Wednesday, January 09, 2008
A result good for candidates and country



David Gergen
Senior Political Analyst




Whether you like Hillary or Barack -- or John, Rudy or Mike -- we should all welcome the results in New Hampshire for one fundamental reason: they keep these races alive for a while longer.

Only a couple of days ago, especially on the Democratic side, we were in a rush toward coronation. The press and GOP candidates like Romney and McCain were all ready to pronounce Obama the Democratic nominee and intimated he would probably go all the way to the White House. New Hampshire voters said, "Not so fast," and that's a good thing for the candidates and the country.

As magical as Obama has seemed, the truth is that most Americans don't really know him well enough to make a sound judgment. Keeping this race open will allow voters to vet him more fully and to compare and contrast what he offers versus Hillary. We have already seen how much a defeat helped Hillary to reassess who she is and how she is reaching voters. She is a better candidate now because she was humbled in Iowa, and Barack will be a better candidate because he was humbled in New Hampshire. Much the same argument applies to the candidates on the Republican side.

Keeping the race open also gives voters in many other states a chance to shape the final outcome, and that, too, is a good thing. I am here in California and last night when I spoke in Oakland, many in the audience of 3,000 were enthusiastic that now their voices will be heard, too. (By the way, in a show of hands, they were pretty evenly split between Hillary and Barack.)

Finally, the results were good last night because they not only humbled some of the candidates but also humbled the press. All of us in the "commentariat" -- me included -- needed to hear loudly from voters that they are the ones who have the ultimate power in a democracy, not us, and that we need to have a little less certitude and more humility than we sometimes express.
Posted By CNN: 4:08 PM ET
  5 Comments
All this about Hillary tears... I think she had it all along. I went to an Obama rally in Nashua last Saturday, which was packed. But on the way out I noticed the license plates in the parking lot... I'd say at least half were from Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Vermont. Don't give up Obama... we will get to vote eventually.
Posted By Anonymous Anonymous : 5:46 PM ET
Agree with you that it's good that one or two people aren't dominating the two parties. Let's spread the wealth a little bit.

ON a related topic, I don't like how the media keeps us on pins and needles telling us one day that Hilary is done after losing Iowa, then the next day that she's got the nomination sewn up because she won ONE state!
Posted By Anonymous carol g, boston ma. : 9:14 PM ET
A few friends of mine are Obama and Edwards supporters, but we all concur that (at least on some degree) it was good that Hillary won NH the other night. As a Hillary fan myself, I obviously have my reasons for wanting her to do well! My friends and I agree- this race shouldn't be over in 2 states time. Even if Hill were to have lost but stayed in the race, the media would have blasted her campaign, saying it was "all over from here" and whatnot.
Heh, Obama is "magical"? Great post (and scaaaary picture)!
Posted By Anonymous Tonya, Atlanta, GA : 9:41 PM ET
David

Polls have been wrong before; I'm just glad it was wrong this time for exactly the reasons you cited - so we can get to know the candidates better. For a while there it seemed like the election was going to be decided in Iowa and New Hampshire and that the rest of us would have to do with their picks. I'm glad its not turning out that way.

Annie Kate
Birmingham AL
Posted By Blogger Annie Kate : 9:44 PM ET
Simply the fact that the New Hampshire and Iowa results were so divergent keeps hope alive. Just as it has an adverse effect on voting when the media reports results before the polls close, I think the belief that Iowa and/or New Hampshire has already decided the issue would have kept people from participating in future primaries. Now they know they can still make a difference and play a part in choosing the candidate.

I was just reading about a negative Hillary Clinton movie by strategist Dick Morris that's available. After Iowa, it seemed a moot point, but now with two strong contenders, the mug-slinging can start with renewed vengeance. Knowing that the race is far from over keeps interest fresh and friction afloat. We've got a long way to go until November, but no one can say the ride will be boring. Fasten your seatbelts.
Posted By Anonymous Michele Jackson, Northridge, CA : 4:28 PM ET
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