Wednesday, January 30, 2008

The Curse of "Momentum"

Lately, the word momentum has been used and repeated by political pundits, commentators and bloggers so often that you think it is some kind of magical force. On the contrary, momentum defied all conventional wisdom in this election cycle and is proving to be a curse.

After winning the Iowa caucuses, Obama was riding high on the wave of momentum going into New Hampshire with polls showing double digit leads. He lost by 3%. With two consecutive primary wins (three if you count MI), the Clinton campaign thought momentum would bring her to a close second place in South Carolina despite trailing in the polls. Obama defeated Clinton as expected, far from close, but by a shocking 28%. Coupled with the Kennedy endorsements, mainstream media claimed momentum was blowing Obama’s way. However, in the renegade Florida primary Tuesday night, momentum again stubbornly failed to come through. Clinton beat Obama by 17% and won almost every demographic group in the exit polls. (Think what you may of Florida’s primary, it is hard to discount the 1.5 million Democratic voters.)

Given its track record, I am not sure I want momentum on my side. Perhaps it is trying to prove a point – no candidate is entitled or has exclusive rights to it. To the candidates, may momentum, umm..not be with you.

1 comment:

Eric said...

I don't know if I agree. I don't think that momentum was to blame here... it was a particularly sneaky end-run around the rules of the game as set out by the DNC.

I don't think that Florida should count in the least in your look at momentum. From the exit polls, the majority of voters decided long before the primary (and went for HRC), and the rest (excluding those that decided the day of, after HRC announced she was coming to the state, arguably against the rules) went for Obama. It is hard to blame momentum when momentum couldn't affect the end result.