Mojo - January 2008

John McCain Takes Victory Momentum and Heads... Where?

| Wed Jan. 9, 2008 1:24 AM EST

mccain-wins-nh.jpg MANCHESTER, NH — Everyone knows independents love John McCain. It turns out, Republicans love him too.

In all exit polling, John McCain dominated amongst the registered independents in New Hampshire who decided to vote in the Republican primary. But depending on who you ask, only 30 to 40 percent of the voters in that primary were indies; the rest were registered Republicans. According to MSNBC's exit polls, McCain took 35 percent of these voters, besting Romney by two points. In CNN's exit polls, Romney took 35 percent of these voters and McCain took 34 percent.

McCain won amongst men and amongst women. He won amongst voters who value national security and those who prioritize the economy. He won handily amongst lower-income voters, and managed to tie the former corporate CEO Romney amongst high-income voters. It was a decisive victory for McCain.

And it was stunning one for multiple reasons. McCain's campaign was pronounced all but dead due to lack of funds and staff upheavals last summer. Mitt Romney outspent McCain badly and hammered him with negative advertisements in this state. And no Massachusetts senator or governor has ever lost a primary in neighboring New Hampshire.

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Instant Analysis: Reasons Why Clinton Won

| Tue Jan. 8, 2008 11:19 PM EST

MSNBC has just called New Hampshire for Hillary Clinton. Thinking out loud on why the polls were so, so wrong. Ideas welcome in the comments.

(1) Independents, who could vote in either the Democratic or Republican race, assumed that Obama had it wrapped up and turned to McCain in order to push him over the top.

(2) The voters in New Hampshire resented the picture the media was painting: Obama is king and New Hampshire is declaring the Clinton hegemony over American politics finished. Wait just a second, said the voters. Let's keep this debate going.

(3) Clinton cried. Edwards slammed her for it. The media questioned if she showed too much weakness, intimating that a woman couldn't cry and be taken seriously for high office. Women, who turned out hugely for Clinton in this race, turned to Clinton in the last few days. I actually think Obama got the same percentage of women as he did in Iowa, meaning a large number of women voters who went for Edwards in Iowa turned to Clinton.

(4) Edwards and Obama teamed up on her in the Democratic debate Saturday night. Voters, particularly those women who I just mentioned, didn't like that. Motivations in (3) and (4) are tied together, obviously.

(4) The strategy of answering questions showed voters the depth of her knowledge.

(5) There is a well-known effect that hits black politicians. They tend to do better in polling than they do when voters actually head into private polling booths. You can guess why. This effect doesn't occur in a caucus, because participating in a caucus requires voters to stand up for who they want in a public setting. There is social pressure. (I can't for the life of me remember the name of this effect. Anyone want to remind me in the comments?)

(6) All of the above.

I'm going with (6). And by the way, all this was incredibly premature.

A big victory for Clinton tonight. Nevada is up next. The political powerhouse in Nevada, UNITE-HERE Culinary Workers Union Local 226, was set to endorse Obama tomorrow, which many believed would basically hand him the state's primary on January 19th. Now we'll have to wait to see what happens.

Update: Thanks to our readers who IDed (6) as the Wilder/Bradley effect. Here's evidence that was not in play.

Updated Numbers: Clinton Has 4 Point Lead

| Tue Jan. 8, 2008 9:49 PM EST

The TV pundits, staring at Barack Obama's double digit lead in the polls, spent all day burying Hillary Clinton. Chris Matthews basically asked every guest he had if it was time for Clinton to drop out. And now, they're backtracking their fake-tanned butts off. With roughly a fifth of the vote in:

DEMOCRATS
Hillary Rodham Clinton 39.7%
Barack Obama 35.7%
John Edwards 16.8%
Bill Richardson 4.5%
Dennis J. Kucinich 1.7%

REPUBLICANS
John McCain 37.3%
Mitt Romney 27.9%
Mike Huckabee 12.2%
Rudolph W. Giuliani 9.2%
Ron Paul 8.6%
Others 2.8%
Fred D. Thompson 1.4%
Duncan Hunter 0.6%

We don't know what the final results will be, and either Obama or Clinton could win, but either way... we should probably get ready for "comeback kid" to become the word of the young year.

Did the Clinton folks see this coming? Was it a massive, well-orchestrated head fake? That's wild speculation, I know. But, man, that would be impressive, wouldn't it?

Update: With 42 percent reporting, Clinton 38.9% vs. Obama 36.6% vs. Edwards 16.6%.

Update: Dartmouth is in Grafton County. It has not reported. UNH is in Strafford County. It has also not reported. I'm scrambling to research more now.

Last update: Obama, the Dems' second place finisher, topped McCain, the GOP's winner, by a substantial margin. Yet another sign of the Democrats' future returns.

As McCain Wins, a Look at Exit Polling

| Tue Jan. 8, 2008 9:08 PM EST

So the Republican race has been called for McCain, according to the networks.

Let's look at some exit polling. The Democratic voters in New Hampshire today were 51% registered Democrats, 42% registered Independents. Barack Obama took 43% of the Independents, and Hillary Clinton took 34%. Amongst registered Democrats, those numbers are exactly reversed. (John Edwards takes 16% on each.)

Voters under 30 were 17% of Democratic voters. Voters 50 and older were 46% of voters. The greybeards favor Clinton. Generally speaking, Obama won voters under 40 and Clinton won voters over 40. John Edwards did not do well with either.

62% of Democrats said they are "angry" with the Bush Administration. An additional 30% said they are "dissatisfied, but not angry." 7% said they are "satisfied" with or "enthusiastic" about the Bush Administration. Who, exactly, are those 7%?

86% characterized the economy as "not so good" or "poor." 38% identified the economy as the most important issues in the election. 31% said the war in Iraq, and 27% said health care. I'll bet those priorities are different for GOP voters.

37% said that if Bill Clinton were eligible for a 3rd term, they would vote for him. That includes 57% of all Hillary supporters.

After the jump, the Republican voters....

Taking a Look at Some Early NH Returns...

| Tue Jan. 8, 2008 8:55 PM EST

Your early numbers, as polls close here in New Hampshire:

REPUBLICANS
John McCain 37.3%
Mitt Romney 27.9%
Mike Huckabee 11.9%
Rudolph W. Giuliani 8.9%
Ron Paul 8.4%
Fred D. Thompson 1.5%

DEMOCRATS
Hillary Rodham Clinton 37.6%
Barack Obama 36.4%
John Edwards 16.6%
Bill Richardson 4.3%
Dennis J. Kucinich 2.0%

We've had thoughts on the race here, here, here, and here. Everyone and their mother is saying this going to be an Obama victory on the Democratic side—the only question is how large that victory will be. If it's 5-6 percent, Clinton and her camp will probably spin that as a moral victory. We may actually hear the "comeback kid" line again. If it's over 10%, no amount of spin will be able to slow the media's "blowout" narrative.

We'll keep you posted here at MoJoBlog. Also, an analysis of some exit polling to come.

Update: MSNBC has called the Republican race, with just 12 percent of the votes in, for John McCain. "Mac is back!" cheers explode through the McCain rally venue.

Is Ron Paul a Bigot?

| Tue Jan. 8, 2008 6:37 PM EST

James Kirchick has the Paulites in a fuss. The onetime Marty Peretz assistant (and, some say, political doppelganger) is now a newly-minted TNR assistant editor, and his latest effort is a revealing investigation into Ron Paul's past.

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Rumors of Clinton Demise Abound; Let's Take a Deep Breath

| Tue Jan. 8, 2008 6:30 PM EST

The Hillary Clinton campaign may be at its nadir. It is reportedly running low on cash, considering skipping the Nevada and South Carolina caucuses because of anticipated losses, and weighing the idea of mixing up its staff at the top level. And on the campaign trail, it seems rudderless and lacking in message. Harold Meyerson spent time with the campaign here in New Hampshire and wrote that it is missing "a theme, an emphasis, a sorting of priorities, a touch of context, some urgency, a larger raison d'etre, a grand -- dare we say, presidential -- purpose."

Anyone who looked all the "inevitable" talk/spin/mythology in the face six months ago and called it phony is unbelievably prescient. But don't count Clinton out. She has a team of politics' best people, and she personally has more grit and resilience than perhaps any other public figure in America. People said McCain was toast last summer, and he will likely cruise to a victory today.

Hillary Clinton might be a better underdog than any of us know. Barack Obama might be a worse frontrunner than any of us know. And Republicans, knowing that Clinton is more polarizing than Obama and thus an easier opponent in the general, might weigh in with a dirty trick to derail Obama.

Update: It doesn't help that Bill Clinton is lashing out in ways that don't seem to be helping.

Record Turnout Predicted Today in New Hampshire

| Tue Jan. 8, 2008 5:18 PM EST

The record for turnout in the New Hampshire primary is 393,000, set in 2000, the last time the state had a contested primary for the Democrats and the Republicans in the same year. The current prediction for today's turnout is 500,000, a number pumped upward by clear skies, warm temperatures, and Obamania. The Secretary of State is sending more ballots to Democratic polling places because they have been running out.

Shaping up to be a very, very big day.

The Danger of Having 'Civilians' Speak at Campaign Events

| Tue Jan. 8, 2008 11:10 AM EST

A former Edwards supporter, Francine Torge, introducing Hillary Clinton yesterday in Dover, NH:

"Some people compare one of the other candidates to John F. Kennedy. But he was assassinated."

The expected Clinton campaign disavowal came from Phil Singer, a spokesman:

"We were not aware that this person was going to make those comments and disapprove of them completely. They were totally inappropriate."

Whoops.

Election Day in NH: Hillary's Last Hurrah?

| Tue Jan. 8, 2008 10:29 AM EST

Last night, at a rally near the Manchester airport, Hillary Clinton packed 'em in. A thousand or so people listened to her deliver a long speech outlining virtually every policy position she has ever mentioned during the campaign. On one level, it was an impressive performance. She demonstrated a command of policy and facts. She spoke passionately about her intellectual passions. On another level, it was, perhaps, too much too late. As at least two reporters in the room --including Mickey Kaus--quipped, it seemed she was delivering a State of the Union speech, particularly the sort that her husband use to give. Remember how he would go over a long laundry list of policy proposals? One of the biggest cheers of the night came when she said that if elected president she would make sure the federal student aide form wouldn't be too long.

This was as good as she gets. The crowd was pumped--though it did lose some energy as she went on and on. (And on Election Day eve, you don't want to tire out supporters who have to get up early the next morning and start working for you.) She pointed out that she was the candidate who was strong enough and experienced enough to deliver the change that the American electorate yearns for. But she took no pot shots at her opponents. "Time to tell her story," a Clinton aide said to me.

It's not such a bad story. And did the size of the crowd indicate she might just be able to pull out a win in New Hampshire? Once upon a time--that would be sixteen years ago--another Clinton became the self-proclaimed "comeback kid" of New Hampshire. (That was after placing second in New Hampshire. Talk about chutzpah!) There's no reporter in New Hampshire I've spoken to who thinks that HRC can pull it out. Instead, we discuss how big Barack Obama's win will be--and what the point spread will mean. Some political commentators claim that if Clinton can hold him to a 6-point or less win, she can claim a moral victory. I dunno. Seems to me that whatever the win is, as long as it's more than a close call, the important statistic will be this: 2 for 2.