The Empire Strikes Back: Surprise Win for Clinton in NH

Clinton Repays the Faith of Her Foot Soldiers


Report from Martin Kettle of The Guardian

Manchester, New Hampshire

A crowd cheers as they watch election returns for Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton at the campaign headquarters in Manchester, New Hampshire.

A crowd cheers as they watch election returns for Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton at the campaign headquarters in Manchester, New Hampshire. Photograph: Stan Honda/AFP/Getty Images

Clinton comebacks in New Hampshire primaries are the stuff of political legend. But even Hillary Clinton’s closest aides – and perhaps even the candidate herself – were stunned by the turnaround in her fortunes as the counting of votes got under way this time.

Yet as the realisation that the New York senator had not just survived the primary to fight another day but was in with a shout of a famous victory, the surprise quickly turned to confidence and a belief that the long-time frontrunner may have mounted an astonishing turnaround against the odds that could yet see off the surging challenge of Barack Obama.

 What made this truly remarkable was that, only a few hours earlier, Clinton staffers were privately admitting defeat. “We have lost this time. We must learn the lesson. We must fight on,” said one at around lunchtime.

So prepared for defeat was the Clinton camp that, when the first votes were counted and reported shortly after 8pm local time, showing the narrowest of Clinton leads over Obama, they were not believed. “Interesting. Maybe we’ve pulled in more women this time,” was the most that any campaign official would say.

But when the narrow lead continued to hold steady as the night wore on – a three-point lead for a long time, then briefly five, before dipping back to two after two hours of counting – the mood hardened and the confidence began to rise.


By 10pm, the earlier uncertainty had been transformed into a new exhilaration. “This is a huge victory for Hillary,” a source close to Clinton pronounced as the lead held with nearly 60% of New Hampshire precincts reporting. “We have stopped the freight train.”

If the highest echelons of the Clinton campaign were taken aback by the way the count was going, there was less surprise among the Clinton campaign foot soldiers outside campaign headquarters as close of polling approached.

Although journalists have rightly reported the almost unprecedented levels of enthusiasm that have greeted Obama in the closing days of the campaign, the Clinton campaign has had lots of support and made lots of noise too.

“Ready for change. Ready to lead” the volunteers still chanted – just as they have been doing for the last few days – as they waved their placards outside the university campus in Manchester where the Clinton campaign’s post-primary rally was being set up.

“When I say President, You say Clinton. President Clinton, President Clinton” they chanted – meaning Hillary rather than Bill.

“I’m real nervous,” admitted Lauren Hurley, a Concord music student. “I just think that Obama is not ready for it. He needs a lot more experience. His message is connecting. But so is ours.”

She turned out to know more than the pollsters and the pundits. “This bubble burst very late,” was one view from inside the Clinton campaign last night.

According to Clinton campaign private polling, Obama was at least 10 points ahead of Clinton yesterday. Yet within 24 hours, that lead had been pegged right back, reopening a Democratic race that many had assumed was on the verge of collapsing in Obama’s favour.

“How did we do it? She did it,” an aide said as the lead over Obama continued to hold. “Plus the message was redone and the women responded.”


Perhaps, after all, that choke in the throat at yesterday’s rally in Portsmouth was the turning point. If so, it may have been the most politically significant near-sob in American history.

Many hours earlier, Clinton and her daughter, Chelsea, had poured coffee and offered doughnuts to queueing voters and a police officer at a Manchester elementary school before dawn.

“We’re going to work all day to get the vote out,” she said. And that is what they did. Two and half hours after the polls closed, with just over two-thirds of the votes counted, NBC News and then the Associated Press each called the primary for Clinton.

The Clinton campaign is back from the dead and the supporters are cheering and chanting in disbelief and delight.

Copyright 2008 The Guardian. All Rights Reserved.



Filed under election 2008, hillary clinton, media, politics, Uncategorized

20 responses to “The Empire Strikes Back: Surprise Win for Clinton in NH

  1. Pingback: Don't Believe The Hype

  2. Drew

    According to CNN:

    * Hillary Clinton has won 9 New Hampshire delegates (3 statewide, 6 district-level)

    * Barack Obama has won 9 New Hampshire delegates (3 statewide, 6 district-level)

    * John Edwards has won 4 New Hampshire delegates (2 statewide, 2 district-level)

    * 22 Democratic delegates were at stake in the New Hampshire primary

    * There are also 8 Democratic “superdelegates” in New Hampshire. Of those, 2 support Clinton and 3 support Obama, according to a CNN survey.

    Now, I’m not a politician, but if you add the delegates, Obama(12), Clinton(11), it would seem that Clinton lost the primary. Add that to the Iowa totals and the count is Obama(28) and Clinton(26).

    As we are well aware from the 2000 presidential election fiasco, the popular vote is not necessarily a requirement to win an election. The delegates are what’s needed to win the party nomination.

    I’m not very keen on electing someone to be president that starts to cry when she thinks she is going to lose. (Even though I think it was just an act.)

  3. Pingback: Hillary Clinton

  4. Alina

    If the results are to be believed, Hillary played the gender card in the last 24 hrs. before the primary and it worked.

    As a woman in the workplace I understand the sentiment she tapped into and its real.

    However, this is not how we should pick a president.
    We should not choose a candidate based on gender or race.
    We should choose a nominee based on where they stand on the issues.

    Obama did not have to play the race card to win Iowa, a state which is nearly 100% white.

    Obama had all the momentum going into NH. Every poll favored him with a double-digit lead. He had crowds that were overflowing, way past capacity at his events. Senator Clinton had to bring in busloads of Arkansas democrats just to compete….which makes me wonder if her Arkansas “helpers” were allowed to vote in NH, too.

  5. Rob

    Bobby Kennedy Jr. wrote probably the best analysis I’ve read about how the 2004 election was stolen. He did so much to bring this critical issue to our attention so it wouldnt happen again.

    Please bobby, find out what happened in NH tonight!!!!!

    This is what has had me worried about electronic voting ever since it was introduced 8 years ago…

  6. Laughable

    Bobby Kennedy J.r only investigates when ***Republicans*** steal an election.

    Since Clinton is his candidate, expect him to do nothing.

    Sorry to disappoint.

  7. Pingback: John Edwards For President

  8. Joline

    Something about this just ain’t right.

    Clinton’s win flies in the face of the facts, the polls, and the people, who have clearly been choosing Obama all week. My God, did you see the turnout as his rallies? The enthusiasm? The passion? We havent seen anything like it since JFK in 1960.

    I’m not even an Obama supporter (full disclosure: I volunteer for Ron Paul), but the Obama phenomena is a fact. From all we heard on the ground in NH this week is that he should have won.

    So ask yourself: how does a candidate who falls 11-13 points behind in every major poll on the DAY of the election suddenly shoot to the front and win?

    We are to believe she pulled off this “miracle” in less than half a day, sometime between noon and 10pm?

    The clinton camp tonight tried to spin this story that they “turned it around over the weekend,” and “this new momentum for Hillary started saturday”…hmmm…

    …doesn’t wash. The polls that came out today were conducted OVER THE WEEKEND.

    the clinton camp then basically accused the PEOPLE of lying when they attempted to explain the upset. They claimed that people being polled LIED when they said they were going to vote for Obama.

    …doesn’t wash. again, i dont bring this up because i have a horse in this race either way. I’m a political independent. i voted for Ron Paul tonight. but i do believe the vote in our state has been corrupted somehow

  9. Matt

    Yeah, i also found it interesting how the mainstream media helped Hillary pull it off tonight.

    Did anyone else notice how defensive all the female reporters and anchors have been this week? They can hardly hide their pro-Hillary bias, and they could not contain their glee when she “won.”

    CNN’s Candy Crowley, NBC’s Andrea Mitchell, and nearly every other female reporter I’ve seen on the MSM this week was clearly biased. Even on FoxNews, the girls couldn’t help but feel sorry for Hilary. Fair and balanced? No friggin’ way.

    also, did anyone notice how NBC called the winner with less than 70% of the vote in tonight? CNN and Fox held off a little longer, but the race was decided by the mainstream media BEFORE THE VOTES WERE ALL COUNTED. Remind you of anything? the 2000 election?

    In a race this close, no winner should be declared so soon….unless they already knew how the other 30% yet to be counted were going to go….but how exactly would they know that? Do they have Miss Cleo the psychic working for them?

  10. Steal This election

    As I see it, here is the big difference between Iowa and New hampshire:

    Iowa is a CAUCUS. Voters have about 30 minutes to decide in this process, the votes are counted by hand, and in the presence of their peers. And CAMERAS.

    NH is a PRIMARY. Voters have all day to vote (also meaning that bad guys have all day to fudge numbers), votes are counted by machines, and NO “civilian” observers are allowed to watch them do it. They have local police and troopers guarding them (keeping the public out) while the votes are counted it total secrecy.

    Did you see any news cameras in there tonight while they were counting votes like you did during the iowa caucus? Nope.

    The primary process is not open to scrutiny by the people or the press like it is in the caucus process.

    is it any wonder that some people in this country want to get rid of caucuses altogether? They are a LOT harder to steal. Too many witnesses, too little time.

    I’d like to get rid of primaries altogether. A caucus in every state would be my dream come true, and would more accurately reflect the will of the American people.

    Get rid of e-voting! It’s a total scam!

  11. Nettie

    They are trying to tell us tonight that what we saw happening with our very own eyes is not what we saw with our very own eyes.

    It’s the art of illusion: just like the JFK assassination? Anyone whose seenthe Zapruder film can clearly see with their own eyes that the shots came from the front, throwing the president backwards. And yet the Warren Commission, Peter Jennings and Dan Rather kept telling us: “the president was thrown forward with considerable violence.” Forget what you saw, they say. They tell you there must be something wrong with your eyes.

    Just like the assassination of RFK Jr.’s father. They tell us he was shot by some crazy Palestinian standing 3 feet away when the medical examiner confirmed that the fatal shot came from a distance of less than 1 inch away. Kinda defies logic, doesn’t it?

    Just like 9/11. They tell us the twin towers were brought down by airplanes, when we clearly saw building 7 fall with our own two eyes in a perfectly controlled demolition, just like the other 2 buildings…and it wasn’t hit by an airplane. Kinda defies gravity, doesn’t it?

    People need to trust their eyes and their gut instincts. Never listen to those who tell you that what you saw with your own eyes isn’t what you saw with your own eyes.

    In your heart, you know better.

  12. Count The Votes, Dammit

    Check out BOTH parties! Something isn’t right!

  13. George

    Just found some interesting analysis of the numbers starting to come in from last night:

    Wednesday, January 9, 2008
    Do NH Primary Statistics Show Election Fraud?

    I don’t intend to sound off alarm bells, but the question does need to be asked, as we have seen signs of this in the past, such as in Ohio during the 2004 general election. I just spent the last two hours putting together a spreadsheet of the Democratic results of the NH primary for each town with almost all but a few towns reporting, and the results were somewhat surprising. (Note: This is also without including nearly 2500 write-ins due to time constraints.)

    I say “somewhat” because some people will say this entirely foreseeable. What the informal statistics show is that Hillary Clinton received a 4.5% boost in towns using Diebold voting machines compared to towns that didn’t. Meanwhile, Obama was hurt in these towns showing a 2.5% decrease in the Diebold towns.

    One thing to note before looking too much into these statistics is that the Diebold machines were concentrated in the less rural areas. I say less rural, because there really is no “urban” areas in New Hampshire. This then begs the question as to whether rural voters really were more likely to vote for Obama than Clinton.

    The possibility of election fraud is even more important considering the predictions heading into NH primaries. All the polls were showing Obama with at least a 7 point lead over Clinton, with a few showing a double-digit lead, which is no surprise considering Obama’s win in Iowa over Clinton who placed third in the caucuses.

    I don’t have enough information or time to compare this data with anything else. No matter what, the results were still significantly closer than the blow-out that was predicted. Does this show election fraud? Right now I’m not sure, but the possibility definitely remains and must not be taken off the table.

    Update: Some more statistics from the data shows that Obama in non-Diebold towns garnering 38.7% of the vote to Clinton’s 36.2%. The results in Diebold towns show the exact opposite: Clinton with 40.7% of the vote and Obama with 36.2%. Not only are the positions swapped but the informal statistics have the second place candidate holding 36.2% in both cases, which could easily be a pure coincidence. What doesn’t make a lot of sense to me right now and this could be a mathematical mistake on my part is where Clinton got the extra 2% of votes in Diebold towns. All the other numbers almost exact for every candidate, even Edwards who recieved 17% of the vote in Diebold towns compared to 17.6% in non-Diebold towns. That still doesn’t make up for the extra 2% vote Clinton is receiving when she leads in certain towns compared to when Obama has the lead.

  14. Charles

    Just saw Chris Matthews go on a tirade on “Morning Joe” a few minutes ago. He wasnt buying the New Hampshire results, either. He defended the pollsters and their methods, and obviously he was very suspicious of this sudden “surprise” victory for Hillary.

  15. Read Brad Blog

    Yeah, Brad Blog did a story about it last night, bringing attention to this wacky law in NH that allows same-day voter registration. Sure, it sounds cool on the surface, but think about it…

    how do you have time to verify US citizenship?how do you have time to verify they are not a felon?
    do you have time to verfiy residence in that precinct?
    or even that state?

    states should not allow this, but a growing number of states do. it’s ripe for fraud.

  16. Tim

    Why did Obama concede so early?

    It was almost like he was on cue. Just about one minute after NBC called Hillary the winner at 10:30, 2.5 hours after the polls had closed, Obama walked out onstage and gave a concession speech. Only about 65% of the vote was in…WTF is that about?

    Stories of election fraud are already starting to emerge in NH, it sounds like ron Paul got some votes taken away from him last night too.

  17. michael seratt

    california is still kennedy country-let’s put hillary over the top here.-mike seratt

  18. Lila Johnson

    Just heard that John Kerry has endorsed Obama.

    …can you imagine how this is going over with Camp Clinton? She must be pulling her hair out in handfuls!

  19. Bob

    Everything Obama does, Hillary copies. She is damn scared of Senator Obama, because he possesses true leadership and courage of conviction that she could only hope to have, and if she doesn’t have it yet, she never will.

    Even her latest biographer, Carl Bernstein, stated that she is like Nixon in that she is very vengeful and never forgets a slight, even a perceived one, such as her husband’s former senior aides and foreign policy experts flocking to the Obama campaign. They’ve been met with threats that the Clintons will NOT forgive and forget. We can’t have someone like that in the White House again!

    FACTS: Hillary is a hawk. In the debate with Tim Russert, she recalled her vote to authorize war, the most important vote of her life, SHE GOT IT WRONG. He then asked WHY WE SHOULD TRUST HER JUDGMENT to be president. She gave her standard ‘non-answer’… “I take responsibility for my vote.”

    Zbignew Brzezinski, one of the most distinguished foreign policy experts in America, recently endorsed Obama because of his good judgment. He noted how President Kennedy was advised by those around him to use nuclear weapons during the Cuban Missile Crisis. And yet, this young, wise president said no to them, using a naval blockade instead. He saved us from nuclear war…THAT is the good judgment Brzezinski’s talking about.

    Obama spoke out against this “rash, dumb ideological war of choice”. He did it in 2002 and every year since then. Everything he predicted came true. He said we’d be in a quagmire that would drain our treasury and cost too many lives. He said it would destroy our moral standing in the world. All this, sadly, has happened.

    The wisdom that Senator Obama has shown is what our country needs. In contrast, Senators Clinton, Biden, Edwards and Dodd ALL voted for the war and Sen. Clinton didn’t even take the time to read the 90 page NIE (National Intelligence Estimate), even with 10 days to read it, before casting her vote to go to war.

    To send other people’s kids to war without reading it was dereliction of duty. She did not ask the hard questions before voting and feared looking weak, MAKING A POLITICAL CALCULATION.

    If being first lady in the governor’s mansion for 8 years and another 8 years in the White House qualifies for ‘experience’ to be president, then why not Laura Bush for president? By that standard of “experience,” only former Presidents and First Ladies would qualify to run for President. How preposterous is that? This is how the Clinton Machine spins and manipulates perceptions.

    Prior to being elected to the Senate in 2000, Hillary’s only recent professional employment had been as a lawyer in Little Rock, Arkansas while her husband, coincidentally, was governor of that state. She represented clients who sometimes had an interest in getting to know her husband better. She has never managed anything larger than a Senate office, and while First Lady, her international activities were more in line with the ceremonial responsibilities of a Pat Nixon or Laura Bush, than with the actual interventions of Eleanor Roosevelt. In other words, she doesn’t have the government management experience of a Reagan, Carter or Bill Clinton. Nor does she have the international or military experience of an Eisenhower or a Franklin Roosevelt. And that apparently makes her the best ‘qualified’ candidate……

    Time served in Washington does not equate with good judgment.

    In Obama, we have someone who will unite our country and yes, the world. The moment he is inaugurated, the healing begins. And if the world could vote, it would be a RESOUNDING victory for Obama!

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