Thursday, January 10, 2008

ENOUGH ALREADY: New Hampshire Conspiracy Theories

In the wake of Hillary Clinton's narrow victory in New Hampshire Tuesday night, a small but vocal faction of Obama bloggers has been espousing theories that the New Hampshire election was fixed. This post is to kindly suggest to those people, in the spirit of the Obama campaign, to please drop the issue and focus on the challenges that await us in the coming weeks.

Most of these theories center around the supposed "hackability" of the Diebold voting machines used in approximately 81 percent of New Hampshire precincts. Others criticize the lack of an adequate supply of ballots. Regardless of the supposed source of the "conspiracy," the arguments are based on the idea that Obama could not possibly have held such a wide lead in the polls, only to come in second.

While I disagree with the widespread use of electronic voting and am frustrated by the lack of preparation and adequate ballots, ultimately these conspiracy theories work against the principles that the Obama campaign is based on--most specifically, positive politics that celebrate our shared love of country instead of quarreling over our superficial differences.

For those Obama supporters who cling to the idea that New Hampshire was rigged, here is a swift reality check:

  1. Polls are not always right, and in fact are frequently wrong.

  2. The Clinton campaign absolutely needed the New Hampshire win, or else their run would have been all but over. Her campaign staff is experienced in the old ways of Washington--hence the five day mudslinging campaign by Senator Clinton and former President Clinton. Despite such desperate tactics, including some unprecedented political theater, she barely squeezed out a win.

  3. Despite the fact that Clinton won by 3 points, both she and Obama walked away with an equal number of delegates, with 9 each.

It's important to remember that Obama remains the front runner, with a first place and a second place finish, and more delegates than any other Democratic candidate.

Obama supporters looking for a conspiracy in New Hampshire may have the best of intentions. Certainly the entire country is on the alert for fraud after the disastrous 2000 election. Yet we must remember that this campaign requires a different kind of politics, and requires a different type of supporter. We can count on Clinton and her supporters to go negative, digging in the past for anything that might give them a fighting chance.

We're all eager to see Obama score the nomination, but in the meantime, let's stay positive, and focused on the historic month ahead of us.