Thursday, January 10, 2008

High Stakes Poker

A few months back, after the Drexel debate when Obama and Edwards helped Tim Russert assault Hillary Clinton, HRC made a jibe at the boys' expense when speaking at Wellesley. This became the Issue Of The Day - Is Hillary playing the gender card?

No. Smarter pundits, please.

But it became an article of faith that she was, she was, she was, and that it was wrong, wrong, wrong for her to try to gain political advantage from pointing out a sociological fact, that stong women scare the living bejeezus out of some people (not just men), and that how DARE she point out bigotry and bias!?!?! It's soooo negative. The over-hyping of the single, fleeting moment when HRC had a question get to her is the apotheosis of this meme, trying to simultaneously trash Clinton herself as a case of a hysterical female shedding scripted crocodile tears in order to sway stupid women voters (who don't like Hillary anyway) into voting for a sniveling girl 'cuz they're sorry for her.

Fast forward to today and the way in which Obama surrogates are flinging themselves at any news source to declare that Obama lost New Hampshire because he is (GASP!) Black and those closet racists fucked with the pollsters' minds and mislead everyone about how they would vote. Obama's camp and supporters are playing the race card in an attempt to explain away his loss in New Hampshire far more aggressively and dishonestly than anything that has ever come out of the Clinton camp about gender. And now it is becoming an article of faith that he was, he was, he was beaten by racist voters and it's wrong, wrong, wrong that racists are denying Golden Boy Barry his coronation.

Let's stop this crap right now:
  1. The "Bradley Effect" (White voters misrepresenting their true voting preference to pollsters) is more myth than reality according to professional pollsters. See Item #4 in Mark Blumenthal's post "New Hampshire: So what Happened?"
  2. Obama's actual vote numbers ended up being statistically consistent with the polls done between Iowa and New Hampshire. See Charles Franklin's "Polling Errors in New Hampshire". This post has the added attraction of having two very weird and cool graphs for evaluating polling accuracy. The entire point of the so-called Bradley Effect is that the polls are far higher than the final results, indicating massive voter defection. Everyone who said they were going to vote for Obama did end up voting for him. He did not have false positives. This goes for Edwards and Richardson, too, as well as all the Republicans.
  3. Thinking sociologically, does it make sense that, if you won't vote for a black man, you will automatically and monolithically move to the sole female candidate? Why didn't these voters defect to John Edwards? Why aren't they voting Republican? Are all racists in New Hampshire also feminists?
  4. Which leads to the observation that HRC won with women's votes. Sociologically, does it make sense that New Hampshire men are not racists, but New Hampshire women are? Doesn't it make just as much sense to say that the men are refusing to vote for HRC out of misogyny as that the women are refusing to vote for Barry because of racism? Cuts both ways, cupcake.
  5. Finally, we get down to the fact of the polls themselves. They all were accurate except for Clinton's share of the vote. They missed her reclaiming the vote margin that she had held prior to the Iowa caucuses. Her margin had been narrowing before Iowa, but the plunge only happened after that night.

In short, the New Hampshire results are about what they were expected to be before the massive media circus that followed Iowa. The interesting question, to me at least, is why did HRC's (and only HRC's) number change so precipitously immediately after Iowa? Probably because the media was primed and ready to pursue the Obama coronation meme, and flooded all the airwaves with how it was time to take that bitch out, YEAGGH! It was kind of like the in-your-face environment of the caucuses had burst through TV, radio and the Web to try to intimidate people into joining The Golden One.

And, after the initial shock and awe, HRC supporters said "No thanks, we like our candidate."

The story in New Hampshire is that Hillary recovered some momentary defections despite the tsunami of news, blog posts and TV opinionators declaring her dead and buried. She did it the old fashioned way, too, by getting her butt out onto the campaign trail and meeting the voters.

So, there's a high stakes poker game going on, but both hands are being played by the same side. The anti-Hillary crew both wants to say she is playing the gender card and that is bad and they want to play the race card for Obama and declare it is good. The difference is that the misogyny is on full display on every TV, radio and newspaper while the racism cannot be proved, even by statistical polls.


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