Thursday, January 10, 2008
New Hampshire Says: Leeeeeeave Hillary Alooooone!!!!!!!!
After listening to numerous pundits try to explain Hillary Clinton’s surprising win in New Hampshire when all of the pre-election polls and even some of the exit polls predicted an Obama victory, I have to say, despite the difficulty in forcing my fingers to type it, that the only one making any sense to me is Pat Buchanan.
He has basically said that he thinks many New Hampshire voters didn’t like the appearance that Obama and Edwards, as well as most of the media, were ganging up on Hillary, and they decided to make a statement by giving her their votes.
Buchanan’s theory seems more likely than the latent racism theory (not in a Democratic Primary), or that voters were deliberately misleading the pollsters (why would they bother?)
Hillary Clinton is the first serious female presidential candidate in American history, and many voters, particularly women, were naturally reluctant to see her beaten as decisively as the polls were suggesting she would be beaten. Perhaps her tearful account of the emotional burden of getting her hair cut, or her “hurt feelings” during the debate, played a role. Or maybe Bill Clinton’s pathetic tongue lashing of the Obama campaign created even more sympathy for Hillary (As an aside, I should also add that the greatest fairy tale I’ve ever heard is: that one can remain a Democratic Party icon while hanging out with members of The Carlyle Group!)
Either way, I think the image of Hillary being humiliated by another loss led many voters, including some previously leaning toward Obama, to change their vote at the last minute. This would explain the pre-election polls favoring Obama. But what about the exit polls?
Here’s the simplest explanation:
In order to conduct accurate exit polling, you need voters willing to participate. Voters must be eager to reveal their choice. However, there will always be a certain percentage of voters who are unwilling to disclose their selection. The polling will reflect only those who are open enough about their vote to participate.
Younger voters, who tended to vote for Obama, are more likely to be enthusiastic and open about their support for their candidate; while older voters, who tended to vote for Hillary, are more likely to be private about their voting habits. Since the pollsters have no way to differentiate between refusals to participate, the result would be an inflated percentage for Obama.
Of course, there’s also a more complicated explanation that also fits with Buchanan’s theory:
Voters who are conflicted, having had a last minute change of heart, perhaps even against their best hopes for the country, are the ones most likely to tell the pollsters that their vote went to “None of your damned business!”