Obama Lost Because Of The Angry With Bush Vote

by: Chris Bowers

Wed Jan 09, 2008 at 16:03

Did Obama's message of conciliatory unity cost him the New Hampshire primary? Sure looks like it. According to exit polls, 30% of Democrats identified themselves as "dissatisfied" with the Bush administration. Obama narrowly won those voters, 39%-38%. However, among the 62% of participants in the Democratic primary who described themselves as "angry" with the Bush administration, Clinton won 39%-34%. And thus, we have Clinton's 2.6% margin of victory almost precisely.

Democrats are pissed off at Bush, I mean really pissed off and angry. There simply isn't anyway to win this primary without winning the support of those voters. It appears "change" isn't enough to put one over the top in that category, at least here. Clinton won the angrier voters, and so she won New Hampshire.

Update: I should note that this does not necessarily mean Obama is behind Clinton among the "angry with Bush" voters in all states, just that he was behind in New Hampshire. That made the difference here, as I imagine it will make the difference pretty much everywhere. However, I am not drawing an conclusions outside of New Hampshire, since we don't know who leads the angry demo in other states.
Chris Bowers :: Obama Lost Because Of The Angry With Bush Vote

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Orrr... (0.00 / 0)
Obama could have had an angrier message, lost independents, and done even worse.  Hypothetically, since that's the game we're playing.

If he improved among (0.00 / 0)
the larger group, he could have dropped among the smaller group, and still gone up overall.

[ Parent ]
Sure (0.00 / 0)
And if he improved among white voters, he could have done worse among black voters and still improved.

[ Parent ]
That's not his campaign (0.00 / 0)
He is obviously going for the Independents with his message as I posted below - along with the teenybopper vote to put him over the top.

As a result, as has been written by you and others, he is thumbing his nose at the loyal Dems hoping to just get enough combined votes with Independents and Boppers to win.

What this tells me is that his campaign never thought they could beat Hillary with the loyal Dems and in the long run that will hurt him. If McCain continues to flourish he will peal away a lot of Independents and if Bloomberg were to enter the race then Obama is toast with the Independents - then having two seasoned adults competing for those same votes.

Then all Obama will have is the Boppers who as Obama's numbers go down will abandon the campaign in favor of a frat party kegger and getting laid.

[ Parent ]
Bloomberg? (0.00 / 0)
LOL!  A candidate that only appeals to the 10% of the population that loves the war and dislikes fundamentalists like Huckabee.  I am so scared!

My blog  

[ Parent ]
I've always wondered why .. (4.00 / 2)
Edwards or Clinton haven't mentioned the Republicans more on the trail .. why not attack McCain?  McCain isn't any sort of maverick .. he's a far right nut .. and the sooner the Dems start mentioning that .. the better

[ Parent ]
agreed (4.00 / 1)
but Obama would seem to have the greatest interests in going after McCain.  Also this blog needs to start google bombing McCain again.  I would say his staying in Iraq for a 100 years comment would be a good thing to google bomb him on.  He still gets maverick brownie points for McCain Feingold.

My blog  

[ Parent ]
Angry With Bush (4.00 / 1)
So the politics of moral contrast are alive and well? The I'm a uniter thing is still obsolete?

Whatever (0.00 / 0)
But people in Iowa, on the other hand, love Bush, which is why they voted for Obama?

Trying to draw conclusions from demographics like this, at least without some more elections to use as data points, is kind of silly since it seems quite clear that multiple demographics did not vote the same way last night that they voted last Thursday. And for example, although I can't find someone asking the Bush question before Iowa, this Iowa exit poll shows that Obama lead substantially among the self-described "very liberal", which I take to be a reasonable proxy for feelings on the Bush administration.

If you want to find an causative explanation for that shift, you're going to be needing to look in the four days between these two votes. Obama didn't play up the conciliatory-ness thing the least bit more in the last four days than he did in the four days before Iowa, so that's a pretty big stretch as an explanation. I think you should be looking at this the other way around: among the voters who swung toward Clinton in the end in NH, people who are are "angry" about Bush as opposed to just "dissatisfied"  swung for Clinton in higher proportions.

Personally if I were looking for an explanation for this data I'd first wonder if what we're really seeing here is just the effects of Obama's oh-so-fabled "independent" support, which will constitute a bigger block of his voters and possibly be more likely to go with "dissatisfied" over "angry" (assuming there's a really quantifiably meaningful difference there at all).

Question wasn't polled for Dems in Iowa (0.00 / 0)
For some reason, the question wasn't polled for Dems in Iowa. It is possible that there was a larger dissatisfied vote than angry vote in Iowa.

But really, you are wright, we don't know what is going on nationwide. We do know, however, that Obama would have won New Hampshire if he was even among voters who were angry with Bush. It is possible he leads that group in other states, of course.

[ Parent ]
Well, right, but (0.00 / 0)
We do know, however, that Obama would have won New Hampshire if he was even among voters who were angry with Bush.

What I was thinking was, okay, but did the voters who were angry with Bush vote Clinton because they were angry with Bush? Or did there just happen to be substantial overlap between voters-angry-with-Bush and some group that decided in New Hampshire to vote Clinton-- say, women, or core liberals, the two main groups whose votes differed in IA and NH-- and when those groups went for Clinton it moved the angry-with-Bush numbers as a meaningless side effect?

I mean, for all I know you're right and causation went the opposite way from how I'm assuming-- maybe for some reason NHers who were sufficiently angry about Bush suddenly got fed up with Obama's anti-negative rhetoric and broke for Clinton, and this caused Obama's standing among core liberals to drop because there's overlap there with people angry about Bush. I don't know how to make that theory make sense in terms of the same effect being absent in the Iowa results, but then again the core liberal drop for Obama is a little mysterious either way? Bah, I hate polls.

[ Parent ]
Who are the angry voters? (4.00 / 1)
I suspect that the voters who are angry at Bush as opposed to angry about the current economic situation and their own prospects, or who are just dissatisfied, are older than either of the other groups.  Those who remember the '90s well (to say nothing of the decades before) probably personally despise Bush more while people who are newer to politics haven't honed their partisan edge so much, and don't have anger that goes back to 1998 and before.  So the more generally dissatisfied gravitate to Obama and those more specifically angry at Bush (and/or the GOP) may be stronger and more long-standing Hillary supporters.

John McCain--He's not who you think he is.

[ Parent ]
I disgree (0.00 / 0)
It isn't that they aren't angry.  It is that they are mad a both parties.  Look at how much Pelosi, Reid and Hillary have enabled the war. 

My blog  

[ Parent ]
It was the women's vote (0.00 / 0)
In New Hampshire, Clinton got 12% more of the women's vote, 46-34%.

In Iowa, Obama got the young, evangelical women's vote. 5% more women voted for Obama, 35-30%.

Banned for posting five straight diaries.

[ Parent ]
Key word evangelical. Bigger in Iowa tnan NH. (0.00 / 0)

[ Parent ]
Interesting (4.00 / 1)
I tend to look at the broader categories in the exit polls - particularly the ones the candidates are campaigning on. I suppose though that this micro category is relevant because Clinton, particularly in the debates, has been the one most critical of Bush although that has not been her major theme.

I think in this case that Chris is right - Obama's kumbaya campaign is not sitting right with all of the electorate and like me thinks it is nonsense. It may play well with Independents who are always looking for middle ground but for us angry Dems who know the Thugs in the Senate will never seek middle ground Obama's rhetoric is void of reality.

All in all though I will continue to primarily view the broader categories that the candidates are campaigning about which end up being the the ones the voters consciously go into the voting booth with. They are not concerned about things like their age when they vote - although that category has been parsed to death. I guess age is useful for producing pixels that fill up a page but it certainly is not a motivating factor that makes experienced grownups choose a candidate.

For me all this micro parsing of so many categories that the voters are not top-of-mind with is an almost senseless exercise. You just can't craft a message to reach everyone of those Media Inspired categories and still have a coherent message. You have to have your major themes (plural), "find your voice" and connect with the people, and do your fine tuning message changes on State level issues and to a lesser extent on a county or district level where possible.

As it should be (4.00 / 1)
This conciliation stuff with Bush and the Republicans is making me ill.

Banned for posting five straight diaries.

I "hope" Obama gets over his propensity to run against Democrats, (4.00 / 5)
giving the Republicans the kid-glove treatment and starts to go after the real enemy.  But he seems like he cannot do that.  He's more comfortable going after us.

Here's a golden rule:  Anyone wanting to endear himself to the Democratic primary voter cannot go after BUSH too much.

For some reason, it seems that Obama has some pathological and deep-seated psychological need for Republicans to like him.  Seriously.  It's weird.

About to say... (0.00 / 0)
I was about to say you should check out this far more interesting and comprehensive view of what happened written by...  oh, you.


Ok, interesting and real point here, but I bet you can find several dozen other single points that look like the cause.  Your other post was better.

I think Obama can make the real case that Bush is a special case worthy of real anger without upsetting the independents he targets.  I'd go for the betrayal line, myself, as it is both accurate and works with those who actually voted for the man but now regret it.

However, I don't see Obama picking up the anger thing other than at, perhaps, an intellectual level.  He can say anger is ok (maybe, not sure) but he certainly can't show it.

At least once last weekend Hillary had the right message (4.00 / 2)
I was struck by the clip of Hillary on CNN playing repeatedly on Saturday, I think, showing her bashing the republicans and Bush administration.  This was the same day that Matt posted about the stupidity of camp Hillary criticizing Obama for being too liberal.  Whatever the surrogates and behind-the-scenes people were doing, at least in the clip CNN chose to focus on, Clinton had exactly the right red-meat-for-democrats message, and perhaps this had some influence among the demographic Bowers points to here.

I pointed this out here.

Hopefully, her success will be noted.


Good Catch (4.00 / 1)
I missed that clip on the news. I will say this though - in the earlier debates Clinton's focus was on the republicans and Bush until Obama and Edwards started their personal attacks and hypocritical attacks about lobbyists. Then she got off message because she had to defend herself.

Now that we are in the media driven states it will be easier to stay on message.

[ Parent ]
Interesting... (4.00 / 1)
Does anyone have a link to the clip? I'd like to see it.

On a side note, was anyone else enormously frustrated that the media uniformly interpreted the Iowa 'change' vote as a desire for a change from the Clintons rather than, I don't know, 7 years of George W. Bush?

[ Parent ]
Causation and correlation (4.00 / 2)

One could make the exact same argument using pretty much any other variable (older women, college educated, etc etc etc). Many of them would behave statistically in the same fashion as the one you picked. 

Just because there is a correlation, it does not mean that one thing caused another.

Furthermore, you are well within the margin of error which in these tiny samples will bigger than the entire poll, which already has +/- 4%. 

So sorry, this is not an insight, but more of a wishful explanation.

Yes (0.00 / 0)
You hit the nail on the head.  Strange too, after such a balanced post and analysis on the variety of the factors that played into the problems with the polls.

Methinks Chris is lacking just a bit of objectivity in this post. 

I do sympathize, however!

[ Parent ]
Exit Polls (0.00 / 0)
Were these the same exit polls that had Obama beating Clinton?

Not sure why we give so much credibility to exit polls that were wrong on election day on the actual vote.  But somehow they are supposed to be right on other things?

Further... the advantage that Clinton has over Obama on the "hate bush" question is probably within the margin of error anyway.  Of course... they don't list a margin of error, which just reduces the credibility of these exit polls even further.

This validates a comment I just made of TalkLeft (0.00 / 0)
where I wrote that if Obama wants to beat Hillary, he needs to shift to the left somewhat and better define himself as a progressive Democrat, as opposed to the centrist one that Hillary clearly is (and sells best as) and he's merely been pretending to be. He doesn't need to drop the "hope" and optimism part--I like that--but he does need to show his progressive stripes more clearly, and lose a bit of the "work with the other side" palaver (which Mr. Donohue of the USCOM make quite clear this week is simply not going to happen).

This would, I think, win him the nomination. Democrats don't want a "go along to get along" centrist, but a (non-angry) fighting progressive. I.e. a cross between the Obama of till now and Edwards. The problem, of course, is that this would potentially hurt him with the center and soft right that he'll need to win the general--especially if McCain wins the nomination. And this would be doubly perilous for Obama since he's presented himself to this segment of the electorate as an optimistic centrist, not a progressive (which I can see why he did, but which still might not have made sense electorally).

He's in a bit of a bind, which I think he's largely responsible for. If he runs too far to the left to win the nomination, he might lose the general. If he stays in the center, winning the general could be moot as he would likely lose the nomination to Hillary. He has a tough needle to thread now, as he tries to retain his crossover support for the general while winning over more Democrats to get the nomination. I think that it can be done, and I think that he can do it, but it's going to be quite difficult. If he can do it, he will be much more deserving of both the nomination and presidency than his is at present.

"Those who stand for nothing fall for anything...Mankind are forever destined to be the dupes of bold & cunning imposture" -- Alexander Hamilton

Been there, stop doing that? (0.00 / 0)
What bothers me is Obama was talking much more about progressive values just before he lost NH.  Now I'm worried he left with the wrong message and will stop doing that.

[ Parent ]
Values vs. policies (4.00 / 2)
They all talk about progressive values, even if they use different rhetoric and style. But Obama's been endorsing centrist policies and politics lately, which failed to positively differentiate him from Edwards among progressives AND from Hillary among centrists. To progressives he wasn't progressive enough, and to centrists he was a less experienced Hillary. I think that he tried to split the difference with his "hope" rhetoric, which might have made a lot of people feel good but when it came to making a choice, just wasn't quite good enough for the kinds of voters that he was trying to appeal to, to vote for him.

I think that right-leaning indies broke for McCain, left-leaning indies broke for Hillary, progressives stuck with Edwards, and centrist Dems broke for Hillary. He was left holding on to too little support among the various constituencies that he was trying to appeal to, to pull it off. And if he wants to win, he's going to have to decide which constituencies he most wants and needs to appeal to, and then do so by better defining his policies and politics. "Hope" is nice, but just isn't going to cut it this year. Voters want a more definite sense of who a candidate is, what they stand for, and how they intend to achieve it.

Time for Barack Obama to let America know who Barack Obama really is.

I.e. less "hope", more substance.

"Those who stand for nothing fall for anything...Mankind are forever destined to be the dupes of bold & cunning imposture" -- Alexander Hamilton

[ Parent ]
Interestting analysis... (0.00 / 0)

.....I think it will be hard for him to do however.

Peace, Health and Prosperity for Everyone.

[ Parent ]
On the other hand, (4.00 / 2)
among those 6% who had a positive opinion of the Bush Administration, Clinton defeated Obama 41% to 29%.

Chris you are great (0.00 / 0)
But this is a real STRETCH...LMAO!

Chris you are great (0.00 / 0)
But this is a real STRETCH...LMAO!

Doesn't make sense to me (4.00 / 1)
I dont' see how someone can be pissed at Bush and think that Clinton would be the best response.  She's the most conservative Democrat in the field--the one most likely to continue his policies.  If you're pissed at Bush, the one thing you don't do is vote for Clinton.

That's what makes politics so frustrating... (0.00 / 0)

............'doesn't make sense...' for blue collar workers to vote for Reagan; they did.

'doesn't make sense.....' for progressives to vote for Obama; they did.

'doesn't make sense...' for voters to vote for Clinton because she's the most populist; they did as Paul's post yesterday shows.

Don't mistake my tone here! I really agree with you on this.

What we are seeing in this primary season doesn't make much, if any, sense at all.

The two ideas that I've seen lately that go some way to explaining things are:

The Sheeple meme...some real truth to that one.

The low-info voter meme...Paul's post points to this one and I really think it explains a lot.

Voters due to laziness, other concerns, stupidity and most importantly the twin factors of the transformation of the fourth estate into the propaganda arm of the nascent and still growing Reich in this country and the dumbing down of our educational system to where 40% of the populace doesn't know that one circuit of the earth around the sun is a year, much less the difference between Hamilton and Jefferson's views on democracy, no longer know who or what they are voting for.

Thus you get wild swings at the polls because...well, no one really knows. There are four or five wildly varying ideas about why  the pollsters were wrong.

Get ready for more of this since the self-destruction of the conservative world-view leaves everyone adrift. The 'center' has spread out to encompass......


Peace, Health and Prosperity for Everyone.

[ Parent ]
Obama Lost Because . . . ? (4.00 / 1)
Did you ever consider that Hillary won? Won because the weather helped her older constituents to get to the polls?  Because she was more right on Social Security than Obama?  Because she's more right on health care?  Because the Clinton team has demonstrated policy acuity in balancing taxes and spending, in helping to keep the economy running? 

Obama is an attractive candidate and a super orator, but he isn't a proven "commodity."

Doc Rock

Does that mean he has to re-write his inaugural address? (0.00 / 0)
Brian Williams sez, of NH voters... (0.00 / 0)
"they generally don't like negativity"



What the #$%& does he know? (0.00 / 0)
According to him Edwards lost to Clinton in IA.

Guy is on a par with Tweety 'Chrissie"; that is, a pure hack.

Peace, Health and Prosperity for Everyone.

[ Parent ]
I don't think Obama can afford to be too angry (4.00 / 1)
I think that BooMan had it right: Obama's success depends on his not being cast as an angry black-identity politician.  Or, as Matthew Yglesias put it, "....Barack Obama can't afford to show the kind of populist outrage John Edwards expresses lest he be deemed a threatening radical, but if he avoids falling into pitfalls of stereotype he winds up getting praised in a somewhat condescending, but still helpful to his political career, manner as 'one of the good ones.'"

Things You Don't Talk About in Polite Company: Religion, Politics, the Occasional Intersection of Both

Oh jeeze Chris (0.00 / 0)
I can believe that the bipartisanship talk turned some Democrats off. But your subgroup here is 62% of the vote and the difference between Obama and Clinton is only five points with a 2.5% margin of error. Obviously who ever won the primary was going to win that group. Mo

It's about WHY Democrats can't stand Bush (4.00 / 1)
If you don't respond viscerally to Obama's message of hope (and I don't), or if you do respond but the buzz wears off,
you'll look for something more substantial.  The pundits and blogosphere hated Clinton's Saturday afternoon Q&A wonkfest--where's the poetry?--but I suspect a lot of voters--after seven years of President Moron--were mightily impressed.  I know I was.


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