The Iowa and New Hampshire Primaries

And How the Media Got it All Wrong


Published: January 31, 2008

Thus far, the only element of consistency in the 2008 Presidential primaries is that reporters and pundits continue to get it wrong. First the mainstream media said that Barack Obama’s message of hope and unity was an empty one, not ferocious or divisive enough for the Democratic party. Well, they had to bite their tongues, because Obama saw an overwhelming victory in the Iowa Caucuses, so much so that Hillary Clinton adopted his message of “Change.” Then, the media said that the key to success in the Iowa caucuses was having strong organization. In yet another surprise, Mike Huckabee, the Republican candidate with the barest organization, won the Iowa caucus, largely due to the flocks of Evangelical Christians who came out to support him. Also interesting to point out is that Mitt Romney outspent Mike Huckabee 16 to 1 in Iowa; so much for claiming that American elections can be bought! Despite their failings, the media continued to make projections into the next week’s New Hampshire primaries. Again, they were wrong. Hillary Clinton beat Barack Obama by a narrow margin, and John McCain, the candidate whom everyone had left for dead a summer ago, took New Hampshire by a landslide. The only safe prediction that we can now make is that all predictions will be off the mark.

Also troubling is how the mainstream media has trumpeted some candidates while altogether ignoring others. Although this type of behavior is not novel to election cycles, it has caused some people to scratch their heads. Fred Thompson, a Republican who recently withdrew from the race, was deemed by many pundits to be the savior of the Republican ticket. Before Fred Thompson announced his candidacy, he was second behind Rudy Giuliani in national polls. However, Fred Thompson ran a lazy campaign that went absolutely nowhere. And as for Giuliani … Giuliani, the once inevitable candidate, is hoping to win a majority of the Super Tuesday (February 5th) primaries, after largely ignoring and subsequently performing terribly in the early primary states (Iowa, New Hampshire, Wyoming, Michigan, Nevada and South Carolina). From these states, Giuliani has earned two delegates. Meanwhile, Ron Paul, the libertarian-running Republican whom the media treats as a joke, has picked up six. This is the same candidate who was barred by Fox News from the debate before the New Hampshire primary, despite coming ahead of Giuliani in Iowa and having better polling numbers in New Hampshire than Fred Thompson did.

While closely following the elections can get tiring, the ever-changing nature of the 2008 Election is undoubtedly entertaining. Iowa taught us that we should not underestimate the youth vote this election cycle. New Hampshire reminded us that polls can go horribly wrong. All of the subsequent primaries enforced the idea that no one really knows what he or she is talking about. Months ago, all pundits were predicting that Hillary Clinton would be the inevitable nominee for the Democrats and that Rudy Giuliani would be on the GOP ticket. Now, few people are willing to place their bets.