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Hillary's Campaign Is Soooooo Pitiful!

Over on the Stump, Noam's frequently noted the theory that voters don't really want Hillary to win, but they don't want to see her lose, either -- and if that theory's true, they probably particularly don't want to see her go out in a humiliating way. I don't think this front page New York Times story does Obama much good:

[A]fter 30 minutes of cold-calling, the [Hillary] volunteers, a mix of soft-spoken professionals and grizzled unionists, were beginning to wilt from the rejections. “Oh really?” one woman at the phone bank was overheard saying again and again. “Even though he’s only been in the Senate three years? Well I’m sorry you feel that way.”

Not far away, a similar phone-banking session was taking place at a campaign office for Senator Barack Obama of Illinois, but the task at hand was much different.There, callers were trying to work their way through a list of people who were eager to volunteer but had been waiting days for an assignment. Some of the 100 or so names had been collected during an Obama appearance the previous night that drew 6,000 people to the Cleveland Convention Center. “Our rallies fill themselves,” Ann Dailey, a worker, said with satisfaction. Ms. Dailey bolted to answer a ringing telephone.

Two things are at work here: If this juxtaposition does represent an accurate summary of how the Clinton and Obama camps of phone-bankers are operating, then the Obama phone-bankers have their heads on a lot straighter, since pretty much everybody agrees that the job, at this stage in the game, is turning out your ardent supporters, not wasting time pinging people who couldn't care less.

But the juxtaposition doesn't seem all that telling to me -- it sounds more like some anecdotes were cherry-picked to dramatize a poor-pathetic-Hillary point. Every campaign suffers "rejections" when they make their phone calls. In South Carolina I watched some Huckabee volunteers making calls to a list of their "sure thing" supporters. One woman hung up the phone, dismayed, and said the person she reached had said "I'm sorry, I'm dead" and hung up on her. But I bet the "I'm dead" person went on to vote for Huckabee, anyway. I'm don't think you can tell that much by watching a phone bank. The Times lede feels like a pile-on.

--Eve Fairbanks