Hillary Clinton and McCain Stage Huge Upsets

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mccain hillary clinton twn.jpg
Everyone knows the news. McCain and Hillary Clinton beat expectations — big time.
Tonight I was at a dinner in the grand ballroom of Georgetown’s Four Seasons Hotel for the annual black tie gala of the Nixon Center, and I kept running out to the patio to see if I had any test messages from my colleague Sameer Lalwani about the New Hampshire primary.
I got the numbers when about 25% of the precincts had reported in — and my notes were passed around much of the ballroom — which was stuffed with folks with blackberries that couldn’t receive data in the room we were in.
Here is what matters. Expectations of an Obama tsunami were overstated — and while they were basically nearly tied, the expectation that he would clobber her in a double digit win — gives her a huge win.
She’s back in the game — and this is going to be a long contest between the two. Edwards is out — at least I think so — no matter what happens in South Carolina. If Obama wants a VP running mate decided early, Edwards may be the guy. Obama’s New Hampshire speech had a lot of heavily populist currents, so that deal may be possible.
But Hillary Clinton pulled it off — and I’m surprised. Her team allowed too many to know that she was “pissed” after the results in Iowa, and this inflated in the minds of many that the Clinton campaign took Iowa more seriously than perhaps they should have. She should have laughed it off. Maybe.
She won — so it’s tough to argue with success. But what the hell happened with the polls? In Iowa, the polls tracked well with performance — but not at all tonight in New Hampshire.
In any case, big flip — and not to leave him without attention — John McCain’s big win over Mitt Romney also creates considerable momentum for him. The story for him as well as Hillary in the short term is one of comeback.
I still want someone who sounds like Chuck Hagel. Don’t see the person yet — but I am glad that we aren’t going to have a silly, binary choice for president. This race matters, and whether Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama wins the Democratic race, I want them to fight like hell for it.
The next president is going to have the crap beat out of him or her by the world — by friends and by foes — and I want someone who is tuned in to the real world, not platitudes. For me, this race just got a lot more interesting.

— Steve Clemons

Comments

28 comments on “Hillary Clinton and McCain Stage Huge Upsets

  1. CN says:

    Edwards will get out of the race eventually. Iowa was his high point (retail politics will get the job done there), but the MSM will continue to ignore him and fixate on the Hillary-Obama matchup. He’ll continue to come in a distant third, and at some point it will sink in that he has no hope of winning the nomination.
    And he will accept a VP offer. The guy wants to be in the White House so bad that he spent the last four years practically living in Iowa. He’s ambitious, and this is the Democrats’ year. VP is better than going home and waiting for 2016.

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  2. Linda says:

    I really don’t have time to go back to check, but I posted the idea of an Obama-Edwards ticket around one to two weeks ago. The problem is that Edwards doesn’t seem inclined to get out of the race, and I don’t know if he would accept offer to be VP.

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  3. Kathleen says:

    I must be from Venus because I prefer any one of the 2nd tier candidates to the three stooges at the top. If you voted wrong on Iraq, you have a big question mark in my mind and if you voted wrong on Iran, you eliminate that question mark for me. If you skipped voting on Iran, you flunk too.
    It was no co-incidence that the skirmishes in the Straits of Hormuz occured yesterday, the same day as the New Hampshire primary. With lots of shipbuilding and Naval facilites in NH, loss of defense contracts was not lost on those who supported Bush, voters and candidates.
    Did you notice the smirk on Dopey’s face yesterday when he said “They hadn’t ought to have done that”? I know why he’s smirking. Everybody thinks we’ll be having another election but we’re just going to have another war, he he he. To punctuate his smirk he gave us one of his best alpha male head noddings to every corner of the room. Big Dawg.
    Edwards wasn’t in the Senate for Kyl-Lieberman, so I just have his Iraq vote. Still, he talks about having been poor, but lives in a humongous mansion, rakes in the buckeroos from his hedge fund gig, but uses campaign contributions to pay for $400 haircuts???? Puhleeeeeze. Also, I have to confess something politcally incorrect. I’m having Southern drawl fatique. I wouldn’t let that stand in the way of voting for him though, if he is the nominee. I just know if Hillary had used campaign funds for a $400 dooo, she’d be pillaried.
    I’m torn between loyalty and appreciation to Kucinich for running and for being right about eveything I hold dear, and Richardson, to keep him in the race because I prefer him to the others.
    What good is experience if you made the wrong choices in a life or death decision? What good is talk about change, if you skip a life or death vote? Kyl-Lieberman is why we had our skirmish yesterday, he he he.

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  4. CN says:

    Steve,
    Your comment about an early Obama-Edwards ticket is right on the mark, I think. Even if Edwards is pulling only 15 or so percent nationally, that support — and Edwards will draw almost all of it to an early Obama-Edwards merger — will be more than enough to get Obama past Hillary.
    And if Edwards continues to come in a distant third, VP will be an offer he can’t refuse.
    This is why I think Obama is a lock for the nomination. Even if he starts to consistently trail Hillary, or if it’s a neck-and-neck race, he can just call Edwards and make him that offer. In a sense, Edwards is now the most powerful person in the race.

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  5. Pat says:

    Linda — We are in complete agreement. Barbara Jordan!

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  6. Linda says:

    West Coast Ron,
    I really don’t disagree with you at all. On pure policy agreement, my first choice is Kuchinich, but I really like Edwards the best as a candidate, and he’d be the front runner and not running “angry” if Clinton and Obama were not in the race. Kuchinich, BTW, has the longest record of actual achievements in office–but he’s has way too many negatives.
    I can’t agree with voting for somebody because they are boomers–as that was a reason to vote for George Bush–or vote for Hillary because she is married to Bill, as that makes as much sense as voting for Dubya because I like Laura. I’m for Obama because I think he has the best chance to win in the general election.
    The best thing is that people are involved and debating.
    I always thought that the first woman President should have been Barbara Jordan who also would have been the first African-American President. But the time just wasn’t right, and she is no longer with us.

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  7. kim says:

    I’ve noticed the change in Hillary’s voice too. A good move. The NH results are good for both Dems. Hillary is going to make Obama fight for it, and the country will be watching very closely how these two duke it out. I got tired of Obama’s speeches which lately have become nothing more than amorphous ‘change,’change’ with no specifics of what and how. Let’s see what he does about that.

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  8. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Gee, you mean most New Hampshire Republicans desire amnesty for illegal immigrants, and a long term presence in Iraq?
    Huh, who woulda thunk it?

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  9. MarkL says:

    I strongly disagree about Hillary supporters not being pragmatic. In fact, I think pragmatism is a common element binding her supporters together.
    Edwards is definitely not the candidate for a pragmatist! Obama? maybe, but his bipartisan shtick doesn’t work on enough Democrats.

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  10. Carroll says:

    Well I am sick at the thought of a McCain presidency. Watching and listening to him he seems to have some barely contained personal rage percolating beneath the surface. His flip flop pandering, his wild statements one moment and then reading from his script the next minute. I think he has so many mental/emotional issues from Vietnam he is unbalanced. He would as bad as Bush if that is possible. Another wur president.
    ..so I am for whoever else.

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  11. Pat says:

    Well, count me as a Hillary supporter.
    I like Obama and Edwards, too. On the other hand, I’m sick to death of being told we baby boomers no longer count for anything. I’m also sick of hearing some say that the woman better get out of the way of a history making campaign. Is the possibility of a female president chopped liver?
    Iron my shirt, indeed. (Those hecklers probably shifted the vote, by the way….)

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  12. Forest Ranger says:

    At first, I was disappointed by the Democratic results because I prefer Obama over Clinton, but Steve makes a good point in that a vigorous campaign is best for the nation. Voters are clearly taking these primaries very seriously, and the country will be better off.

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  13. carsick says:

    Arr
    Steve has long been enamored with Hagel’s foreign policy (not domestic) and it is all about substance.
    Steve,
    One other thought on Style though. Hillary used to project at the podium. As though she were trying to reach the back of the room despite the fact that she had a microphone (Gore used to do a bit of that too). In the last few days she seems to be speaking in a more normal, and quieter, voice. I think it has helped to breach the distance to voters that her former style helped to create and the media regularly reported on.

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  14. carsick says:

    I read that this is the first time four different people won the first two states in the history of primaries. I agree with Paul above, independents saw the polls and figured Obama had it in the bag so they wanted to effect the republican race and went for McCain. I’m not decided yet but I did wish Edwards had a stronger showing.

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  15. Arr-squared says:

    Hi Steve,
    When you say “I still want someone who sounds like Chuck Hagel,” could you clarify? Do you mean: someone with 100% National Right to Life and Christian Coalition ratings, 87% US Chamber of Commerce rating, 0% Human Rights Campaign rating, 37% National Education Association rating, and 0% League of Conservation Voters rating?
    Oh yeah, you said SOUNDS like Hagel, not VOTES like Hagel. Style over substance, right?
    R^2

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  16. DonS says:

    Oh, thank God for the adults. Doncha know, a “terra attack” between a McCain nomination and the election would almost certainly assure a big McCain win? And who knows what response. Not that I have much faith any of them wouldn’t find bomb and swagger the simplest response.
    Like Steve has repeated, the next administration is going to be sorely tested by all.

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  17. lost in nyc says:

    lot of difference between a clinton-mccain contest than obama-huckabee. looks like the “adults” are back in charge at least for now.

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  18. john o. says:

    Looks like Hillary correctly calculated that her crocodile tears would help her with women.

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  19. liz says:

    I live in South Carolina and can tell you Hillary has a chance here. From what I hear, African Americans in South Carolina support her basically because of their love for her husband. I also hear the Gay community loves Hillary. And you know, Obama brought Oprah here….. and there have been articles about blowback from that.
    I personally have a civil rights issue going on and have written the Obama campaign multiple times. Since he champions himself a civil rights activist, you would think he may be slightly interested……. Not.
    And it is my observation that if Obama is nominated, disgruntled Republicans would support him…. but not Hillary. Republicans wouldn’t cross over to vote for her.
    Personally I don’t think America voted for McCain and Clinton in New Hampshire. This campaign is about change and the two people who won, do not under any circumstances represent any type of change, except maybe towards more fascism.

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  20. Pacific Coast Ron says:

    I agree with DC about Hillary, but being the secret king of the hippies, hardly know any of her supporters, except at my union job.
    And disagreeing with Linda … just about any creature with a spine and a conscience would be my second choice, to Edwards, over either Obama or Hillary … it is about character, and since we can’t be flies on their walls we have to accept and sift and consider their choices in rhetoric, in advisors, in policies, and in those little moments of truth …
    As a fifty-something man who’s loved more than my share of intelligent and powerful women, I’d love to have a few glasses of wine with Hillary, and look deep into her eyes … but as a possible President, I trust her about as far as I can throw a copy of the NAFTA treaty … what’s she gonna pledge to change about THAT piece of merde ???
    Barack H. Obama is a heck of a man, the bit of going to the small public law firm after the triumphs at Harvard law is impressive … or one heck of an ambitious and good-with-narrative egomaniac … I’d like to hear more back-and-forth and historical record on the alleged sell-out to Insurance Corp. interests in the Illinois health bill …
    So Edwards does win the battle of character for me, maybe he needs — for the media’s sake only — to come out with a speech now about how he’s not “angry” or “Just angry”, or whatever, but he has experienced as much or more personal loss as the others, his skill has been developed in a more grounded arena where he had to convince twelve people to agree with him to put a dollar on his table … the problem with America today is much more the greed of corporations than a lack of unity — so if we had all united behind Bush in 2002-4 everything would now be great ??? that was the unity being offered, THANK GODDESS we didn’t take it !!! If you understand psychology and sociology unity is impossible, a chimera, so that doesn’t impress me much as a guiding principle …
    Leave you with a laugh, even the candidates themselves are so clueless, I believe it was on the Ed Schultz show, Ron Paul bemoaning FOX keeping him out of the debate yet idiotically endorsing selling the airwaves to the highest bidder !!!

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  21. DC says:

    I know many HRC supporters too, and they tend to be fiercely partisan. That is, unwavering, not very pragmatic. I will note that my belief is that the candidate herself is not in that way of thinking — but if her followers are any indication (from what I’ve seen), I doubt she will cure the dividing rancor that ails this country. I will also suggest that this will make for a very close election, should McCain be the other candidate.

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  22. Linda says:

    Keeps getting more interesting. First of all, thinking about the November election, regardless of whether it’s Hillary or Obama, McCain is a much less formidable candidate than he was in 2000 or even 2004 when a lot of Democrats liked his independence and straight talk. He’s moved too far to the right to attract them again. The stakes are too high. So I’d still reluctantly vote for Hillary.
    Aside from all the impossible-to-predict “ups and downs” that can happen, the key to the Democratic nomination probably rests with Edwards and what he does. The longer he stays in the race, the more he helps Hillary as most of his supporters would have Obama as a second choice.

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  23. Dan Kervick says:

    I’m with Chris on this. I personally don’t know any Clinton supporters. But I know they’re out there somewhere.
    The thought of Hillary Clinton as President, and guiding the foreign policy of this country, fills me with a level of dread and revulsion that I find hard to articulate fully.

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  24. paul says:

    I’m a confused Edwards supporter who’s almost ready to jump to Obama and will be bitterly disappointed if my party nominates Hillary — I’d vote for her in the general, but I mean really, where is it written that only Bushes and Clintons get to be President?
    What happened with the polls? I suspect some of the Obama/McCain indie voters took GOP ballots because they believed Obama was going to win and McCain would need their vote more. Maybe some Bradley effect, but I certainly hope not. Probably a big piece of this was the famously independent NH voters being unwilling to have Iowa tell them whom to vote for, particularly since a big Obama victory would have made him close to a lock to get the nomination — this may be why it’s always so hard for someone to win both Iowa and New Hampshire.

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  25. Steve Clemons says:

    Chris — that’s a very interesting and useful comment. To give you a peek into other assortments, I have friends on the Republican, Democratic, and ferociously independent sides. . . and on the Dem sides, my friends/acquaintances break down about 35% Hillary Clinton, 35% Obama, 20% Edwards, 3% Richardson, 3% Biden 2% Kucinich 2%. It’s been a race in DC — not just because DC is a political town, but I think it aggregates diversity here.
    best, steve

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  26. chris brandow says:

    I am as bewildered as everyone. Mostly, I am just continually stunned by hillary’s strength in polls. Admittedly, I am just one person, but I literally only know a single person who is excited by Hillary’s candidacy, while I know well over a dozen folks who are somewhat ill to their stomachs tonight. Obviously, I just know lots of people like myself.

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  27. Robert Morrow says:

    People ask: were the NH Demo polls wrong the past few days?; how did Hillary squeak out a win? My theory is that NH voters have been getting a LOT of phone calls lately and after Iowa the Hillary folk were in no mood to talk to pollsters while the Obama folk were excited and wanted blab about how they could not wait to vote for Obama.
    The Obama side is where the real passion is. Many of Hillary’s supporters are folks who thought or hoped they were backing the “Inevitable Next President” not just the “Inevitable Demo Nominee.”
    NH is a very small, almost tiny state, the size of a couple of counties in FL, TX or CA. The Clintons have heavily courted the establishment Demos here for 15 years. The GOTV organization was in place. The Clintons have had this place heavily organized for a long time. Obama did pretty good on the Clinton home court.
    If Obama had won by 10 points or so, this race would have been over. As it is, it looks like Obama is on track to certainly win in SC and maybe even Nevada if the Culinary Union endorsement comes in for him. If those 2 things happen, he will have good momentum and plenty of money heading into Super Tuesday, Feb. 5th.
    I sure hope Obama wins the Demo nomination, because if he does not, it is going to be long, hot summer for folks like me. Keep hope alive; I’m a hope mongerer.

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  28. required says:

    Makes Edwards look like an a** after his Iowa speech, where he said it was a “two man race.”
    Edwards only came in second in Iowa because of the second place votes he received. As far as first place votes, he came in third in IA and third in NH.
    He seems to make many mean, sexist remarks against Hillary. Seems he despises her with a visceral animus.

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