Could Hillary Clinton wind up with egg on her face after her “victory” speech last night? The egg may have missed, but not for lack of trying by Hillary. She won six precincts on coin flips, and only hours later did Democrats confirm what Hillary claimed before all the votes were tabulated:
Hillary Clinton beat Bernie Sanders by just 0.2% in Iowa caucus, final Democratic results show https://t.co/lz3iGYtYsb
— BBC Breaking News (@BBCBreaking) February 2, 2016
To declare victory on that basis is to heavily rely on the literal meaning of the term. It could have been worse, though, as today’s Morning Joe panel notes. Had the final tally gone the other direction, it would have been just another data point to add to Hillary’s “disingenuousness,” and evidence of her cluelessness (via the Free Beacon):
Scarborough criticized Clinton on Morning Joe for announcing that she won Iowa while the race was deadlocked between her and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt), with no clear victor.
“It seems to me,” Scarborough began, “if you’re Hillary Clinton and you have trouble with people trusting you, trusting your honesty, trusting your integrity, if you go out and declare something that you [Chuck Todd] and Brian Williams and everybody else on TV is saying is nonsense, and then you go out on the stage and you pretend that you have won and you hug everybody and you go, ‘Thank you. Oh boy, that was close,’ while the political gun is pointed like right at the middle of your campaign, doesn’t that feed into the already existing perception that she’s disingenuous at best?”
“That’s what made the decision to declare before the networks did so risky,” Todd said in response. “It would have been a disaster, though, had the numbers gone the other way.”
Todd also said that Iowa caucus officials could still be double-checking the results, and it still may be possible for Sanders to be declared the winner.
“I get why they – well, I don’t get why they [Hillary Clinton’s campaign] did it,” Todd added. “I guess they thought Sanders was going to hurry up and declare victory before them. That’s the only thing I could think of.”
It would have been this cycle’s Dean Scream. Given Hillary’s curiously shouted speech last night, it came close anyway.
The speech still could backfire on Hillary anyway. Matt Lauer called Iowa a “near death experience for the once presumptive nominee”:
NBC’s First Read team calls this more of a loss than a win. One big reason — winning campaigns don’t start talking about shake-ups:
Yes, a win is a win for the Clinton campaign. And yes, that razor-thin margin points to Sanders’ limitations in states other than Iowa, New Hampshire and Vermont. But there are three reasons why this apparent victory for Clinton feels more like a loss. One, there’s already controversy, with the Sanders camp alleging that due to Iowa Democratic Party mismanagement, reports were late coming in from about 90 precincts, per NBC’s Danny Freeman. And in an interview with NBC’s Kasie Hunt, Sanders didn’t rule out challenging the results. Two, winning essentially by one vote (err, five state delegate equivalents) instead of 1 percentage point, denied Clinton the opportunity to use ANY win as momentum heading into New Hampshire, where Sanders enjoys a sizable lead.
And three, if you don’t want to take our word for it, here’s the attitude inside Clinton Land. “Clinton advisers … said they did not know if a significant staff shakeup was at hand, but they said that the Clintons were disappointed with Monday night’s result and wanted to ensure that her organization, political messaging and communications strategy were in better shape for the contests to come,” the New York Times writes.
On the other hand, how much damage can Hillary do to herself by being disingenuous? To quote a party leader … What difference, at this point, does it make?