Wednesday, January 09, 2008

The Granite State still blows.

Does anybody buy this bizarre narrative that it was Hillary's choked-up response to an asinine question that led to her victory in New Hampshire?

I don't.

I'm partial to the other storyline: that the people of New Hampshire relish in supporting candidates who didn't win in Iowa (albeit electable ones), just for the sake of being different, and for having some token impact.

And a corollary: if I'm an independent voter and I've been told Obama's up in the polls by 13 points all week, why would I go vote for him and not McCain?


haahnster said...

I still don't buy that she was even choked up.

Pat Buchanan once won in New Hampshire. So, I'm not even sure electability is a major consideration there. New Hampshire provides living proof that plenty of rubes exist outside the South and Midwest.

Rob said...

Because you are against the Iraq war and for a prudent foreign policy while McCain is a super-hawk who might very well want to go to war with Iran?

Then again I don't really get independent voters, who knows how they think or make decisions.

Clinton's support among women does kind of support the it-was-the-tears theory. But then again, basically amen to your subject line and theory advanced.

Hey cowboy, let me ask you this: Do you think that Clinton picked up any of the fleeing Edwards voters? I always thought Obama and Edwards were splitting the stop-Hillary vote, but what if Edwards has been eating into Clinton's base of working class voters...?

the cold cowboy said...

What really gets me is the scores of voters who, on the day of the election, still haven't made up their minds, yet they go ahead and vote anyway. Is it a coin-toss in there? Just voting for the sake of voting? Seems irresponsible.

I still think the rational anti-war independent voter, if there is such a thing, would vote for McCain and not Obama if you think Obama's already a lock. Better McCain who's moderate on a host of other things than Romney, who's god-knows-what on everything.

As for your Edwards theory, I think he probably does split the votes with Hillary on the labor front, which is pretty important in NH and less so in Iowa. Probably in other cases too.

That's why Edwards needs to drop out and endorse Obama before super Tuesday.

Rob said...

Yeah, and the sooner the better, really. Like, by Nevada would be great. Thanks John!

P.S., it's not worth its own post but I just want to note that last night Clinton (seen here) was wearing her favorite suit!

Levois said...

I don't know what I should or shouldn't buy! The only reason Hillary choking up doesn't interest me is only because I won't vote for her anyway.

Kirsten said...

What I *do* buy is that New Hampshire women got so annoyed by the press frenzy over her "choked up" incident ("OMG! A woman crying! Is she tough enough to rule the free world? OMG! Are we ready for women and their super-emotional emotionalness? OMG! Are those crocodile tears she's faking because she's not womanly enough?") that they decided to vote for her to show their support. That tiny footage became a Rorshach blot for our nations' issues with gender roles and identity, with everyone projecting their own crap onto it.

I'll admit even I got annoyed by the scale of the media coverage. If I were an undecided voter in NH, I might have voted for her "just to show the stupid press that things like that shouldn't matter."

I checked in with a few other fellow women voters this morning, and everyone mentioned the same annoyance. Who is to say how that would affect votes.

One last thing: voters who are last minute-mind-maker-uppers are just as responsible as those who spend hours researching policy details. I am wary of *any* line of thought that starts to argue that one kind of vote is more valuable than another. The vote of the policy wonk counts the same as the illiterate guy from wherever. It kills me because I think about the elections I didn't vote in from 18-22 because I "didn't think I was informed enough about the issues to vote." That is pretentious crap. I should have voted. Even if I were basing it on which face I liked more, that's way more valuable than me not voting.

Rob said...

I agree with nearly everything you said, Kirsten. The annoyed-at-the-media theory is a powerful one. But let's also take a moment to give the most charitable it-was-the-tears explanation, which would be:

Voters saw Clinton as someone who would be a competent president enacting policies they like, but they didn't relate to her on a personal level. When she showed emotion, they were able to match a sense of emotional affinity to their already existing confidence in her leadership ability.

Personally I think it's hard to believe that there wasn't some calculation about it. But that doesn't mean she wasn't also expressing real emotions she was really feeling.

Cowboy can probably respond for himself re: pretentious crap. But would you say that there's no one who is so uninformed as to be unqualified to vote? Not legally unqualified, of course, the government can't make that decision. But we're not the government...

Don Hotdog said...

I've read this theory a couple of different places but its been overshadowed by the whole Clinton crying thing.

"I suspect that Obama may have scored better than he would have in a secret-ballot election, and benefited from a Reverse Bradley Effect. New Hampshire, of course, is a secret ballot election. Voters might have told pollsters one thing but done another in private."


Kirsten said...

Regarding the tangent of who is "qualified" to vote: I guess there are two different aspects to the question: the pragmatic one, and the philosophical one.

Pragmatically: no one should not vote because they feel they are not sufficiently educated and informed. Why? Because you can bet plenty of other people even more ignorant and less informed than you are voting! They either don't care as much about being informed, or don't realize that they are NOT informed! I sure as heck don't want them to outnumber me, just because I was insecure about my grasp of health care policy!

Philosophically: I get skittish any time anyone starts saying any one group is less qualified to vote than another (excepting basic qualifications like residency, or citizenship, of course). Similar arguments were used to bar the lower classes from voting in England around the turn of the last century, and I just feel that if you really believe in a democracy, one person-one-vote system, by definition every vote is of exactly equal quality and value. It's a slippery slope that makes me nervous.

Now, argue that our votes are not equal because of a broken primary system? That's another matter entirely. =)

the cold cowboy said...

I wholeheartedly agree with most of what you said, Kirsten. There are few things in this world more stomach-turning than hearing Wolf Blitzer try to word-barf analyze that moment, or any moment. I can understand that people would switch their votes out of distaste for the media's portrayal. I also think it's unfortunate - the media ain't running.

What really gets me is the scores of voters who, on the day of the election, still haven't made up their minds, yet they go ahead and vote anyway. Is it a coin-toss in there? Just voting for the sake of voting? Seems irresponsible.

i never suggested people should undergo some kind of wonk test before voting. i was trying to communicate my general discomfort/irritation with the idea that a small corps of allegedly savvy voters (as we're repeatedly told by the press and hampshirites themselves) who have so much sway over the process should make their decisions on the basis of wanton caprice or whimsy. I do share with Kirsten the belief that all votes have equal relevance. That's why I have issue with the way the media presents undecidedness as somehow more honorable than having one's mind made up before casting a vote.

It's called bitching. It's what we do here.

My broad new policy proposal to repeal suffrage for the indecisive and force them into labor camps will be outlined in a future post.

Kirsten said...

CC, I am totally with you on the annoying glamourization of the "undecided". As if anyone with convictions hasn't thought enough about it. Blech.

And, while we are deliciously bitching, might I propose adding the pretentious pseudo-political teenager (like, I fully admit, I was) to your labor camp platform? I overheard a couple of them in the hallway the other day - "I just feel like voting is so obsolete. It's just a way to make us feel like we have a say. Real political change doesn't happen that way."

I'm sorry, what? Lock them up and give 'em a shovel.

the cold cowboy said...

Under our new world order, Kirsten, jaded teenagers shall be immediately chained and forced to labor in stechy dirt mines where they will be forced to listen to Slim Whitman records until they register to vote.

Also, we'll sell their Uggs and Hollister gear on eBay.

Saxdrop said...

I guess I'm in the minority here. In one way or another, I basically subscribe to the Jonah Goldberg law of voting, glib as it may be:

"Just because you're undecided, doesn't mean you're not an idiot."

And I hate to say it (well, actually I dont hate to say it, I just think people hate to hear it), you teenage subjects are closest to the truth. Voting may be a sacred franchise with important psychological validations of the winning party (i.e., we dont riot in the streets when our candidate doesnt win), voting is mechanically speaking only a mathematical aggregation of preferences that results in a country as large as ours with only miniscule odds that any one vote will be pivotal.

Suppose your state, which is the size of Florida, is polling at exactly 50/50 in a two party election. The the chance that your vote will be pivotal is around 1/3100, and that assumes that your state will further tip the balance in the electoral college.

Over time, I am becoming more sympathetic to the "glow effect" of voting -- that which makes people feel good about having exercised their franchise even if it probabalistically was a futile enterprise. This glow effect may having real benefits in terms of lasting social cohesiveness, and in that sense it is important.

But I have yet to hear a convincing argument that voting is prima facie a necessary and virtuous activity. Usually I get no further than an implied self-evidence of the importance. At best, that line of reasoning becomes circular. Kirsten's example is one:

"I'm sorry, what? Lock them up and give 'em a shovel."

At the risk of sounding like an asshole, my response is:

I'm sorry, what? Was that an explanation of your position? I failed to see how you refuted the teenagers.

The truth is there probably are more effective ways to influence political change, even if they attract less sanctimonious defenses.