For supporters of the war in Iraq, the outcome of the New Hampshire presidential primary was a welcome surprise.
The winner on the Republican side, by five points, was Arizona Sen. John McCain, who alone among candidates supported President George W. Bush’s “surge” in the war while others called it worthless at best, disastrous at worst. Militarily, at least, the surge has been successful.
The winner on the Democratic side, contrary to all prominent pundits and exit polls, was New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, who edged the expected winner Illinois Sen. Barack Obama by three points.
Clinton entered politics as a friend and acolyte of far-left radical activist Saul Alinsky. But her Democratic Party has drifted so far to the loony left that Clinton has become one of its “moderates.”
Clinton emerged as the most nearly pro-war Democratic candidate, a senator who coos like a dove but votes like a reluctant hawk.
Despite strident anti-war rhetoric among Democrats and their puppet-master radical groups like MoveOn.org, Democratic and sympathetic independent New Hampshire voters Tuesday gave 39 percent of their votes to hawkish Hillary.
This, of course, means that 61 percent of these voters on the Democratic side cast ballots for other, more outspokenly anti-war Democrats, including Obama, a former Chicago Alinsky activist.
Puzzled pundits professed ignorance Tuesday night over how Hillary won by three points when exit polls projected her losing by around five points, an eight-point error.
These pundits avoided one obvious explanation: Some politically correct white liberal Democrats prefer to tell pollsters that they voted for an African-American candidate even after casting their secret ballot for a white candidate.
The gender gap reportedly worked in Hillary’s favor. Clinton bested Obama by 16 points in votes of single women and by 11 points from married women. (She reportedly lost men, married and single, by 13 points.)
Most young voters supported the charismatic Barack Obama, but voters aged 50 and over generally cast their ballots for Clinton.
In states with a large proportion of young voters, Clinton’s affinity with older voters could be a losing proposition.
Luckily for Clinton, New Hampshire demographically has one of America’s oldest populations — with half its residents aged 50 or above.
More than 40 percent of New Hampshire voters describe themselves as independents, not Republicans or Democrats. Independents could choose to vote in either major party’s primary, and this vote split mostly between McCain and Obama.
The larger share of independents reportedly voted for Democrat Barack Obama.
Demographers know that approximately 1-in-5 of Tuesday’s primary voters were not New Hampshire residents four years ago during the last presidential primary.
These new New Hampshireites, a majority of whom are said to be urbane liberal Independents, came largely from neighboring Massachusetts — bringing a love of big government and fashionably left-wing politics with them.
But why did these liberals move to New Hampshire? Because this “Live Free or Die” state has lower taxes than Massachusetts. These liberals love big government but have fled from paying the taxes big government demands. Such are many of the hypocritical “independents” who voted for Obama or Hillary.
As primary day dawned in New Hampshire, news reports indicated that Clinton feared losing by double digits and had plans to shake up her campaign staff. In retrospect, Clinton had internal polls that apparently showed her stronger than did public polling.
Because such elections are won or lost in the press, not the ballot box, and by expectations rather than actual votes, victory can come merely from doing better than expected.
Lose by five points when the pundits predicted defeat by 10 points and you are the “comeback kid.” Win by five points when the pundits predicted victory by 10 and you have “lost,” despite getting the most votes.
The art of winning such contests, therefore, is to downplay expectations but not to so low or high a point that it sways voter turnout against you.
Knowing that she had a powerful political machine turning out her voters, Hillary gambled on playing along with media predictions that she would lose. She successfully wagered that this would motivate her supporters more than it depressed them.
Feeling confident that he would win, perhaps by double digits, Obama did too little to drive down expectations. Don’t be surprised if analysis of the New Hampshire vote in coming days finds that many of his supporters, assuming an Obama victory was in the bag, never bothered to vote.
The Clintons were almost certainly worried. Evidence of this is the kind of desperate political attacks they turned to undercut Obama’s momentum.
Acting as Hillary’s attack dog, former President Bill Clinton told a televised audience that in 2004 Obama had said he agreed with Bush administration policy in Iraq.
The impeached president described Obama’s claim of being anti-war as a “fairy tale,” in effect calling Obama a liar hours before voting began.
Even more startling, Hillary Clinton attacked the idea that Obama was in the tradition of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. She said that Dr. King would have accomplished nothing were it not for President Lyndon Baines Johnson pushing civil rights legislation into law.
Clinton’s implicit denigration of both Obama and Dr. King left many liberals gasping in astonishment.
But as this column observed on Nov. 13, the unspoken message of Hillary’s entire campaign has been “Don’t vote for the black man.”
Hillary is clearly prepared to use any tactic, however base and vile, to win the presidency.
The good news for Republicans is that Hillary, by using such tactics to defeat Obama, could alienate sizeable portions of both the African-American and young idealist vote.
Good news, too, is that Republicans have spent years preparing to defeat Hillary Clinton in 2008 and, thanks to her down-and-dirty victory in New Hampshire, will probably have Hillary as their preferred opponent in November.
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