Simple as ABC
Gary Langer at ABC blogs struggles with trying to explain Hillary Clinton's victory -- in defiance of the polling results -- in New Hampshire. Langer's approach is to examine every possible technical reason for the election results without resorting to conspiracy theories.
In the end there may be no smoking gun. Those polls may have been accurate, but done in by a superior get-out-the-vote effort, or by very late deciders whose motivations may or may not ever be known. They may have been inaccurate because of bad modeling, compromised sampling, or simply an overabundance of enthusiasm for Obama on the heels of his Iowa victory that led his would-be supporters to overstate their propensity to turn out. (A function, perhaps, of youth.)
One academic has an interesting hypothesis, the slight bias created by the alphabetical listing on the ballot ("Clinton" comes before "Obama") may have been enough to nudge Hillary upward in a close contest.
Prof. Jon Krosnick of Stanford University has another argument: That the order of names on the New Hampshire ballot - in which, by random draw, Clinton was toward the top, Obama at the bottom - netted her about 3 percentage points more than she'd have gotten otherwise. That's not enough to explain the gap in some of the polls, which presumably randomized candidate names, but it might hold part of the answer.
Without advancing any conspiracy theories of my own, the question that springs to mind is why we should eliminate such theories from the reckoning. What kind of evidence would cause an investigator looking into statistical shocker to discount the possibility of fraud? Mere improbability would not be enough. Improbable events happen without the intervention of conspiracies. For example, an Czechoslovakian airline stewardess survived a free-fall from 33,000 feet after her aircraft was blown up by a terrorist bomb in mid-air. No one suspects that someone conspired to make survive.
Conspiracies, it seems to me, should only be considered when a sequence of suspicious events is established to have occurred. Since Barack Obama has conceded New Hampshire, it is unlikely that anyone with standing will come forward to allege fraud based on the existence of suspicious events. Thus conspiracy theories are eliminated from the reckoning at the outset. And we have left is wondering whether the order of the names on the ballot mattered.