Moving on from New Hampshire; Bush in Israel

Behind The News
January 10, 2008 12:54:57 PM PST
Maybe we just can't help ourselves. Maybe we have this unexplainable need - or perhaps it's just desire, I'm not sure - to find out the answer before there is an answer. You'd have thought we -- and by we I mean all of us, including the media -- would have learned by now, having been burned badly in 2000 and again in 2004, by election polls that were just plain wrong.

But there we all were yesterday and last night, relying on information from polls that proved to be wrong. Again.

Moving forward, I suspect we all will be a bit more cautious about these polls. For the record, our policy is always -- ALWAYS -- to cite the polls as just that - opinion polls. And to try to take them with a grain of salt.

Now -- as to why the polls were wrong, and why even the Clinton campaign was reacting by preparing a big shakeup in the Senator's campaign staff - that's more complicated than just being cautious in the future about how we use these polls.

Were the polls wrong because the methodology was bad? Perhaps. Could it be that people say one thing when asked if they would vote for a black man for President, and then do something different when they get into a private voting booth? Perhaps. Could it be that people just changed their minds? Perhaps. And could it be that the "emotional" moment by Hillary Clinton on Monday swayed many people, especially women, to vote for the Senator from New York? Perhaps, again.

There is truth to all those questions - at least a little bit. The most intriguing, and perhaps the most disturbing, is the say-one-thing, vote-another-way theory. I would hope that it's not valid, but there are too many experts out there today suggesting that is indeed what happened.

In any event, the Democrats indeed have a tight race on their hands -- the top candidates, an African American U.S. Senator who four years ago was a state senator in Illinois, and a woman who has been a U.S. Senator from New York for seven years and, before that, was the First Lady.

The Republican race is more wide open, especially after New Hampshire. Can John McCain, at 71, keep up this momentum from his victory last night? Can Mike Huckabee rebound? (He has already started reaching out to his fundamentalist constituency in preparation for the South Carolina primary). And can Mitt Romney, the best-financed Republican, win a primary? (His home state of Michigan should be in his corner.) And what about Rudy Giuliani, who has been virtually invisible in Iowa and New Hampshire? He says he wasn't campaigning there, and those states weren't part of his victory strategy; but how to explain the $3 million in ads he spent in New Hampshire if that state wasn't important to him?

We'll have the latest, tonight at 11, including several local events with Obama in our area tonight.

Meanwhile, what now for the Independents who gathered this week in Oklahoma? They are now waiting to see what shakes out of the major parties' primaries.

But tonight there's some interesting news for Mayor Bloomberg, who is, despite his protestations to the contrary, apparently chomping at the bit to run for President. The news comes from a new Quinnipiac University poll, and although it is only of New York City voters, it is fascinating, and perhaps foreshadows a political problem for Hizzoner.

New Yorkers, by a 52 to 39 margin, say Bloomberg would make a good President; but an even larger number, 70 percent, say he'd make a good Governor. And in fact, given a choice, 47 percent of New York City voters would like Bloomberg to run for Governor, while only 16 percent would like him to run for President.

If the people who like him believe this, what does that say for trying to convince millions who don't know him?

Also at 11, Diana Williams is in Israel for us, to report on Day One of Pres. Bush's first visit to Israel during his tenure. Someone recently said that ex-Presidents and about-to-be ex-Presidents suddenly get very concerned about forging peace in the Middle East. Is it too little, too late for Mr. Bush's peace initiative between the Israelis and Palestinians? Diana will have the story.

We'll also have any breaking news of the night, plus Lee Goldberg's AccuWeather forecast and Scott Clark with the night's sports. I hope you can join Liz Cho and me, tonight at 11.

BILL RITTER


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