Rove: 'Personal moments,' appeal to women led Hillary to victory
Writing in the Wall Street Journal Thursday, former White House political adviser Karl Rove divined his reasons for Hillary Clinton's stunning victory in New Hampshire.
What would Shakespeare's Jack Cade say after the New Hampshire Democratic primary? Maybe the demagogue in "Henry VI" would call for the pollsters to be killed first, not the lawyers.
The opinion researchers find themselves in a difficult place after most predicted a big Obama sweep. It's not their fault. The dirty secret is it is hard to accurately poll a primary. The unpredictability of who will turn out and what the mix of voters will be makes polling a primary election like reading chicken entrails -- ugly, smelly and not very enlightening. Our media culture endows polls -- especially exit polls -- with scientific precision they simply don't have.
But more interesting than dissecting the pollsters is dissecting the election returns, precinct by precinct. Sen. Hillary Clinton won working-class neighborhoods and less-affluent rural areas. Sen. Barack Obama won the college towns and the gentrified neighborhoods of more affluent communities. Put another way, Mrs. Clinton won the beer drinkers, Mr. Obama the white wine crowd. And there are more beer drinkers than wine swillers in the Democratic Party.
Mrs. Clinton won a narrow victory in New Hampshire for four reasons. First, her campaign made a smart decision at its start to target women Democrats, especially single women. It has been made part of the warp and woof of her campaign everywhere. This focus didn't pay off in Iowa, but it did in New Hampshire.
Second, she had two powerful personal moments. The first came in the ABC debate on Saturday, when WMUR TV's Scott Spradling asked why voters were "hesitating on the likeability issue, where they seem to like Barack Obama more." Mrs. Clinton's self-deprecating response -- "Well, that hurts my feelings" -- was followed by a playful "But I'll try to go on."
And in an interview with the conservative Cybercast News Service, he cited two 'personal moments' -- attacking Obama for what he said was a "smarmy, prissy slap" at the New Hampshire debate.
"She benefited from two moments that helped humanize her and caused people to remember the positive things about her rather than have Democrats dwell on the concerns they had about her," the former top White House advisor told Cybercast News Service.
"One of them was in the debate, where she got the question about ... the fact people don't like you, and rather than being petulant and angry she responded with a smile on her face and a laugh, saying that hurt her feelings, then said I'll try and push on somehow. Then that moment was, I think, made even better for her by the fact that Barack Obama, who was having a mediocre night in my opinion, rather than keeping his mouth shut proceeded to say, 'They like you well enough.' So, he looked like a smarmy, prissy little guy taking a slap at her. I think that helped her."
Rove's Journal article can be read here.