Guests: Michael Eric Dyson, Dee Dee Myers, Peter Hart, Larry Sabato, Steve McMahon, Jennifer Donahue, Roger Simon, Jonathan Capehart
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Sex and politics. What the hell happened in New Hampshire?
Let‘s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I‘m Chris Matthews. Welcome to HARDBALL. Well, the amazing race rages with two new frontrunners. Big Mac is back. John McCain captures New Hampshire, beating the daylights out of Mitt Romney.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I‘m past the age when I can claim the noun “kid,” no matter what adjective precedes it.
MCCAIN: But tonight, we sure showed them what a comeback looks like.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: And bigger still, Hillary Clinton makes an incredible comeback, stunning pollsters with a big win over Barack Obama.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And I want especially to thank New Hampshire. Over the last week, I listened to you, and in the process, I found my own voice.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
CLINTON: I felt like we all spoke from our hearts, and I am so gratified that you responded. Now, together, let‘s give America the kind of comeback that New Hampshire has just given me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: But what role did race and sex, or gender, I should say, play in the Hillary win up in New Hampshire? We‘ll talk possible deception in the 2008 race in a moment. And was Hillary‘s crying a key factor with women voters? More on this later.
And the biggest losers? Well, Mitt Romney and John Edwards—will they keep running? Will they stay in the running? We‘ll look at the primaries and caucuses just ahead with our “Politics Fix.”
I‘d like to know more about, personally, what went wrong with the polling up in New Hampshire last night, but I don‘t want to take anything away from the guts and moxie of Hillary Clinton. She showed in the last days of the campaign something special about herself. I saw two of her performances, and they showed a tremendous amount of nerve and outright courage on her part. There were people out there dancing for her scalp. She knew it, but she kept on making her case, trying and retrying to find the right words to bring enough voters to her side to win the primary. It was a gutsy, as I said, extremely impressive performance.
Now to our guests and to the debate—debates of which I love to be a part. Dee Dee Myers is the former White House press secretary. She was press secretary for President Bill Clinton. Michael Eric Dyson is a professor at Georgetown University and an Obama supporter. And Patrick J. Buchanan is an MSNBC political analyst and a Pat Buchanan supporter.
MATTHEWS: Let me start with Michael Eric Dyson. We have seen an astounding upset of the polls.
ERIC MICHAEL DYSON, OBAMA SUPPORTER: Correct.
MATTHEWS: If you look at the polls on the eve of the election, the polls had Obama ahead between 5 and 13 points. He lost to Hillary Clinton by 3. The average of the polls going in was 8 points for him.
MATTHEWS: And people were talking about double digits, if you look at the internal polls. Well, lo and behold, we watched all night long, a consistent lead for Hillary Clinton, about 3 points throughout the evening. There wasn‘t anything tricky about that voter list. They voted about the same throughout the state all night.
MATTHEWS: How do we explain it?
DYSON: Well, several things. First of all, the crying game, as Neil Jordan made a film, may have had an impact. Not the intent of Hillary Clinton. I think that was a sincere expression of her emotion...
MATTHEWS: So you‘re being sarcastic by saying “game,” but you don‘t mean “game.”
DYSON: Well, no, no. It connected to voters in a very serious way. Number two, I think the reality is that she worked her behind off, so to speak, to really get those votes out. And thirdly, we can‘t deny the Tom Bradley effect. As you know, Tom Bradley was the mayor...
MATTHEWS: Explain it. Start at the beginning.
DYSON: Tom Bradley was the mayor of Los Angeles running for national office...
DEE DEE MYERS, FORMER CLINTON WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECY: Governor of California.
DYSON: Yes, yes. He was mayor of Los Angeles, running for governor of California. And people said by an overwhelming, you know, majority, Yes, we‘re going to vote for him, yes, he‘s going to—and everybody predicted he would win. And then when they went into the polls, into the booth, they did not vote for him.
So here, I think, with Obama, the possibility—I‘m not saying it‘s a necessity, I‘m not even saying it‘s a probability, but the possibility that New Hampshire voters, after seeing Obama‘s swagger, so to speak, from his confidence because of his Iowa victory, may have rejected him, repudiated him, or at least had second thoughts or become skeptical about pulling the lever, so to speak, for a black man.
MATTHEWS: Last night, Chuck Todd was explaining the fact that only—the only time you really see a complete displacement of numbers, where there‘s a complete lack of connection between what we‘re looking at in scientific polling and the completely different result, there‘s usually an ethnic factor.
And I want to go over that race. In 1992, the California governor‘s race, Tom Bradley—and I‘m sure Dee Dee knew all about it—the African-American mayor of Los Angeles—he had been a pretty conservative, tough police chief, by the way. He was no liberal, by most standards. He was running 7 points ahead of Republican candidate for governor George Deukmejian, 49 to 42, but on election night, Bradley lost by a point.
We saw the same thing down here in ‘89 in the New York mayor‘s race. Actually up in New York, the preelection poll had David Dinkins ahead of Giuliani by 14 points. He won by 2 points. In Virginia—I‘ll never forget this race—Doug Wilder was a favorite of about, God, 11 points. He won by one.
In North Carolina, Harvey Gantt, another favorite to beat Jesse Helms, lost surprisingly.
Pat Buchanan, what do you make—it is the exception when the polls are completely wrong. You‘re in the business. Do you discount race as a factor, where people didn‘t want to tell pollsters they weren‘t going to vote for the African-American candidate?
PAT BUCHANAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: I don‘t totally discount it, Chris, but I think there‘s a lot of special pleading here going on right now. All those races you mentioned were general election races. This was a race inside the Democratic Party. Hillary Clinton benefited from a surge of women to he candidacy. Edwards collapsed. The Bradley effect cannot explain why Edwards did so poorly when the pollsters said he was going to beat Hillary Clinton.
I think the piling on by the media and the gloating over her tears and all this people (INAUDIBLE) coming out of Iowa that you‘re supposed to coronate Barack Obama...
BUCHANAN: ... caused a tremendous backlash among New Hampshire Democrats and independents, saying, You‘re not going to impose your fellow on us. We‘ll choose our own. And the women said, We‘re going to go in there and pick up Hillary Rodham Clinton and stop what‘s being done to her.
MATTHEWS: Well, you sound like Alan Alda, Pat.
MATTHEWS: I mean, where‘s this new sensitivity towards women‘s aspirations coming from?
DYSON: Well, that could be true.
MATTHEWS: Yes. Go ahead, Pat.
BUCHANAN: All right. Look, I think that the Obama spinners and the media are trying to explain away why they got egg all over their face. And by doing this, you are tarnishing Hillary‘s victory and you are tarnishing the Democratic...
MATTHEWS: That is not what I‘m doing here. That is not what I‘m doing. I‘m trying to explain...
BUCHANAN: Well, whoever is attacking this, Chris, whoever is says it was racism is tarnishing the Democratic Party...
MATTHEWS: Oh, OK.
BUCHANAN: ... and Hillary‘s victory.
MATTHEWS: ... first of all, everything we‘re talking about right now will be tested in future elections because we‘re going to have a lot of these primaries and caucuses. Dee Dee, get in here. Talk about this. You remember the Tom Bradley campaign.
MYERS: I do.
MATTHEWS: Talk. Whatever you think.
MYERS: There‘s no question that people went into the—that they were embarrassed to tell pollsters that they wouldn‘t vote for an African-American, were uncomfortable doing that, and so there was this giant disparity between what the campaign expected and what actually happened. I think Pat makes a good point. This is a Democratic primary. It‘s a different universe. And I don‘t know whether—you know, we hope against hope that that‘s not true in a Democratic primary. I don‘t think we know yet, and I think it‘s something we have to be conscious of.
I think Pat‘s right on the money, though. I think women stood up, and they—even women who weren‘t for her two days ago, who were lukewarm toward her, saw what they saw as a piling on. Just they—people were enjoying dancing prematurely on her political grave, and women said, Enough. Not now, not like this. Fifty-seven percent of voters, Democratic voters, yesterday were women, and 50 percent of them voted for Hillary Clinton. I mean, she got more votes from women than the other three candidates in that primary combined. That‘s what...
DYSON: No, no. I think...
DYSON: But look, it presupposes two things. First of all, God forbid that within the Democratic Party that we all love and admire, certain elements could foster her certain ambitions...
MYERS: ... not yet, but of course...
DYSON: ... but that number two, that women themselves in the competition between race and gender—and God forbid that it should become down to that because life is more complex than that and we live our lives simultaneously and not in serial—in succession.
But here‘s the point, that I think that with that overwhelming lead that Barack Obama took into New Hampshire, all of these other factors are very critical, but I don‘t think race can be discounted. We hope that that‘s not the central defining moment here, but as Pat Buchanan trying to dismiss it is typical reassertion of a kind of perspective that discounts at all the reality that race could play a role.
BUCHANAN: Well, you know, look...
DYSON: He never acknowledges the reality that race could play a role significantly in shaping the viewpoints of people about this great candidate!
BUCHANAN: Professor, you‘re working your theme, and I understand that. I was up in New Hampshire with my wife and sister, who‘s written a very anti-Hillary book, and we talked on Monday about how horrible it was and the beating Hillary was taking and how offensive it was, and Edwards was saying she‘s not tough enough. And that was their reaction, two very conservative women, none of whom would ever vote for Hillary. If they‘re reacting that way, I can imagine how the women who kind of like Hillary in the Democratic Party reaction, and it doesn‘t surprise me.
When you saw that figure on women, that is what did it. And you‘re trying to tarnish her victory and get, frankly, the media off the hook because it‘s got egg all over its face, by attributing it to racism...
DYSON: No. Not at all!
BUCHANAN: ... without any hard evidence whatsoever.
DYSON: I‘m glad—I‘m glad—I‘m glad Pat Buchanan is coming to the defense of those who are battered because enough minorities, women and African-Americans, Latinos, Hispanics...
DYSON: ... and a whole bunch of other Arabs in this country and Jews and Italians and Poles have been battered. The reality is this, that in a particular race for a heated debate over a very powerful victory like the presidency, certainly race comes into play. I‘m not suggesting that it is the central line here. I‘m suggesting that it plays a role and that despite the fact that women—I agree that Hillary was being pounced on in a very serious and severe fashion, and women identify with her. But that doesn‘t mean that women who identify with Hillary Clinton...
BUCHANAN: All right...
DYSON: ... are not also motivated by racial considerations.
BUCHANAN: All right, Professor...
DYSON: It‘s not either/or.
BUCHANAN: Professor, would you not agree that racial considerations have entered the equation to make Barack Obama so beloved and heroic, He‘s our savior, and all this other nonsense...
BUCHANAN: ... we‘ve been getting...
DYSON: Not at all.
BUCHANAN: Race had nothing to do with that? Come on!
DYSON: No, no, no!
DYSON: Barack Obama has overcome despite the racial realities.
BUCHANAN: Oh, cut it out!
DYSON: Barack Obama has had to walk into the room, proving that he is highly intelligent, highly literate, capable of transcending any tribal loyalties to articulate a transcendent vision...
BUCHANAN: All right, tell me...
DYSON: ... that speaks to the entire universe of political reality!
BUCHANAN: Tell me why he would get 95 percent of the black vote in a Republican-Democratic election? Is that—race got nothing to do with that?
DYSON: No, no, no. Barack Obama has not been running...
MYERS: We‘re all Democrats.
DYSON: ... as a race man. Barack Obama has been running as a candidate of the Democratic Party who is concerned about the American polity.
BUCHANAN: Look, Professor, you cannot blind yourself to reality. He has not been running as a race man. He‘s done a good job. He‘s stayed away from the Jena nonsense, and he‘s done well. But it is undeniable...
DYSON: ... he‘s not running as a race man?
BUCHANAN: Liberals are supporting him because he‘s a black American.
MATTHEWS: OK, can I—I want to ask something, Pat. You know, we
all tried—Dee Dee, we—let‘s look at the polling and talk about the
women‘s piece of this thing, not just the race but the gender, the sex
part. If you look at all the polling that was taken right through Monday -
and what happen on Monday, of course, was that dramatic moment where Hillary got a bit verklempt, and it was—let‘s take a look at this. A lot of people think this had a lot of impact. Now, this event occurred at the end of most of the polling, so in a way, we could argue the polling is not in conflict with what happened here. Let‘s watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLINTON: ... you know, passionately believe it was the right thing to do. You know, I have so many opportunities from this country, I just don‘t want to see us fall backwards, you know? So you know, this is very personal for me. It‘s not just political. It‘s not just public. I see what‘s happening, and we have to reverse it. And some people think elections are a game. They think it‘s, like, who‘s up or who‘s down. It‘s about our country. It‘s about our kids‘ futures. And it‘s really about all of us together. You know, some of us put ourselves out there and do this against some pretty difficult odds. And we do it, each one of us, because we care about our country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DYSON: Excuse me for saying this, that maybe that obvious to many, but let‘s just put it on the table. With Bill Clinton saying that Barack Obama is the biggest fairy tale to come along in a long time, saying that you‘re rolling the dice when you vote for him, and now Hillary Clinton, through her noblesse oblige, implying that some people get it right, some people get it wrong, through her tears, she is really expressing a horrendous viewpoint, that is that she has a kind of copyright on what the goodness of the country should be and that therefore, Barack Obama is somehow...
MATTHEWS: Dee Dee?
MYERS: You‘re conflating two issues here. What happened was people watched that—and one of the realities of technology is that you can go on YouTube, the thing gets repeated—people saw it for themselves and they judged for themselves. And what they judged was that that was a genuine moment of—you know, she‘s tired. She‘s under a lot of pressure. People are beating her up. Women don‘t like watching people being mean to other people. And they said to themselves, I‘m going to—I‘m going to take a stand on this. I am—I‘m going to take a stand and say, This does not end, not like this, not now. And they voted for her. And I don‘t think it was...
MYERS: I don‘t think it was an anti-Obama moment.
MATTHEWS: Let‘s not argue (INAUDIBLE) You‘re not denying that the last day, a lot of women, maybe older women—just a minute...
DYSON: Not at all.
MATTHEWS: ... decided that this woman was getting beat the heck out of, and they‘re going to do something about it. You don‘t deny that.
DYSON: Not at all.
MATTHEWS: Pat, do you deny that there are men out there or women out there who were embarrassed to tell a pollster they weren‘t going to vote for an African-American?
BUCHANAN: Sure, and there are people who will say, I vote for him, for the same reason. Look, race helps Obama...
MATTHEWS: In other words, you can‘t trust people...
BUCHANAN: There‘s no doubt about it.
MATTHEWS: Ethnicity is a hard thing for people to admit.
MYERS: I think—I think the expectation—I think the—the sense of fait accompli hurt Obama, in many ways.
MATTHEWS: Yes, that it was over.
MYERS: That it was over. So I think one thing that happened was we saw more independents voting for McCain than might otherwise have done so. And I think a lot of people said, Wait a minute. This is too fast, too soon. We need to take a step back here...
MATTHEWS: OK, let me...
MYERS: ... race needs to go on.
MATTHEWS: ... just because everybody at home has a different point of view. We all do, certainly. We‘re trying to figure out what went wrong with the polling. Obviously, as Pat says, egg on our face because we rely on these polls. By the way, every local TV station does, every candidate does, every marketing company does. We rely on polls. We rely on—decide how much money we make, we decide—we rely on ratings, OK?
Older women showed up in unusually high numbers. Older women tended to vote for Hillary Clinton, unusually high numbers. Now, some people say it was the weather. Dee Dee has a much more poignant point, solidarity and compassion, right?
MYERS: There‘s no question about it.
MATTHEWS: Just a minute...
BUCHANAN: I think, Chris...
MATTHEWS: A lot of this happened—the key event we‘re talking about, Hillary‘s verklempt moment, which I do believe was honest. I don‘t buy it was about the little people. It may have been just about her own predicament...
MATTHEWS: ... which was she‘s facing hell here and humiliation—occurred so late in the polling that the polling didn‘t pick it up. It didn‘t pick up the impact on (INAUDIBLE) Let‘s face it, right before you go to vote, you watch TV that night. You‘d have to be a numbskull not to watch the news the night before an election because you‘re going to vote, so you‘re going to say, What‘s the latest news? The latest news was Hillary got emotional. That obviously struck at the heart of a lot of women and they went out and voted the next day.
DYSON: I agree with all that. Look, I agree with everything you just said. All I‘m suggesting is that—that even through her tears, I‘m saying the sentiment that was being expressed, because of her, you know, tiredness or verklempt moment, as you talk about, was also the articulation of an idea that I find troublesome, that is to suggest that, I am the only person, I‘m going to get it right, he‘s going to get it wrong, and there‘s an implicit racial subtext...
DYSON: There‘s a racial subtext there!
DYSON: Don‘t let a black man run this country...
MATTHEWS: You think that‘s what she‘s saying?
DYSON: No, no, not her! I‘m saying—I‘m saying...
MYERS: She would have said the same thing about John Edwards, and it‘s one of the things people do not like about Mrs. Clinton, but I don‘t think that was directed exclusively at Barack.
DYSON: Rolling the dice, playing loose and fast—I‘m suggesting to you those are code words that black people are used to when people are trying to suggest to something to somebody that they are not quite able to step up to the plate.
MATTHEWS: You know what...
DYSON: I‘m not saying it was...
MATTHEWS: A lot of people at home are watching this argument, say, Why are you arguing about this? Because in American life, we‘re still arguing over role models for men and women in this country. We‘re talking about a woman being president of the United States for the first time. And race sits on us, OK? If we can get it off our face someday, fine, but it sits on us. I‘m with Michael because I think it‘s a big part of the way we think in this country. You don‘t, Pat, because you‘re—you‘re a liberal kind of guy. You‘re sort of, you know, Alan Alda on women‘s issues...
BUCHANAN: I‘m with Dee Dee, the sisterhood beat the brotherhood.
MATTHEWS: OK. OK. Thank you, sir. You may well be right. What a great discussion. It is so American, unfortunately. Anyway, Dee Dee Myers, Michael Eric Dyson, Professor...
DYSON: And you‘re crossing ideological lines!
MATTHEWS: ... Patrick J. Buchanan.
Up next, we‘re going to talk more about this and why the polls got it wrong—look, ladies and gentlemen, we got it wrong—with two experts who know the history and understand the numbers of these kinds of things.
You‘re watching HARDBALL—not that these three don‘t. You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: My voice is a little hoarse. My eyes are a little bleary. My back is a little sore.
But my spirit is strong.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
OBAMA: And I am ready to bring about change in America.
How about you?
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
So, what accounts for Hillary Clinton‘s victory in New Hampshire? What we don‘t know is why the victory is so much different in fact than the polling ahead of time, including what we call the exit polls were telling us. Obama was ahead in those polls by an average of eight points. And even our own exit polls that were taken as people came out of the voting showed him ahead.
So, what is going on here?
Larry Sabato is the director of the University of Virginia‘s Center For Politics. And Peter Hart is a Democratic pollster, a famous one, I must say, and co-director of NBC News/”Wall Street Journal” survey.
So, both of you gentlemen try to get the facts straight. You are not special pleaders. You try to understand it. And all I can tell you both, in all honesty, if people wonder where I have been coming from, I was up in New Hampshire. I had never seen Barack Obama in person. I had seen him on TV.
I have never, ever heard a speech like he gave. And I walked out of
that room at the Palace Theatre in Manchester, that old movie theater that
is now a theater, I guess, and I got to tell you—start with you, Larry -
I have never heard anything like it. I saw the crowd rising in crescendo emotion. I had never seen anything like it.
So, I did believe the polls. I thought something was happening up there. What went wrong in the polling?
LARRY SABATO, DIRECTOR, UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA CENTER FOR POLITICS: I
think there are a lot of reasons, Chris. And I think we‘re going to be studying this for a long time, many factors.
And Peter can talk better than I can about modeling. The turnout models in the polls may have been off and so on. I do think—I listened to your prior discussion—I do think it is very naive, given American history, to just automatically dismiss the racial voting idea or issue or theory before it is investigated.
There is some evidence, some telltale evidence, that it might have been one of several factors involved in this upset.
MATTHEWS: How do you detect that? If you had to do an autopsy on this polling, how would you find out if that is the case?
SABATO: Well, one thing I...
MATTHEWS: I did hear today by one somebody—a reporter who told me there is some precinct out there where you can actually see there is an absolute difference, a wide discrepancy between what people said in the exit polls in a very small voting area and what actually happened. People lied to the pollsters.
SABATO: Well, yes. Remember, there have been a lot of well-documented cases. I documented one of them myself for Doug Wilder‘s campaign for governor of Virginia in 1989, when he was ahead by more than 10 points ahead of the election. And, on Election Day, the exit poll had him ahead by 10 points. He won by a fraction of 1 percent. And it was very clearly racial voting and there was a lot of evidence to support it.
With Barack Obama, you mentioned yourself, the exit poll had Obama up, I believe, five points. He lost by two or three, so that was a swing of seven or eight.
Look, the exit poll was right on the money with the Republican contest. All I am saying is, there is enough superficial, circumstantial evidence to suggest that, among the theories to explain Obama‘s upset loss, you must include racial voting, at least to start out with.
PETER HART, DEMOCRATIC POLLSTER: Well, I think that you can look at racial voting. I think you can also look at bias against having a Mormon, or bias against an old person, or bias against a woman.
Bias is part of this. But what really comes down, in my estimation, is, they stopped polling too soon. You had the...
MATTHEWS: I am talking about the exit polls.
But—but my point would be, I don‘t know enough about the exit polls and whether their samples were right in how they had it. So, I don‘t want to...
MATTHEWS: Well, it could be—let‘s talk about another possibility...
MATTHEWS: ... besides the fact that white people lied, which has happened in the past, in Virginia, in California, in North Carolina. I am sure it has happened in a lot of places, where you have an African-American on the ticket...
MATTHEWS: ... and white people just don‘t want to—with Harold Washington maybe—where people just don‘t want to say to pollsters that they are voting for the white guy, when the pollster knows they normally vote for the Democrat, and, in this case, won‘t because they are black. I can understand the embarrassment.
But let‘s talk about women, because there was an interesting thing here where a lot of older women—I don‘t mean old—older women, 45 and older, showed up that normally don‘t show up. Could that have shown that the sample was wrong, even in the exit polls?
HART: Absolutely, because, essentially, it was a huge turnout among women.
And my point would be, it was the Howard Dean scream moment. In this case, it was the Hillary Clinton mist moment. And that was played...
And, essentially, that was played 10,000 times. And I think that moved 10,000 women, because it touched people in a lot of different ways. And it is the women‘s vote that really moved the most. And the fact is, they turned out in heavier numbers. And the switch from the late polls that were done all was coming mainly from the women.
MATTHEWS: Well, we have three guys here, not a woman. I wish we could get back to Dee Dee on this. And we will ask a woman later in the show.
It seems to me that older women have put up with a lot more crap than younger women, because there‘s a lot more rules today. There‘s a lot more opportunity because of Title IX and all kind of good things in the workplace, that women don‘t have to take the crap they used to right now.
MATTHEWS: Could it be that that is one reason why older women say, I have been treated the way Hillary has been treated; I don‘t like it?
Any woman who has been passed over for a job promotion, any woman who has earned less than a man, any woman that has been discriminated in any way, when Hillary Clinton stood up and expressed those viewpoints, people can say, I am getting behind her.
And that is what I believe happened. I don‘t want to say race is no part of this.
HART: But I just think, if you are trying to understand what went on, it is the fact of stopping polling too soon. It is like what happened in 1948.
MATTHEWS: Larry, how about the gender part here?
SABATO: Can I—can I just jump in here, Chris?
MATTHEWS: Talk about the—yes, sure, you are in it.
No, Chris, I think Peter is absolutely right. I think they stopped polling too quickly. I think women explain part of this. I think young people were overestimated, partly because of the tremendous young turnout in Iowa. All these things are factors.
All I am suggesting is that this is a complicated phenomenon. All of the polls were wrong by a wide margin. And this is going to be a complicated explanation. It is wrong to say, it is just this over here or it is just that over there.
MATTHEWS: Boy, I will tell you, people who are watching and wonder why we‘re doing this, it is because we live by polls. And I think they are getting better all the time.
I mean, I have watched these polls a couple nights before an election, and they are just about on the nail, right, Peter?
And it is a very difficult thing. As I said to Ann Selzer, who is with the Iowa Poll, you have to have steady hands and a strong stomach to do this business.
MATTHEWS: OK, Peter, well, you have got those.
MATTHEWS: Thank you very much, Larry Sabato at the UVA, and Peter Hart with the NBC News/”Wall Street Journal” poll.
Up next: The HARDBALL “Big Number” tonight underscores just how wide open this presidential race remains.
You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
So, what else is new out there?
Well, the big question right now is whether or not Howard Wolfson‘s sweater helped Hillary win last night.
MATTHEWS: When I got a look at that sweater, I thought he was wearing a poncho or a blanket.
In the midst of all this exciting presidential stuff, by the way—look at that sweater—let‘s not forget our good friend Senator Larry Craig. In a new appeal‘s brief to the court, Craig‘s lawyers argue that he is not guilty of disorderly conduct because his actions didn‘t involve multiple victims. They say the law specifically requires that the conduct alarm or anger others, plural.
So, let‘s get the arithmetic figured here. To be guilty of disorderly conduct, you have to attempt to interfere, in this case, with someone in the next stall, but there has to be more than one person in the next stall in order to be charged with disorderly conduct. So, I guess the man with the self-proclaimed wide stance walks.
And now it is time for the HARDBALL “Big Number” tonight.
Iowa is behind us. New Hampshire is behind us. And the bottom line is that this presidential race is getting wide open. Anything can happen. So many candidates have at least now some chance of winning the White House, Clinton certainly in the running, up in the lead in fact. Obama, Edwards, Huckabee, McCain, and Romney, and Giuliani, and Thompson as well, we think they are all in the running right now. None of them are out of this race right now.
Eight candidates still in the fight, eight candidates in real contention to replace George W. Bush—tonight‘s “Big Number.”
Up next: With Iowa and New Hampshire out of the way, the race goes national. We talk strategy. What can the second-place finishers last night do to turn things around? We are looking at Barack Obama and Mitt Romney.
And we will be back with a special edition of HARDBALL tonight at 11:00 Eastern. That‘s 11:00 tonight, another edition of HARDBALL, brand-new show.
You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
MELISSA LEE, CNBC CORRESPONDENT: I‘m Melissa Lee with your CNBC “Market Wrap.”
A late-day rally pushing stocks higher, after a volatile session—the Dow Jones industrial average gained 146 points, the S&P 500 up almost 19, the Nasdaq up by 34.
After the closing bell, Alcoa reported fourth-quarter earnings that beat analyst estimates. Revenue fell from a year ago, but also topped estimates. In after-hours trading, Alcoa shares are up about 4 percent.
Countrywide Financial, the nation‘s biggest mortgage lender, announced, foreclosures and late payments surged in December. Countrywide shares fell another 6 percent today, after plunging 27 percent yesterday.
And oil prices fell, as a larger-than-expected drop in U.S. stockpiles was offset by an increase in gasoline inventories. Crude fell 66 cents in New York trading, closing at $95.67 a barrel.
And Target announcing CEO Bob Ulrich will retire on May 1, to be replaced by president Gregg Steinhafel.
That‘s the latest from CNBC, America‘s business channel—now back to
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN EDWARDS (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I want to be absolutely clear to all of you who have been devoted to this cause, and I want to be clear to the 99 percent of Americans who have not yet had the chance to have their voices heard, that I am in this race to the convention, that I intend to be the nominee of my party.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
MITT ROMNEY ®, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I will strengthen America as your president. When I come back here next November, I will fight across this nation, on to Michigan, and South Carolina, and Florida, and Nevada, and states after that.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, they look right, don‘t they?
Welcome back to HARDBALL. That was John Edwards and, of course, Mitt Romney trying to put a positive spin on a tough night last night.
Do these guys still have a chance in this race? What, if anything, could they do to stage a comeback of their own?
Steve McMahon is a Democratic strategist. And John Feehery is a Republican.
I want you to start on the Republican side. We will flip this a little bit.
Steve, if you are Mitt Romney, he gave a great speech last night.
STEVE MCMAHON, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Yes, he did.
MATTHEWS: Is he still alive?
MCMAHON: I think he is.
And the reason I think he is, is because, if you look at—there are
there are three paths in the Republican primary. There‘s strength, which Giuliani is dominating, but I‘m not sure he‘s going to be relevant. There‘s experience, which John McCain has and owns.
And then there is change. And what I think you saw in Mitt Romney‘s campaign over the last few days is, he has kind of gone back to the message that he started with, which was: I am the change candidate.
And, clearly, this is a change election. And it is the place where he fits naturally. It‘s the place where he has some authenticity. He is not an authentic conservative. He should be talking about change. He should be inspiring people. He should be offering aspirational visions for the future. And—and I think he would be in a much better place. And he seems to be going back there.
MATTHEWS: Do the American people want a politician to come in who is smarter than the president, or seems to be smarter than the current president, who can fix things, or do they want somebody to take us to a new place? Do they want something more dramatic than a business fixer?
MCMAHON: Well, probably, I think any these candidates are smarter than the president. But that‘s just a partisan comment.
MATTHEWS: No, somebody to do something dramatic.
MCMAHON: No, no, I...
MATTHEWS: Do they want a...
MCMAHON: Well, I think what—I think what Barack Obama and, to some degree, Mike Huckabee are offering people is—is an aspirational, positive message that is basically grounded in the fact that America can do anything, if we work together.
And, so—and—and I believe that, when Mitt Romney was on his game earlier in this—in this campaign, that‘s what he was doing. And then he tried to out-conservative Rudy Giuliani and tat didn‘t get him anywhere, just got him into a tangle with Mike Huckabee. If goes back to that, he can regain his strength. If he wins in Michigan, it‘s a new ball game.
MATTHEWS: What amazes me is they all want to be like President Bush and everybody know that—the Republicans are loyal people. They‘re behind him, but they‘re not thrilled by the way things are going with him. Why do you want to be him?
Let me ask you, Terry, this is a question about this other thing. What do you make of the Democrat John Edwards? He looks cute. He looks good. He‘s got a great wife. He has a nice populist campaign going. Is he finished?
FEEHERY: Well, he has a lot of resources. I think what he is hoping is that one of the other two drops out, so he can be the binary choice. Right now, he is splitting the anti-Hillary vote, but he can survive—and he‘s got the resources to do it—and one of those two—he was kind of hoping that Hillary would drop out and then he could be the choice against Obama and come in there as the more reasonable vote.
Now, I don‘t know. I think if he sticks with it, and someone else drops out, he can sneak in. But it is a long shot for him right now.
MATTHEWS: But really, what Barack Obama is hoping is that this guy gets out so he can take on Hillary one-on-one and get all of the anti-Hillary people, right, Steve?
MCMAHON: That‘s exactly right. Right now, if you look at it, John Edwards is Hillary Clinton‘s best friend because he is helping to split the change vote. And he‘s frankly the biggest impediment that Barack Obama has right now to getting the nomination. If he could consolidate the votes that he has with those votes that John Edwards has, it would be a much different race right now. But as long as John Edwards hangs in there—and that speech last night indicated he is going to hang in there for a good long time—that is a real problem for Barack Obama.
MATTHEWS: And keep splitting the anti-Hillary vote.
MCMAHON: Absolutely. John Edwards said change won Iowa and change did win. But as long as John Edwards is standing there, change is going to be split between two candidates and experience and strength and leadership, and all the things that Hillary offers—Senator Clinton offers is going to be right there for her to take.
FEEHERY: Think about it, if Edwards was not in the race last night, Obama would have killed Hillary.
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you about the Republicans. It seems to me that it is very hard for your party to find a leader right now. You have Rudy waiting in the wings. You have Fred Thompson talking about South Carolina as his big chance. You‘ve got McCain who won last night. You‘ve got Romney who comes in second last night and also in Iowa. And then you have Mike Huckabee who won in Iowa. I don‘t see a front-runner in that pack.
FEEHERY: I look at it as a big poker game and Huckabee went all in in Iowa and won. McCain went all in in New Hampshire. Now Romney‘s going all in and I think he will win Michigan. And for Fred Thompson, he has to go all in in South Carolina to keep in. And I think Rudy has the strategy. He‘s the guy who said, listen, I‘m not going to play in these early things, I‘m going to play in Florida. He said it early on and he hasn‘t used a lot of his resources. I think he has the one strategy—
MATTHEWS: You could have five winners in five contests the way you are going.
FEEHERY: Absolutely, and for someone like Rudy Giuliani, who has the target of the big states, he is well positioned. I think Huckabee also is well positioned, because he will get a lot of the southern states. And it could be a convention.
MCMAHON: Rudy has slipped behind in Florida. His Florida strategy was predicated on the fact that he would be in the lead in Florida and he is now not in the lead. So it is going to be hard for him to get any attention over the next three weeks, because Mike Huckabee and Mitt Romney and John McCain are going to have all of it.
FEEHERY: I‘ll tell you, I was in Florida for the holidays, and he is running a lot of ads and he has worked hard. The last polls I saw, Rudy is up.
MATTHEWS: Can Romney survive a defeat in Michigan?
FEEHERY: It depends upon how much of his personal fortune he wants to waste.
MATTHEWS: Can he survive a loss?
FEEHERY: I don‘t think he can.
MCMAHON: I think he becomes John Edwards at that point, an attractive candidate with nowhere to go.
MATTHEWS: OK, thank you Steve McMahon and John Feehery.
Up next, one day after New Hampshire and with both races wide open, we have your politics fix on what happened last night, and where things are headed in the next week or so. This is HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. Well, Iowa said Obama and Huckabee. Now New Hampshire said Clinton just last night and McCain. Are we in for a long fight now? Let‘s bring in the round table. Roger Simon, one of the top political columnists around is with “Politico.” Jonathan Capehart writes editorials for the “Washington Post” here in town. And Jennifer Donahue is a senior adviser for the New Hampshire Institute of Politics.
Jennifer, I want to start with you and try—I‘m wide open on this. I have no pre-conception. Like everyone else, I was stunned at 5:30ish last night. I was passed a piece of paper just for guidance that told me that Barack Obama was going to win a significant victory. This was based upon the polling of people going—sorry, coming out of the booth, having voted.
Everybody says we have egg on our face. Let me tell you something, garbage in, garbage out. If people don‘t give the right answers we aren‘t going to know anything. But there is also the possibility of a mistake here, that they didn‘t estimate correctly the number of older women and other groups. What do make of what went wrong in the predictions last night?
JENNIFER DONAHUE, THE NEW HAMPSHIRE INSTITUTE OF POLITICS: Well, Chris, I think it reflects what happened with the polls taken leading up to Tuesday, you know, done by every, every organization, which is that the bottom line is, in New Hampshire, that vote is taken so seriously—and I‘m not really exaggerating; the responsibility is huge. I saw people I know at my polling place who took an hour or over an hour in that polling place making a final decision.
And if people had looked closely at the final polls leading up to the people‘s vote, they would see that 40 percent of the Democrats were undecided. So people were misreading the polls. They weren‘t looking at that so key number that we know is historically accurate.
MATTHEWS: But what about the number of people—
DONAHUE: We knew that people hadn‘t made the final decision.
MATTHEWS: No. I‘m talking about the poll of people coming out of the booths.
DONAHUE: Yes, I saw the kids polling people coming out of the booth. They were all over the place. They were like people handing out flyers, Chris. They were not organized. They were not disciplined. They were not professionals. They were not experts. I think these exit polls are a bit misleading.
ROGER SIMON, “THE POLITICO”: I think the take away is that we should stop letting our coverage be driven by polls. They get it wrong more than we like to admit. The fact is, examine what an exit poll is—
MATTHEWS: No, the Republican polling was absolutely on target. The Iowa polling was on target.
SIMON: So why was this off?
MATTHEWS: That is what I am trying to find out from you.
MATTHEWS: Was it gender? Was there some surprising fact that people were not honest about when they were polled?
SIMON: I‘m not buying the whole race argument. I have been going to New Hampshire for 30 years. It is not a racist state. It‘s not a clan state. It‘s not a skinhead state. The people there are no more racist than the people in Iowa, where Barack Obama won by eight percentage points.
You know, lying, as you say, to a pollster is not a felony. You have waited in line, as Jennifer said, maybe an hour. It is a secret ballot in America and a guy sticks a piece of paper in your face and says, reveal your secret; who did you vote for. Maybe you will tell him the opposite of what you did, because it is none of his business who you voted for.
MATTHEWS: I like this.
DONAHUE: Roger is dead on. People consider it an insult up here. It is considered an insult up her. Chris, it is considered an insult in New Hampshire.
MATTHEWS: Well, we have to learn the social morays of New Hampshire.
DONAHUE: Well, people don‘t reveal their vote. They don‘t talk about who they voted for. They talk about the process.
MATTHEWS: Why don‘t we just keep the secret who won the primary?
SIMON: Why don‘t we wait for the votes to be counted? Why do we have to—
MATTHEWS: Because the Americans like to know who‘s going to win the Super Bowl, who‘s got to the healthy quarterback.
SIMON: The media likes to know. Americans are willing to wait for the votes to be counted.
MATTHEWS: Have you polled them.
MATTHEWS: One more round on the factor here. We have seen history—
JONATHAN CAPEHART, “THE WASHINGTON POST”: No, Chris, I don‘t think race was a big issue.
MATTHEWS: It‘s not another Tom Bradley race? It‘s not another Doug Wilder race, not another Harvey Gantt race, right? Why?
CAPEHART: Because I think there are a whole lot of other issues going on. As was said before, when people went into the—I think one of the last polls, 40 percent of the people were undecided before they made—cast their vote. Also, we have found out that women went for Hillary. And that is what put her over the top.
MATTHEWS: But why were the polls taken of people coming out of the booths so off?
CAPEHART: I don‘t know. I think Jill had the answer for that. But I do not buy this snap judgment that race was the issue, that the polls were off. I just don‘t buy it. If we were four or five—if we were—
MATTHEWS: To be fair to those who have made that judgment, I have chatted with people who do this for a living, as early as 1:30 in the morning last night, checking with the people who do these polls, to find out what explains the discrepancy. That was the explanation. I got that again last night before that on the air. I am trying to find out the answer. This is dramatic.
We‘re not going to talk about this after tonight. But I‘ll tell you, if we start seeing problems with polling that we haven‘t seen before I am going to be looking for culprits.
SIMON: One other caveat, if the exit polls got the result wrong, why do we think they got the demographics right. The fact is we don‘t know how many women voted for Hillary. We don‘t know how many late-deciders voted for Barack. We don‘t know how many young people voted for whomever. The fact is we don‘t know. And we will never know.
MATTHEWS: The Republican polling was absolutely dead on because there were no women in the race and there was no African-American in the race. It was, in other words, a typical election. Go ahead, Jennifer.
DONAHUE: You are on to something, and it is very, very valid to question it, Chris. I think what you are poking at here that we have to look at is why are polling organizations over-reaching in the way they reflect their results. I don‘t think there is any vast conspiracy about the exit poll surge or anything except that they looked really young to me.
What is going on with these exit poll folks? I was analyzing for WMUR, the ABC affiliate down the street last night. They were delaying the projected winner from what we saw on AP through what we could get through the exit polling. I was looking at where the college cities would go, because those were the bases for Barack Obama. That was who was supposed to turn out for him. Those kids are still on break, Chris, because the other states forced us to have our primary three days early. They‘re not back yet, and neither are the professors, and neither is the staff, and that affected the outcome for Barack Obama.
So what you have to look at is why did AP do that? Why aren‘t the polling mechanisms themselves being honest.
MATTHEWS: -- Barack might have won. We‘ll be right back with the round table with more of the politics—let‘s talk about the other side, where this discrepancy, the White man Republican party had no such problem, not that there‘s anything wrong with that.
MATTHEWS: We‘re back with the round table for the politics fix. We only have a minute and a half. I want to talk about the Republicans. John, this is so tough. Can you see, as the grand vizier here of the editorial page—can you see at least a couple front-runners down the road. Who is likely to project themselves into the lead in the next couple of weeks?
CAPEHART: Look, we saw Huckabee win Iowa, we saw McCain win New Hampshire. Maybe we‘ll see Romney win Michigan. Maybe we‘ll see McCain or Thompson win South Carolina. Then Rudy‘s grand strategy of winning Florida and have everyone focus on him, that might work. I don‘t know. Not even the Magic Eight Ball knows. That‘s what makes this so much fun.
SIMON: The winner is going to be the least unacceptable Republican in a field where all of them have major problems with the base vote of the Republican party.
MATTHEWS: Jennifer, does New Hampshire pick a winner?
DONAHUE: I think they believe in John McCain. I think he finally got the voters to trust him again. It took him until six weeks ago to close the deal in New Hampshire. But he took too more than his fair share, for Obama‘s sake. He took too many independents out of the race. And Hillary Clinton won with the base and not many independents left. So if other states do that, you know—look at the other states coming up. Some of those have indies in their races. I think those indies will want to play on the Democratic side, so you‘re going to continue to see a suppressed and low Republican base going one way or the other, but probably with fewer independents than here.
MATTHEWS: He got enough indies last night. That you very much Roger Simon, Jonathan Capehart and Jennifer Donahue. Join us again at 11:00 p.m. tonight for a special edition of HARDBALL. That‘s a live show. Right now, it‘s time for “TUCKER.”
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