Is Clinton the KO'd Kid? Huckabee Gains National Lead

As I wrote yesterday, the key indicator following Obama's expected win in New Hampshire tomorrow night will be the distance that he has closed in the subsequent national polls. If he pulls even or ahead, it's over for Clinton.

In fact, according to the latest USA Today/Gallup poll, Obama has already made up what was once a 25 point difference, pulling even with Clinton. As former Kerry strategist Bob Shrum writes in today's NY Daily News, Hillary is the KO'd Kid.

Meanwhile, the Gallup poll shows that Huckabee has taken the lead by five points nationally among GOP voters.

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I'm not sure I understand how the US system works here.

Assuming the polls you talk about work out to be correct and Obama wins NH, roughly what proportion of the democrat membership will have decided for him? Or if actual numbers of people don't matter, how many states will have chosen him as democrat presidential candidate out of how many left to choose?

It just seems to be massively premature to be deciding on winners and losers already, except for the self-fufilling prophesising that pundits like to pass the time with. ("You have not won in 1 state! You have lost, abandon all hope. Of course if you do (and you should), you will prove me right, bringing me fame and untld coolness!")

It just seems to be massively premature to be deciding on winners and losers already, except for the self-fufilling prophesising that pundits like to pass the time with.

Andrew, you have accurately described the role of the press in the process. The theory^H^H^H^H^H^Hpost-hoc rationalization behind having IA and NH lead off the process is that they are relatively small states, so that candidates are expected to do retail politics. In a big state like CA or NY, retail politics doesn't scale to statewide elections. The catch is that the press distorts what happens in the early races and frequently gives a candidate who wins in both IA and NH an air of inevitability. If it's a split decision, as happened on the Democratic side in 1992 and is likely for the Republicans this year, it's harder for the press to spin a tale of inevitability.

Why lead off in IA and NH particularly? I don't know any history behind the IA caucuses, but I live in NH. My take is that the early NH primary was originally an exercise in Yankee frugality: decades ago, the state Powers That Be decided to have the presidential preference primary (back in the days when they were meaningless) coincide with Town Meeting Day, which is the second Tuesday in March. Once primaries started to mean something, local businesses noticed that they got significant national attention for having the primary so early, and eventually the legislature passed a law requiring the NH presidential primary to be at least one week prior to any similar contest (caucuses like IA's don't count). Thus the attempts by other states to come earlier in the process force NH to hold its primary earlier, leading to the present absurdity of having the contests decided by early February when the conventions are not until July/August.

By Eric Lund (not verified) on 08 Jan 2008 #permalink

If he pulls even or ahead, it's over for Clinton.


let's see what the national picture looks like in 3 months, shall we?

seems some pundits have problems predicting the outcome of elections even during the final vote tallies (2000, anybody?), let alone during the very beginning of a primary run.

but Nisbet is different, right?