06/13/2008 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Let The Second Guessing Begin: Five Reasons Obama Won and Five Reasons Clinton Lost

Let the recriminations begin. After one of the greatest upsets in American political history, journalists, historians and bloggers will be talking for years about what happened. In such a close race, the winner (Obama) did plenty of things wrong, and the loser (Clinton) did a lot right. But that's not what we're here for today. First we need to know what tipped the balance. Here are five reasons why he won and five reasons why she lost.

Why Obama Won

Message Obama's change message was far superior in 2008 to Hillary's experience message. With a majority of Americans telling pollsters the country is on the wrong track, this is a "change election," as even John McCain admitted this week. Obama faced a danger, fueled by Hillary's gibes, that his change message would be too vague and rhetorical. But the combination of wonky policy speeches in early 2007 and a well-designed Web site that proved he was substantive helped him put meat on the strong bones of his themes.

The basic choice, as I argued from the beginning, was Inspiration vs. Restoration, and even when Obama's hope message flagged among certain constituencies, it worked better overall than nostalgia for the competence of the Clinton years.

Organization: The tone of every organization is set from the top. A fish rots from the head, but the head is also how the fish navigates. Obama started his professional life as a community organizer. In 1992 he led a drive that registered 150,000 Chicago voters. As his shout-out Tuesday night to campaign manager David Plouffe suggests, he looked for--and found--the best organizers in politics, regardless of age. Even had Hillary tried to organize in the caucus states, she would still have likely lost them.

To read the full article, go to