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Boy, in a season of stupid political analysis that has got to be the stupidest. We *must* elect the candidate with highest negative ratings and the lowest polling numbers against all the R's because a bunch of geriatric Iowa farmers like her.

What a bunch of bullshit.

Posted by Providence | January 4, 2008 12:22 PM


Give it up she lost. Stop being an ass and shore up what ever credibility you have left.


Posted by midnightrider | January 4, 2008 12:22 PM
Here’s the pro-Clinton news—that you won’t see teased out of the #s* in the press because well, they hate her

Oh, Josh. You'd think a journalist would naturally be wary of the hostile media phenomenon.

Posted by tsm | January 4, 2008 12:22 PM

Hillary did "come in an embarrassing 3rd place." So good forecasting by the media.

Posted by Thom | January 4, 2008 12:24 PM

Caucus : General Election :: Apples : Oranges

Clinton's Iowa caucus rural popularity don't mean shit. Most of these folks aren't voting Dem in the general anyhow.

Posted by DOUG. | January 4, 2008 12:24 PM

she have beat edwards and obama in those counties... but my guess is that any of the republican candidates trounced her there. there's no way rural america will go for her over a repub. and that's what will count.

Posted by Judith | January 4, 2008 12:27 PM

The rural constituencies may see Obama and Edwards as too urban and slick. I confess to being a die-hard HRC fan and think this really speaks to the issue of her so-called unelectability,

Posted by inkweary | January 4, 2008 12:28 PM

This probably isn't the time to get into it, but that urban archipelago speech is more than a bit myopic.


Posted by oljb | January 4, 2008 12:38 PM

Look at the New York #s.

Posted by Josh Feit | January 4, 2008 12:45 PM

"Here’s the pro-Clinton news—that you won’t see teased out of the numbers* in the press because well, they hate her."

Damn right, and thank you Josh for throwing that out there. As just one example, a few writers have noted that Hillary visited the press bus with bagels and coffee last week, and the press corps sat in frosty, hostile silence until she left. See:

Posted by David | January 4, 2008 12:49 PM

Oh and @ #2,

"Stop being an ass." ???

I'm not being an "ass."

I'm reporting on some poll numbers that aren't getting much attention. I think they're interesting numbers.

Posted by Josh Feit | January 4, 2008 12:49 PM

What Doug @5 said. This analysis of the primary is useless when it comes to the general. Who gives a crap if HRC gets more D votes in rural white counties. The question is, who will get more D + R + I votes in rural white counties. The answer to that is easy: not HRC. And Iowa also proves that Obama = turnout. I'm still laughing about the Huckster's win. Wouldn't it be awesome if he made it all the way and had to campaign on a 30% national sales tax? Populist my ass.

Posted by kk | January 4, 2008 12:57 PM

Iowa is not representative of rural voters?

Posted by The Baron | January 4, 2008 12:57 PM

I really wish that some enterprising types would at least attempt to reverse-engineer the "delegate equivalents" to actual votes.

Agreed about the press's general and unhidden loathing of Hillary Clinton --- watching Chris Matthews on MSNBC last night gave a new definition to "fair and balanced".

Posted by josh | January 4, 2008 1:03 PM

HRC rocks the rural areas alright.  She just rocks all the non-Democrats there the wrong direction.

Hillary is a John Kerry waiting to happen.  This looks like maybe the first White House run in a long long time that the D's can't lose, but nominating Hillary would be a good start down that path.

Posted by lostboy | January 4, 2008 1:03 PM

I like Hillary Clinton and believe she would make a good president. I also think the claims that she is unelectable are vastly overstated; given the strong pro-Democratic tilt to the electorate and the deeply flawed Republican field any of the leading Dems has a good chance of winning in November.

That said, I think Josh is overstating the pro-Hillary case. There is at least as much, if not more, in the Iowa results to give voters concerned about electability pause when considering Hillary. She may have done well in some rural counties -- Josh is right that Edwards' purported strength in Western Iowa was overstated -- but she also lost badly among independents. Rural Democrats are going to vote for whomever the Dem nominee is; for obvious reasons, independents may not. If the Republicans nominate McCain -- still unlikely given how despised he is by the Republican base, but increasingly possible -- that is a big warning sign of trouble. She also did very poorly as a second choice candidate, which can be attributed to two things: Clinton's polarizing image and high negatives, and that this really is an election where voters want change while she is seen as too tied to the establishment status quo.

The other point is that Hillary-hatred is about the only thing the various factions of the Republican Party agree on these days; if she is not the Dem nominee the chances that the long-standing Reagan coalition of economic, social and national security conservatives completely implodes in a delicious orgy of internecine warfare is much much higher. That is something I would love to see.

Clinton is still in this race -- conversely, despite his second place finish, Edwards is a dead man ealking -- but New Hampshire is now do or die for her (or, um, live free or die). If Obama beats her there, he'll win South Carolina and go into Feb. 5 with unstoppable momentum. She only has four days to make her stand. This race could be all but over by next Tuesday.

Posted by Sandeep Kaushik | January 4, 2008 1:04 PM

Thanks for the reality check, Josh.

And Providence: What polls are you looking at saying she has the lowest polling numbers against all the R's? Making decisons this early on theoretical matchups based on totally inconclusive data seems like a shaky approach to picking a candidate, no? Regadless, I have seen a variety of shifting numbers and polls interpreted in different ways with different stastitical methods, and most of what I've seen has her winning handily against all of them anyway.

Besides, any negatives she has in terms of her "absolutely won't vote for her" factor are at least matched by the prejudicial difficulties Obama will face. I mean, his middle name is Hussein for God's (Allah's?) sake. Sorry to be living here in the land of reality, but that will matter, yes it will. The media and the evil liars on the right will make it matter. And...well, despite this little Kumbaya moment we're having, Iowa ain't Mississippi, if you get my drift.

If he was more of a brawler, I might feel better about these issues. But he's not. He wants to rise above, not sink to the level of. Admirable, but a recipe for defeat. Or at least, of a chronically ineffective president.

Don't get me wrong...I love Obama as much as the next progressive/liberal guy. He's a sweet kid, he is. But when the 'Pubs sick their attack dogs on him, his "one nation" message is going to get shredded. Then what?

Hammering legislation through Congress and guiding national policy takes hard-nosed tradeoffs and a thick hide. Hillary is willing to get dirty. This "rise above" approach Obama is taking worked great in Iowa, a state notorious for rejecting negative campaigns. But it will be difficult to sustain in a national election with the entire oligarchic structure of power allied against him. Even if the good vibes flow and the man actually gets elected, those same attack dogs will just keep charging for the jugular. What evidence is there to suggest he can repel them indefinitely? How can he actually get anything done?

Hillary (or maybe Edwards) is the only way to beat these bastards. Accept it!

Posted by Matthew | January 4, 2008 1:08 PM

In defense of Josh's perception (if not his analysis), it was amusing to listen NPR anchors' tug-of-war last night over whether Hillary was 3rd or tied for 2nd, humbled or galvanized.

Posted by lostboy | January 4, 2008 1:10 PM

josh, hillary is your candidate--understandable. Based on your diligant work with the strange I assume that you are an intelligent, middle-to-upperclass well-educated gentleman. I like to think that I fit these characteristics too. Without a doubt, you, me and Hillary would likely get on smashingly. But the thing i've come to realize is that we are not the American demographic that needs support. The 65+ demographic, that Hillary won, doesn't need support. It is the rest of America that needs help and it seems that Obama is the candidate most likely to help them. That is why i am supporting him, does that make any sense?

Posted by obama is okay | January 4, 2008 1:15 PM

Hillary needs to TROUNCE Obama in New Hampshire on Tuesday (?) or she is going to have major problems getting the nomination. (Maybe she should never have gone negative on Obama this past week. She already has a reputation of being a power hungry bitch.)

My next question is this: Has anyone NOT won their party's nomination after winning both Iowa and N.H?

Posted by Just Me | January 4, 2008 1:18 PM

Clinton rocks the rural areas

Actually, Huckabee rocked the rural areas. If you look at the Republican map and where Huckabee won, that gives a better representation of which are the more rural counties. In those counties, it was pretty evenly split among the main three Dems. The western strip of counties is not the most rural part of the state (in fact, Pottawatamie County is just across the river from Omaha, not that rural at all).

Posted by thehim | January 4, 2008 1:20 PM

Great, so Hillary rocks regions and demographic segments that are emptying out and dying.

Posted by JW | January 4, 2008 1:29 PM

Geeez Josh

Ever heard the term "Sore Loser"?

Billary is so completely hated by most of the country, but you don't seem to realize it living here in your little Blue Utopia of King county.

When reality finally kicks you in the A$$ will you pay attention or continue making up excuses?

@ #2 was spot on.

Reality Check

Posted by Reality Check | January 4, 2008 1:45 PM

I will start with this; I am very happy to have 3 rockin' candidates any of which I would be WAY more excited about that Kerry 2004 or Gore 2000.

With that said I truly believe that most voters in this country are very polarized. The population of people who actually vote in this country is polarized and most elections are fought on the margins. The question is which margins the Democrats should go after.

I see several choices;

1. The rural voters (tend to be more socially conservative) that have been voting Republican lately and D’s try to pander to by acting more conservative. They always vote though. D’s give us up a lot to get these voters. They fuck over gays, women, and urban areas to win rural voters hearts.

2. Independent and Republican women who are more liberal on social issues like abortion and gay rights (they have gay kids or know gay kids and they remember a world Before Roe). They are also pretty high percentage voters but their husbands always vote Republican. The right candidate at the right time can turn these women out to vote D.

3. People who agree with us but don't usually vote. There include young voters, black voters, urban voters. They are apathetic, don't think they make a difference, hate politics, and hate politicians. We all know them. We drink with them and hang out with them. We have used persuasion, shame and bribery to get these people to vote but in the end they are disgusted by the process or too lazy, tired or lame to actually vote. Here again, the right candidate at the right time can pull enough of these folks out to vote to make the difference.

What margins do we aim for then? Josh makes a strong case for Group 1. The reality is that I know I will be WAY better off if a Democrat wins. Bill Clinton was certainly not perfect in terms of his policy agenda…remember DOMA anyone? But nonetheless I miss him terribly and would enjoy him as First Gentlemen and think Hillary would be a very good and effective leader. Hillary is also the most likely person to appeal to Group 2 and if she plays her cards right she could hold onto them for reelection.

Group 3 seems to be all about Barack. He seems to resonate with younger voters and has the chance and the hope of inspiring the country. I really do think he could be that once in a generation kind of change agent (even though he is way too churchy for me) but I would love to see young, progressive urban voters get inspired and be a new force to be reckoned with. Until these voters come of age and claim their place as the next voter type to swing elections politicians will be off pandering to social conservatives and rural voters who don’t like gays and don’t like reproductive freedom, they hate environmentalism and believe that global climate change is bullshit.

I have about a month to decide who I am going to caucus for…luckily I am actually really excited about Clinton, Obama or Edwards. It seems like that played out in Iowa too. Democrats are fired up. I know part of it is our loathing for what the Bush administration has done to our country but I also think that people ARE actually excited by these candidates.

Posted by Mrs. Y | January 4, 2008 1:51 PM


I may live in a liberal blue bubble. But I'm for Hillary, who, as my post laid out, is a winner in the rural areas.

Posted by Josh Feit | January 4, 2008 1:54 PM

Matthew @17: If Jesus Christ himself came back as a Democrat, he wouldn't win Mississippi. Why on earth would we choose a candidate based on how well he or she will do in Mississippi? If the Democratic nominee wins Mississippi, then we will have done something very, very wrong (like, uh, nominated a Republican). As for how Obama gets legislation passed, he's not just a "sweet kid" (btw, how politically correct of you to say "kid" instead of "boy"--what would you call Huckabee, who is six years older than Obama--a "youth"? oh wait, Huckabee is white . . .), check out Charlie Peters's take in this morning's Washington Post.

Posted by kk | January 4, 2008 1:58 PM

Josh @25, you're still clinging to the assumption that rural Democrat caucusers indicate rural popularity in general?  We've been blowing that out of the water all up and down this thread.

Any chance you'll respond to us on substance instead of just answering the name-callers?

Posted by lostboy | January 4, 2008 2:12 PM

Providence @ 1 -- See Darryl @

All -- A statewide primary is not a simulacrum of a statewide general election. A caucus, even less so.

Sandeep -- Even if Obama clears the early primary table, he must endure a full month of front-runner scrutiny. I have my doubts.

All -- There is no ultimate final battle against conservatism. Attach some importance to the next Democratic POTUS succeeding as POTUS. The calculating, triangulating, disciplined Clinton doesn't let her mouth write checks her body politic can't cash. I couldn't say that for Obama, or Edwards, or Richardson, or Kucinich ... while Dodd and Biden are out of the game.

Posted by RonK, Seattle | January 4, 2008 2:21 PM

Another torpedo for Josh's analysis (credit to liebig from the TNR Plank): "Obama won by an even larger margin than people realize. The party reports only the delegate count, not the actual popular vote at the caucuses. The delegate count is biased toward rural areas: for example, in more densely-populated Johnson County, where I live, there were 39 caucusers for every delegate elected. In a rural county like Adams, there were 6 caucusers for every delegate elected -- effectively giving their votes almost seven times the weight of mine. And the county-by-county delegate counts make it clear that Clinton and Edwards did better in those small rural counties, so the statewide delegate count is almost certainly inflating their popular vote percentage. The upshot: Obama's popular vote total was probably well over 40% last night."

Posted by kk | January 4, 2008 2:43 PM

Sure, I could use $25.

Posted by Clueless Huckabee Supporter | January 4, 2008 3:03 PM

You know, all this spin from the MSM pro-Clinton camp is not helping her in the race, it's just pizzing off people more.

Spin doesn't win when you're in the dust bin. The reality is what's on the ground, and the reality is that America's tired of Clinton-Bush and the MSM pro-ultra-rich destruction of America.

Posted by Will in Seattle | January 4, 2008 3:07 PM

This is ridiculous. You found the only bright spot on her exit polling data and tried to argue that it somehow makes her viable.

Posted by Jim Demetre | January 4, 2008 3:41 PM

I appreciate Josh, as always, for his willingness to take on a fight, but my head is spinning from this spin.

Having lived in Johnson County, Iowa for four years, and even volunteered in 1984 as a 15-year-old on a presidential campaign there, I know these counties, too. Josh is somehow inferring from Clinton's showing among Democrats in rural Iowa counties that she will not be the fatally-weak nominee that all polls reveal her to be -- a candidate that would actually lose Democrats the gains that they've achieved in lean-Republican states and congressional districts and prevent further gains from being made, in places like CO and AZ. Where was her support among independents? At the end of the day, Hillary Clinton as a nominee could not carry Iowa in the general election -- particularly in those counties Josh points to -- if she cannot pick up the independent vote that Obama won.

Obama has proved he is the best candidate for the general, and, most significantly, he deflates megalomaniacal New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg -- whose potential campaign message of being a change agent would hardly resonate against a candidate like Obama who is change personified. The $11.5 billion Bloomberg has to tap into gives me 11.5 billion reasons to think that Bloomberg against the stagnant Clinton picks up D votes. That is, of course, unless she can hold Ds through her record of voting for the Iraq War, provoking Iran, and supporting a flag burning ban.

I think the media has hardly been hostile to a candidate it had all but coronated until recently. I do not doubt that the media is susceptible to Obama's charms, and agree with Josh that we saw it last night, but that would seem to make him a strong candidate, right? Plus, Obama gave an objectively sensational speech, so would it have been "fair & balanced" to fail to observe (a) that he won against all odds and (b) the clear style contrast with the wooden Clinton? They hardly slighted, say, her policy agenda. Last night's Obama win was big news and I think the press handled it responsibly.

The press might not be wild that Clinton stopped taking questions from the public at Iowa events, as reported by the Des Moines Register, and became a cocoon candidate.

Just repeat after me, Josh: "President Obama." It doesn't sound so bad, does it?

Posted by Brendan | January 4, 2008 4:59 PM

Well, I'll say this much for Josh, at least he tries to argue the spin straight, instead of a halfway job.

But it's still spin.

Posted by Will in Seattle | January 4, 2008 5:05 PM

"Spin doesn't win when you're in the dust bin."

Who knew Jesse Jackson posted as "Will in Seattle"?

Posted by qwerty | January 4, 2008 5:23 PM

A day late and a dollar short, but I just read this post, and you're either blind, Josh, or you can't count.

I count 40 counties on the map you linked for Obama, and 25 for Clinton. Only 4 of Obama's look urban to me, but let's assume I'm understating the size of the urban areas and the spread and suburban sprawl actually covers 12 (which geographically looks like a stretch).

THAT STILL LEAVES OBAMA WITH 28 AND CLINTON WITH 25 - and we haven't even eliminated Clinton's lone urban county (Sioux City) and it's sprawl.

Sorry to be the one to tell you.

Posted by TCBATL | January 6, 2008 11:01 PM

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