The Expectations Game: Point To Clinton's Wolfson

By Big Tent Democrat

As well as this campaign has gone for Barack Obama, the one field of play where his team has been consistently outmaneuvered by the Clinton team has been on playing the expectations game. Todd Beeton shows Axelrod taking it on the chin from Howard Wolfson this morning on Face The Nation:

Mr. WOLFSON: The Obama strategy here is essentially to debate in states where they're behind, but not debate in states where they're ahead.

Mr. AXELROD: That's nonsense.

Mr. WOLFSON: Well, you're debating in Ohio and Texas...

Mr. AXELROD: That's nonsense.

Mr. WOLFSON: ...where you're behind, but you don't want to debate in Wisconsin, where you're ahead. That's flat--that's certainly the case.

Mr. AXELROD: Well, first of all, I don't know whether we're ahead or behind in Wisconsin, but I appreciate the encouragement.

Mr. WOLFSON: Well, polls say that you're ahead. Polls say that you're ahead.

Mr. AXELROD: It's a very close race in Wisconsin, but the point is, Howard...

Mr. WOLFSON: Polls say you're ahead

A double whammy from Wolfson - Obama is afraid to debate and he is expected to win big in Wisconsin. Well played by Howard Wolfson.

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    Hillary's team is absolutely much better (5.00 / 2) (#2)
    by andgarden on Sun Feb 17, 2008 at 04:00:22 PM EST
    at playing underdog. It helps them when they actually are.

    Hillary's campaign has played (none / 0) (#1)
    by maritza on Sun Feb 17, 2008 at 03:58:34 PM EST
    the expectations game the best.  This is probably one of the few things in her campaign that she has done better than Obama's campaign.

    Part of the problem for Obama is that in many of the polls they have him ahead which hurts him.

    Expectations...since Obama finally met with (none / 0) (#3)
    by Teresa on Sun Feb 17, 2008 at 04:12:11 PM EST
    Edwards today, should we expect an endorsement soon?

    On topic, I think Obama wins Wisconsin pretty big but I'm hoping his support will be concentrated in enough areas that overall, the delegate count stays close.

    Edwards (none / 0) (#11)
    by tek on Sun Feb 17, 2008 at 07:17:20 PM EST
    also met with Hillary so I don't see how anyone jumps to that this is the precursor to an endorsement. If you read the whole article it says that John and Elizabeth Edwards think Obama is not ready to be president and they are still annoyed at the way Obama made fun of John Edwards efforts to help the poor. That's the troubling thing about Obama, he's more like a neocon than a liberal.

    They like Hillary a lot after their meetings, but John slammed her when he was still in and he's afraid he'll look like a hypocrite if he endorses her now.


    Wolfson rules (none / 0) (#4)
    by cygnus on Sun Feb 17, 2008 at 04:22:40 PM EST
    He always makes Axelrod look like a chump.

    Its only because Axelrod is a chump (5.00 / 1) (#5)
    by ajain on Sun Feb 17, 2008 at 04:25:11 PM EST
    The Expectations Game (none / 0) (#7)
    by AF on Sun Feb 17, 2008 at 04:47:00 PM EST
    I agree that the Clinton campaign has consistently won the expectations game.  Unfortunately, the expectations game doesn't appear to be working this year.

    If I understand correctly, the first step of the expectations game is to have the results portrayed in the press as being more favorable to your candidate than they are because they "exceed expectations." This part of the game the Clintons have won handily, NH and Super Tuesday being the key examples.  

    But the ultimate goal isn't a good story line.  Rather, it is to build momentum by "exceeding expectations" and win future contests based on that momentum.  And that part hasn't worked out as well.  The campaign has not been able to turn expectations-game victories into actual victories.  
    And it's not just Clinton -- nobody seems to have gained all that much from the expectations game this primary season.

    In short the expectations game has failed to live up to expectations.

    It doesn't seem to be an expectations game... (5.00 / 2) (#8)
    by frankly0 on Sun Feb 17, 2008 at 05:13:57 PM EST
    ...it seems to be almost entirely a demographics game in this campaign, on both sides.

    For all the talk about "momentum" and "expectations", virtually all electoral outcomes seem to be quite predictable based on underlying demographics and culture local to the states involved.

    What's interesting is how, though Obama has tried to portray himself as the candidate of "momentum" from the first primary, that momentum has never seemed to go beyond what the underlying demographics and local cultures support. In fact, Obama has been even or slightly ahead of Hillary in pledged delegates literally from Day One in Iowa. If there's any period in which he can be said to have momentum, such as it is, it would be now, when, in fact, it's also the demographics that greatly favor him.

    My guess is that when the demographics start to favor Hillary once again, as in TX, OH, and eventually PA, the vote will simply swing back pretty dramatically in her favor. Of course, it may be that the sense of "momentum" Obama builds up now will greatly dampen Hillary's numbers in those three very large states. But I just doubt it.

    The interesting thing is that if Hillary in fact closes the gap significantly Mar 4 and afterwards, it is she who would more rightly claim the title of the "momentum" candidate -- which might make it pretty hard for superdelegates to choose Obama instead.


    They are winning (none / 0) (#9)
    by jdj on Sun Feb 17, 2008 at 05:28:57 PM EST
    at the wrong game.

    How so? (none / 0) (#10)
    by Marvin42 on Sun Feb 17, 2008 at 05:32:19 PM EST
    So far they have drawn to a tie so far against a "movement." I'd say that is actually pretty good.

    Obama leads right now (none / 0) (#12)
    by jdj on Sun Feb 17, 2008 at 10:47:19 PM EST
    both in pop vote and pledged delegates.