The Real Story In New Hampshire
- From: jose <josefsoplar@xxxxxxxxx>
- Date: Sat, 19 Jan 2008 09:56:20 -0800 (PST)
The Real Story In New Hampshire
By Andrew Cline
Saturday, January 19, 2008; A21
The polls showed Illinois Sen. Barack Obama leading New York Sen.
Hillary Clinton by big margins in the weeks before the New Hampshire
primary. But on the day of the primary, Clinton won by three
percentage points. Why the discrepancy? Why, New Hampshire voters must
be racist, of course.
New Hampshire is 95 percent white, some have pointed out, so that
explains Obama's loss. The data, however, show otherwise.
The sole explanation offered for the racism argument is that New
Hampshire voters did not want their secret racism exposed, so they
told pollsters they would vote for Obama. This is known as the Bradley
effect. In 1982, Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley ran for governor, and
polls had him with a large lead. But on Election Day, Bradley, who was
black, lost to his white opponent. It appeared that white voters had
lied to the pollsters.
For the Bradley effect to have caused the New Hampshire Democratic
primary results, however, New Hampshire voters would have to have
decided on the weekend of Dec. 15-16 to begin hiding their latent
racism by lying to pollsters. From Dec. 18, 2006, to Dec. 18, 2007,
Hillary Clinton led in 53 of the 59 polls conducted in New Hampshire.
Beginning in mid-December, Democratic and Democratic-leaning
independents began telling pollsters that they supported or were
leaning toward Obama. It defies explanation to assert that white New
Hampshire voters suddenly decided to start hiding their racism on that
weekend after publicly supporting Clinton for a year.
Furthermore, the Bradley effect is defined by a big discrepancy
between polled support for the black candidate and that candidate's
actual support on Election Day. That didn't happen in New Hampshire.
Obama averaged 38.3 percent in the polls and got 36.4 percent of the
vote -- a difference of fewer than two percentage points and well
within the margin of error. Obama's support in the exit polls was also
the same as his support in the voting.
The discrepancy was in Clinton's support. She polled around 30 percent
but got 39 percent of the vote. Obama's support was not so much
overpolled as Clinton's was underpolled.
The Bradley effect did not happen in the New Hampshire Democratic
primary. But two questions remain unanswered: Why did Obama surge in
the polls in mid-December? And why did the polls not catch Clinton's
surge on primary day?
The answer to the first question is easy: Oprah.
On Dec. 9, Oprah Winfrey stumped for Barack Obama in Manchester. She
drew 8,500 people and made huge news for days. Two days later, Obama
beat Clinton in a New Hampshire poll for the first time since July.
Until mid-December, women consistently said that they preferred
Clinton to Obama by a big margin. By early January, that had shifted,
and the polls showed Obama and Clinton statistically tied among women.
Oprah drew the attention of New Hampshire women to Obama, they liked
what they heard and some began telling pollsters that they were
leaning toward him.
On primary day, however, almost half of all women who voted in the
Democratic primary voted for Clinton.
Many factors were behind the shift to Clinton: There were the much-
discussed moments in which Clinton expressed vulnerability and doubt
-- her answers to the debate question about her likeability and the
question in the Portsmouth coffee shop about the strain of the
campaign. John Edwards, Chris Matthews and even Obama seemed to gang
up on her in the final days.
Another factor, much less reported, is that the Clinton campaign sent
out a mailer a few days before the primary portraying Obama as a less-
than-solid supporter of abortion rights. Consider also that Clinton's
support came largely from lower-middle-class families, who are
routinely underpolled. Samples are weighted to account for that, but
that technique does not always work.
Even two days before the primary, nearly half of Democratic voters
remained undecided. Many of them told pollsters they were "leaning"
toward a candidate, but they had not made up their minds. Obama had
more "leaners" than Clinton, somewhat inflating his numbers. In the
last day or so, women "leaners" broke from Obama and the other male
candidates and joined undecided women in voting for Clinton in big
Whatever the polls said, some well-informed New Hampshire Democrats
privately predicted that Clinton would win or come close. They picked
up what the polls did not -- that many Democratic women really wanted
to vote for Clinton but felt it was their duty as informed voters to
check out all the candidates. Those informed Democrats also said
Clinton had an operational advantage that could bump her final
numbers. Clinton's operation did a masterful job getting her
supporters to the polls. That probably accounted for some of her large
margin of victory in New Hampshire's two largest cities.
All of the evidence points to one conclusion: Large numbers of women,
many of whom wanted in their guts to vote for Clinton, looked closely
at Obama, Edwards and Richardson, then decided late to vote for
Clinton, either because she was a woman or because, as many said, they
thought she was the best candidate. That, not race, is the story of
her surprise victory in the New Hampshire primary.
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