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N.H. Expectations Game Underway

The Fix has been tasked with writing the up-to-the-minute lead story on tonight's New Hampshire primaries (you'll be able to find it on the homepage starting around 5 p.m. ET), but throughout the day (and night) we'll also be throwing thoughts and observations into this blog.

Barack Obama
Barack Obama answers questions from the media Tuesday at the end of a campaign rally in Hanover, New Hampshire. (AFP/Getty Images)

Because things move so fast once exit polling data and actual results start pouring in, my posts later today will be a heck of a lot shorter than typical Fix entries.

Let's start off the festivities this afternoon with the always-enjoyable "expectations game," wherein each campaign seeks to play down its own chances while building up those of its rivals.

For Democrats, it seems clear that Barack Obama is headed to victory tonight, with the only real question being by how much will he beat Hillary Rodham Clinton.

But to hear Obama spokesman Bill Burton talk, his boss is still the underdog. "Senator Obama has clearly sparked tremendous enthusiasm with his vision to fundamentally change the way business is done in Washington, but we're not taking anything for granted," said Burton. "There is much more work to do and we're going to continue fighting for every single vote."

The tone out of the Clinton campaign was future-focused, a seeming recognition that the fight in New Hampshire is all but over. "With just five days, it was difficult to stop the wave out of Iowa," said deputy communications director Phil Singer. "Our crowds here have been enormous and the enthusiasm we've seen has been extraordinary. Regardless of outcome, it's onward and upward."

John Edwards's camp avoided drawing any bars for their candidate to clear, choosing instead to focus on the high stakes for Clinton tonight. "The Clintons have spent years and millions building a New Hampshire firewall," said Edwards spokesman Eric Schultz. "With hundreds of staff, thousands of volunteers and over five million dollars into television ads, she's even promised victory."

On the Republican side, John McCain's campaign sounded like the frontrunner that polls show the candidate to be in New Hampshire. "We have always known that when we put John McCain in front of voters, good things happen for this campaign," said campaign communications director Jill Hazelbaker. "And New Hampshire has seen John McCain up close."

John McCain
John and Cindy McCain are surrounded by media Tuesday as they visit a polling place in Nashua, New Hampshire. The New Hampshire primaries are today and McCain is banking on a win in the state. (Getty Images)

Mitt Romney, who once cast wins in Iowa and New Hampshire as foundations for his nomination campaign, is quickly moving away from that storyline with an eye toward Michigan's primary on Jan. 15. "We are quite enthused that a competitive finish here, coupled with a competitive finish in Iowa will help us build additional support as we head on to Michigan and Nevada and South Carolina," said spokesman Kevin Madden.

The line coming out of Rudy Giuliani's presidential campaign sounded a similar forward-looking tone.

"Obviously, we'd like to do as well as possible in every state, including New Hampshire," said communications director Katie Levinson. "That said, we've made clear from day one that we're running a truly national campaign with a heavy focus on Florida and February 5th states like California, where voting began yesterday."

By Chris Cillizza  |  January 8, 2008; 3:37 PM ET
Categories:  Eye on 2008  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Prediction Time! New Hampshire Edition
Next: Looking Ahead (Already)


The loser backs up a loser. John Kerry was a loser,Obama will be a loser in 2008. Obama will make a good president in 2016 not in 2008,should wait for his turn, meanwhile he can get some experience. The country is ready for a wowan president, not a black president yet.

Posted by: johnycheng1 | January 10, 2008 1:43 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: cpark | January 10, 2008 1:18 PM | Report abuse

"It's the number of Democrats turning out vs the number of Republicans turning out, not the percentages. No Republican can win in '08. Obama will win by the largest margin but it doesn't really matter, the Dems could run a yellow dog and still beat them in November. I just hope they can get themselves unified before they shoot themselves in the foot.

Posted by: thebobbob | January 8, 2008 06:59 PM

Like the nfc championship. Does it really matter who the r's nominate?

Only if clinton pulls out a miracrle. Or if she cheats. But I think the numbers are to huge for obama for even them to cheat.

Posted by: JKrishnamurti | January 8, 2008 7:28 PM | Report abuse

thebobbob: I am pretty sure the Repubs only think Hillary can beat them in 08, and I am pretty much in agreement with them, hence their all out effort to stop her now.

Posted by: lylepink | January 8, 2008 7:14 PM | Report abuse

What's up with Bill Clinton anyway? I thought he was about to have a stroke when I saw him on Charlie Rose, all red faced and hands shaking. I thought the Clintons considered this "the fun part." I guess only if Mrs. Inevitable wasn't getting stomped.

Posted by: joy2 | January 8, 2008 7:07 PM | Report abuse

Colin: I have no idea about winners or losers in Iowa and NH. I only remember Bubba didn't win either and became the best Prez this country has had for the past 50 years or so. Hillary will have an even greater problem getting us back on track since Bubba had only four years to clen up after a Bush and Hillary is stuck with cleaning up a terrible eight years of yet another Bush.

Posted by: lylepink | January 8, 2008 7:07 PM | Report abuse

It's the number of Democrats turning out vs the number of Republicans turning out, not the percentages. No Republican can win in '08. Obama will win by the largest margin but it doesn't really matter, the Dems could run a yellow dog and still beat them in November. I just hope they can get themselves unified before they shoot themselves in the foot.

Posted by: thebobbob | January 8, 2008 6:59 PM | Report abuse

If she makes it there, zouk. I mean pink

Posted by: JKrishnamurti | January 8, 2008 6:57 PM | Report abuse

rfpiktor: I KNOW I am going to enjoy the morning of 6 Feb 08. All you "Hillary Haters" are going to have to come up with something other than your "Envy/Jealous","Hate" Factor, or the "Fear" Factor the Repubs are using now. I can hardly wait.

Posted by: lylepink | January 8, 2008 6:54 PM | Report abuse

I hope Hillary or Edwards wins in New Hampshire. I think they are good candidates.

Posted by: hhkeller | January 8, 2008 6:47 PM | Report abuse

I really had to laugh today when reports were floating that Paul Begala and James Carville were being courted by Bill "Bubba" Clinton to come on back and help out the faltering Hillary Coronation. Without going into much detail, suffice it to say Paul and James can't stand the b*tch!! They still remember her screaming at them during the bliss filled 90's...This is not the forum for details-several books have recorded the wonderful rants of Hillary in the White House. Oh yeah, Stephanopoulous--the other whipping boy received quite a few lashings from the tongue of the Queen too. LOL --- If I could only be a fly on the wall during Bubba's sales-pitch trying to cajole James and Paul back into the imagination runs wild....ROFL..
HILLARY!!! you go girl!!!

Posted by: charko825 | January 8, 2008 6:36 PM | Report abuse

Ive never seen the Clintons like this before, not even during the darkest days of the Monica thing.

Posted by: Miata7 | January 8, 2008 6:21 PM | Report abuse

Ive never seen the Clintons like this before, not even during the darkest days of the Monica thing.

Posted by: Miata7 | January 8, 2008 6:21 PM | Report abuse

Lyle -- not to burst your bubble, but you do know that no politician who won both Iowa and NH has ever lost the nomination, right?

Posted by: _Colin | January 8, 2008 6:12 PM | Report abuse

Chris I believe it is time to have a whole new round of speculation about the possibility of deadlocks in each party, meaning no candidate having 51% of the delegates after the February primaries.

Two questions, how do the democrats' superdelegates play into this?

the second, how will the democrats determine 51% after they have deleted the delegates from Florida and Michigan?

Posted by: Miata7 | January 8, 2008 6:04 PM | Report abuse

iN TERMS OF YOUNG WOMEN VOTERS. I can only speak on hy my girlfreind will never vote for hillary.

she says she will nto vote for her because everything she has, is because of her last name and her husband. Also that she stuck by a man who she knows cheats on her. I don't pretned to be a physcologist for the opposite sex. But I can understand that perspective.

Would hillary be here with her husband?

I watch fox to enter the mind of the madman. they have dick morris on there, who was a clinton advisor. one of the biggest political slimeballs I have ever seen. The fact he was a close advsior to the clintons, in itself, give me pause about them.

Anyway, morris says the game is to put out stuff you know you can beat. While your enemies are attacking that which does not matter, the stuff that does goes by the wayside. Sounds like the gop. Sounds like GB.

this is the clinton game. Misdirection. Discredit. Lie spin. These are all gop gmaes. If the clintons are not closet republcains, they sure learned tactics from them very well.

Posted by: JKrishnamurti | January 8, 2008 5:37 PM | Report abuse

"I've never seen anything like it in my 60 years of being involved in politics. Such Visceral Hatred [by Hillary Clinton, of the American people, because of this inconvenient and unnecessary election, when we all know she's the only President we will ever need]."

Posted by: USMC_Mike | January 8, 2008 5:31 PM | Report abuse

bsimon asks "will she or won't she"..there's so much ego and hubris involved, I am afraid she might not. Surely by SuperTuesday it's make or break for her. Somedbody (Bill, party bigwigs, money guys) will hit reality and she will be forced to end it.

She is a wonderful wonk and could contribute in an historic way as Majority Leader where her personal abilities and talents would seem to be a better fit.She is not a natural leader who can inspire and uplift, which is why she will not prevail in the race.

fixbone In some ways this is tragic for Hillary..but timing is all and Obama is the man of this moment

pamela I also live in upstate NY (outside of Albany), historically Republican area, and she is well regarded by most, and even affectionately by some.

Posted by: rdklingus | January 8, 2008 5:30 PM | Report abuse


The turnout in N.H. is impressive, again. Obama is starting to look like a giant. Nevada is going Obama's way and soon the domino effect takes over, if it hasn't already.

I don't hate Hill, I loathe her and her Bubba.

I feel sorry for Chelsea who was born the same year is my only daughter.

She will have my respect as a politician if she pulls out from beneath this runaway train, regains her composure and actually wins the race.

I will still loathe her as a person.

Posted by: rfpiktor | January 8, 2008 5:28 PM | Report abuse

Yes, but how deliciously ironic would it be if it turned out that the second Clinton effectively cleaned up the awful mess the second Bush has made? I believe Hillary is actually capable of doing just that...and might be the ONLY candidate capable of it because Dubya is leaving a horrendous mess behind.

Posted by: Jerryvov | January 8, 2008 5:24 PM | Report abuse

I have written off NH and SC, and am looking forward to Hillary having the Dem nomination won on 5 Feb. This Repub strategy of supporting Obama to beat Hillary and then beat him is not going to work. A couple of others has at least pointed out the FACT that the anti-Hillary Media is still going strong. I've never seen anything like it in my 60 years of being involved in politics. Such Visceral Hatred.

Posted by: lylepink | January 8, 2008 5:18 PM | Report abuse

Yesterday I made a comment saying that if Hill can actually survive until Feb5 and start to win here and there it might still be a race. If she concedes on Feb.5, what kind of exciting are we talking about.

We'll only have a septuagenarian a sexagenarian and a Ken Doll and Ron "The Fun Older Guy" Paul vying for our attention. Not exciting.

Go, Hill, GO!!!!!

Posted by: rfpiktor | January 8, 2008 5:15 PM | Report abuse

i simply think people are tired of the Bush/Clinton brand.. I'm forty-five years old and for twenty of those years there has been a Bush or Clinton in the WH. i am a dem and i sure don't think Obama is the second coming of a matter of fact i could certainly cast a vote for McCain as easily as Obama. Point being, Hillary has seemed to realize the word "change" is this years buzz word, but with her at least it doesn't seem to fit...

Posted by: TheIrishCurse | January 8, 2008 5:13 PM | Report abuse

The recent Clinton attacks on Barak, esp Bill Clinton's, are quickly losing them whatever respect and support they have had among us traditional democrats.

The Clintons seem focussed on themselves and not the democratic party, let alone the American people.

Bill esp disgraced himself. His legacy is poised to drop in the dustbin.

Posted by: wpost4112 | January 8, 2008 5:08 PM | Report abuse

It's hard for me to imagine Hillary walking away before New York votes on Feb. 5 - unless polls show a slide here as well (in which case, pulling out might be the least embarrassing alternative).

I live in the western part of the state - typically GOP territory - and she's popular. In fact, she's been a good senator - but I set the bar pretty low - I'm just happy when any NY Senator ventures west of the Hudson.

Posted by: -pamela | January 8, 2008 5:06 PM | Report abuse

"The Fix has been tasked with writing the up-to-the-minute lead story on tonight's New Hampshire primaries"

Anybody else feel like Huck Finn? The Fix is supposed to write the leads, so they have a contest getting us write the leads?

Hillary will not drop out no matter her numbers tonight. She's got over $50 million, even if her fund raising dried up completely tonight. And she can leverage her money and organization in CA and FL primaries, where independents can't vote and a heck of a lot more delegates are at stake, and where Obama will have had time to feel the heat of top tier.

Posted by: fourhourelection | January 8, 2008 5:02 PM | Report abuse

it is staggering to think the clinton's having laid the groundwork for NH for so long and with so much money and manpower would lose and not just lose but get beaten is a telling reflection of what she really is - unfortunately simply being a smart head strong woman who puts politics and specifically her political success above all else does not cut it enough

Posted by: fixbone | January 8, 2008 4:50 PM | Report abuse

rdklingus writes
"She may lose but she needs to do it with dignity abd grace. Obama has enormous potential and she can do great things if she takes a leadership role in the Senate.Bill should get off the stage and preserve his status and standing as an elder statesman."

That's the big question, isn't it? That being, will she lose with dignity and grace? Or will she turn to the politics of attack ads and personal destruction?

The Clinton campaign is promoting her depth of knowledge on a wide array of policy issues; many media reports have also noted her policy wonkishness. Here's my question: isn't a policy wonk more suited for writing legislation than being the executive?

Posted by: bsimon | January 8, 2008 4:44 PM | Report abuse

This was an interesting side note on Ron Paul. He got 25% of the Hart's Location vote, one of the those two small towns that vote early...

Posted by: davidmwe | January 8, 2008 4:38 PM | Report abuse

Hillary shouldn't walk away tonight..nor should Edwards or any other candidate who still has the viability to go on. This is all too much too soon to end now after only two states have voted. Hillary should humbly and graciously concede tonight to Obama and retool her campaign asap. My own feeling has been let Hillary be Hillary. Be very careful to not harm herself or Obama or the Democratic party. She may lose but she needs to do it with dignity abd grace. Obama has enormous potential and she can do great things if she takes a leadership role in the Senate.Bill should get off the stage and preserve his status and standing as an elder statesman.

Posted by: rdklingus | January 8, 2008 4:38 PM | Report abuse

Obama's got my support out here in reno nv. I changed my party affiliation today from indy to dem so I can vote in the cacues. WHOA.

The future is now

Posted by: JKrishnamurti | January 8, 2008 4:32 PM | Report abuse

Ah yes, the expectations game. That's when the campaigns make a 180-degree turn and start talking about how badly they expect to do. The media dutifully reports that spin, of course. Then when each campaign outperforms the low expectations they set for themselves, they spin it as a great victory, and the media reports that too. Joe-mentum, anyone?

Posted by: Blarg | January 8, 2008 4:21 PM | Report abuse

What will Hillaryland do with their expectations if Obama hits 50% of the vote?
Carville and Begala will have their spinning work cut out for them.

Posted by: tobetv | January 8, 2008 4:20 PM | Report abuse

Mitt Romney's flip-flops on major policy issues are certainly great material for Democrats if he wins the nomination. For example the Boston Globe today reported Mitt Romney's praise in November, 2005, for the McCain-Kennedy Immigration Reform plan. That 2005 legislation was backed by President Bush, but attacked by conservatives like Congressman Tom Tancredo (R-CO) as "amnesty" for illegal aliens.

However Mitt Romney told the Boston Globe in 2005: "That's very different than amnesty, where you literally say, 'OK, everybody here gets to stay.' It's saying you could work your way into becoming a legal resident of the country by working here without taking benefits and then applying and then paying a fine." Romney then called McCain's plan a "reasonable plan".

There's more here:

Posted by: chrisbak52 | January 8, 2008 4:17 PM | Report abuse

If the Clintons are happy now they'll be really thrilled when this is over and Obama has kicked their collective butts.

Posted by: rhbate | January 8, 2008 4:10 PM | Report abuse

"It was unthinkable this morning - but suppose that... HRC walked away tonight?"

I'll be watching for it. But still unthinkable.

She's got cash in the bank, the Clinton name, and a lifelong ambition to cope with.

I haven't written her off just yet.

Posted by: USMC_Mike | January 8, 2008 4:07 PM | Report abuse

I think Mark is correct, particularly in surprise finishes for Huck & Paul.

Here's my entry in the expectations game. Following the big wins in IA & NH, Obama slightly changes tactics and delivers more policy addresses to mix it up a little. The strategy is to nip this "Where's the beef" meme in the bud.

Posted by: bsimon | January 8, 2008 4:00 PM | Report abuse


Haven't you read the phrase "The Clintons are impossible to kill" and "They like it like it is right now, with their backs against the wall."

Posted by: rfpiktor | January 8, 2008 3:52 PM | Report abuse

71F in Austin.

Jim, boko, bsimon; I think the indie surge is SO big that BHO will be helped immensely, McC will be helped, RP will be helped, and MH will be helped. The NH news sources are freely throwing around 500k turnout, maybe 270k-230k D over R. 90k "new or indie" Ds and 60k "new or indie" Rs.

This will be an interesting vote count tonight.

It was unthinkable this morning - but suppose that rather than going with an RG strategy of Stupendous Tuesday HRC walked away tonight?

Posted by: mark_in_austin | January 8, 2008 3:43 PM | Report abuse

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