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Getting the Numbers Right and the Headlines Wrong

March 5, 2008

Yesterday, I offered surprisingly accurate predictions for the Democratic primaries in Texas and Ohio. But while I called correctly Texas for Hillary Clinton by 3% and was close on Ohio (forecasted 8% margin versus 10% actual), it appears I got the ensuing story line wrong.

On Tuesday, I assumed the standard media narrative would portray Clinton's wins as "too little, too late." But a quick glance at the nation's headlines suggests her sweep of the Buckeye and Lone Star states is being seen as changing the campaign dynamic and setting up "a fight to the finish" after all.
As I mentioned yesterday, Clinton's sweep in any other year would have triggered stories proclaiming cliches "We've Got a Whole New Ballgame" and "It's Anybody's Race." But given the press' fixation with Obama's seemingly insurmountable delegate math and the media's willingness to write Hillary's political obituary, I concluded her solid but not spectacular wins would not be sufficient to alter the story line heading into Tuesday.
As it turns out, not so much. The New York Times proclaimed "Clinton Victorious in Texas and Ohio; Says Campaign Has 'Turned a Corner.'" The Washington Post ("Democratic Race Unsettled; McCain's Way Cleared") focused on the advantages the now-deadlocked Democratic race provides GOP presumptive nominee John McCain. Even my hometown Oregonian in the Obama bastion of Portland announced "This Tuesday's Super for Clinton."
For more reaction along those line, see the Huffington Post's summary of Hillary Clinton "Staying Alive." For pieces looking at the still-uphill climb for Hillary Clinton, see the Washington Post and Time.

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Jon Perr
Jon Perr is a technology marketing consultant and product strategist who writes about American politics and public policy.

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