The Spin Contest

By Jeremy Barr

In presidential primary politics, almost equally important as actually winning primary contests is spinning the results to look like you have won. If you didn’t win the contest, it’s because the other side was forced to put more time and money into it.

Another trick of the trade is lowering expectations before a primary contest. If you win, it’s a huge victory. If you lose, it’s what you expected and had prepared for.

Throughout this campaign Hillary Clinton has truly been the sultan of spin, labeling Massachusetts as an upset victory despite the fact that Clinton was favored to win the state in the majority of polls. In Louisiana and other recent primary contests, the Clinton campaign has explained their losses by saying that these states were Obama’s territory. Although there is some truth to that, a loss is a loss.

No matter how effective it may be at times, the basic assumption behind political spin is that you can essentially trick your audience (in this case the electorate) into thinking that you are in better shape than you actually are. In this election, the people have shown that they aren’t exactly buying it. After Super Tuesday, it was the Obama campaign who gained momentum (and the fundraising dollars that come with it) despite Hillary’s claim to victory.

In the coming weeks and months it will be interesting to see who will be doing the spinning. If Obama keeps winning primary contests as he has done recently, I think it’s pretty clear that the Clinton machine will be working at full speed.


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