Friday, December 14, 2007

Expectations and Early Races

In politics, expectations, unfortunately, mean a great deal and that is why being the frontrunner is a tough position to have when dealing with early round primaries. Now that the presidential primary season will be all but over in a just about two months, expectations mean a great deal more this year than in the past. Howard Fineman talks, sort of, about expectations:
Sen. Hillary Clinton’s campaign is teetering on the brink, no matter what the meaningless national horserace numbers say. The notion that she has a post-Iowa “firewall” in New Hampshire is a fantasy, and she is in danger of losing all four early contests, including Nevada and South Carolina – probably to Sen. Barack Obama, who is now, in momentum terms, the Democratic frontrunner.
The problem with this year's democratic race, in particular, is that Hillary Clinton has been the front runner for so long that it is all but expected that she will be over taken. Obama has done just that, over taken her and put her on the brink.

Now I like a good primary battle and watching the Democratic battle has been, to a certain extent, far more amusing that the GOP battle. Clinton has, for so long, tried to build this air of inevitability that people have begun to question whether inevitability is such a good thing. National polls still give Hillary Clinton a double digit lead. But polls, as many people will tell you, including Fineman in his article, don't mean a damn thing. The only poll that matters is the one where voters make an actual choice that means something. The Real Clear Politics poll average has Obama within striking distance and he clearly has the momentum in New Hampshire.

But here is the funny thing about expectations. The expecation is that Hillary wins in Iowa and New Hampshire. In short, the expectations for Hillary are to win and win big. If she doens't meet those expectations, she loses, even if she wins by narrow margins in Iowa and New Hampshire. If she doesn't meet expectations in Iowa and New Hampshire and loses in South Carolina and/or Nevada--she is toast. Obama will surge and Hillary Clinton will spend the rest of her political career as a Senator from New York. But in reality, Clinton cannot meet the expecations that her campaign has created themselves. No candidate should try to wrap themselves in a cloak of inevitability, to do so creates an expectation that if not lived up to, will surely doom them.

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