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Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Dewey Defeats Truman!

Oops, they did it again. . .

Both the Associated Press and then Sen. Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign jumped the gun on Super Tuesday, claiming a Clinton victory in Missouri about one hour before the state was won by Sen. Barack Obama:

"In Missouri, Barack Obama outspent Hillary by $300,000 in TV ads," a Clinton campaign memo read, working off the news service's report. "He also benefited from the endorsements of high-profile surrogates across the state such as Representatives Carnahan and Clay, and Senator McCaskill, all of whom actively campaigned for him and appeared in ads on his behalf. Despite these challenges - and with the help of Kansas City Congressman Emanuel Cleaver and Former Majority Leader Dick Gephardt - Hillary Clinton won this important toss-up state."

Earlier in the evening the wire service had predicted that Clinton would prevail in the state. And, as the memo demonstrated, the Clinton campaign saw Missouri as a demonstration of its ability to fend off Obama's momentum in those states in which he had big-name support.

But, like elections before (see: Gore v. Bush, presidential election 2000), the results were declared before they were finalized. And as the numbers trickled in, news outlets began tepidly declaring an "apparent" Obama win.

At the time of print there were unconfirmed accounts that the AP was retracting its earlier report. And as the Politico noted, apparently similar electoral confusion happened during Obama supporter, Sen. Claire McCaskill's 2006 election night win.

Also, as Marc Ambinder reports, according to Missouri state law the primary loser can request a recount when the margin of victory is less than one percent, approximately Obama's margin.

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