There aren’t many things that connect Barack Obama to Gordon Brown. But Obama has just gone and made the same mistake in New Hampshire that Brown made at last year’s Labour conference. He believed the polls, and the hype, and he forgot the golden rule of politics: when deciding on your strategy, think, think twice, then downplay expectations.
1. Obama and his team looked cocky before the caucus. “The Obama Wave”: where did that come from? Even the famous Iowa speech sounds very hubristic now. Before Iowa, a two-point victory for Hilary in New Hampshire would have been a victory for Obama, one he could rightfully say was within the margin of error (as this post by the director of polling at ABC makes clear). Now, it looks like a big loss.
2. The print media went to town on an Obama win, and now they look like the biggest bunch of idiots this side of an Arsenal home game. Some will take it on the chin (Gerard Baker in The Times: grace in error). The rest will be looking at avenge their humiliation. At the moment, they’re turning on the pollsters. Will they also go for Obama and his over-confident team? That’s what happened to Brown; he’s still paying for his error.
Next week: why David Cameron is the new Hilary Clinton. (Hint: it’s all in the hair).