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John McCain's Pollster Recounts 2000 New Hampshire Win, And It's Amazing

The Huffington Post The Huffington Post 13/10/2015 Sam Stein

WASHINGTON -- In retrospect, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) seems like the perfect Republican candidate for the New Hampshire presidential primary. He's a free-spirited pol who loves the give-and-take of town halls -- the very attributes that appeal to the Granite State's politically conscious, independent-minded voters.

But when McCain first ran for president in 2000, it wasn't exactly a sure thing that he would win the state. In the latest installment of HuffPost's Drinking & Talking, Bill McInturff -- McCain's pollster from his 2000 and 2008 campaigns -- recounts the moment he first discovered the senator would very likely win, and win in momentous fashion.

"I literally could not breathe," McInturff said, recalling a phone call with his assistant in which she told him, in the wee hours of the morning, that a public survey showed McCain leading by a bit. 

"Are you dying?" his assistant responded.

"There are two people in  the entire world that now know ... what could happen in New Hampshire," replied McInturff. "How big this is. And it's you and me and it's two in the morning."

McCain would go on to win the state, with 48 percent of the vote to George W. Bush's 30 percent. But the GOP nomination would ultimately go to Bush, not McCain. 

McInturff's story wasn't the only one offered, when the topic turned to the most remarkable poll the panelists had ever conducted. Anna Greenberg, a prominent Democratic pollster, told of how Bill DeBlasio's New York mayoral campaign tried to tell journalists he would win the race, only to have them ignore emails. Those two were joined by Amy Walter of the Cook Political Report and Mark Blumenthal of The Huffington Post.

Watch the exchange above.

Click here to watch our master cut. 

And look! A podcast of our full, unedited conversation: 

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