COMMENTS: Post Mortem

The upset in New Hampshire was so disconcerting that both NBC and ABC offered post-mortems. ABC's David Muir (embargoed link) investigated what went wrong with the opinion polls. Obama lost the actual primary by 3% even though nine separate polls had shown him with a clear lead. Their average margin in his favor had been 8%. He offered a trio of hypotheses: an unexpectedly high number of voters changed their mind at the last moment; pollsters were fooled by the enthusiasm of Obama's crowds into projecting too high a turnout; or some white respondents "overstated their willingness to support a black candidate."

NBC anchor Brian Williams addressed his own failure in offering premature predictions of Rodham Clinton's defeat: "We in the media will beat ourselves bloody--and deservedly so--for reaching conclusions before the voters have spoken." He quoted a sample of three critical e-mails from viewers: one blasted arrogance towards voters; another "double standard" sexism against the female candidate; and a third the unbalanced focus on Democrats over Republicans.

That final point was certainly in evidence on the three nightly newscasts. The Democratic upset was clearly the Story of the Day.


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