How Hillary won and other unwritten campaign victory stories.

Dubious and far-fetched ideas.
Oct. 31 2008 4:31 PM

How Hillary Won

And other unwritten campaign victory stories.

Hillary Clinton. Click image to expand.
What a Hillary win might have looked like

No matter who wins Tuesday, within 48 hours, the newsmagazines will publish special issues explaining how he did it. That's right—even as you read this, reporters and editors for major national publications are working under the assumption that [your candidate here] lost! But that doesn't mean they're biased. It just means that they're planning ahead. Which got us to wondering: When a candidate loses, what happens to the story about how that candidate won? Below are a few stories that will never see the light of print.

How Hillary Won
Hillary Clinton's historic victory over John McCain was due largely to unprecedented turnout among women, who resented McCain's frequent use of the phrase "lipstick on a pig"—which, according to polls, many voters saw as a reference to Clinton. Meanwhile, McCain's selection for vice president, a little-known African-American police lieutenant from Bowie, Md., backfired, as the officer failed to attract disaffected African-Americans after Clinton's victory over Barack Obama. Clinton's victory followed a hard-fought primary, in which Democratic insurgent Obama racked up hundreds of delegates but ultimately faltered after Florida and Michigan were counted in full. Obama was also hampered by his association with the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, who rejected Obama's attempt to denounce him and launched a national "Damn America, Vote Obama" bus tour.

How Romney Won
It was one of the biggest reversals in election history: Mitt Romney beat Barack Obama in all 50 states. The collapse of the credit market was initially expected to help Obama, who promised a clean break from eight years of Republican economic policies. But Romney's business acumen, plus his new campaign slogan—"Money for Everyone"—gave him a boost among cash-strapped voters. Ultimately, Romney's decision to suspend his campaign and buy the U.S. Treasury sealed his victory.

How Huckabee Won
Mike Huckabee's victory can only be called miraculous. In February, pundits dismissed a Huckabee win as mathematically impossible. But by early March, McCain's lead had narrowed to 40 delegates. By late March, they were even. News media and official campaign delegate-counters were baffled. "He's not even winning states," said NBC's Chuck Todd at the time. "But he's still getting all their delegates." At one point, CNN's John King marveled at how his hands felt "guided" on the touch screen. Likewise, last night's tally showed Barack Obama winning 46 out of 50 states, yet according to every count, Huckabee somehow won more electoral votes.

Advertisement

How Edwards Won
John Edwards' path to victory began with a stunning biographical video that aired during the Democratic National Convention, which depicted the candidate as a caring father, husband, and trial lawyer. The video and its sequels, produced by then-unheralded campaign consultant Rielle Hunter, became hugely popular on YouTube. Edwards has already said that he will allow Hunter "unprecedented access" to his administration and will post raw footage on her Web site.

How Paul Won
Ron Paul's victory over Barack Obama was made possible by a little-noticed rider Paul attached to a defense spending bill in September, which allowed voters to cast their ballots online. While Obama won an impressive 60 million votes, Paul racked up 7.18 x 1016 votes, more than all candidates in every past presidential election combined. In his acceptance speech, which Paul decided to let his supporters write by wiki, he said, "Tonight, Barack Obama got epic fail pwnage because he's a wangnut noob. w00t!"

How Giuliani Won
Rudy Giuliani can thank Osama Bin Laden for his victory over Barack Obama. When the most wanted terrorist alive released a new video in late October, the former mayor of New York City instantly recognized his surroundings as the basement of a Chelsea nightclub. Giuliani then led federal authorities to the hot spot, where he personally tackled Bin Laden. Footage of the raid was aired endlessly in the campaign's closing days, and the Giuliani campaign even bought a 30-minute block on Election Eve devoted to a play-by-play analysis of the incident.

How Gravel Won
Call it the first postmodern presidential campaign. Mike Gravel became the first person ever to win the presidency without uttering a single word at an election rally, interview, or debate. The strategy was adopted after the success of an early Gravel ad in which the candidate simply stared into the camera. The campaign's most memorable moment took place at the Democratic Convention in Denver, where a crowd of more than 90,000 sat in rapt attention as Gravel held the podium for 37 minutes while the party platform slowly scrolled across the large screen behind him. Voters said they preferred Gravel's cold stare to John McCain's health care plan by a 2-to-1 margin.

TODAY IN SLATE

Frame Game

Hard Knocks

I was hit by a teacher in an East Texas public school. It taught me nothing.

Republicans Like Scott Walker Are Building Campaigns Around Problems That Don’t Exist

How Can We Investigate Potential Dangers of Fracking Without Being Alarmist?

The Best Way to Organize Your Fridge

If You’re Outraged by the NFL, Follow This Satirical Blowhard on Twitter

Video

Hidden Messages in Corporate Logos

Subtle cues from FedEx, Amazon, and others.

Sports Nut

Giving Up on Goodell

How the NFL lost the trust of its most loyal reporters.

Chief Justice John Roberts Says $1,000 Can’t Buy Influence in Congress. Looks Like He’s Wrong.

A No-Brainer Approach to Fighting Poverty: Better Birth Control

  News & Politics
The World
Sept. 16 2014 11:56 AM Iran and the U.S. Are Allies Against ISIS but Aren’t Ready to Admit It Yet
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 16 2014 12:22 PM Poverty Rate Falls for First Time Since 2006, Remains Way Too High
  Life
The Eye
Sept. 16 2014 12:20 PM These Outdoor Cat Shelters Have More Style Than the Average Home
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 15 2014 1:51 PM Why Not Just Turn Campus Rape Allegations Over to the Police? Because the Police Don't Investigate.
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Sept. 15 2014 11:38 AM The Slate Doctor Who Podcast: Episode 4  A spoiler-filled discussion of "Listen."
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 16 2014 12:30 PM How Steven Moffat Made the Best Doctor Who Episode in Years
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 16 2014 12:01 PM More Than 3 Million Told the FCC What They Think About Net Neutrality. Why Hasn't Obama?
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 16 2014 7:30 AM A Galaxy of Tatooines
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 15 2014 8:41 PM You’re Cut, Adrian Peterson Why fantasy football owners should release the Minnesota Vikings star.