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Poetry and prose

Justin Webb | 07:11 UK time, Wednesday, 9 January 2008

If the Clinton people knew they could do it but didn’t let on - if, in other words, this was a trick, they deserve their already golden political medals to be further burnished. I suspect, in fact, that they are as surprised as everyone else but surprise will turn to action now to take Barack Obama to the cleaners. In particular, the Obama camp is vulnerable to the charge of naivety after allowing expectations of his win to build, with even the candidate talking of “something happening”. Further proof of Barack’s unreadiness for prime time?

The Clinton camp intends to focus now on the “issue” of the free ride given by the US press to Obama and the Obamaniacs.

Interesting admission this from NBC reporters about the difficulties some have had staying disinterested when covering Obamania in New Hampshire.

We nearly started a TV piece with his voice - preacher-like - over pictures of the pretty New Hampshire snow. It would have looked compelling but, well, a touch hagiographic. Not the words but the images. We thought again - but we could equally have made the case for doing it. The NBC man was simply acknowledging something any educated person knows to be the truth - that political campaigns touch people when they really work and journalists are people. Me, I feel it when I see McCain and his veterans; the chap might well be a cussed old devil (he told me he “loves the BBC” and I certainly do not buy that) but what a life he and his generation have led.

Terry McAuliffe - the chair of Clinton campaign - looks as tired as the candidate, which is saying something given the high energy of this man. But he is still animated as usual and with our camera on he mounts a typically robust vision of the long term. Unlike Hillary Clinton in her ABC interview though (she talked of running “through the nominating process”), he suggests that Super Tuesday is the end: that the race can be won then by the Clinton camp. I reckon her vaguer end date might be more realistic.

There is much being made of this Hillary Clinton line: “You campaign in poetry but you govern in prose.” She was intending to make the point that poetry wasn’t enough, but she seemed to forget that although it isn’t enough, it is still necessary. You cannot, in American politics this year, cut straight to the prose. New Hampshire was a prose win - fancy college graduates and independents and the like tended to vote for Obama - but those constituencies will not win a general election. She still needs to find the poetry somehow, somewhere.

Comments   Post your comment

  • 1.
  • At 07:41 AM on 09 Jan 2008,
  • mishelle wrote:

I don't believe it's fair to charge the Obama camp with being naive when Obama himself made it clear that there is more to go.

That being said, the race is close nationwide. It's truly a wildcard race. At this point I almost wouldn't be surprised if it wound up Edwards vs. Paul. It's really exciting, especially to see young people out for these events.

  • 2.
  • At 07:49 AM on 09 Jan 2008,
  • Peadar wrote:

I'm quite surprised that the BBC's North America editor would attribute the following line to Hillary Clinton: “You campaign in poetry but you govern in prose.” She was quoting former New York governor Mario Cuomo ("You campaign in poetry. You govern in prose"). If we can't expect attention to detail from the BBC, when can we expect it?

  • 3.
  • At 08:00 AM on 09 Jan 2008,
  • Shaun Cohen wrote:

Hopefully, we will now begin to see some political arguments rather than just fancy words. The comparison made between Clinton's and Obama's voting records in the Senate was quite illuminating.
On the Republican front, I honestly thought Guiliani would win the nomination, but not now.I agree with the pundits, McCain is the one the Democrats fear most. If anyone else is the nominee the Democrats will walk it.

'You campaign in poetry but you govern in prose' - it's a line from Mario Cuomo, in fact

Hillary has through grit, experience, political acumen,empathy determination and even tears shown her true mettle and how passionate she is about her bid for the Presidency. She is head and shoulders above Obama in maturity and political realities. Obama was riding the crest of a wave and he really thought he could knock Hillary out of contention. But the momentum from this win will give Hillary the boost she needs to recapture lost ground. She is now on course for her bid for the White House.

  • 6.
  • At 08:24 AM on 09 Jan 2008,
  • Kathy wrote:

Too little was made of Clinton's performance in Iowa- she outperformed the polls by 10 points, and almost came second. I never believed that she would lose New Hampshire, and the fact that her chances were so played down will now place this race for the nomination firmly in her hands- she now looks like a miracle worker, and Obama like the man who lost the keys to the kingdom. Perhaps the pollsters should stop polling Republicans who would rather see ANYONE make the White House than another Clinton, especially this particular one!

  • 7.
  • At 08:47 AM on 09 Jan 2008,
  • Kathy wrote:

Too little was made of Clinton's performance in Iowa- she outperformed the polls by 10 points, and almost came second. I never believed that she would lose New Hampshire, and the fact that her chances were so played down will now place this race for the nomination firmly in her hands- she now looks like a miracle worker, and Obama like the man who lost the keys to the kingdom. Perhaps the pollsters should stop polling Republicans who would rather see ANYONE make the White House than another Clinton, especially this particular one!

Hillary has through grit, experience, political acumen,empathy determination and even tears shown her true mettle and how passionate she is about her bid for the Presidency. She is head and shoulders above Obama in maturity and political realities. Obama was riding the crest of a wave and he really thought he could knock Hillary out of contention. But the momentum from this win will give Hillary the boost she needs to recapture lost ground. She is now on course for her bid for the White House.

  • 9.
  • At 09:43 AM on 09 Jan 2008,
  • Christina Fraquelli wrote:

I admire Hillary. Really, I do. Strong woman, tough stance on international politics, but I feel like I'm voting for a member of the board at a corporate conference. She really comes across as cold. Even when she was crying and attacking Obama in one of her speeches, I couldn't help but be embarrassed to be a woman. I didn't get a sense of emotion, I got a sense that she was using dirty typical woman tactics to get her win. Pretty lame.

I agree that if McCain wins the Republican primaries, he will be a tough one to beat. People do want change and no matter how much we win, we're not going to get the Bill Clinton era back by voting for Hillary. It's time to move on.

  • 10.
  • At 09:56 AM on 09 Jan 2008,
  • stephen May wrote:

The BBC seems determined to make this a story about how well Obama is doing. Even when he loses. And loses badly given his huge opinion poll lead. It seems somehow typical. Emblematic of the way a lot of stories are covered. Youth, style, energy are the most prized qualities in most current media debates when in fact they can lead to facile governance. They can even be downright dangerous. I really don't want glamour and "poetry" from the political leader of the free world. Dogged, dull common sense is safer. And actually I'm not sure that Hilary Clinton will provide enough of this either...

  • 11.
  • At 10:18 AM on 09 Jan 2008,
  • Simon wrote:

It was startling to wake up to this news this morning since the BBC One 10pm news on Tuesday night led with the story that Obama was on his way to victory. It reminds me of the '92 UK General Election when all media organisations (and Neil Kinnock) believed Labour was heading for victory because of the polls. I presume like in '92 there'll be post mortem in BBC News to ensure results aren't called too soon in future.

  • 12.
  • At 10:31 AM on 09 Jan 2008,
  • Bob Hammond wrote:

People are being too permickety. The line may originate with Cuomo but it was used by Clinton too. So on that basis surely it's fair to refer to it as 'this Hillary Clinton line'? It's a line that Clinton spoke.

  • 13.
  • At 10:45 AM on 09 Jan 2008,
  • Paul Kerton wrote:

Personally for me, being British, I'd rather any one but Clinton. She doesn't particularly come across as a trustworthy person, and seems to say whatever you want to hear to get you on side.

What would it say when at 26 years of age, there has only been 4 years of my life where there hasn't been a Bush or a Clinton as either President or Vice-President. Does America really want to continue on this pattern? Is this really democracy?

Obviously New York should go to Clinton, as should any state near New York (like it did last night) but California will be a major battle for both, as will the Southern States, where Obama and Clinton may find Edwards comes back into contention being that he is white and male.

  • 14.
  • At 11:08 AM on 09 Jan 2008,
  • Rich Millyard wrote:

As a Brit, interested in this whole process, i'm normally proud that we can say that our TV press tends to be (i'm not saying it completely is) balanced. But from these blogs, you'd swear Mr.Webb was Hillarys campaign manager! I know people love Obama (and I must admit to having a preference for him as the next President), but does the North American Political Editor need to take the polar opposite standpoint!

Mrs.Clintons emotional (read: manipulative) speech the other day certainly did help win over the suckers ..... sorry, voters to go with her. You could never, ever get away with that type of voter blackmailing in the UK! Come on US, don't get hoodwinked by what has got to be one of the most astounding piece of manipulative campaigning i've ever seen! Your so much better than that.

And Justin, I suggest dialling down the Hillary ra-ra stuff for the next few weeks. If she's wins, then gloat away; if she doesn't, at least be gracious in defeat.

  • 15.
  • At 11:12 AM on 09 Jan 2008,
  • Ian Sheapston wrote:

The media is istoriatropic - they will always end up facing an interesting story.

And the US election is an important story. A massively important story. The story of the year. But ... it's not an interesting story. Actually it's a boring story, and we know the ending.

The truth about this election, as it has been for over a year - as it probably was in 2004 - is that it's always been Hillary's to lose. This very protracted primary process is leading to an election campaign that will, whomever the Republicans field, (barring the most bizarre accident) end up with Hillary as President and Obama as Vice-President. She's the President-Elect in all but name, and even President Bush and Rupert Murdoch are treating her as such.

Faced with a year of writing a mystery novel where everyone's read the last page, journalists present the campaign as a rollercoaster of victories and crushing defeats.

Because every journalist dreads writing the words 'yet again', 'still' and 'predictably'. Journalists' capacity to be shocked when it turns out a poll of polls doesn't reflect the way people voted is only matched by their ability to knock off a quick piece about how they're amazed that people take polls and hype so seriously.

Justin ... It is very, very important for you to cover this story in the detached but informed, disinterested way that no US media coverage is capable of. Like politics itself, though, it's more predictable and less dramatic than its being presented as.

Hillary will win more states, including perhaps one or two you wouldn't expect. She'll lose a few, too, to Obama, including at least one that she really ought to have won. Edwards will do surprisingly well, but no one will notice. Then she'll get the nomination, name Obama as a running mate, then Barack and Bill are going to spend the summer outdoing themselves with speeches that would make Jed Bartlet's spine tingle. You'll get to write a dozen pieces about the new mood in America, Hillary's campaign being inspirational. Then she'll win the election by a surprisingly comfortable margin. That'll be confirmed on the night by the time she takes Florida.

  • 16.
  • At 11:13 AM on 09 Jan 2008,
  • Shawn G wrote:

I think Clinton admin will define the true value of america. That can only be done by redefining the term terrorism.

  • 17.
  • At 11:13 AM on 09 Jan 2008,
  • Patrick wrote:

Hillary did better among female voters in NH than Iowa...I wonder did the morons who shouted "Iron my shirt" at her influence this? I think she is the most experienced and qualified candidate, Obama is a very intelligent charismatic guy, and he will be president some day (assuming he does not screw up along the way), but probably not this time

  • 18.
  • At 11:21 AM on 09 Jan 2008,
  • reena wrote:

Does anyone think Barack has a chance to become president? Or, do you think there could be a black president of american in this decade?

  • 19.
  • At 11:28 AM on 09 Jan 2008,
  • mike vickers wrote:

I find the American electoral system confusing. Was the Iowa vote a primary or is that still to come? If the primary is still to come, the Obama "win " in Iowa is misleading. Can someone clear this up for me, please.

  • 20.
  • At 11:45 AM on 09 Jan 2008,
  • Neil Kiley wrote:

Regardless of their respective abilities, character, and policies, I believe that Hilary Clinton will be the next president. Why?

Hilary is being hugely supported by the major media outlets. Why?

The truth is, Hilary Clinton stands not for change, but for continuity. There will be some changes, for sure, but the overall objectives of the current administration, in terms of both domestic and foreign ambitions, will stand and be continued.

Hilary Clinton's bid for president was even supported, it is reported, by the last gathering of the Bilderberg group. With that kind of support, who can lose?

  • 21.
  • At 11:52 AM on 09 Jan 2008,
  • Ian Rutt wrote:

Just one question, Justin: we've had all this focus on Iowa and New Hampshire, but Republicans in Wyoming made their choice on Jan 5th (they endorsed Mitt Romney). Is this unimportant?

Yesterday primary election in NH proved, that there is a large gray area between the activists in the street and the people who actually vote. This gray artea had at least 20,000 voters who do not take part in the rallys or carry flags in the streets.

The Clinton Camp knew this fact and managed to get to those voters, by way of crying or telephone calls makes no difference, whatever it takes to convince them to come out and vote must be done.

This great move from the Clinton campaign showed the strategic skills and depth of understanding of Bill Clinton himself. He was in fact the only person in America that on the morning of the election said, "watch out, the Gap may be closer than you think". A Master Strategist at work.

If Obama is to win the nomination and the presidential election, he must learn this lesson from his opponents and understand the making of this gray area, be it older women, unions or whatever.

The mystery here is that this Gap will be different in every state and the most important job of the campaign managers, is to understand this gap and give it more attention than they did in NH.

  • 23.
  • At 11:55 AM on 09 Jan 2008,
  • Mark wrote:


The Obama campaign has gained the advantage of almost reverential press coverage precisely because he is new - and therefore newsworthy. No news organisation - and that includes the BBC - wants the story to be 'Clintons win it again' or 'Clinton's winning message more or less same as ever'.

Moreover, the attractive thing about Obama for the media is the extent to which his rather bland messages (Change is good; I 'do' change) clearly have a way of engaging those previously turned off politics, and that engagement can help swell circulation or ratings.

What will blast Obama out of the water is, I hope, the analysis which should come after the feteing of the man and his campaign by the media. Do the figures of his costed policies stack up? Has he really got credible experience for the role of President? Is he really consistent in his views or does he 'flip flop'?

I can admire Obama as an individual, but I can't say I am endeared to a politician for whom the ability to make constant repetition of cliches seems to be his sole claim to leadership pure and simple.

Let me add I'm a Brit, a liberal and an observer of this fascinating contest from afar. US voters feel your power: the ideological and policy split in the parties evident in these first primaries is likely to be so great that you can push these candidates hard. You can get detailed commitments, detailed statements of policy.

How much more anodyne are the sentiments of our own Mr Brown! Push him? You'd have to wake him to the reality of his electoral position first.

  • 24.
  • At 11:55 AM on 09 Jan 2008,
  • David Gibson wrote:

Who was that rather smug pundit on Newsnight last night who claimed to have advanced knowledge of the exit polls which showed that Obama's lead was 'only in single figures'?. I hope he's back on tonight explaining how he got it so wrong.

Ever since Mrs Clinton made her speech at the Congress about a system of free health care as we have back here in the "old world" (I always think of it as the civilised world)I have found her to be a guiding light in the harsh society across the ocean. I would recommend the people of the United States to think about the fact that you actually can get the most social president ever in the White House. An it is only 4 years, if she doesn't live up to it, give the "change" a chance. But I am sure she will and congruatulate her with the longest occupancy ever in the White House.


Considering Justin Webb is the go-to man for the BBC’s online, radio and TV coverage of the US primaries, I am slightly concerned to detect a heavy bias in favour of Senator Clinton and a sometimes patronising bias against Senator Obama. I have to state that I would prefer Clinton (or any other Democratic candidate) in the White House than a Republican. However, the implied criticisms of Senator Obama’s campaign as being nothing more than messianic language delivered by a great orator is simplistic in the extreme. Obama’s foreign policy of both continuing to seek global terrorists whilst actually talking to all states regardless of their views of Western nations makes absolute sense to me and I wish our government would employ this strategy. On another point, Senator Edwards’ campaign has been impressively progressive and has been ignored by the BBC despite his second place in Iowa. This is an open contest between three excellent candidates, not a ringing endorsement of Clinton candidacy. Please can we have some objective coverage?

  • 27.
  • At 12:08 PM on 09 Jan 2008,
  • jay_galbraith wrote:

Well, who is Mario Cuomo when he's at home,anyway? I think this is your best blog so far. Obama's message must be improving the media!

  • 28.
  • At 12:15 PM on 09 Jan 2008,
  • B Shelby wrote:

Sorry, but it is not Hillary Clinton's line. As Michael Tomasky wrote in the Guardian recently, the phrase comes from Mario Cuomo -- a talisman for the liberal wing Democratic Party and former Governor of New York state.

I don’t believe he wasn't valuing prose over poetry (as Clinton seems to be implying) either. He was just defining (quite poetically, one might add) how elections are won or lost and the difference between the campaign and government. I would say there is a place for political poetry and prose in both campaigning and governing.

Sen. Clinton may wish to take credit for the phrase, and spin it in her manner, but news reports might do better to check its true origins. Similarly, if the political journalists want more "prose" in the campaign, then stop treating it like a horse race and direct only questions of substance to the candidates.

  • 29.
  • At 12:32 PM on 09 Jan 2008,
  • tracey wrote:

Obama moves me when he speaks but i believe that Clinton has more substance and certainly experience.

I think the Republicans are praying that Obama wins the Democrats race because it makes their work in the national elections easier than if Hillary Clinton is the candidate.

Sometime ago a colleague mused that a poll found that more voters in the United States (cross section) were more prepared for a white woman as President than a black man.

I was cynical and replied that the only thing worse for the masses than a black man was a woman of any colour.

Time will tell - a lesson in realpolitik level 1

p.s. I am a black woman

  • 30.
  • At 12:34 PM on 09 Jan 2008,
  • melanie wrote:

The glass ceiling was a major factor in New Hampshire.

According to the exit polls (posted by the LA Times), 57% voting in the Democratic primary were women and they voted 46-34 for Clinton over Obama. The 43% who were men went for Obama over Clinton by 40-29%. 57% of those voting in the Republican primary were men and there was no significant gender split in voting patterns.

Clinton was able to mobilise women in particular. According my calculation 54% of the people who voted today voted in the Democratic primary. That means 14% of all voters in both primaries were women voting for Clinton, and 7% were men voting for Clinton. 36% were women and 44% were men voting for a variety of male candidates from both parties. (Numbers add to more than 100% due to rounding errors)

  • 31.
  • At 12:35 PM on 09 Jan 2008,
  • hats wrote:

Paedar, you and the other thinly-veiled perennial BBC-haters who crop up on this blog are entertaining if a little tedious. If a journalist had to attribute the origin of every politician's quote, we'd never get to the end of the story. Keep up the good work Justin!

  • 32.
  • At 12:41 PM on 09 Jan 2008,
  • Dan Funk wrote:

Do people not know Clinton supported the Patriot Act (Gutting the Bill of Rights )and helped the President Invade Iraq under false pretexts ?
She still supports the President.
And She is the Opposition ?
Lets bring back the Republic.

And Hillary should know better than coming up with a line like the poetry/prose one -- most voters won't get it!

  • 34.
  • At 01:05 PM on 09 Jan 2008,
  • Steff wrote:

It is argued that Experience is vital. If so, why did Hilary and some screw up on voting for Iraq? Her vote reflects she has much to improve in political acumen and analyzing global trends. Two Presidents for the vote of 1. Nice idea, except Bill pardoned Osama when he had the opportunity to kill him years ago. While crying reminds us of how human, politicians are as well, I have more respect for leaders who inspire at such moments. I think to revitalize USA, a same old predictable style of government would take a longer time to do so. The question is, how long are you prepared to wait for that to happen?

  • 35.
  • At 01:05 PM on 09 Jan 2008,
  • clare wrote:

Clinton is the sure thing when it comes to experience and people should start paying more attention to that. I am perplexed by the strong american dislike of Hillary. People talk about her like she personally offended them in some way. Honestly, I think that the american people are more likely to get over their prejudice towards a black man than a strong woman. We shall see....

  • 36.
  • At 01:09 PM on 09 Jan 2008,
  • Colin wrote:

So is the BBC going to acknowledge that it was swept along by the Obama mania, culminating in the correspondent on the ten o clock news last night virtually calling the race for Obama? Interesting that you admit in your blog that journalists are human and as likely as the next person to be swept up in popular fever. Maybe so, but you are paid (by the UK taxpayer) to stay detached. I have been disappointed by the superficiality of the BBC analysis so far and the unbalanced focus on the democrat race. I hope things will improve in the gap between now and super Tuesday.

  • 37.
  • At 01:20 PM on 09 Jan 2008,
  • James G wrote:

You are quite right about the Clinton camp being surprised.

Terry McAuliffe - the chair of Clinton campaign, was on my 6am flight back from Manchester to DC. He was pumped up from the night he hardly managed to keep still in his seat.

The Clinton camp seem as surprised as everyone else. Even they seemed to listen to what the media and polls were telling them about Obama.

That said, there is no doubt that they are all now fired up and ready for the fight which follows. It may be a tired, windy, grey day in Washington but there are phonecalls to be made and cash to be claimed.

  • 38.
  • At 01:23 PM on 09 Jan 2008,
  • Anthony J wrote:

To Mr Obama cost he has discovered that nice meaningless speaches and media hipe might get you high poll ratings but not elections results.
Mr Cameron should heed this message, and start producing soild policies, rather than, headline catching soundbites. After all he is the longest serving party leader with over two years under his belt.
No one knows where he stands. Last year following Duncan-Smith's report the message was help the disadvantaged, this year its about hammering those on benifits and the unemployed. It will not do.

  • 39.
  • At 01:24 PM on 09 Jan 2008,
  • Dokun wrote:

Now the hysteria over Obama can settle down. I believe (always have) Clinton will walk it but still hope that Obama will push her beyond Super Tuesday. Clinton is a Superstar ready to take on the job while Obama is a rising star. They are both doing a great job and are opening the doors for future (minority) generations.

  • 40.
  • At 01:26 PM on 09 Jan 2008,
  • jhm wrote:

Apologies if this is off-topic and curmudgeonly, but I refuse to believe that you to pronounce "Obamania" as you spell it. It seems far more likely that one would say 'Obamamania,' therefore it would seem appropriate that it be written so.

  • 41.
  • At 01:55 PM on 09 Jan 2008,
  • Jeannette Isabella wrote:

Hillary's victory over Barack Obama was a close shave, not a triumph. Results will no doubt swing the other way in other primaries, esp. Super Tuesday.
I am not surprised that NH women rallied around Hillary--she is like them in many ways: smart, focused, strong, pragmatic.

Both Barack and Hillary would make a good President. But Barack won't come to the White House with all the divisive, partisan baggage that Hillary has to tote (most of it unjustified, IMO, but it's still there).

The Republican race still feels like a side-show or warm-up act. Because unless the Democrats do something incredibly stupid between now and November (which, admittedly, they are fully capable of doing), the Republican nominee, whoever he turns out to be, simply won't be able to overcome the damage to the party inflicted by GWB and cronies.

  • 42.
  • At 02:04 PM on 09 Jan 2008,
  • Andrea wrote:

McCain is a likeable man with a reasonable approach to problems. When the going gets tough, however, he has demonstrated that he can be tougher than most.

I agree with his position on Iraq (as told to Tim Russert on "Meet the Press"): The problem was not in going into Iraq to remove a ruthless, barbaric dictator. The problem was in our extremely poor handling of the subsequent occupation.

He told Mr. Russert that if we had handled things better, we'd not be discussing whether or not we should have removed Saddam. Instead, we'd agree that, of course, we should have removed him.

And, despite the appearance that most Americans want out of Iraq immediately, many Americans do not believe that we should abandon Iraq -- especially in light of the success of the surge.

Hats off to you, Mr. Webb, for not being taken in by the media's portrayal of Americans (ex., as anti-war, anti-military, etc.). Americans still value and respect the kind of patriotism demonstrated by McCain.

  • 43.
  • At 02:07 PM on 09 Jan 2008,
  • Martin wrote:

My instincts are not to trust Obama - not that I trust Clinton that much either. But I suppose at least with Clinton you know what you are getting and you know how she stands on the major policy issues - even if you disagree with her.

Obama is an altogether different matter - there is something of Tony Blair about him - all style and no real substance - a superficial politician whose campaign strategy seems to be based on election because of who he's not and because he is "young" - that last one really gets on my nerves.

It is similar to the strategy that the young fogies Cameron and Osborne have adopted with the Tories here - say little about policy, elect me because I'm not X, vote for me because I am younger (in comparison). The reality is that Obama, Cameron and Osborne have as much in common with young people as I have.

It is symptomatic of the all style and no substance society we live in.

  • 44.
  • At 02:08 PM on 09 Jan 2008,
  • Chris C wrote:

I see the 'experts' and 'pollsters' have been proved wrong by the voters of New Hampshire. The dire predictions of a Clinton 'meltdown' or 'humiliating defeat' failing to appear.

A hastily changed front page of The Guardian to reflect the real result but an inside article left as it is.

You chaps in the media need to keep up with real events

Headless Chicken for dinner anyone?

  • 45.
  • At 02:46 PM on 09 Jan 2008,
  • Jeff Lehr wrote:

Too much is being made of "winning" or "loosing" a given state. The delegates are awarded proportionately (in all cases for the democratic primaries and in most cases for the republicans),thus the delegate count is all that matters and should be the only thing the media reports. Additionally, if for example, Edwards were to pledge all of his delegates to Hillary at some later date, then in essence Hillary would have "won" Iowa by virtue of accumulating both hers and Edwards delegates which would have exceeded Obama's. This whole "winning" mentality is creating false impressions.

  • 46.
  • At 02:47 PM on 09 Jan 2008,
  • Chris T wrote:

Can anyone clearly explain how a voter qualifies to vote in the primaries or caucuses? Do you have to be a paying member of the relevant political party? Surely the number voting is too many for this to be the case. So, can anyone on the electoral roll turn up to any party's primary? Surely that can't be true either. What's the correct answer?
Thank you

  • 47.
  • At 02:57 PM on 09 Jan 2008,
  • Michael wrote:

I think the Michigan primary may be more telling of who our nation may elect as the Democratic candidate. Looking at Michigan it is much more representative of the diverse nation that we are than either Iowa or New Hampshire. Many ethnic cultures, religions, rich and poor live side by side in Michigan. It is also a notoriously "blue collar state" with high unemployment. Who will Michigan look towards to offer them a brighter future?

Super Tuesday will then confirm this choice and help seal the prize as the party's chosen leader.

  • 48.
  • At 03:08 PM on 09 Jan 2008,
  • richard kadas wrote:

Hillary Clinton deserves an Oscar for her beautifully staged, 'Near Tear' brief political drama. She may refer to Obama as inexperienced, however, her experience is equally suspect. Although 14 years older than Obama, she has no management experience at all. Hillary's only national leadership role, 1993 healthcare reform, ended in a serious defeat. Examination of her greater experience claim may prove to be her Achilles heal.

  • 49.
  • At 03:15 PM on 09 Jan 2008,
  • Henry Bob wrote:

Congratulations to Hillary for finding the right combination of "poetry and prose". As I wrote here a week ago (not sure that was actually posted) Clinton will go on to win all the big state primaries: Michigan, New York, California, Ohio, Florida, .... She will be the nominee and will win in November because the Republicans will win all the small states in the west and south again (that has long been their strategy) plus Texas, but this time the Democrats will win Ohio and Florida. That will be the difference. The only chance the Republicans have is to nominate McCain, who might just take Florida and Ohio. But probably not.

There are paralells here not only with Clinton '92 'the comeback kid', but with John Major '92 - the 'soapbox' kid.

Major was written off by media and pollsters alike. But he got the soapbox out and subsequently won the election... Supposedly with a little help of course from an infamous Sun headline.

High-handed hacks need to learn that.. the electorate can buck you.. but you cant buck the electorate..

  • 51.
  • At 03:34 PM on 09 Jan 2008,
  • Tim wrote:

Though I'm still undecided, I'm glad to see Hillary beat Obama. We have too much showbiz politics in the US, and her win was one of substance over style. I have yet to hear any policy from Obama - it's all "hope", "change" and vagueness. He's good for TV, but not for the White House.

  • 52.
  • At 03:39 PM on 09 Jan 2008,
  • Joe wrote:

Firstly pople are forgetting that Clinton was supposed to walk the Iowa primary! She came thrid. She was suppoed to be a shoe in in New Hampshire, she won by two points!

Secondly from a UK perspective, Obama seems like the only candidate who is 'normal'. When you listen to Clinton she just sounds so contrived. The tears yesterday, in the UK people would have got angry with her and called her unprofessional. Hilary Clinton, in crying better than any actress (though they may have been real tears, but only because her dream seemed to be slipping), convined me more than ever that she is fake. Totally fake. I really really hope she doesnt win because she wants it so so so bad!

  • 53.
  • At 04:04 PM on 09 Jan 2008,
  • Mark wrote:

On further reflection to my previous post, maybe nothing ever really changes. The link shows one of the most famous photographs in the history of American politics;

It was Mark Twain who said;
"Reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated."

  • 54.
  • At 04:30 PM on 09 Jan 2008,
  • Charles Reid wrote:

Last night, Barrack OPbama discovered what a ruthless and powerful political machine he is up against-one carefully posed question-a two minute emotional, heartstring tugging, speech plus a modicum of tears and hey presto, national coverage of the moment and an unassailable lead disappears in a puff of smoke.
It was so perfectly timed and executed, all one could do was sit back and admire.

  • 55.
  • At 04:32 PM on 09 Jan 2008,
  • Gok wrote:

To me New Hampshire is a CLinton strong hold so this loss would not have been surprising if it were not for the media hype. The fact that Obama was close to Hilary suggests that even in the CLintons strong hold many are doubting CLinton still.

  • 56.
  • At 04:42 PM on 09 Jan 2008,
  • Steve Tilley wrote:

I first heard the campaign in poetry quote on the West Wing, about series 5 or 6 I should think, put on the lips of Chief of Staff Leo McGarry. It wasn't attributed.

  • 57.
  • At 04:47 PM on 09 Jan 2008,
  • Paul from Barking wrote:

I just hope the Yanks pick Hilary to go on and win it.

America had a softer more considerate face when the last Clinton was in office

Go Hilary, Go!

  • 58.
  • At 04:52 PM on 09 Jan 2008,
  • michael yates wrote:

Hillary may yet turn out to be a more divisive candidate, nationally, than Obama. There is much more to come out about voting records, policies, campaigning irregularities, 'machine' politics which may not be in Hillary's favour. Hillary's 'vulnerable' moments may prove to seem calculation. We don't know yet but this has stil some way to go. Justin seems to be undermining Obama. Without the threat of McCain, Obama could still win.

  • 59.
  • At 05:10 PM on 09 Jan 2008,
  • E.W. Hendricks wrote:

Obama's lost confirms what many believe that when it comes down to it a large segment of American whites will express their admiration for a man like Obama to pollsters, but behind the drawn curtain of the polling booth, they won't pull the lever for a black man.

  • 60.
  • At 05:31 PM on 09 Jan 2008,
  • Diane wrote:

Obama has carried the same message throughout his whole campaign. People need to read his books if they don't think he is ready to bring this country together. Everyone is copying him with the change and changing their rhetoric from "I" to "We" which his was all along. That proves he is a leader, he is already leading the other candidates to "copy" him because he had the tone of the nation! Also, I can't believe everyone missed that in the debate she cut Edwards and Obama off when they were making "personal" comments and told them to wake up to reality. Then the next day she cried and said how "personal" this election was for her. If Americans don't understand that Obama can beat any Republican running and Hillary will lose to any Republican they need to get a grip. If by some miracle she can get the nomination she is already bought and paid for by the lobbyists. If experience is such a big deal, what really is hers, two first lady posts?

  • 61.
  • At 05:44 PM on 09 Jan 2008,
  • Cormac O'Reilly wrote:

What is being missed in the frenzy of these early political skirmishes is the underlying messages from the voters. That business as usual politics is no longer acceptable - even established candidates have to adapt their campaigns accordingly. That the nation has a view of what's wrong, and an urgency for repair. And that experience actually might identify a candidate as part of the problem. This is an "engaged" election process, probably the first for years, with the turnout numbers at all time highs.

  • 62.
  • At 06:26 PM on 09 Jan 2008,
  • Dave F. wrote:

Requirements for voting in a primary vary by state. I have been a chief election judge (head of a voting precincet) in Maryland. In my state, you must register a party affiliation ahead of the primary in order to vote in it -- this is what's known as a closed primary. The voter rolls available at the polling place indicate your affiliation. If you're registered as a Republican, then you can vote only in the Republican primary.

Party affiliation does not matter in the general election, where all voters receive teh same ballot.

New Hampshire, unlike most states, has open primaries, which means party registration doesn't matter. You simply tell the officials at the voting precinct which primary you wish to vote in. (In other words, you can't vote in both the Democratic and Republican primaries.)

To answer a previous commenter's question, you do NOT have to pay any fee to a party. I can switch party registration, and (in Maryland) as long as I did so by the cutoff date, I can vote in the new party's primary.

I was surprised to hear a New Hampshire election official on the radio say that they were registering new voters at the polling places. If that's correct, a new voter could register and then immediately vote, something I hadn't heard of.

  • 63.
  • At 06:32 PM on 09 Jan 2008,
  • T Barnes wrote:

" Chris T wrote:
Can anyone clearly explain how a voter qualifies to vote in the primaries or caucuses? Do you have to be a paying member of the relevant political party? Surely the number voting is too many for this to be the case. So, can anyone on the electoral roll turn up to any party's primary? Surely that can't be true either. What's the correct answer?"

There is no one answer, qualifications for primary voting vary from state to state. In most states, voters express a party affiliation when registering to vote, and are permitted to vote in that party's primary only. In a few states (Missouri, where I live, is one), voters do not register by party, and may choose which party's primary to vote in on election day. In New Hampshire, voters registered to a party may vote only in that party's primary; but registered independents may choose which primary to vote in on election day. That is one reason why New Hampshire has such a large percentage of registered independents.

  • 64.
  • At 06:36 PM on 09 Jan 2008,
  • J, King wrote:

To Chris's question on who can vote:

It varies by state, but in NH, undeclared voters (neither Republican nor Democrat) can ask for either ballot when they check in to vote. They essentially join the party at that point, unless they revert back to undeclared when checking out. Party members can only vote in their own primary.

The NH Secretary of State's estimate is over 500,000 people voted yesterday. The previous record was 390,000.

  • 65.
  • At 06:38 PM on 09 Jan 2008,
  • T Barnes wrote:

" Chris T wrote:
Can anyone clearly explain how a voter qualifies to vote in the primaries or caucuses? Do you have to be a paying member of the relevant political party? Surely the number voting is too many for this to be the case. So, can anyone on the electoral roll turn up to any party's primary? Surely that can't be true either. What's the correct answer?"

There is no one answer, qualifications for primary voting vary from state to state. In most states, voters express a party affiliation when registering to vote, and are permitted to vote in that party's primary only. In a few states (Missouri, where I live, is one), voters do not register by party, and may choose which party's primary to vote in on election day. In New Hampshire, voters registered to a party may vote only in that party's primary; but registered independents may choose which primary to vote in on election day. That is one reason why New Hampshire has such a large percentage of registered independents.

And yes, that does mean that there are 50+ possible different answers to the question.

  • 66.
  • At 06:44 PM on 09 Jan 2008,
  • Michael wrote:

Do not underestimate Michigan. Sure, the early entry as Primary rendered their Democratic delegates useless and Obama and Edwards will not feature on the ballot. HOWEVER, a significant number of votes for 'Uncomitted' will be viewed as a vote *against* Clinton who IS on the ticket.

At this time in American politic, I am an outsider US poll watcher.

In fact, for the last 27 years,I did that during either US presidential, or congressional election. Now with the development webbloging, I am going to do more of that.

If you care to know, I am fan of the US Democratic Party. I have been so from the 1980 presidential election campaign between the then incumbent presidential candidate Jimmy Carter of Democratic Party, and his challenger, the late Reginald Reagan of the Republic Party.

In the 2008 US primary elections, I was fustrated over result of the Democratic Party's Iowa Caucus, and until about 05:00 hours in Monrovia, Liberia, my heart was in my mouth about New Hampshire.

Because, in the end, I just do not think Barack Obama will be able to with stand the onslaughts of the Republic Party in the 2008 US presidential campaign.Only another Clinton can; this time Senator Hillary Clinton.

Thanks God for the "comeback kids" in the Democratic Party.

  • 68.
  • At 07:15 PM on 09 Jan 2008,
  • Bob wrote:

To Pancha Chandra: you are exactly right

  • 69.
  • At 07:20 PM on 09 Jan 2008,
  • Angelica wrote:

Iowa and New Hampshire are just very small pieces of the whole. Iowa confirms nothing more than what it was for Obama than New Hampshire does no more than what it was for Clinton. Both of these candidates are viable and qualified candidates, but they have starkly different leadership styles, in my view.

I just wish the American media and public can hold off from pushing one or the other from having to endure the full process of a presedential election. I think now the the true race for democratic nomination has should be quite exciting indeed.

  • 70.
  • At 07:33 PM on 09 Jan 2008,
  • Bob wrote:

To Richard Kadas: you speak with the rhetoric of the Republican Party. Hillary Clinton actually does have an extensive resume of program management in many fields including education, social welfare, healthcare and diplomatic relations. Read Living History if you care to delve deeper.

  • 71.
  • At 08:24 PM on 09 Jan 2008,
  • EVANS E. wrote:

Mrs. Hilary Clinton won last night but she won unfairly considering the way her husband and former president of the USA (Bill Clinton) is going about negatively tearing into Barak Obama in the senate. And having watched him use the words " give me a break" i begin to imagine if the American people are seeing the negative side of this man. Bill Clinton must be made to realize that he is not playing the role of an elder states’ man that is expected of him and someone has to stop him. And he is going to be stopped sooner than later by being reminded that in the final analysis he actually failed the American people by lying to them as the US president and such a man must not and should never be trusted with the presidency a second time. Who is contesting? Is it Hilary or her husband? Wake up AMERICA!!!

  • 72.
  • At 08:39 PM on 09 Jan 2008,
  • Brett wrote:

The fix is in! You had to know that the party establishments would start to throw their considerable weight behind their favored candidates. It was obvious who they preferred when that bastion of conventional ruling class interests, the Council on Foreign Relations published a cover story in their house organ, Foreign Affairs predicting a McCain/Clinton general election in the fall. It's obviously a 'win-win' situation for the power elites if those two are nominated. The two party hacks, McCain and Clinton, plugged into their respective party machines in insignificant NH and the results were duly manufactured to suit the party potentates and media shills. What's really interesting about these carefully managed mini-primaries is of course seldom reported, i.e. all the inside deals that are struck and favors promised between the candidates and power brokers behind the scenes to enlist support in the wards. When Bush, Sr. went to NH in the '88 primary, badly lagging in the polls, he cut a deal with then NH state govenor John Sununu who threw the state Republican Party machine behind him. After Bush was finally elected, Sununu, not coincidentally, was appointed the president's chief-of-staff. There's not much "poetry" in it, but that's how politics gets done in America. Which is why poets and philoshophers seldom vote.

  • 73.
  • At 09:25 PM on 09 Jan 2008,
  • Kati wrote:

I'm relieved that people have chosen to vote for the person that brings all the experience and passion to run as president despite this biased media hype in favour of an intelligent but inexperienced candidate. The time a majority of people seemed to believe anything the media fed them is truly over.

Shame on the BBC, while other media players acknowledge they have been shooting the gun too early and now investigating their reporting system, the BBC seems to think nothing really important has happened. (Unexpected win for Clinton when all the media opinion polls pointed to a win for Obama)

  • 74.
  • At 11:11 PM on 09 Jan 2008,
  • Dan Funk wrote:

I've read all the posts and I still can't am amazed that people (Many in Europe)don't understand Clinton had the chance to stand up to Bush , but voted to give him the authority to invade Iraq instead.So Hillary where are the WMD's ?

Rich Millyard in post 13 wrote:
"You could never, ever get away with that type of voter blackmailing in the UK!"

Don't make me laugh, we didn't even elect our current Prime Minister, laughing stock for the rest of the democratic world. And so, if her tears were fake? It surely did the job! This woman knows exactly what she is doing and how she is doing it and that's another reason for her to be President.

  • 76.
  • At 02:52 AM on 10 Jan 2008,
  • B Benischek wrote:

I don't really trust Clinton. It didn't look like she was crying to me.

  • 77.
  • At 04:58 AM on 10 Jan 2008,
  • sandy wrote:

What if Bush wants to take up the role of VP?

  • 78.
  • At 06:45 AM on 10 Jan 2008,
  • roger wrote:

The BBC is the most biased news source out there next to FOX news, and you Justin are a part of that machine. You cant even vote and you have the right to tell Americans who they should vote for? What is the BBC gonna benefit so much from if Clinton is the Democrats nominee and McChain being the republican nominee. I wish you just eat your words at the end of this Justin. Stick to journalism.

  • 79.
  • At 10:00 AM on 10 Jan 2008,
  • Ben wrote:

I wasn't that surprised at Hillary Clinton's win in New Hampshire. I expect a lot of Democratic voters and independents were perhaps concerned that a big win for Obama would effectively seal the nomination, without really testing him. There's a long way to go and I think Obama still has the momentum - but Hillary Clinton's win in New Hampshire makes it much more interesting. Good news for the journalists and pundits!

  • 80.
  • At 10:29 AM on 10 Jan 2008,
  • Anonymous wrote:

Martin 42, spot on. My thoughts precisely, rather too much the eloquent but hollow young Blair. My instincts too not to trust him.

  • 81.
  • At 11:57 PM on 10 Jan 2008,
  • John Kecsmar wrote:

I agree with #43 and #74. However, being "young" should not automatically exclude or dismiss them because of their age.
Mozart was a genius at 4, imagine if he wasn't taken seriously because "oh..he's too young to write serious music".

  • 82.
  • At 02:51 AM on 11 Jan 2008,
  • RH wrote:

In the midst of all this blather about a 'big news story,' it should be remembered, a few weeks ago the media (at least here in the US) were reporting that Senator Clinton was not expected to do that well in Iowa, where her campaign organisation had already made the calculation their time and money would not be well spent, but better concentrated on 20 bigger states, where a large percentage of committed Democrats and likely voters in the general election will cast primary votes on 5 Feb. Thus, the result, at the hands of insulted Iowans.

She did well enough to win in New Hampshire, and probably will do across the country, because she has had the largest, richest and most motivated staff at the local level for a couple of years now.

Also, for those expecting a Clinton/Obama ticket, don't hold your breath. It would be considered too politically unbalanced for the general election, and it is also quite clear that neither candidate likes the other. Bill Richardson is now positioned for the VP nomination, although a future Democratic administration would be crazy not to think of him for Secretary of State, instead.

  • 83.
  • At 07:00 PM on 11 Jan 2008,
  • Maria Ashot wrote:

Dear Mr Webb,

I think you might really enjoy reading this -- whether you use it or not, just so you know even more than you already do. Please consider reading the input of these Iowa caucus participants:

THANK YOU for all you do!


  • 84.
  • At 03:45 PM on 13 Jan 2008,
  • jvii wrote:

The Clinton Campaign is really the Status Quo.

Bill wants the media to be tough on Obama to deflect focus off of Hillary's record. This may very well backfire because when Obama weather the media's storm he will have gotten more exposure.

The Clinton's think they are heir apparent to the Presidency but who wants to be detracted by their dirty laundry from the past.

Fairy Tales do come true, Bill Clinton!!

The Clinton Campaign is very dirty and disruptive to any possible moves toward a unified USA.

Should America chose Hillary as the Democratic nominee, the USA will remain divided into RED states and Blue states.

They insulted MLK!

They will do anything to get Hillary nominated.

If we elect Hillary, then we will have to elect Chelsea in a few more years.

Stay tuned, this is going to be a very profound USA political phenomenom!

  • 85.
  • At 12:20 AM on 14 Jan 2008,
  • James springfield mo wrote:

Let just think why some may not want Hillary Clinton Presedent she will take all that money from those company's that are a freind of bush and "obama has not done anything for chicago or blacks at least the one's i met in chicago they spent over 800 million dollers to find dirt on the clintons and they came up with nothing! let us see if some of your politicians can go through that and come out clean.

  • 86.
  • At 01:12 PM on 14 Jan 2008,
  • Nick Gotts wrote:

"What is the BBC gonna benefit so much from if Clinton is the Democrats nominee and McChain being the republican nominee." Roger (78)

The obvious answer, Roger, is that they are not "gonna" benefit in any way. When he says Clinton and McCain are most likely to be nominated, perhaps Justin Webb is just expressing his considered view as a political journalist? At present, he looks quite likely to be right.

  • 87.
  • At 11:47 PM on 19 Jan 2008,
  • Harrison wrote:

You are BIASED towards Hillary Clinton, Justin Webb!! It is obvious. Look even at your blog, you have no picture, no video of Barak but have pictures/videos of other candidates. And you swoon over Mrs. Clinton!

  • 88.
  • At 11:45 PM on 03 Feb 2008,
  • Ozman wrote:

Remember, Clinton willl win--though I'm for Obama. However, I think we'll have a DREAM TICKET--Clinton-Obama ticket, undermining Republican come-back. Republicans are praying for Obama to win, this is unlikely, however, they aren't anticipating Clinton-Obama ticket, which in my view, will devistate them.

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