The conventional wisdom is that she was widely disparaged by the mainstream media and pundits who derided her somewhat teary moment the day before the vote. In addition, noted male pundits were positively gleeful on air over the prospect of a Clinton defeat. So women took offense and voted for her in greater percentages in New Hampshire than they did in Iowa.
I have several thoughts. First, I think this tack is just as much media overkill as the erroneous polls released a day or two before the New Hampshire vote turned out to be.
The pollsters were wrong; the media were wrong (I, too, was suckered in by those polls showing her more than 10 points behind Barack Obama). But now too many writers are reaching just as far in the other direction to make up for their erroneous expectation of victory for Obama in New Hampshire.
There are two simpler explanations for why Clinton won the votes of women of all ages in New Hampshire but won only the votes of women over 45 in Iowa.
One is that the Iowa caucuses take place in the evening.
"It's the dinner hour, stupid" to bastardize James Carville's now infamous 1992 Clinton campaign mantra.
Of course, women with young children would be unable to take part in representative numbers. The caucuses took place at the same time as they were making and eating dinner and putting the kids to bed, whereas New Hampshire is an all-day affair. Young mothers had more time to get to the polls.
The second explanation is one I touched on in my last post. The Clinton campaign simply did not see the rush of college-age voters, especially women, who turned out in Iowa, and so they did not target that demographic.
In New Hampshire, they did target younger women by increasing public appearances by Chelsea Clinton and adding college venues for her mother. But a top campaign staffer told me three days was probably not enough time to turn things around. In the end, perhaps it turned out to be.
I'm not saying there was no female backlash against alleged media bashing of Clinton. Women in New Hampshire who were not wild about Clinton in the first place may also have felt a tinge of injustice when they saw her beaten in Iowa by a younger, less experienced man. That, too, may have affected their votes. From now on I'll ignore conventional wisdom, and I'll certainly look even more skeptically at poll results.
By Bonnie Erbe