Could Clinton pull it out?

Early numbers give her a lead, but what do they mean?

By Tim Grieve
January 9, 2008 6:34AM (UTC)
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We'll admit to knowing next to nothing -- OK, nothing at all -- about the precinct-by-precinct politics of New Hampshire, so we can't tell you what it means that Hillary Clinton's lead seems to be growing as early returns continue to come in.

With 25 percent of the precincts reporting, Clinton leads Barack Obama 40 percent to 35 percent. Does this mean that she's somehow fooled the pollsters, who've been tracking a 6- or 7-point Obama lead? Or is there something unusual about the scattered precincts that are reporting?


We don't know the answers, but we take a little comfort in the fact that no one else seems to know, either. The networks are all but silent on these questions, but that silence may be telling: While the networks called the Republican race for John McCain pretty much as soon as the polls closed, they aren't making any projections about the Clinton-Obama race -- except that Clinton can claim a major victory if she finishes a close second and a miracle comeback if she somehow comes in first.

Update: Someone who does know New Hampshire precincts is University of New Hampshire political scientist Dante Scala. On his blog earlier tonight, he said the early places to watch on the Democratic side include the city of Manchester. "Manchester still has significant pockets of working-class voters, and is a good bellwether for the Hillary Clinton blue-collar vote," Scala wrote. "If Clinton carries Manchester by a wide margin, expect the results to be closer than expected. If Obama keeps close in Manchester, expect him to win comfortably statewide."

Early results from Manchester show Clinton with a comfortable lead there.

Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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