Could it be possible that Hillary Clinton’s momentous, poll-defying win in New Hampshire—one of the most incredible political stories in an incredible political season—doesn’t have legs?
That’s the question one Democratic consultant, who is not affiliated with any candidate, raised in a conversation with me today while pointing out that the media’s focus seemed immediately to have turned, as if nothing momentous had happened, to John Kerry’s endorsement of Barack Obama.
“There aren’t any ‘bounce’ stories,” said the consultant. “I don’t know which came first, the press moving on or the Kerry endorsement, but talk about a net plus. The Kerry thing just completely changed the discussion.”
In the days since Clinton’s stunning back-from-the-brink-of-the-abyss win in New Hampshire, the press almost seems more concerned with how it got the story wrong than about what actually happened.
The consultant named one immediate reason for the lack of a bounce narrative: Clinton essentially took a day off before heading out to Nevada—where the time difference didn’t help her—while Obama held a rally and fund-raisers in Clinton’s backyard, the prime media markets of New Jersey and New York.
Then there was the Obama campaign’s timing in rolling out some heavy-hitter endorsements. If Bill Bradley’s endorsement was showcased last week to fortify the perception that Obama was the true independent candidate heading into New Hampshire, he now faces a protracted battle with Clinton for the Democratic nomination and he needs to show that he can do well with the party’s base. Cue John Kerry. And the endorsements of prominent female elected officials like Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano and Atlanta mayor Shirley Jackson will have helped as well.
Of course, there’s another thing: After having spent five days drastically overstating the carry-over significance of Obama’s win in Iowa, who would have wanted to make exactly the same mistake after New Hampshire?