By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Clinton’s unsurprising Mass. victory

I’ve got a short piece up at the Guardian right now on Hillary Clinton’s big win in Massachusetts, which shouldn’t have surprised anyone except those who believe in the mystical power of endorsements.

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No surprises in Mass.


Chris Matthews chills out


  1. Greg Reibman

    Interesting how there’s so much talk about how Kennedy/Kerry couldn’t help Obama, but not a peep about how the Globe/Herald couldn’t help McCain. I guess voters just figured out how they felt on their own.

  2. Dan Kennedy

    Greg: I think everyone is accustomed to the idea that newspaper endorsements don’t mean anything.

  3. Steve

    From the Guardian article: “But what’s most striking about the outcome is that the numbers barely moved. Two weeks ago, a WBZ-TV/SurveyUSA poll showed Clinton with 59% in Massachusetts. Tonight, with most of the vote counted, she’s got 57%.”While I don’t disagree with your conclusions regarding endorsements, I’m not sure the above is evidence of their ineffectiveness. Lots of things have happened in the past two weeks, which may have moved voters one way or another – endorsements are only one factor.On the Democratic party side of things, maybe the difference between a poll just after last week’s debate and a similar poll on Monday might be better evidence of the power of endorsements, but there still would be the power of the candidates’ personal appearances, which probably moved voters more.

  4. Voter1

    Was interesting to me is how much Obama cut into her lead from 3-5 weeks ago. Not too bad when he abandoned the ground operation a week before the vote!

  5. O-FISH-L

    Dan, I agree with you that the endorsements don’t mean much, but wasn’t there a Suffolk University poll over the weekend that had Obama leading in MA? Some even suggested the “turnaround” was because of the celebrity-pol endorsements. I think that’s where the surprise factor comes into play, even if most of the other polls were accurate. I’d love to know who and how Suffolk was polling to be off by 17% just a few days before the election.

  6. Dan Kennedy

    Fish: You are correct, and if I’d had more space and time, I’d have put that in there. But the bottom line is that SurveyUSA had it right all along. I find it interesting that we saw a similar dynamic in New Hampshire, where Clinton held a huge lead for months, appeared to have blown it, and then was able to claim an “upset” victory. I like the way Keith Olbermann described the spin about her Mass. win: “the law of diminishing and then reinflating expectations.”

  7. ben

    What annoyed me was the local TV news folks (channel 7 maybe) noting that it was a win for Menino and a loss for Kerry, Patrick and Kennedy. By the results I saw, Menino’s candidate lost in the city of Boston.

  8. Suldog

    There was an earlier piece with commentary thread, on this site, that had to do with the effects of endorsements. My best guess at that time – and I think you basically agreed, Dan, but correct me if I’m wrong – was that a major endorsement might be worth 1 – 2 %. For a minor-party and/or badly trailing candidate, this might bring a significant increase in his/her overall percentage, but nowhere near enough to make a true difference in the outcome. Endorsements make the difference only in the tightest of races and if the endorsements are weighted extremely heavily towards one candidate.

  9. Tony

    I wonder though. I’ve heard from a number of people in the last week who said that my newspaper’s endorsement of Obama over Clinton influenced their vote and may have helped Obama beat Clinton in Belmont. Of course, the endorsement of “anyone but Romney” didn’t help McCain, Huckabee or Paul either … for obvious reasons.

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