Thursday, January 10, 2008

Back to New Hampshire (Update -- response to Josh Marshall)

Hillary's come-from-behind win in New Hampshire kept her candidacy in the frontrunner position. Meanwhile, it has becomes clear that a Clinton-vs-Bloomberg-vs-McCain/Romney/Huckabee race is one which the Democrat cannot win. (Scroll down for a rambling piece about all that.)

So blogworld now asks: Why did the tallies differ so much from the polls? Was the vote rigged in NH?

At first, Skinner (the DU administrator) said "Nuh-uh," because the exit polls matched the actuals. But he has backtracked. Others have pointed out that CNN's final exit poll data is often "massaged" to conform with the early returns.

Brad Friedman's recent pieces direct our attention to some troubling reportage on the NH mystery. Here's a quick summary of his summaries:

Those exit polls. The unadjusted exit poll data favored Obama. No less a personage than Chris Matthews has made this point.
MATTHEWS: So what accounts for Hillary Clinton's victory in New Hampshire? What we don't know is why the victory is so much different in fact, then the polling ahead of time, including what we call the Exit Polls were telling us. Obama was ahead in those polls by an average of 8 points, and even our own Exit Polls, taken as people came out of voting, showed him ahead. So what's going on here?
Hand count vs. machine count. Diebold's "mother machines" (to use Mrs. Kerry's delightful phrase) are used in 80% of NH counties. In the rest of the state, votes are counted by hand. The hand-counted precincts went for Obama; Hillary led in the machine-counted areas.

Is there a benign explanation for this dichotomy?
...hand-counting in NH is generally done in the more rural areas and smaller precincts. Perhaps Obama is more popular, or Clinton less, in such areas for any number of reasons.
I'm not so sure about that. On election night, CNN made a big to-do about Obama having more popularity in urban areas and in college towns. (This was one reason why CNN refused to call the election after AP had done so.) Clinton had her greatest appeal in the rural and working class areas. So, at least, said Wolf Blitzer.

On the other hand, Zogby says that the undecideds really did break -- very late in the game -- for Hillary. So I am not entirely persuaded by the election-rigging theory. But I am interested.

UPDATE: Josh Marshall scores the election-fraud theorists...
There is so much screwed up about this reaction that it's difficult to know what part of the perversity to grab on to... First is the notion that public opinion surveys and even exit poll data is so reliable that any substantial discrepancy between those numbers and the official result is prima facie evidence of tampering. That is simply absurd.
I respect Marshall. He's the best. But when Diebold does the counting, what test aside from an exit poll discrepancy can offer evidence of hugger-mugger?

There are international organizations devoted to monitoring elections around the world. And -- sorry, Josh! -- groups like the OSCE really do consider an exit poll discrepancy to be prima facie evidence of tampering.

Although I don't have much time for research this morning, within the past few minutes I was able to find this example from a report on the OSCE's 2003 elections in Georgia (the former Soviet Republic):
A parallel vote tabulation (PVT) conducted by ISFED according to a dependable methodology, and an exit poll which resulted in similar findings, provided electors with an independent verification of the many irregularities in the election process.
Are we to believe that different criteria should apply in Eastern Europe and the U.S.?

Are we to believe that Josh Marshall knows something about fair elections that the OSCE does not?
"the Democrat cannot win". On the other hand, the Democrat can win. See? There are 3 recent election contests with a 3rd-party nuisance candidate: Carter/Reagan/Anderson 1980; Bush/Clinton/Perot 1992; Gore/Bush/Nader 2000. In 1980 Carter was a lost cause early on when Ted Kennedy ran against him in the primaries. In 1992 and 2000 the Dems won. In 1980 and 1992 the contests included the incumbent POTUS. OT: In 1992, Perot's strong candidacy prevented the Repubs from flipping votes. By 2000, they had perfected the process, which included real-time monitoring (as they used in 2004).

The past can't be prologue like apple sauce isn't orange juice. If the Republicans win and also retake the Congress, the treasury will be hugely enriched by all the US Passport sales.

On MSNBC's Countown, Craig Crawford offered an elegant analysis of the NH polls vs. the results (watch the clip at the CQ site) here:

Is that not a magnificent necktie of gorgeous green? I love the interclip of Hillary in her victory jacket. She could fund her California campaign if she puts it on eBay. Man was she radiant!

If you heard Keith's set-up cues in the clip, you would have picked up his reference to the "conspiracy" lobby and the "Diebold" terror. Pay attention. Guys like Keith are very respectful of and dependent on bloggers. He's also particularly sensitive to the vote-rigging issues. In 2004 he continued to report about Ohio's evident theft, in fact he announced that he was the only anchor still trying to cover it. Keith's eye is on the ball. Also, he's very very very aware that this moment in history belongs to him as much as it belongs to anyone else.

This is a great campaign season, it rivals the 1986 MLB season.
Now we see that the hand count in NH dffers significantly from the Diebold machine count. See
With the infighting and back-biting among the Democrats combined with the Repugs dirty tricks, I'm scared to death that the Republicans are going to win this thing come November. I see now that even Kerry has came out against Edwards. Wouldn't it have been better for the party if he had kept his mouth shut at least for a while longer? I don't think the country can take much more Republican dominance. Look at what we have lost so far, not the least of which is thousands of lives which we wouldn't have if the Dems had won the 2000 election like they would have had it not been for the Repugs playing dirty.
Allow me to take exception to your comment about CNN 'massaging' the exit poll data. I can reliably say that did not happen. In fact, the exit poll data showed the same results well before the polls closed -- and those results were how the contest actually ended.
Isn't it great that Senator Kerry endorsed Senator Obama, especially in Charleston (Belle Watling's home), in time for the SC primary (the SC Repub vote is the 19th, the Dem vote is the 26th)? What's up with that? Is it code for the Senate Club saying Senator Obama is hereby conferred with Mainstream Status and All the Rights and Privileges Thereunto? Cardinal Kerry upgrades Monsignor Obara's sash! If you ask me, I think Senator Kerry does what his wife wants, but she's a brilliant sociologist without much political acumen.

Hindsightly, it's looking like our man Edwards has been running to score big in SC. His stumping and his remarks embrace progressives, liberals, libertarians, and rednecks. Say what you will, SC folks don't trust Yankee dialects. The converse of that is the polling wherein the Yankees can't understand a word anyone says in native SCn. Plus, we're all likely to hear Hillary and Barack talk some Southern, and honestly if un-natively. But John Edwards, born in South Carolina, has been saying "I was born for this!" in stonewashed denims.

So maybe Edwards will place 2nd or even win. If 2nd, it means he beat either Hillary or Barack. Wow. In a Leap Year with very early Daylight Saving Time!

(Thank you, Senator Kerry!)
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