Hillary[‘s] Soldiers On

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With the confirmation that the Iowa Democratic caucuses will be held especially early this cycle, NBC reports that Hillary Clinton is adding 100 more staffers in Iowa — and Ambinder notes that they’re collecting some of these staffers via Craigslist. Insert “Now Bill’s not the only one setting up casual encounters” joke here.

In further Hillary news, Gallup’s latest poll suggests that the senator is finally making inroads with the voting demographic that she had been struggling with the most: her own peers.

In the summer surveys, they preferred Obama over Clinton, 35 percent to 32 percent. Now those women strongly back Clinton over Obama, 47 percent to 24 percent.

This is excellent news for Hillary, but there’s really nothing in the polling data that would tell us why it’s happening. Instead, we get Democratic pollsters spouting pretty mushy theories about how appearing on “The View [has] rehabilitated her image as a strong leader with educated women.” And there’s excellent bit of ersatz scholarship: “Clinton’s gender introduced a new variable to the wine/beer axis.” Of course, I believe it was PoincarĂ© who first charted the limits of the wine/beer axis.

We all do this kind of bulls–t theorizing (it’s fun and sometimes useful), but I was struck in this article by the apparent lack of curiosity for data that would bolster (or disprove) the statements of campaign flacks. Campaign pollster Mark Penn, for instance, explains Clinton’s improvement this way:

The campaign debate has shifted this fall from experience to the candidates’ issue agendas, such as the universal health care plan that Clinton unveiled last month… “the plans for change really then reached right into the Obama constituency.”

See, that doesn’t have to be a just theory; polling organizations have been asking about “change” versus “experience” all cycle long, and buried somewhere in that data would be responses showing if “downscale” voters respond more to the “experience” message and upscale voters respond to “change.” What I know for sure is that a recent Gallup poll showed that among ALL Democrats, when asked in a September poll whether experience is more important than change, “seventy three percent choose change, while only 26% pick experience.” If that poll’s respondents accurately reflected the class demographics of Democratic party, it suggests that “change” is important to Democrats across the board. What would be even more helpful is some kind of polling on whether Clinton’s health care plan is even considered to be of a piece with “change.” Wouldn’t it tend to resonate as something that reflected Hillary’s experience?

This is all pretty deep in the weeds, so I’ll just offer my own mushy theory that happily cuts away the demographic hairsplitting: It could be that Hillary’s winning over more affluent Democrats because she’s winning in general, and because winning is even more important to Democratic voters than either experience or change. (I’ll see if I can find some data on that.)