There were clearly shades of New Hampshire in the election results last night of Texas and Ohio. In NH, Texas, and Ohio, Barack closed large double digit leads of Hillary that had existed for weeks or months, but in all three cases, Barack came up short of Hillary in the final count. And due to the better spin control operations of Hillary’s campaign than Barack’s, they were able to spin this as a win for Hillary. In film-making, it makes all the difference when you begin rolling the camera and Hillary’s campaign successfully convinced the press that the film should start with her in a neck-and-neck race with Barack in Texas and Ohio that she successfully defended, rather than focusing on the fact that over the last week, hundreds of thousands of voters in Texas and Ohio abandoned her campaign for Barack’s.
Barack was clearly hurt by some last minute gaffes like the private statements of a senior economic adviser to the Obama campaign (Austan Goolsbee) which were later shared in a memo to Canada’s ambassador to the U.S. that they shouldn’t take seriously Barack’s anti-NAFTA rhetoric on the campaign trail in Ohio, and the fact that the Obama campaign was then less than forthcoming with the facts after this memo from the economic adviser was disclosed. Exit polls showed that late-deciding voters tilted toward Hillary, perhaps because of this or her negative campaigning on Barack. [There is even one recent allegation by a DailyKos blogger that Hillary’s campaign darkened the hue of Obama in their Texas advertising to make him look more black, analogous to what TIME magazine did on its cover to make O.J. Simpson look more black. If true, it’s a new low in the Clinton campaign scare tactics that seem to be dropping in ethical standards as they get more desperate. How long until another Willie Horton ad?]
On Youth Turnout: it’s worth noting that both Texas and Ohio evinced the continued surge in youth turnout (under age 30) that we have witnessed in other primaries. Youth turnout in Texas nearly tripled, going from 6% in 2000 to 17% in 2008; and youth under 30 in 2008 made up 15% of all votes cast as compared with 9% in 2000. In Ohio, youth under 30 made up 15% of voter turnout, up from 11% in 2000; turnout of youth under age 30 rose from 15% in 2000 to 25% in 2008. See my earlier post here and last night’s youth turnout here (Texas) and here (Ohio). This increased youth turnout is also of a piece with my colleague Robert Putnam’s recent Op-Ed on superdelegates and a 9-11 Generation.