Left: photo from New York Magazine.
I wasn't going to write anything about Hillary's so-called meltdown, including her now-legendary teary moment, until the New Hampshire primary was over. If the girlie-tears hurt her campaign, that would be a pretty predictable story.
But they didn't. They DIDN'T! I'm actually quite stunned.
On Politico.com, Mike Allen writes:
It would seem many Democratic votes were undecided until fairly late. The tears were definitely a factor, in that case:
Senator Clinton on "Good Morning America," from Chappaqua, on whether the teary moment in Portsmouth made a difference with older women, who went for her 57 percent: "Well, I think it could well have been. Certainly people mentioned it to me."
"WHO'S CRYIN' NOW?" asks the New York Daily News. "Hillary slows Obama Express with stunning N.H. victory."
What does it mean that shedding a few tears helped Hillary? Would similar tears help a male candidate? Is it because of her ice-queen persona?
AP on the exit poll: "The New York senator went from narrowly losing the women's vote in Iowa to Barack Obama to swamping him in New Hampshire among females, 46 percent to 34 percent. ... Independents were a strength for Obama, the young senator from Illinois, who won 41 percent of them in both Iowa and New Hampshire. But while Clinton attracted less than one in five of them in Iowa, she garnered nearly a third of independents in New Hampshire, eating into his advantage. ... People who chose their candidate in the final three days were also kinder to Clinton in New Hampshire, where she and Obama each got more than a third of their vote. In Iowa, the late-deciders had favored Obama by 33 percent to 22 percent."
Frankly, I found the tears rather calculated, although my co-workers thought she just looked tired and frazzled. A female caller on local talk-radio said that Hillary has always seemed guarded and finally appeared emotionally accessible, ending with the statement, "You just can't trust a woman who holds her emotions in. Hillary finally looked human!" Interesting that men are expected to hold THEIRS in, but a woman politician who does the same, is seen as calculating and guarded in a way that a man is not. I found the tears calculated, whereas it appears most people find her usual presentation calculated, and the tears genuine. (I just find her very wonky and somewhat boring.)
Pat Buchanan (who won the GOP New Hampshire primary in 1996), commenting on MSNBC, believes that the Iowa/New Hampshire early-primary rivalry also made a difference; people in New Hampshire will often vote contrary to Iowa voters, in an "Oh, yeah?!?" sorta way. Also, they habitually prefer underdogs, and Hillary shedding tears obviously tapped into that.
Domenico Montanaro at FIRST READ, writes:
Here’s the question that has to be on everyone’s minds: Did Clinton tearing up on Monday change the dynamics of the race? One thing is for sure -- women flocked to her in droves. The fact is, Clinton partisans had just as little clue about their actual chances as the rest of us. They are pointing to the choking up moment, as well to the ABC debate in which Edwards ganged up on her. We noted yesterday the anecdotal evidence from our mini-focus group of professional Democratic women, who were not happy with how quickly this race was ending. Well, apparently, these anecdotes were telling. Clinton pointedly noted in her victory speech that New Hampshire helped her "find her voice." The more emotionally open Clinton is probably the Clinton we'll see for the rest of this primary. Are we looking at a battle between Clinton and her army of women versus Obama and his army of independent crossover voting men?Again, I repeat, I am stunned the tears helped. And it was women who made the difference. Is this a feminist moment? I'm not sure.
Real or calculated? You decide.