitt Romney can repeatedly cry on cue without the press or his political rivals proclaiming him unelectable (and shame on John Edwards for his cheap shot response to Hillary’s “tears”). Good for them. It’s about time for the United States to enter the latter half of the 20th century. We’ve seen other countries survive and thrive under the leadership of women; it’s stupid and counterproductive to exclude more than half of our population from the highest office in the land solely based on gender.

Deborah Lipp looks at the numbers and notes that both Clinton and Obama garnered significantly more votes than John McCain. Glenn Greenwald has a great analysis of the Clinton-hating media madness (related video at Crooks & Liars). And watching Rachel Maddow on MSNBC last night, calling out Chris Matthews on his obsessive Hillary-bashing, was just priceless (again, video at Crooks & Liars).

UPDATE:  Good God, what was Obama thinking?

18 Responses to “Dazed and Confused”

  1. anna says:

    Felt sorry for her? OMFG! Now, that’s a reason I vote for candidates!! PITY!!!

    I just Brian Williams’ little explanation over at MSNBC. Like he knows! Ahh…the media.

  2. Joe says:

    Like I said, three reasons for Clinton’s victory.
    1. New Hampshire voters educate themselves on issues and candidates, and Sen. Clinton has a plan, rather than just hope.
    2. New Hampshire voters only get to vote once, unlike Iowa where democrats can change their vote.
    3. It’s OK to be human and have emotions.

  3. bhmhomeboy says:

    I’m hearing there was some shenigans.

  4. Katharine says:

    Well, just to roil the waters a bit, I refer all of you to this alternative explanation.

  5. Tricia says:

    I’m not sure that I am going to survive the primary season. Being pissed off is bad for me, but there’s so much new crap to be angry about every hour on the hour. sigh…

  6. Kathy says:

    bhb, I’m not sure what to make of those numbers. When I first looked at them, I assumed they were talking about sample hand counts of the votes that went through the machines, but it looks like they’re comparing totals in areas where ballots are counted by hand to totals in areas where the ballots are counted by machine — not comparing results for the same votes counted in two different ways. The Diebold machines in this case (according to the link) are optical scanners, which read paper ballots. They’re not the paperless machines that have such a bad reputation. If sample hand-counts of the machine-read ballots show similar discrepancies, then they should be investigated.

    Katharine, I guess there’s something to the Primacy Effect, but I find it hard to believe that a big chunk of voters who would otherwise have supported Obama just couldn’t be bothered to look down the ballot for his name. I suppose the bigger the turnout, the more likely it is that there will be some undecided voters who just fill in the circle next to the first name they recognize, but really, enough to overcome what some polls had as a double-digit deficit? This is more likely to be evidence that polls don’t always predict results, which I realize is not something pollsters want to acknowledge. :)

    I guess this theory could explain the size of McCain’s victory over Romney as well, although it seems Giuliani and Huckabee, big names by any definition, would have done better than 9% and 11% respectively, as they were the first two on the Republican ballot. Ah well, I doubt we’ll ever know for sure.

  7. Del says:

    If a pollster is a real person, I will most likely tell the truth, or nearly so. But if it’s an automated deal telling me to “press 1 for Clinton…” then I lie. I’m not sure why this is—I think the idea of a machine disturbing me at home and then having the —ball-bearings—to demand that I answer its questions just pisses me off mightily.

    If there are more people like me out there, maybe we could call it the Del Effect. Can we?

  8. Kathy says:

    “…the idea of a machine disturbing me at home and then having the —ball-bearings—to demand that I answer its questions just pisses me off mightily.”


    Del, the pollsters don’t even get that far with me. If I don’t recognize the number on the caller ID, I don’t answer the phone.

  9. Del says:

    Ooooh, I can never resist a ringing phone. Be it Satan himself.

    Gracious, it’s after midnight. What are we doing up? Goodnight.

  10. bhmhomeboy says:

    Last night on Hardball, Chris Matthews noted the polls was right for Republicans but wrong for Democrats. One of the panelist said it was because the Democratic exit pollster were all “young” and “all over the place”. Another said women changed and voted for Hillary after she cried, one said that Democrats lied to the pollster. Someone said it was the polling companies fault because of some data they used or they included too much of an Iowa bump for Democratic candidates (Huh?). Now I’m really dazed and confused….

  11. ALmod says:

    I have one thing to say to the pollsters:

    Magic 8-Ball called it.

  12. Del says:

    Democrats are just skittish and unpredictable, everybody knows that. Don’t have a thought in their silly little heads, the dears.

  13. Kathy says:

    Keith Olbermann looked at some of the polling data last night on Countdown, and it appears that reporters didn’t initially look past the expressed candidate preferences to see how firm they were — a significant percentage said they weren’t absolutely committed to their choice. That would explain a lot.

  14. bhmhomeboy says:

    It doesn’t explain why the polling was right on for Republicans and so wrong for Democrats. Is it true that Democrats are just “skittish and unpredictable, and don’t have a thought in their silly little heads”?

  15. Kathy says:

    bhb, the polling wasn’t really right on for the Republicans either. McCain was expected to win, but both he and Romney did a good bit better than the polls predicted. Real Clear Politics shows McCain’s average poll numbers at 31.8% to Romney’s 28.2% just prior to the primary. McCain ended up garnering 37%, Romney 32% (Huckabee and Thompson did worse than expected based on the polls).

    Clinton had a 9-point upswing, but Obama was down only 2+ and Edwards only one+, suggesting that she pulled in a lot of previously undecided voters. I know pollsters try to predict how the undecideds will break, but people don’t always behave like statistics.

  16. bhmhomeboy says:

    Kathy, have you seen this:

  17. Kathy says:

    bhb, according to the other link you posted, NH uses optical scanners. Same machines we use here in AL and same ones that many states are going back to after the electronic debacle. The scanners read paper ballots, which are preserved. I don’t get the whole “uncounted votes” thing.

    Rush Limbaugh says Clinton bused in a bunch of unregistered, out of state voters. I don’t believe that one either, and it makes me sad that some on the left are so eager to buy into the right-wing meme that the Clintons are some all-powerful evil.

    That said, if Obama’s people, who were actually on the ground in NH, think there were problems with the vote count, I firmly believe they should challenge it. I wasn’t there, so I don’t know.

  18. bhmhomeboy says:

    Kucinich Requests Recount of New Hampshire Ballots

    “This is not about my candidacy or any other individual candidacy. It is about
    the integrity of the election process,” says Kucinich.

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