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?