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In New Hampshire, Hillary Finds It Tough To Dash Obama's Hope

| Fri Jan. 4, 2008 4:32 PM EST

The battle of New Hampshire—on the Democratic side—opened Friday morning with an obvious question: what, if anything, would Hillary Clinton do differently? Her 8-point loss to Barack Obama in Iowa was a clear indicator that what she had been doing until then was not working. And when it comes to the sort of voters who contributed to Obama's impressive win on Thursday night—including independent, young, and upscale voters—New Hampshire is a better hunting ground for Obama than Iowa. So reporters and politicos were wondering how Clinton would recalibrate in response to the thumpin' she had received.

Early in the morning, in a cold airport hangar in Nashua, in front of a couple of hundred people (including Arkansans and AFSCME union workers who were bussed in), Clinton provided the answer: not much. In her only major campaign appearance of the day (she would later join the other Democratic candidates at a dinner for the state Democratic party), she essentially stuck with the message that had failed her in Iowa.

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Friday's Battle Cry: "Music News Day!"

| Fri Jan. 4, 2008 4:25 PM EST

News 0104

  • Album sales in the US were down 9.5 percent from last year, even though digital sales rose 45 percent and "overall music perchases," which include albums, singles, digital tracks and music videos, were up 14 percent.

  • The Foo Fighters will perform with an "unsigned instrumentalist" as part of an American Idol-style contest at this year's Grammy Awards. The "My Grammy Moment" competition is open to string, woodwind and brass players, one of whom will join Dave Grohl & co. at the ceremony February 10th.
  • Swedish singer-songwriter José González is planning a "green tour" of North America, partnering with a company called Reverb to provide biodegradeable catering supplies and offsetting the tour's carbon emissions. Tour dates include NYC's Highline Ballroom on 3/11, LA's Wiltern on 3/25, and SF's Fillmore on 3/27.
  • I'm not talking about Britney Spears.
  • John McCain, All-Around Good Guy

    | Fri Jan. 4, 2008 2:06 PM EST

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    If John McCain does something hypocritical in a forest, does anyone notice?

    As everyone knows, John McCain is just a great guy. So great, apparently, that he can criticize negative ads one moment, then turn around and issue his own attack ads the next, and no one will report it. According to a biting Media Matters piece:

    Numerous print media outlets reported on Sen. John McCain's assertion following the Iowa caucuses that "[t]he lesson of this election in Iowa is that ... negative campaigns don't work." But none of those articles noted that McCain has run negative TV and Web ads against Mitt Romney.

    Numerous attack ads, indeed. McCain just released another one today, which says, in part: "Mitt Romney, leading? He'd rather call lawyers."

    The main-stream media, tell the full story? They'd rather just keep loving John McCain. Let's hope they at least report the "Let's stay in Iraq for 100 years" comment.

    How Obama Won, and What it Means for the Democratic Race

    | Fri Jan. 4, 2008 2:36 AM EST

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    I knew there was something afoot for Barack Obama about half an hour into the caucus I attended at Merrill Middle School in Des Moines, Iowa. First of all, there was the turnout. Democratic Precinct 72 had roughly 25 attendees in the 2004 caucus, according to precinct chair Louise Alcorn. Today, it had 58. And even though the caucus represented a union-heavy neighborhood, which one might expect to turn out for John Edwards, the first count of the night identified 24 Obama supporters, 16 Edwards supporters, and just 12 Hillary Clinton supporters. The caucus also included one Biden supporter, four Richardson supporters, and one undecided voter, all of whom later spread evenly to the larger groups.

    The relatively small precinct only had two delegates to give, so the Clinton, Obama, and Edwards groups all tried convincing each other that they ought to switch camps. Though the Edwards supporters in attendance were well-prepared (they had pies and candy available for converts) and committed (they gave passionate speeches advocating for Edwards), the Obama supporters sat steadfast and quiet. caucus-speaker.jpg After some heated moments, including a long discussion of whether Elizabeth Edwards' cancer necessarily meant she would die while her husband was in office, the final count showed that Obama had actually grown in strength. Obama 25, Edwards 22, and Clinton 11—Obama and Edwards each took home one of the precinct's two delegates.

    By the time the caucus wrapped, it was becoming clear that Thursday was Obama's night. Anecdotal reports suggested that turnout was way up—the eventual turnout number would shatter all records—a fact that favored Obama significantly because it meant first-time caucus-goers, independents, and young voters were turning out big time. Indeed, young voters in particular might be the story of the Iowa caucuses: notoriously hesitant to participate, they composed over 50 percent of Obama's support. News reports even indicated that Obama had beaten Clinton among women.

    The final results—Obama 38 percent, Edwards 30 percent, Clinton 29 percent—suggested that Iowans had responded to Obama's call for decreased partisanship and a renewed politics that left special interests and lobbyists behind. In fact, they had answered it so fervently, and in such large numbers, that they had bested the best political machine in politics by nine points. In his victory speech at the Hy-Vee Hall in Des Moines, where supporters hugged, cried, and hooted randomly, a grinning Obama struck almost grandiose tones.

    Watching the Caucuses: Obama Speech Strikes Keith Olbermann Dumb

    | Fri Jan. 4, 2008 1:02 AM EST

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    Approaching the coverage of the Iowa caucuses like I suspect a lot of Americans were—unspeakably sick of Bush, uncommitted to a Democrat, curious about how things would shake down—there were a couple fascinating moments. MSNBC's coverage brought out their new power duo of Keith Olbermann and Chris Matthews, and after the margin of Obama's victory became clear, Matthews seemed to want to grab the mantle of "fiery liberal commentator" from his cohost. Asking questions of their panel of experts, he launched into a spitting tirade about how Clinton could possibly be considered an agent of change when she voted for the Iraq war, emphasizing over and over that "two thirds of the party has voted against her." A quick channel change to Fox News saw their reporter, a wide-eyed strong-jawed frat boy in what looks like military-issue headphones, stationed at the Huckabee headquarters, barely able to contain his glee over Huckabee's win. Over at CNN, their situation room seemed invaded by information-filled data screens, with entrance poll pie charts rolling around the studio like mad Pac-Men.

    Iowa Isn't Quite What You Think: Remember Jesse Jackson in '88

    | Fri Jan. 4, 2008 12:39 AM EST

    There are a lot of reasons not to compare Barack Obama and Jesse Jackson, but Obama's romp in Iowa tonight does bring to mind 1988, when Jesse Jackson and his Rainbow Coalition captured 11 percent in the Hawkeye State—coming in behind Dick Gephardt, Paul Simon (both veteran pols from neighboring states), and Michael Dukakis, but still astounding in a state where conventional wisdom had pegged Jackson as a quasi-fringe candidate (and where, as commentators never tired of pointing out, the black population was less than 1 percent). Back then, as I recall, some of the things that worked in Jackson's favor were cadres of passionate field organizers; some really smart strategizing that the campaign never got credit for; a deep, deep anger over the way ordinary people had been hung out to dry in the farm crisis; and, well, that thing that just might make Iowa a useful participant in the primary sweepstakes after all (okay, go ahead and flame), which is that people there seem to insist on making their own choices, conventional wisdom be damned.

    Update: Yes, I'm confused too: some sources I've seen say Jesse got 11 percent, some say 9, and he's entirely missing from the Wikipedia entry; what's up with that?

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    Biden and Dodd Out; Richardson Stays In With Some Guile

    | Thu Jan. 3, 2008 11:20 PM EST

    CNN is reporting that Joe Biden and Chris Dodd are dropping out of the presidential race. According to the current count, Biden took 0.94 percent of delegates and Dodd took 0.02 percent. And though Richardson's press secretary told me in November that "a top three finish is all we need," Richardson is going to take his fourth place finish (and 2.10 percent of delegates) and move forward. "We made it to the final four," Richardson said in a statement. "My staff and volunteers worked their hearts out to get us here. Now we are going to take the fight to New Hampshire."

    There's some intrigue with Richardson. I heard a Richardson precinct captain say he was told personally by someone in the Richardson campaign to throw his caucus-goers to Obama if Richardson wasn't viable. The reasoning given, according to this precinct captain, was that internal polling was telling the Richardson campaign that Obama needed the most help, and by throwing support to him, no clear frontrunner would emerge in the race. The move also insured that Biden and Dodd didn't get any additional support. After all, what does a few extra percent for someone like Obama really matter?

    Richardson, however, will have to drop out soon, barring a miraculous comeback. It will be interesting to see if Biden, Dodd, or Richardson endorse a remaining candidate.

    Edwards Tips Hat to Obama in Concession Speech

    | Thu Jan. 3, 2008 10:10 PM EST

    Edwards just took the stage to speak—introduced as the "second-place finisher in Iowa," which isn't exactly finalized—and began his remarks with the statement, "The status quo lost and change won." He then transitioned quickly into this standard stump speech.

    I'm telling you, folks. Edwards is looking for the number two spot on an Obama ticket if he doesn't take the nomination.

    The Edwards perspective tonight: he trails substantially in New Hampshire and wouldn't have survived a bad loss. His second place or close third place finish probably means that he'll receive a moderate bounce; people will likely take another look at someone who could hang tough with the Clinton machine. The size of that bounce relies heavily on the size of the Obama bounce. If Obama shoots through the stratosphere in the next few days, there may be few voters left over for Edwards to grab. In fact, some Edwards partisans may shift to the Senator from Illinois.

    Iowa Caucus Sees Record Turnout for Dems

    | Thu Jan. 3, 2008 10:00 PM EST

    I wrote this week that the Iowa caucuses were a 120/135/150 game. If 120,000 people showed up, it would be heavy on Edwards' hardcore supports. If it was closer to 135,000, you'd have the hardcore plus Clinton's older voters. And if it was 150,000 or more, Obama got the youth vote out.

    The Iowa Democratic Party just released this one-line email:

    "With 93.5 percent of the precincts reporting we are seeing record turnout with 218,000 caucus attendees."

    By now you probably know that Obama won Iowa, and won big. He may have won amongst the old, the white, the female—he may have won on other people's turf tonight. We'll find out soon. But what we do know is that he dominated on his turf. The Des Moines Register gets it right again.

    Update: New email. "With 96 percent of the precincts reporting we are seeing record turnout with 227,000 caucus attendees." This may be a whole new paradigm...

    Update Update: Another email. "With 100 percent of the precincts reporting we are seeing record turnout with 239,000 caucus attendees." I'm going with, yes, new paradigm. Turnout in 2004 was 125,000. For the record, this turnout isn't all Obama: an exceptionally strong set of Democratic candidates is creating enthusiasm across the board. So says Howard Dean: "Record turnout for Democrats—nearly twice as many people participated in the Democratic caucus as in the Republican caucus—shows that voters are excited about our candidates and that our Party is strong."

    Breaking: Obama Wins Iowa. Clinton and Edwards Tied for 2nd. Ron Paul Kicking Rudy's Ass

    | Thu Jan. 3, 2008 9:56 PM EST

    Those are the results with 91% percent of precincts reporting. Best part is this:
    Ron Paul 8,549 10.1%
    Rudy Giuliani 3,053 3.6%

    More here.