*note* If you have gotten this far, but don’t care to wade through my ramblings, please at least read the last two paragraphs. I think this is kinda important to remember next time you hear reporters spewing obvious misinformation about polling points.
Tuesday was a sad day for elections. First, Andre Dawson, once again, was denied entry into the Hall of Fame. He is not the best player to not be in the Hall; certainly there are others (Ron Santo and Buck O’Neil come to mind) who deserve to be in the Hall but have not been selected for whatever stupid reasons. Still, Dawson deserves to be there; he has some of the best numbers of anybody that’s not in the Hall, and better than many people who are. He was the first person to ever win the MVP on a last place team and was MVP runner-up twice. He played the game the way it was supposed to be played; hard and with pride. He never complained, never whined to the press, never made excuses for bad play, and worked hard every day of his career. He won eight Gold Gloves and went to the All-Star game eight times. He hit 438 home runs and stole 314 bases; Hall of Fame numbers by anyone’s standards. In fact, he’s one of only six people to ever hit 300 homers and steal 300 bases, and one of only three to hit 250 home runs, steal 250 bases, have 2,500 hits, and 1,500 RBI’s. The other two are Willie Mays and Barry Bonds. Company anybody would love to be in.
I have no doubt that he will get in. His vote totals have increased every year, except last year which was probably due to the fact that two first-time nominees were elected (baseball writers try not to vote too many people in on any given year, so since two first-time nominees were voted in totals for players who were on for a while should be expected to go down). This year he received the most votes of anybody not elected, and if the vote totals keep increasing at the rates they have been since he was first eligible should be in within two years; three at most. Still, it’s hard to wonder why it’s taken so long.
The second sad election was, of course, the New Hampshire primary. This primary was terrible for two reasons. First, McCain winning the Republican primary opens the whole field up for just about everybody but Mitt Romney. Huckabee can be seen as a real contender because he wasn’t supposed to do well in New Hampshire anyway, and now Romney can no longer be seen as a real front-runner. But what I’m most concerned about is if the GOP doesn’t find someone who starts to pull away by the time Florida’s primary is up, Guiliani might end up having a late, big-state push after all. The sooner that guy is out of the picture the better. Hopefully either McCain or Romney will win the next few states so we can put some of these Republicans out to pasture.
Then there’s Hillary. I don’t know what to say except, one week ago this race was wide open and then everybody seemed to think Obama would win in a landslide just because he won Iowa. His “wave” seemed to be invented by the media more than a reality, but since, as Billy Bob Thorton said in “Primary Colors,” “The media giveth, and go f*ck yourself,” the myth that Hillary killed Obama’s wave may end up causing less than mythical damage to Barack. I must admit I was surprised he lost; I was really riding high after his last victory. However, I have to laugh at the Tom Brokaw’s and Chris Matthews’, who seemed shocked and stunned that, get this, polls could be so wrong. Um, hello? Don’t we have this exact same conversation every election cycle??
There were several reasons why the polls could have been wrong; mainly because people were expecting Obama to get the same results from women as he did in Iowa (he didn’t and it wasn’t even close) and because many of the independents he was counting on ended up voting in the Republican primary. But I think the biggest difference between New Hampshire and Iowa was the large number of people who voted based upon the economy. If Obama can convince people he’d be just as good with the economy that should help him out a lot. However, I think most people nation-wide are going to vote based upon their desire to change politics in Washington or the Iraq issue, and Obama is beating up Clinton in those two areas. So unless the economy is a much larger issue nationwide then it has appeared, I think New Hampshire is somewhat of an anomoly. (Still, I am concerned.)
One myth I would like to dispel right now is that Hillary’s victory was due to people feeling sorry for her after either the debate earlier this week or when she “broke down” and, God forbid, showed some emotion. I personally think much too big a deal was made of her crying spell (in which there wasn’t actually any crying). I’m surprised nobody is talking about the things she said while she was crying; she more or less accused Obama of running for President as “a game” and lacking the desire to actually help people. If she would have said the exact same words with a straight face, the media would’ve been talking about how her remarks were downright cruel and completely uncalled for. And let me ask you, do you really want someone who can’t take being “attacked” by two people belonging to her same party during a debate as President? This is so small compared to what she would go through as President that if it does affect a candidate they simply do not have what it takes to succeed in the White House. To her credit, however, I think it offended her supporters much more then her. Isn’t going to stop her from playing the sympathy card if she thinks she can get it, though (she plays cards more than Johnny Cochran). But I digress . . .
The truth is, based upon exit polls (it should be noted the polls that everyone was using to say Obama won were taken before the weekend; the exit polls should be fairly accurate) reported by MSNBC, neither the debate where she was “ganged up on” or the “crying game” could have helped her too much. When asked when they chose what candidate they were going to vote for, exit polls show that 17% decided on the day of the vote, but out of those 39% decided to vote for Clinton and 36% decided to vote for Obama. Now, most people in the media would point to that and say “Ah ha! Clinton won by three percentage points, which was the difference between her and Obama, so that must be it!!” However, remember that most people in the media are idiots. This is 3% of 17%, which is far less than the 3% of the total vote she won by. Further, 21% of democrat primary voters decided who they were going to vote for in the last three days, and Obama beat Clinton in that category by 37% to 34%. For those who still believe Reagan was a great President, 3% of 21% is greater than 3% of 17%. Also, 10% said they decided “sometime within the last week,” which would presumably mean between the Iowa caucus and three days prior to the election. Out of that group, Obama won handedly; 43% to 28%. Obama also won with voters who decided in the last month, which consisted of 17% of the vote, 44% to 34%. Clinton, however, won the votes of almost half the people who have been decided for over a month; over one third of the voters, or 34%, belong in this group, and they overwhelmingly supported Clinton: 48% to 31%.
So looking at those statistics, it is obvious that Clinton won because of people who had not changed their minds for a while, not because of people who recently had. There were more voters who decided to go with Obama three days prior to the primary, even when considering the ones that decided on Clinton the same day. So Obama presumably had come closer to Clinton than he would have if the election was held right after the Iowa caucus. It’s amazing how MSNBC can report these statistics, and then still claim that she won because of something that happened two and three days before the primary. I can’t count the number of times reporters have used data like this and said 39% of New Hampshire voters decided for Clinton on the day of the election, or added up the 39% and 36% and said 75% of voters decided on the day of the election, when the data specifically states only 17% total decided the same day. They’re not even looking at their own data before reporting on it.