What happened
Hillary Clinton beat Democratic presidential rival Barack Obama in the New Hampshire primary Tuesday after trailing in pre-election polls by as much as 13 percentage points. The media and both Clinton and Obama’s camps had expected an Obama victory, after his commanding win in Iowa. “It’s going to be a much more competitive race than anyone anticipated,” said unaffiliated Democratic strategist Chris Lehane. (Bloomberg)
What the commentators said
Clinton may have won the primary, said Roger Simon in the Politico blog, but the big loser? "That’s easy: the pollsters.” Polling organizations, which forecast an easy win for Obama, will fall back on their old excuse that polls are nonpredictive “snapshots in time.” Funny how when they call a race right “they are geniuses who can see the future.”
Don't blame pollsters if voters lied about supporting Obama, said Chris Wilson in Slate’s Trailhead blog. Ever since the black Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley lost to white Republican George Deukmejian in the 1982 California gubernatorial race, despite a consistent lead in the polls, polling organizations have speculated that white voters will lie about supporting a black candidate in order “to seem progressive.”
If we are indeed seeing “a return to the race-gap polling problems of the 1980s and 1990s,” said David Kuo in The Huffington Post, every Democratic poll is “absolutely suspect from here on out.”
No matter why the polls were wrong, said The Washington Post in an editorial, “New Hampshire applied a useful brake” to a Democratic contest that had been “threatening to unfold with unsettling velocity.” Sure, it’s great news for Clinton, but it’s also “good news for the voters in all the states that haven’t yet had a chance to express a preference.”
Forget the pollsters, said Christopher Hayes in The Nation. “The single biggest story out of New Hampshire these last five days was the press corps’ evident glee in the Clintons’ ‘demise.’” But as a hostile press “sadistically” dumped on Clinton, it would have been “worth remembering that the most popular Hillary Clinton has ever been was during the Lewinsky affair, when she was a deeply sympathetic figure.”
“There is undeniable satisfaction in watching the pundit class being forced to eat the words of its premature obituaries,” said Marty Kaplan, also in The Huffington Post. Obama’s loss, even in the face of the mainstream media’s “undisguised journalistic venom” toward Clinton, could turn into “the MSM’s Katrina. Political media, you’ve done a heckuva job.”