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Massachusetts Liberal

Observations on politics, the media and life in Massachusetts and beyond from the left side of the road.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Where the bounce?

In the end, Mark Penn was right: there was no bounce. And that's why he still has a job today.

There will be lots of beer and pretzels consumed in the next few days trying to figure out what pre-New Hampshire polls were so far off in suggesting Barack Obama would walk all over Hillary Clinton. While not an embarrassment on the scale of the John Kerry 2004 exit poll debacle, lots of questions remain about how so many got it so wrong.

First, it's important to note that this time the exit polls were not the culprit. They showed Hillary Clinton the recipient of real strong late support from women -- while also showing Barack Obama taking a sizable chunk of the under-30 vote.

There will be two automatic guesses to how things apparently changed so fast: "The Tear Up" and the "Voters Aren't Honest About Black Candidates" canard.

Academics may well spend the next few years parsing Hillary Clinton letting down her guard momentarily and speaking from the heart and not the program manual. That split second offered a glimpse into what Clinton supporters have long insisted is a warm, witty and shy woman.

Conventional wisdom long suggested tears crush campaigns: Ed Muskie's 1972 New Hampshire moment (was it tears or was it snow?); Patricia Schroeder's weepy exit from the 1988 race.

While cynics will suggest it was all part of the programmed Clinton play book, it very likely made a difference. As one woman voter told the Times:
“Women finally saw a woman — perhaps a tough woman, but a woman with a gentle heart,” said Elaine Marquis, a receptionist from Manchester, who had been torn between Mr. Obama and Mrs. Clinton but was leaning her way when she bared her feelings.
Less plausible is the liberal guilt theory -- that voters tell pollsters they would vote for a black candidate, then don't. Two words discount this theory: Iowa caucuses. Throw in two more: Deval Patrick.

While this factor could conceivably come into play again this year, it was not on display in New Hampshire. Obama scored strongly, as expected, among the under-30s and the crowds at his events were not aberrations.

A few other general observations after Iowa and New Hampshire:
  • Oh Rudy, where art thou?

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Anonymous Joel Patterson said...

What, no mention of Michael Whouley helping out Hillary Clinton? His field operation is supposed to be legendary, and Hillary's win only builds the legend.

January 10, 2008 7:42 AM  
Blogger ssbraccia said...

Hey..thanks for the link in WHERE THE BOUNCE......

as a former boston area newsguy it was nice to find your blog...

one thing i miss is that down here in North Carolina---politics doesn't generate much interest... You sorta miss the blood-sport aspect of it that's so pervasive in massachusetts...

do you wanna link up blogs?

folks here could use a dose of political pizzazz..

--- steve sbraccia

January 17, 2008 2:49 AM  

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