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Political Peaking Dilemma

A week ago in this space I talked about the mainstream media's premature anointment of Sen. Hillary Clinton as the Democratic presidential nominee. Later in the week, although I didn't write about it, I wondered whether it was possible she was peaking too soon.

This past weekend, my sentiments were echoed by the go-to guy of Iowa political reporters, David Yepsen of the Des Moines Register. The paper released polling data showing Clinton and Republican Mitt Romney as front-runners among likely Iowa caucusgoers. Yepsen wrote:

That's bad. Huh? Isn't it good to be king?... Not in Iowa caucus fights where the key to success is beating the expectations of the political community for how you'll do on caucus night. The poll means political and media people will start expecting Clinton and Romney to win in the state.

Lest I be horribly wrong come next spring, let me again state for the record that I'm not saying Clinton won't win her party's presidential nomination. I'm just saying it's far too early for the MSM to declare her the victor and tell the other candidates to pack up and go home.

Also, some caveats about Iowa caucusgoer polls. Iowans don't even know yet when they're holding their caucuses, which traditionally take place in the dead of winter. This is the year when everything's changing, remember, because everyone wants to go early. And caucusgoers are exceptionally difficult to poll accurately.

So Clinton will now be fighting both the "expectations" game and the renewed zeal of media attacks that come whenever someone is perceived as having the crown just millimeters above his or her head.

By Bonnie Erbe