Semi Live-Blogging the NH Primary Posted by: Bruce McQuain and Dale Franks
on Tuesday, January 08, 2008
Here I sit in beautiful Darien GA (salute!) after a fine repast of BBQ from Smokey Joe's and now ensconced in my hotel room with lap top, internet connection and a TV remote, I figure what in the hell else have I got to do?
So, given those facts, I figure I'll annoy you.
I'm calling it semi-live blogging because that dinner was good, it's been a long day and I may nod off occasionally. I don't imagine you'll miss much though. So as I prepare for this arduous task and figure out where all the news channels are, you can enjoy the Avodart commercials.
Oh, my pre-poll closing prediction? Reps: Romney (my upset special), McCain, Paul. Dems: Obama, Clinton, Edwards, Who Cares.
As we wait it is now (6:30pm EST), a word about the turnout. In a word, "huge":
According to [New Hampshire Deputy Secretary of State Dave] Scanlan, the ballot strain seems to be on Democratic ballots, which suggests that the undeclared voters are breaking for the Democratic primary. New Hampshire Secretary of State William Gardner predicted that 90,000 undeclared voters would vote in the Democratic primary compared to 60,000 voting in the Republican primary.
For our readers, here's a question for you - which network will declare the winners for both parties first? And bonus points for the closest time.
BTW, I won't be staying up to the wee hours for this - that goes back to the possibility of nodding off. But I'll probably stay up at least long enough to hear the winners declared by someone.
[7pm] All times will be EST. Looking at the lineups for the networks there is der Wolf at CNN, Britt Hume and crew on Fox and Matthews and Olberman on MSNBC.
Some polls are closing now and we'll see some early returns soon. In the meantime all of the news crews seem to be taking a whack at Hillary Clinton for her and her hubby's whacks at them (saying Obama has gotten a free ride while she's been overly scrutinized). Vintage Clintons, but it isn't being "taken" by the news types this time.
ABC just announced a "prime-time special", hosted by Charlie Gibson from 9-9:30. A half hour? Sorry, just not enough for a political junkie.
NBC exit polls say 43% of Democrat voters and 38% of Republican voters were independents.
[7:10pm] Major Garrett of Fox News claims there will be a shake up in the Clinton campaign tonight or tomorrow. He reports that rumor has it some old FOBs - Paul Begala, James Carville, Maggie Williams and Doug Sosnick - will be brought in to get the campaign on track.
[7:40pm] Early returns - 7% in McCain 38%, Romney 29% - Clinton 37%, Obama 36%.
Fred Thompson (who is in South Carolina) calls South Carolina the "gateway" to the nomination and his "firewall". He says he must do well there or ...
[7:55pm]: 9% CNN:
Obama 37% Clinton 37% Edwards 17% Richardson 4% Kucinich 2%
Fox (Major Garret) following up on the Clinton campaign shakeup reports Roy Spence and Maggie Williams will be joining the Clinton campaign. Some clarification, Maggie Williams, while probably an FOB as I reported above, is also, Hillary Clinton's former chief of staff.
For Clinton, Fox crew decides this isn't an Obama "blowout". Charlie Cook, however, on MSNBC, says a 4 or 5% loss by Clinton is a blowout.
Juan Williams, on Fox, is implying this is a "comeback kid" moment for Hillary. He also claims there will (and are) divisions in the black community about Obama, so that this may be a "high" that subsides and has most blacks voting for Clinton.
Michael Barone says the races are too close to call because the difference between the two leaders of both races is inside the margin of error. Exit polls are begin taken in 50 precincts. They're being combined with actual vote totals and then calculated. Barone says NH exit polls have a history of being dubious.
[8:11pm]: Right after all the talk about dubious exit polls, Fox declares McCain the probable winner in NH. MSNBC has called it as well. And so has CNN. So much for my upset special.
All the pundits are saying the turn-around in the war (plus the fact he pretty much camped out in NH) really helped his campaign.
Some exit polling [Fox] about the Obama/Clinton race. Independents went for Obama 44% to 30%. Those voters who listed "change" as their most important thing went 58% for Obama. Voters under 30 went for Obama 55% to 23% and Clinton took the women's vote 40% to 36%.
[8:30pm]:Interesting - Republicans angry with Bush, but supporting the war, went with McCain per Fox.
Rumors of Swift Boats. Fox and MSNBC are reporting that bloggers (we're talking netroots folks) are saying that a Clinton supportive 527 may emerge and attack Obama. TPM has some info on that 527.
[8:40pm]: Age demographics. It appears that it was pretty even across the board. So the "youth vote", as usual, didn't materialize. I wonder, do you suppose that the hype that Obama was going to win big caused some of the young to blow off the primary?
More exit poll numbers [Fox], this time about McCain and Romney. Independents went for McCain over Romney 36% to 30%. Among late deciders McCain take it 40% to 29%. When asked who would be best to beat a Democrat, McCain got it 40 to 33%. Best qualified to be Commander-in-chief, McCain 43% to 25%. On the issue of he war, it was McCain 46% to 24% and finally, the most "likable" - McCain 74% to 24%. Likeable? McCain? What are you smoking up there in NH?
Oh, and here's a bit of irony - McCain won across all age groups, except seniors.
[9pm]: Ah, good. MSNBC has trotted out Tom Brokaw to frame the "comeback kid" meme for Hillary Clinton. "Very, very long night" before a winner will be declared per Brokaw. Much better outcome than everyone anticipated. He invokes the "UFO theory" - unforseen event - as what is happening in the Clinton/Obama race. It has become the war of expectations.
Romney and Huckabee have conceded.
[9:05pm]: 30% of precincts reporting:
Obama 36% Clinton 40% Edwards 17% Richardson 5% Kucinich 2%
[9:15pm]: To the theme of "Rocky", John McCain makes his victory speech. Crowd yelling "Mac is back!". McCain says he's past the age that he can claim the word "kid" for just about anything. But, he says, he sure showed everyone what a comeback is. And, if you were wondering, he did it, he claims by going to NH an telling the people "the truth". Yadda, yadda, yak, yak, blah, blah ... he's reading now. He "talked" and "reasoned" with the people of NH.
[numbers break] Difference in raw vote between Obama and Clinton is 3,212. Now 39/36 with 37% of precincts reporting.
OK, McCain's telling us how he's really an agent for change. The people don't trust government. And a variation of the "reporting for duty" schtick is introduced.
"We don't believe in growing the size of government to serve our own interests". Wish I could believe this. He's sounding very small government/fiscally conservative.
Talking about the GWoT: "We are the makers of history, not his victims". Arrogant? Heh ...
"In this great historic task we will never surrender - they will!" Lots of applause breaks.
[numbers break] The raw vote continues to narrow between Obama and Clinton. Now 2,916 with 38% of precincts reporting.
McCain goes on, and on, and on. Crowd yelling "MICHIGAN", which is the next primary. Mercifully the speech is over.
Obama/Clinton raw numbers now down to 2,689 w/41% of precincts reporting [MSNBC]. 2,331 with 42%.
The MSNBC crew is laughing at McCain's speech. As noted he read it and, it was obvious. It wasn't a pretty thing, and as they're now pointing out, that's McCain's "reintroduction" to America and it wasn't very impressive.
[9:35pm]: More exit poll numbers. Remember the buzz that there were many late deciders and the majority would go to Obama? Well per MSNBC, 37% of those who voted today decided who they were going to vote for in the last 3 days, however, those who did that split 38% to 38% between Obama and Clinton. That's fairly significant.
Whoa - the raw vote number has climbed again - the difference between Clinton and Obama is up to 4,336 with 47%.
OK, more stuff. Among women who made up 57% of the NH voters, Clinton took 47% to 34% for Obama. Obama, otoh, took the men's vote 42% to 30% over Clinton.
[9:45pm] Michael Barone says there was a big turnout by Hillary Clinton (and for HC) in "down scale areas".
Interviewing Ann Lewis of the HRC campaign who says "she's a fighter. We knew she'd fight and we knew she'd do well".
Sure you did. Lewis is spinning the added staff as a necessary move to prepare for Super Tuesday. "We knew coming out of NH that we'd have to add staff".
Lewis declares, given the NH results, that it is a "two person race".
[9:55pm - DALE]: I'm just getting settled at home, so I've missed the night so far. I'm late getting home because I'm serving on a jury in Federal District Court, an experience I'll be able to relate to you in due course.
Anyway, Clinton's barnstorming across New Hampshire for the last few days, bolstered by her husband, seems to have retrieved her position somewhat (at 18:55 Pacific time). The race is still too close to call, with Obama trailing by 2% with 53% of precincts reporting in. Obama did worse than expected in the Vermont border area, which has hurt him. Interestingly, not only is he doing worse than pre-election polling indicated, he's doing worse than the exit polling indicated. Someone is apparently not being entirely truthful to the exit pollsters.
Obama's hope of an outright win remains alive, however, since the college commie towns haven't yet been counted.
It's interesting that the pre-election polling was so skewed.
[10pm]: It appears that Hillary's "experience over inexperience" argument may have gained some traction.
Clinton campaign staffers think that two moments helped her in NH. One, the ABC debate - they think many voters considered the attacks by the other candidates as piling on. And, interestingly, the think the "tears" incident helped.
Ad for the Obama staff, they're saying more independents went to McCain than they thought would happen. And, they think tracking polls which showed huge ob leads may have dampened the Obama turnout.
Clinton spent the most in the state on television advertising — $5.4 million, to Obama's $5 million, according to TNS Media Intelligence.cmag, a firm that tracks political advertising. Reflect a much smaller treasure chest, Edwards spent $1.7 million and New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, the fourth candidate in the race, spent about $500,000.
More exit poll stuff [CNN]. Who's the best "uniter"? Obama 50%, Clinton 29%. For those who listed the economy as the top issue, 44% went for Clinton, 35% for Obama. And here's a nice explanation about exit polls and their worth.
Do you suppose it will revive the "It's the economy, stupid" slogan?
[10:19pm - DALE]:John Edwards is conceding, saying "48 states left to go". Well, that's true, but he probably won't be around for it, whatever he says tonight. At this point, I suspect that Hillary Clinton wants to keep Edwards in the campaign as long as possible, while Barack obama hopes he gets hit by a bus. Obama is served far better in a two-person race than a three-way race where his splits the anti-Hillary, "change" vote with another candidate.
[10:30pm]: MSNBC declares Hillary Clinton the winner.
[10:35pm - DALE]: Now, the Associated press is calling it for Clinton, too. Clinton-haters at Fox news refuse to call it.
[10:40pm]: Terry McAuliffe claiming it is a 2 person race (reflecting the new spin from the Clinton campaign).
Tom Brokaw: "A great triumph in presidential history. Hillary Clinton is back."
And finally, Tim Russert said there had been talk in the Clinton campaign was talking about skipping Nevada and South Carolina trying to line up for Super Tuesday. Not now.
And Russert's line of the night: "Women, independents and the contrary nature of the citizens of this state have kept the debate alive". Heh.
Hillary is enroute to her campaign headquarters. But Obama has to go first (protocol, you know).
[10:45pm - DALE]: It's interesting that this victory seems to have come as a surprise for the Clinton campaign as well. with Fox now calling the race for Clinton, her supporters are giddy with delight. They expected to lose this one, too.
Obama is now about to concede.
[10:55pm — DALE]: Obama is taking it all very well. Clinton's narrow win does resuscitate her campaign, but it doesn't really damage Obama that badly. It will, however, cause some serious re-evaluation in South Carolina, Nevada, however. Obama's very strong effort keeps him in the race as well, however, giving him the chance to grab Edwards defectors.
With 24% of precincts reporting (at 8:54 pm), Hillary Clinton is winning by six points (40% to 34%). If that holds up, she will have overcome a 10 point deficit in the polls going in, a sixteen point swing from last night to tonight.
Boy, those Clintons really know how to work the "phone banks."
Michael Barone, handling the projections for Fox, says it is now possible that Hillary will win. The exit polls indicated an Obama win, but the actual returns aren’t turning that way, so far.
At 9:00 pm, with 27% precincts in, Hillary’s lead has slipped to four points, 40% to 36%.
Michael Barone, I think, said that the final revised exit polls, which one assumes were still be taken up to the closing of the actual vote, showed a 2 point win for Clinton. Statistically a tie, but pretty close to the raw vote as it stands at 10:31 p.m.
Whoops! Just this second NBC is calling it for Hillary Clinton.
Martin, my post had more to do with the complaints about the 2004 vote, when early exit polls showed Kerry had a lead. When the lead vanished later in the day, Democrats were using the early polls as evidence that the evil Republicans had rigged the vote.
I got that. But this is a Democratic primary, so it’s like a general election where a Democrat wins, there’s no possibility that there was any cheating. The exit polls are only definitive when they indicate a Democrat was ahead but a Republican wins. That doesn’t apply if the situation is reversed, or in Democratic primaries, because in those situations the winners are always Democrats.
CNN showed someone trying to defend the pre-primary polls by claiming that every single voter that was undecided yesterday went for Clinton. Of course, there were less than 8% undecided in the last polls; not enough to give Hillary a tie, much less a win.