Reidblog [The Reid Report blog]

Think at your own risk.
Tuesday, January 08, 2008
Revenge of the white women
UPDATE: Hillary has won it in new Hampshire. Previously written post below...

The surprise showing win by Hillary Clinton (the former front runner, not for nothing...) in New Hampshire is mainly a surprise because of the polling going in (and the media's fervent hope that Hil would go down in flames and leave the way clear for an Obama ascendancy). But those of us who got caught up in the rapture (myself included, since I plan to vote for Barack, and see his candidacy as terrific for the country) ... forgot the bottom line in politics: it's not about the polls, it's about the ground game. GOTV (get out the vote) is the name of the game on election day, and the polls don't always tell you what's going on in people's minds on the day it counts.

Hillary Clinton has a few basic advantages to work with (leaving Bill aside for the moment.) Those include:

- The Clinton ground machine, which consists of some of the best GOTV teams in the country, and a national infrastructure that's strong in a lot of states, New Hampshire being one of the strongest. Barack, as a community organizer, knows how to fight the ground game as well, and I suspect that he will show as much in South Carolina (where he has definite advantages), but if you were anywhere but under a rock in 1992 and 1996, you know that the Clinton's know how to play this game.

- Harold Ickes. The Bill Clinton advisor who created ACT -- America Coming Together -- the 527 that I worked for in Florida in 2004. ACT raised more than $200 million, and compiled one of the largest, most sophisticated electronic voter databases in the country. I'm not sure what happened to that database in the end, but armed with thousands of Palm Pilots containing block by block data on every registered Democratic voter in New Hampshire -- including behavioral statistics such as how often the voter participates and polling info -- Camp Clinton could knock on thousands of doors of households with voting women. That might have made the difference for Hillary tonight.

- Women ... and those tears. Hillary's choke up this week might just have put Hillary back in play, believe it or not. Hillary's tears looked to me like exasperation with the tide that had turned so sharply against her, and with the media's obvious euphoria over Obama (and their zeal to write her obituary.) Perhaps women voters in New Hampshire finally tired of the media's Clinton hatred, and attacks by the Chris Matthews of the world -- combined with liberal talk radio (led by people like Ed Shultz and Stephanie Miller) goading, sniping, slapping and belittling Hillary, combined with the attacks by her competitors -- and I'm sure the Clinton camp helped that pique along. The numbers are showing that whereas Barack beat Hillary among women in Iowa, in New Hampshire she's beating him (47%-34%), while he's winning men by 42% to 34%.

The Clinton camp likely made the argument to its potential women voters -- particularly those over age 50 -- that "they" (fill in the blanks: the Obama campaign, the lefty bloggers, the mainstream media ...) are stealing women's historic opportunity to win the White House and handing it to that young whippersnapper Barack. The idea of trading one historic candidacy for another may not be pretty, but it just might work for Hillary with some women voters.

- The media. (See the previous paragraph.) The media's all-out assault on Hillary, starting with that now infamous Philly debate in which Tim Russert joined her opponents and goaded Barack into attacking her, which followed near demands by Chris Matthews and Pat Buchanan that Barack begin attacking Hillary ... or else ... coupled with the MSM's zealous scripting of the obituary for the Clinton Era, may have produced a backlash among New Hampshire women. If Hillary squeaks it out, that may be one of the reasons. In fact, Chris Matthews may go down in history as the pundit who hated Mrs. Clintons back into contention. (And he'll take Howard Fineman down the chute with him...)

- Emily's List. (See women, above.) Emily's List is a powerful organization run by Ellen Malcolm, which commands a huge database rivaling ACT's (they were a partner in America Votes, an umbrella organization that included both ACT and Emily's List in 2004). Team Clinton likely activated them, along with other women-centric voter organizations. So what was Emily's List up to in New Hampshire? From their website:
The 2008 WOMEN VOTE! program, a nationwide voter mobilization and education project of EMILY’s List, has begun a campaign to reach out to women voters through the mail in the final days leading up to the New Hampshire presidential primary. [Exit polls suggest 20% of New Hampshire voters decided in the last three days... 17 percent said they decided today. Update: it looks like Hillary and Barack split the late decider vote roughly evenly...]

The WOMEN VOTE! program hopes to reach more than 50,000 Democratic women voters throughout the state in these last days before the first in the nation primary. In particular, the program will target women who are reliable voters and who also tend to wait to make up their minds on elections in these final days. The series of mailings, the first of which will reach women voters this week, will share important information on Senator Hillary Clinton and her strength and experience as a leader.
- Bill in attack mode. Okay, the moment for leaving Bill aside has passed. His attacks on Barack's readiness for office might have put just the bug in New Hampshire voters' ears that Hillary needed to win over older, particularly older women, voters. And the media's view of the Clintons is so jaded, that they clearly missed the boat on how effective those attacks would be. And don't count out the impact of Hillary's consistent message (to older voters) that Barack's healthcare plan doesn't cover all Americans.

- John McCain and Independents. He pulled more Independents in New Hampshire than the media thought. The idea was that a vast majority would vote on the D-side. That apparently didn't happen.

Update: The race is still too close to call, with Hillary at 39%, Brack at 36% andd 17% for Edwards. BTW the exit polls are showing that 57 percent of those voting in the Democratic primary tonight were women, and a whopping 54 percent were white women (just 3 percent were non-white women, and 41 percent were white men). Young voters also made up a smaller portion of the voter pool, according to the exit polls, than they did in Iowa, with just 18 percent of voters in New Hampshire being aged 29 or younger. Meanwhile, voters agedd 50-64 made up a third of the electorate. That also played into Hillary's hands.

Update 2: The race isn't over. Hanover County, which includes Dartmouth College, isn't in yet. But even if Obama pulls it off, this is clearly a second wind for the Clinton campaign. The MSM has been bitch slapped. It's the Comeback Kid 2.0.

Update 3 (10:32 p.m.): NBC News has declared Hillary the winner in New Hampshire, 39% to 36%. Big Bill might just get some in the Clinton house tonight...

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posted by JReid @ 9:37 PM  
No big mystery here: I'm calling New Hampshire this way:

Obama 45%
Clinton 35
Edwards 17
Richardson 3

On the Republican side, I think McCain will pull it off:

McCain 35%
Romney 29
Huckabee 19
Paul 10
Giuliani 7

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posted by JReid @ 3:03 PM  
ReidBlog: The Obama Interview
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