Our front page yesterday may, regrettably, have given the impression that Barack Obama had beaten Hillary Clinton in Tuesday's New Hampshire primary and was well on his way to sewing up the Democratic Party's presidential nomination. "Barack Obama's Incredible Journey," we called it.
To be sure, Mr Obama's journey thus far has been incredible. In his advance from modest and complicated circumstances to his promising start in this year's US presidential race, he has a story that rivals the inspirational narrative of "The Man from Hope". But he did not beat Mrs Clinton in New Hampshire; he is no longer the frontrunner, and he has a fight on his hands from now on.
We could plead mitigating circumstances. The time difference works to the great disadvantage of the European and British press. Print deadlines gave us little choice but to trust the advance US polls. The unusually wide discrepancy between the exit polls and the actual vote became clear a good two hours after our final edition went to press. The exit polls were wrong; so was our gamble on Mr Obama.
At least this was only an early, if important, primary, and we were in the excellent company of most of the British press. It was hardly a howler like the Chicago Daily Tribune's 1948 headline, declaring that Dewey had defeated Truman for the presidency. Nor was it a CBS moment – when in 2000 the US network called Florida, and the presidency, for Gore.
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