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Tilting at Windmills

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January 8, 2008
By: Kevin Drum

FLINTY-EYED INDEPENDENTS....By the way, I would like to take this opportunity to apologize to the state of New Hampshire for this post on Sunday. Obviously I spoke too hastily.

Kevin Drum 11:28 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (55)

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Our primary system still sucks. So what are you going to do about that?

Posted by: jerry on January 8, 2008 at 11:34 PM | PERMALINK

I made the identical mistake.

And there are sometimes when being wrong is the truest of joys -- for me this is certainly one.

Posted by: frankly0 on January 8, 2008 at 11:35 PM | PERMALINK

I'd like to apologize for the next poster.

Posted by: absent observer on January 8, 2008 at 11:36 PM | PERMALINK

Cool. Bill & Hillary back in the White House... Think of all the press coverage: Are they sleeping in the same bed? Who's in Lincoln's Bedroom this time? Is Monica invited to the inauguration?

All the lobbyists for the Hedge Fund Managers, Pharma & Insurance companies must be breathing one HUGE sigh of relief! Chelsea works for a hedge fund to! Cool. Her bosses like that 15% income tax rate. Wish we were so lucky.

It's Edwards or Obama or none of the above for me.

Posted by: Brian on January 8, 2008 at 11:38 PM | PERMALINK

So, just come out and endore hillary.

Posted by: Jor on January 8, 2008 at 11:44 PM | PERMALINK

It looks as if instead of losing because the press doesn't like her, Sen. Clinton won in New Hampshire because some voters felt sorry for her. Flinty-eyed independents, indeed.

Actually, this is a real phenomenon in modern American politics, one that deserves more examination than it usually gets. About 75% of conservative talk show commentary on President Bush -- not about liberals, but about Bush himself -- zeroes in on how unfair his critics are being to him. This is a guy (whatever one thinks of his politics or record) who has basically had life handed to him on a plate since the day he was born. Yet his strongest backers regularly appeal not for support but for sympathy. They get it, too.

Sen. Clinton for her part is a prominent public figure because of the man she married, and to the degree she is a sympathetic public figure it is almost entirely due to the fact that her husband cheated on her. He cheated on her a lot. An unpleasant thing, that, but it's not quite up there with losing an arm, or a child. And now she's in a tough campaign and thinks she's losing, and has an emotional moment -- which turns out to be significant because it makes some voters feel pity for her.

No candidate has ever gotten my vote because I thought that someone was being mean to him, and for most of my life I sort of assumed that this was true of just about everyone. Evidently it isn't. I admit to being baffled by this.

Posted by: Zathras on January 8, 2008 at 11:53 PM | PERMALINK

I agreed with you at the time, but its refreshing to see a blogger/pundit/whatever point out past misjudgments and correct themselves. Kinda sad that its so rare. Maybe you could teach a class or something, Kevin.

Posted by: kahner on January 9, 2008 at 12:00 AM | PERMALINK

Brian, caring about what the idiots in the press think is how we got the worst president ever. The most important scandal of the Clinton Era was that the Republicans couldn't accept their losses and attempted a slow-motion coup.

I don't care who wins so long as it isn't one of the idiot warmongers and supporters of torture - in other words, every single Republican, including John "I was tortured but can't bring myself to actually condemn Bush for making torture the official policy of the United States" McCain.

Posted by: heavy on January 9, 2008 at 12:01 AM | PERMALINK

One thing that people are saying about the discrepancy between the polls and the actual election is that it was due to racism and the so-called "Bradley effect", in which poll respondents tell the pollster they are voting for a black candidate but actually vote for a white candidate.

But aren't all the examples of that cases in which the black candidate is a Democrat or moderate, and the white candidate is some kind of a troglodyte (i.e., a Republican) that people don't want to admit to backing?

I guess I just don't see how that could work between Hillary and Obama. What Democrat or even independent is going to be embarrassed by saying that they are backing Hillary (who is already breaking new ground with being a woman, obviously)?

Posted by: frankly0 on January 9, 2008 at 12:04 AM | PERMALINK

These results mean my Super Tuesday vote might actually mean something, which is an unprecedented thing. Last time I tossed Dean a meaningless vote as a thank you, and this time I was considering doing the same for Dodd. But if the race is still alive in early February I'll need to decide which of these characters to actually vote for. Harumpf!

Posted by: jimBOB on January 9, 2008 at 12:05 AM | PERMALINK

What proportion of NH's independents went for Obama vs McCain? Do any of the exit poll numbers show that? I bet that at least one factor in the preelection poll numbers being so wrong is that many independents on the fence before today went for McCain b/c Barack was shown to have such a big lead going in. A good number may have also some stayed home b/c they thought that their man Barack had the state in the bag.

Posted by: Matt on January 9, 2008 at 12:06 AM | PERMALINK

Maybe, just maybe, it's the reverse. Instead of voting for her because she teared up, people listened to all the shit the MSM were dishing out about her (ie, that a vote for Obama was a vote AGAINST her personally; that she's calculating (alone among all these politicians)\, etc etc. I was for Edwards first, then came to believe that Obama represented someone who could actually bring people together with his less harsh rhetoric, but I've never thought Hillary was a demon from hell and I should dance on her grave. The lack of perspective on her has come to disgust me more and more. Yes--I hate her vote on Iraq--and I've hated Obama's yes votes on funding the war and rolling over for the new Supreme court judges (and asking us to roll over too). I hated her Iran Guard vote, and noted Obama was conveniently absent. I still don't think she's my first choice--too beholden to foreign policy status quo, but that's COMPARATIVE. To pretend her presidency will be anything like Bush's is lunacy.

Get a grip. Lots of people think she is smart and principled [always relative in politics]--and I do too. It's all relative, a calculated game if you're going to get somewhere.

I've appreciated your stance on her, Kevin. No need to trash any of the Dem candidates.

Posted by: MmeVoltaire on January 9, 2008 at 12:13 AM | PERMALINK

Why don't we rename the state of Arkansas 'Clintonia' to honor the couple and then ask them to please go away? I think that's all they want: a little respect (or a lot).

Posted by: lampwick on January 9, 2008 at 12:14 AM | PERMALINK

I request that the moderators delete the post at 12:25 am.

Posted by: jimBOB on January 9, 2008 at 12:30 AM | PERMALINK

Wow, the Clinton haters are sucking it tonight. Let's see, yesterday the New Hampshire voters had the brilliance to see through all of Hilary's BS and realize how great Obama was. Tonight the same voters are mindless zombies swayed by some barely crying faux event. You guys are a bunch of idiots. Damn near everything said by the Clinton haters in the last 5 days has turned out to be BS. I've got an idea. Why don't you refrain from posting until after Feb 5 since your analysis will likely be wrong again.

Posted by: Bush Lover on January 9, 2008 at 12:34 AM | PERMALINK

Is New Hampshire famous for some product? I'd kind of like to reward them for keeping the game in play.

Posted by: jerry on January 9, 2008 at 12:38 AM | PERMALINK

If I lived in New Hampshire I would have voted for Edwards BUT I completely understand Dem women there giving the vote to Hillary. Those of us who have been out there in the working world the last 20 years have had to bite our tongues and overlook sexist crap in the workplace. We can't really complain in the workplace because then we'll look "bitchy", or be deemed to have chips on our shoulders, etc.

Well here's a time and opportunity for women to say we're sick of it. For a voter who would be happy with any of the three Democratic candidates there's nothing morally wrong about giving the vote to Hillary to make a point about the sexist crap that comes out of Chris Matthews mouth, and the mouths of his cohorts like Limbaugh. Now, if Hillary were unqualified, or dumb as dubya, then voting for her just to make a point like this would be questionable. But that's not the case.

Yeah for the women and non-sexist primary voters of New Hampshire.

Posted by: Dallas Democrat on January 9, 2008 at 12:40 AM | PERMALINK

Someone please explain to me why it's wrong for the potential leader of a still-powerful nation to be occasionally calculating?

Someone please explain to me why it is that the best qualification for leadership in Washington is a lack of experience in Washington politics?

Just wondering.

Posted by: thersites on January 9, 2008 at 12:58 AM | PERMALINK

Oh, and Jerry at the top of this thread is absolutely right.

Posted by: thersites on January 9, 2008 at 12:59 AM | PERMALINK

One great thing to come out of tonight. Looking at the raw vote totals for the Dems and Repugs, John Sununu is absolute toast in November. Chalk up another D in the Senate!

Posted by: Appletonian on January 9, 2008 at 1:58 AM | PERMALINK

one strange (to me) thing that came out tonight was the revelation that MySpace has a "political director" who was doing the rounds of media commentary. MySpace, the community website for young music lovers to make dates and share downloads. The one that's now owned by Rupert Murdoch.

Posted by: billy on January 9, 2008 at 3:09 AM | PERMALINK

I don't think that the moment when Hillary got a bit teary-eyed generated sympathy. The tears weren't welling in her eyes because she felt put-upon -- the tears arose as a sign of her caring about the county and trying to make it better.

I think people responded positively not because they felt sorry for her, but because they sensed she really cared about trying to make the lives of average Americans better.

Posted by: fidelio on January 9, 2008 at 4:20 AM | PERMALINK

I don't think getting choked up helped her.
I think it was she got choke up about that did.
She was trying to make the point that politics isn't some type of game and that the up/down coverage does a disservice to the country. At the moment she appeared to be advocating for the American people.
If Clinton had been speaking about how mean the press had been to her when it happened the press spin of a 'Muskie moment' might have stuck.

Posted by: e pluribus on January 9, 2008 at 4:30 AM | PERMALINK

[Are you shooting for an IP ban, moron? What are you, 12?]

Posted by: Hillary Clinton on January 9, 2008 at 5:56 AM | PERMALINK

obviously Hitchen's article in Slate yesterday about Obama's wacky church and how the delusional left thinks everyone will like America again if we just vote for a black [half black] guy turned the tide Hillary's way. One small victory for curmudgeon atheists and common sense.

Posted by: Pitt the Welder on January 9, 2008 at 7:55 AM | PERMALINK

Having spent Sunday and Monday telling NH independents that O had it in the bag without them (per the MSM), and they should go for McCain, I'm amazed at both the success of my rhetoric and the imprecision of the MSM

Posted by: flintyeyedindependent on January 9, 2008 at 8:16 AM | PERMALINK

What the Welder that sprong me said. Hitchens is God and he doesn't believe in himself.

Posted by: Pitt the Monger on January 9, 2008 at 9:09 AM | PERMALINK

If race were the deciding factor (not impossible- the Bradley effect is real), then it makes you wonder how much larger Obama's victory in Iowa could have been.

In any case, we still have a race in both parties, and it should be fun to watch.

Posted by: Yancey Ward on January 9, 2008 at 9:27 AM | PERMALINK

Re the poll results. Obama's percentage was close to that predicted. It was Hillary's that changed. Is it possible that more people support her than will admit it?

Posted by: steve on January 9, 2008 at 9:53 AM | PERMALINK

What proportion of NH's independents went for Obama vs McCain?...I bet that at least one factor in the preelection poll numbers being so wrong is that many independents on the fence before today went for McCain b/c Barack was shown to have such a big lead going in.

I don't have exact numbers, but independents were breaking heavily for Democrats, and independents voting Democratic were going overwhelmingly for Obama. I believe about half his votes last night came from independents.

That's good news for Obama in the general, if he gets the nomination.

Posted by: shortstop on January 9, 2008 at 10:16 AM | PERMALINK

Clinton & Obama each got 9 New Hampshire delegates.

What is this monumental victory?

Posted by: pony express on January 9, 2008 at 10:18 AM | PERMALINK

Pony Express,

The big victory was the victory of expectations. Obama was expected to win, not lose- Clinton was expected to lose, not win. It was an astounding victory, whether you think much of Clinton or not.

Posted by: Yancey Ward on January 9, 2008 at 10:26 AM | PERMALINK

We are not really discussing the astounding victory of a candidate, but the astounding inaccuracy of expectations. And today's dramatic headlines cannibalize yesterday's in order to provide us with a new set of inaccurate expectations

Posted by: pony express on January 9, 2008 at 10:41 AM | PERMALINK

Someone please explain to me why it's wrong for the potential leader of a still-powerful nation to be occasionally calculating?

Someone please explain to me why it's wrong for the potential leader of a still-powerful nation to have good acting skills?

Personally I think the 'moment' was sincere, but if not, Bravo for a good performance. It is win/win.

Posted by: Tripp on January 9, 2008 at 10:48 AM | PERMALINK

Call me when she wins a state that is less than 90 percent white. This grrrl power conventional wisdom is going to evaporate when black women make up 25 percent or more of the primary voters in a bunch of states. Hillary only gets one death row pardon.

Posted by: Blue Moon on January 9, 2008 at 10:57 AM | PERMALINK

Um, black women are firmly in her corner. Oprah has a lot more influence with white housewives than with black women.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on January 9, 2008 at 11:00 AM | PERMALINK

when black women make up 25 percent or more of the primary voters in a bunch of states.

What states are those? Or do you mean 25 percent of Democratic primary voters? Even then, I'm not sure there is such a state.

Um, black women are firmly in her corner. Oprah has a lot more influence with white housewives than with black women.

Anyone have any recent data on how Obama and Clinton are polling among black women? My understanding was that HRC was much stronger than Obama with this group, but that this had been shifting over the past weeks.

Posted by: shortstop on January 9, 2008 at 11:04 AM | PERMALINK

Don't apologize too much. Personally, I still think 'self-professed political independent' is a synonym for someone who is generally uninformed about politics and government. Either that or they like playing the role of 'swing voter' because they're desperate attention whores.

Case in point: the front page of this past Sunday's NYT. It featured two photos of flinty-eyed New Hampshire independents, both of whom were on the fence between Obama…and McCain.

Wuh? Um yeah, they're pretty similar as far as voting records, policy positions and that kind of stuff. Tough one. Seriously, anyone holding those two choices in their mind at the same time is just clueless.

Posted by: Joe Bob on January 9, 2008 at 11:22 AM | PERMALINK

I had the same reaction, Joe Bob. I thought to myself "they are doing wonderful things with psychotropic medications to treat schizophrenia."

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on January 9, 2008 at 11:27 AM | PERMALINK

From what I can recall, the likely Dem voters in S.C. are over 50% AA, with women being a majority of that. Oprah is big with black women (FWIW I am a black male) -- she is currently on the cover of a major black mag and she has a movie out that she produced that is doing very well with black moviegoers. 30k came to see her and Obama not to long ago, and we'll see her again in the South in the coming weeks. Enough with Oprah though. Obviously it is dangerous to speak in generalities when it comes to race and gender but here goes: Black women supported Bill and Hillary in the 90's against those mean white republicans. Now that Obama has passed the earlier viability tests, I just don't think that blacks are going to break for her more than 20 - 30 percent. My mom is 62, she would be a Hillary Girl any other year, but this year she's with Obama. My mom and dad were in the streets of Selma in the 60's -- Obama represents an opportunity that is just too historic to pass up for most black voters likely to vote. If Obama gets 65%+ of black voters, I just don't think that there are enough single white females and white women over 50 to get her through. And in states with a large hispanic pop -- his recent conversion of his message to "Yes we can" (which roughly equals "Si se puede" - a popular Cesar Chavez saying) and his ability to talk about what it is like to be the son of a man not from the US will resonate pretty well. Of course, I could be wrong :-)

Posted by: Blue Moon on January 9, 2008 at 11:28 AM | PERMALINK

As a Democratic Party member, I do not want independents or Republicans having any say in my party's choice of a presidential nominee. If they want to join the Democratic Party, it is quite easy and their are no tests or loyalty oaths that have to be passed. I did not become a Democrat in order to compete with independents and Republicans for who should represent the Party in the presidential election. I partially blame those people for electing W. Bush, and do not want them associating with me in any partisan way unless they register as Democrats.

Posted by: Brojo on January 9, 2008 at 11:44 AM | PERMALINK

What happened last night in New Hampshire - a sudden upwelling of sympathy and righteous indignation on HIllary's behalf - is due in part to the practical feminism which is a distinctive part of the culture of the New England states. The same thing could happen in Maine, Vermont, probably New York and California as well; but it's not going to happen in places like SC and NV, which are just more patriarchical in their local political culture (I'm speaking of relative tendencies, not absolute differences). I mean no disrespect to feminists in the rest of the country; I just don't think you could see the same kind of backlash in the other states.

Posted by: lampwick on January 9, 2008 at 11:46 AM | PERMALINK

Clinton's most ardent supporters are republican. Again we find ourselves in the same territory we did in 2004 where polling is wildly off only in the most critical component of an election. I sense we have been had. I also sense very little support in my democratic circles for Hillary. Her emotional outburst to a planted question seems a little far to reach to explain such an anomalous result. If she wins, more war. Forgive me if I think her unprincipaled. I will not support her even if she wins, and I am a devout straight ticket Democrat.

Posted by: Sparko on January 9, 2008 at 11:49 AM | PERMALINK

Thanks for the insight Blue Moon. My family provided more than a few of those Jewish activists who were in the streets with your parents. :)

The insight I have is not personal - it comes from talking to people on the bus.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on January 9, 2008 at 11:52 AM | PERMALINK

Blue Girl:

My mom always teases my dad about wanting to be Jewish because of all of the Jews he met during that time that became good friends of his.

Posted by: Blue Moon on January 9, 2008 at 11:58 AM | PERMALINK

Before Iowa, HRC was way ahead in NH. After Iowa the media was all atwitter over Obama's potential bounce! Suddenly it looked like HRC was going to lose in NH!!! Then, when she ekes out a 3% win in numbers & splits the delegates with BO, the media are full of "Comeback Kid" crap. Yet until Iowa, she was the projected winner in NH.

And looking at the results, OB got just about the boost that was predicted. Edwards came in as predicted. What was different that HRC got many more votes than predicted in the post-Iowa polls: Her final count was close to her pre-Iowa numbers.

As KD pointed out about the flinty-eyed independents, people who were undecided broke for HRC. Everyone else stayed the same. So I don't get the media narrative. Maybe Americans suffer from a national short-term memory deficit. Whatever is on today's front page, THAT must be the reality!

Posted by: PTate in MN on January 9, 2008 at 12:00 PM | PERMALINK

The media narrative should be "Stop the presses- We don't know shit!"

Instead they act like something remarkable must have happened to prove their predictions so inaccurate.

Posted by: pony express on January 9, 2008 at 12:04 PM | PERMALINK

Thanks for that info, Blue Moon, especially on the possible male-female breakdown of black SC primary voters. Got curious after my last post and started nosing around. This and this are interesting; they both show black voters now breaking for Obama over Clinton, whereas Clinton had had a huge lead among SC's black voters in September). I wish these polls had breakdowns between black male and female voters. Going to be a very interesting primary.

Brojo: I understand your feelings, but a lot of states have open primaries. I have never registered with a party and am glad that in Illinois, I don't have to.

Posted by: shortstop on January 9, 2008 at 12:05 PM | PERMALINK

shortstop,

You moved to Illinois?

Posted by: Tripp on January 9, 2008 at 12:08 PM | PERMALINK

Tripp, I've lived in Chicago for 20 years.

Posted by: shortstop on January 9, 2008 at 12:22 PM | PERMALINK

Wait...was that a subtle crack at Chicago? If so, LOL.

Posted by: shortstop on January 9, 2008 at 12:23 PM | PERMALINK

[There is no "Democrat" Party, and further reference to same will result in the comment being deleted. --Mod]

This morning I heard an NPR commentator call it the Democrat Party.

Posted by: anandine on January 9, 2008 at 1:12 PM | PERMALINK

NPR ceased being liberal long ago. Just listen to the Republican shills that they have on on a regular basis. Haven't given them money for a couple of years now, and can't see that changing. They have come to embody banality in sweater-vests and penny-loafers.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on January 9, 2008 at 1:35 PM | PERMALINK

shortstop,

"Right outside Chicago there's a place called Illinois."

From an old, old song.

I grew up in Chicagoland, but didn't much like it. Minnesota has been better for me.

Posted by: Tripp on January 9, 2008 at 2:37 PM | PERMALINK

Tripp, I just got a note from your incoming senator, Al Franken, asking me to put a lawn sign out. I don't think it would help him much if I did, plus we have no lawn to speak of.

Posted by: shortstop on January 9, 2008 at 4:53 PM | PERMALINK
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