Thursday, January 10, 2008

New Hampshire Follow-up

Yeah, I know its a couple days late, but I listen to most of my news a day later, just to let it ferment a little. Congratulations to Senators Clinton and McCain. They both fought hard for their victories.

The thing that gets me about this result though, is that the pundits are all acting like it is a complete surprise. With idiotic statements like "No one predicted this would happen" it's no wonder most people would rather watch Howie Mandel smiling like a chipmunk. They themselves predicted exactly this outcome (on the Democratic side) not 10 days before. On the Republican side they were even more accurate. I too predicted exactly this (yay being vague) not 36 hours before voting started.

"Oh, but the polls didn't show this." Two problems with this: 1) Polls only reflect opinions up to the last time they were taken, they can't reflect 11th hour events, like the harsh, sexist media backlash at Hillary's emotional plea. 2) The polls weren't used properly. New Hampshire voters, if they are registered independents, can vote for either party. According to the voters themselves, independents who were Obama supporters, voted for McCain because they expected Obama would win without their vote, but they didn't want Romney to win.

Maybe pollsters need to learn a bit of physics. According to the Uncertainty Principal (sorry, I've been listening to A Brief History of Time so I have been hearing a lot about this along with a lot of other brain hurting things from Hawking), you can either know where a particle is or where it's going, never both at the same time because the act of observing changes the particle. I have the feeling polling does the same thing. You can't take a poll without affecting the data.

Anyway, to throw my hat back into the pundit ring, in South Carolina I see Obama narrowly over Clinton and Edwards (where those two wind up depends on whether or not Edwards's remark Tuesday made it down there...) and similar in Nevada (I will be better able to say something after the debate down there) with not much being decided until February 5th at the earliest. The problem with predicting this is that most Democrats I hear from would be happy with either candidate and so it comes down to last minute, "who do I like more right now?" voting.

The Republican side seems much more interesting, at least from a horse race and ideological point of view. In SC, I see Huckabee edging out McCain with Thomson finally starting to make a bit more than a half-hearted appearance (don't know if it is going to push him to a third place finish though). 9iul1an1 (Thank you Run From Fire, I hope you don't mind me borrowing this.) Will start blipping the radar, but not show much until a second or third place finish in Florida. I see McCain more likely than not winning in FL and if second goes to Huckabee, it will be a very interesting following couple weeks afterwards. What I see the Republican race boiling down to are conservative centrists coalescing around the McCain/9iul1an1 side of the party and the evangelical populists around Huckabee. The way this turns out could redefine the Republican party (or at least finish defining it) or possibly even lead to a cromulent third party.

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