If it's in the News, it's in our Polls. Public opinion polling since 2003.

 

And the Winner Is…

A Commentary by Susan Estrich

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Hillary.

Hillary? Hillary? The woman who was declared dead, the staff that was declared fired, the campaign that was pronounced over and done and broke?

This is what makes politics fun.

When pundits speak and pollsters predict, and then people vote, and the pundits are wrong, and the polls are backward, and the people prove it.

When you're counted out and put down, and you get up and come back.

Hillary Clinton was supposed to lose. She was supposed to lose badly. This was supposed to be a wave. It looked like a wave. It felt like a wave. It wasn't.

It's a horse race.

Women did not turn on Hillary. They did not decide that electing the first woman president didn't matter. They didn't punish Hillary for crying, punish Bill for complaining or dance on the grave of the Clinton years. They went to the polls and voted for the woman many people love to hate, but who many women, in the end, were not willing to see go down.

This is what happens when obituaries are written for people who are still out there fighting.

Hillary Clinton is no longer inevitable. That was gone with Iowa.

But Barack Obama isn't inevitable either. Hillary Clinton is not dead, not beaten, not history.

I said a long time ago -- and it may be the only thing I've said that I'll stand by throughout this campaign -- that the fight between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama would make whoever wins it a better candidate to take on the Republicans in the fall.

I think New Hampshire proves the truth of that.

Hillary Clinton is already a better candidate. If she learns the real lesson of Iowa and New Hampshire, the lesson that she is not inevitable, that people want change, that she has to fight for what she believes in and not be afraid to show who she is, she will be a more likeable, more electable, more genuine candidate than the woman who began this race.

Barack Obama is a better candidate, and he will be a better nominee, if that is what he ultimately is, for having to beat Hillary in a real race, and not one limited to a few early states. It took Obama until December of this year to come up with the second date, to sharpen his edge, focus his message, show his toughness. But that isn't enough. He has to give substance to the "change" he is promising, give credence to the claim of experience he has offered, and move to the third date, to the real relationship with voters. Had he won New Hampshire, it would have been easy for him to sink back, pull back, rely on his vision, fill in the blanks with platitudes. Now he'll have to do more than that, and more than that is what it will take to win.

As Barack Obama left the stage, the music played Stevie Wonder singing "Signed, Sealed, Delivered." Nothing is signed, sealed and delivered in this one. This is the music of freedom. It's noisy and unpredictable, but it's also joyous and energizing.

Hillary has found her voice. Obama has found his base. The country has a contest worth watching and two candidates deserving of our attention.

Rasmussen Reports is a media company specializing in the collection, publication and distribution of public opinion information.

We conduct public opinion polls on a variety of topics to inform our audience on events in the news and other topics of interest. To ensure editorial control and independence, we pay for the polls ourselves and generate revenue through the sale of subscriptions, sponsorships, and advertising. Nightly polling on politics, business and lifestyle topics provides the content to update the Rasmussen Reports web site many times each day. If it's in the news, it's in our polls. Additionally, the data drives a daily update newsletter and various media outlets across the country.

Some information, including the Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll and commentaries are available for free to the general public. Subscriptions are available for $3.95 a month or 34.95 a year that provide subscribers with exclusive access to more than 20 stories per week on upcoming elections, consumer confidence, and issues that affect us all. For those who are really into the numbers, Platinum Members can review demographic crosstabs and a full history of our data.

To learn more about our methodology, click here.