BOSTON (CBS) – First, let us praise the pollsters. David Paleologos and his team at the Suffolk University Political Research Center absolutely nailed the outcome of Tuesday night’s New Hampshire primary in their exclusive WBZ-TV/Boston Globe tracking poll, the rise of Pete Buttigieg, the winning rebound of Bernie Sanders, the late surge of Amy Klobuchar, all of it.
Take that, clueless polling critics.
Second, let us pity the speechwriters.
Tuesday night’s speeches were a study in contrasts, from Elizabeth Warren’s gracious but subdued concession to Klobuchar’s adaptation of Sally Field’s famous 1984 “you like me!” Oscar speech to Buttigieg’s sounds-great-but-what-did-he-say-again? address to Sanders’ spot-on Larry David impersonation. But every one of them touched on the same crucial theme – unity, how badly the party needs it to oust the hated incumbent, and how they are the ones who can bring it to fruition.
Easier said than done.
Consider the two top finishers, first in Iowa (we think) and now New Hampshire.
CHECK: NH Primary Results
Sanders and Buttigieg could hardly be more different stylistically, temperamentally or ideologically. Buttigieg is a nice warm bath; Sanders is a red-hot sauna followed by a polar plunge. And the two seem eager to start ripping each other in ways that may prove hard to mend down the road. Buttigieg and his supporters may quickly tire of being described as lapdogs to billionaires, especially since their man is the least wealthy of the major candidates; Bernie and his bros have already made clear how little tolerance they have for being deemed too risky.
Their evolving scorpions-in-a-bottle battle might open a sweet middle path for Klobuchar, whose version of Minnesota Nice apparently doesn’t preclude shredding both men. It’s an old Midwestern saying: never mess with a woman who thinks nothing of simultaneously reducing an aide to tears while wolfing down a salad with a comb.
And while Warren’s primary-night plea for party togetherness certainly sounded sincere, it repeated her chronic campaign blunder of stepping on her own brand. Bad enough that she was the candidate of honest, detailed policy plans until she wasn’t on the health care policy that matters most; even worse is the contradiction of being the indefatigable fight who passionately persists, but would rather die an electoral death that really turn on a major opponent.
Party unity? If the eventual nominee is smart enough to bag all the policy talk once they clinch and focus exclusively on exorcising the incumbent, it’ll come. But while there are plenty of gifted performers in this show, the audience is simply not in the mood for a soothing rendition of “Come Together.”
Just ask Deval Patrick, a gifted crooner of feel-good ballads who was swamped by the write-ins Tuesday night.
And as the New Hampshire winners bask in their triumphs, they should fear the prospect of Jennifer Lopez rising from the judge’s table to seize the mic and show them how it’s done. Waiting in the wings on Super Tuesday is a performer capable of eating all of their fundraising prowess, clever messaging and carefully-cultivated poll numbers for breakfast, and spitting out the shells to spell out his name on their foreheads: M-I-C-H-A-E-L B-L-O-O-M-B-E-R-G.
If you don’t believe me, just look at the polls, and believe them.