Thursday, January 10, 2008

Comeback? Oh, You kid.

The big watch word for the expectation game in the first two presidential contests is "comeback". 

Not as in "Come back, Little Sheba" or "Shane! Come back, Shane!" But as in the public thought a particular candidate was not going to win, and he/she showed'em!

It's an interesting strategy that has no down side. If the public does not expect much, and you give them more ---voila! They're fooled in to thinking you're all shiny now.

 It's what President Bill Clinton did in New Hampshire in 1992 with finishing second behind Paul Tsongas. It's what Bush did to Gore in the first debate.

Both Hillary and McCain declared themselves 'the comeback kids', for their showing in New Hampshire.

But now, back to Hillary and Barack: Here is what my good buddy Thurman Hart has to say about the whole deal. He expresses some insightful thoughts on the 'comeback' issue, much better than I can:

Delegate Check…and Reality

For whatever reason, Hillary Clinton won the New Hampshire primary. Barack Obama was second with John Edwards making an honorable mention...

Going into New Hampshire, Hillary had 169 delegates, Obama had 66, and Edwards had 47. After New Hampshire, Hillary has 183, Obama has 78, and Edwards has 52. This means Hillary picked up 14, Obama picked up 12, and Edwards added 5. So the ultimate effect of New Hampshire was to add to Hillary’s delegate lead by two.

But let’s not get carried away. Despite the flurry of polling in the last 24 hours before the vote, this is not a comeback. Consider the following sports analogy:

A football team is favored by 17 points going into the game and at halftime they have that covered. In the third quarter, the challenger pulls even. Based on momentum, you could expect the challenger to win. But, lo and behold, the expected winner actually wins by a field goal. Did they launch a comeback? Or did they just manage to (barely) meet expectations of winning?
Something to think about, if you took the challenger at 17 points, you’d win your bet.

It wasn’t a comeback. Either the polls all had it very wrong or the over-anxious media coverage actually changed the actual votes. Either Obama’s supporters stayed home because they figured he’d win or people felt sorry for Hillary. Or maybe things just worked out that way for no particular reason.

But it wasn’t a comeback.

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