New Hampshire Shakes it Up: What Does it Mean and What Next?

The 2008 New Hampshire Primaries were all about comebacks. John McCain had been written off as early as this summer, he won by 5%, and Hillary Clinton was said to be done as well, she ended up winning narrowly by 2%. So what is next in the presidential race? Click the jump to read what our writers think tonight means for the future.


Again, like Iowa, nothing has been decided after the New Hampshire primaries. While everyone is lauding Clinton’s comeback, it is still pertinent to remember that Barack Obama is actually leading in total delegates. All the momentum that Obama was supposed to have gained in Iowa did not pay off in New Hampshire, so there is no reason to think that Clinton’s victory will eliminate anyone. John Edwards, placing third with 17%, undoubtedly is one of the main reasons repsonsible for Barack’s second place finish as their similar campaigns draw the same people. It is unfortunate for the Obama camp that Edwards’ bid for vice-presidency (I mean at this point, who is he kidding?) cost Obama victory in New Hampshire tonight. However, it is key to remember that Obama had 15,000 more votes than the Republican victor John McCain, so New Hampshire was not a major defeat in the least. Exit polls show that Obama beat Hillary by a whopping 38% among 18-24 year old voters, a trend that carried over from Iowa. Hillary however beat Obama by 12% among those over 65. Exit polls also showed that Democrats feel that Obama is the best chance for Democrats to defeat the Reublicans’ nominee, which is what I have been saying all along. Too many people cannot stand Hillary and those undecided between two candidates in November would vote the other way if Hillary was the Democratic nominee. For the Democrats, the next contest is in Nevada on January 19th. Hillary has been expected all along to win there, but Barack Obama is expected pick up a key endorsement from the Culinary Workers Union which represents thousands of workers in Las Vegas. However, a close second, as in New Hampshire, could be considered victory for Obama as he has been polling behind Hillary there. Although, as we saw tonight, things in the presidential campaign landscape can change within hours, so 11 days from now we could be saying very different things.

For Republicans, John McCain had been seen as the sure fire winner in New Hampshire for the past couple of weeks. However, it must be noted that New Hampshire is certainly “his” state and that its large independent electorate certainly helped carry him to victory. McCain only beat second place finisher Mitt Romney by 5% but, according to exit polls, Romney narrowly beat McCain among those that identified themselves as Republicans, and by 8% among those that identified themselves as conservative, and 25% among those calling themselves “very conservative”. Mike Huckabee was no where to be seen in New Hampshire as he finished in third place with 11%. This is due to the lower amount of Evangelicals than were seen in Iowa. This is one of the major concerns about Huckabee; will non-Evangelicals rally around him? New Hampshire says no, but it is still early on. Another concern is whether or not he has the resources to run a national campaign as his funds are simply…well..pathetic in comparison to the likes of Romney and McCain. The Republicans now look towards Michigain, which will hold its Republican primaries on January 15th. Romney had been expecting a slam dunk in Michigain, where his father was a governor, but now with McCain surging, and a larger amount of Evangelical Christians in Michigain than New Hampshire, Huckabee cannot be ruled out either.

Now that New Hampshire is over, the Repulican party, as well as the Democrats, are as confused on who they will nominate as ever, so on to Nevada and Michigain we go.


I’m usually quite a realist. So I would be apt to go away from tonight with a mindset that it’s all over. I mean, with the momentum from tonight, it’s likely that Hillary will speed through Nevada and quite possibly nab South Carolina after a 2-1 track record. After that, it could be all downhill for Obama when Super Tuesday comes around and he’s only left with one big win in Iowa. But I’m trying not to go down that road right now.

I believe that we should give up predicting this race. Stop looking at the polls, stop makes guess at numbers, stop spending time trying to scientifically figure out who will win what. It’s proven fairly useless so far. Instead, let’s focus on getting people to figure out the issues and make educated votes. Not votes that are swayed by five second clips of real or not real emotion that doesn’t change the reality of a person’s character. Not sitting back and letting other people take care of the voting when we’ve seen that the people who never came out to the polls before are making a huge difference in the outcome. It’s not a guessing game. It’s a serious look at how the next four years (at least) will turn out.

So maybe after all of the screw ups with predictions in New Hampshire, people will get a clue and stop paying attention to the numbers–and start paying attention to the issues. Maybe, but probably not.

On the Republican side, things worked out much neater and cleaner. No huge surprises here, except a near grab at fourth place by Ron Paul. None of the top three will be backing down anytime soon, as they find they each have strengths in different parts of the country and in different demographics. McCain definitely still has it in him. He is probably the most universally accepted of all of the Republicans, which could either work to his advantage in places with high independent rates as we saw tonight, or perhaps hurt him in places that have larger evangelical numbers or less war support. In any case, it was a welcome surprise to see him smiling tonight. For once he didn’t make me want to cry.

So to sum up: we have no idea what is going to happen. Seriously. No idea. So I need to take my own advice and stop concerning myself with polls and predictions. It’s about issues and appeal and conviction, and we’ll see how each candidate uses these aspects to his or her advantage in the coming months.


I think from this point out, we’re going to be seeing a very different campaign than we have been. After an embarrassing loss in Iowa, Hillary has been desperately trying different strategies in New Hampshire, and she seems to have found one that works. It remains to be seen if New Hampshire will make her the “comeback kid” like her husband in 1992 (who was much younger at the time) or will fail to help her like McCain in 2000. However, this is an unconventional campaign, and I don’t think we can use conventional means to discern what will happen next. Hillary thinks she has a strategy that works now, but I don’t think that, despite what polls said, New Hampshire was ever going to pick Obama as their winner. In fact, all spin by the Obama campaign aside, it really is incredible that he only lost by 2% in the state that loves the Clinton name brand. Exit polls show that over 21% of voters tonight said that they would vote for Bill Clinton if he were running today. Like the state’s affection for McCain, they obviously love the Clinton name brand, and I don’t think this showed very well in the polls. Additionally, I think Iowa had an adverse affect on Obama while helping Clinton. Many Clinton supporters felt that her nomination was inevitable, and Obama’s victory served as a powerful wake-up call to actually get out and vote for her. Many of her dormant supporters realized that they needed to go to the primaries or their inevitable candidate might not be around next November. Additionally, all the glowing praise and huge poll numbers hurt Obama among his supporters. What is the age group that overwhelmingly votes for Obama? It’s the 18-24 age group. While older voters always vote like clockwork regardless of whether or not their candidate needs their support, younger voters might have opted to skip waiting in long lines to vote today because they thought Obama’s victory was a sure thing, which is a conclusion most of the press seemed to agree with.

Looking down the road, I have to agree that it’s still anyone’s game. If Obama does win some union support, as well as appeal to more women voters, he could very well win Nevada, which would propel him to a surefire win in the 50% black South Carolina. However, if Hillary’s new strategy continues to cut into Obama’s core demographic of younger voters, and John Edwards continues to act as Obama’s ball-and-chain, then she could easily take both states and have unstoppable momentum entering Super Tuesday.

As for the Republicans, everyone knows that tonight was a good night for John McCain. However, it was also a good night for Rudy Giuliani. With three states having already voted for Republicans, we have three different winners. This just further validates Rudy’s decision to campaign nationally and not focus on the early states. If a single candidate, like Mitt Romney, had successfully dominated all the early states, he could have easily surpassed Giuliani by the time Feb. 5th rolls around, but if these early states continue to be indecisive, then Rudy’s plan might work out for him. However, I still wouldn’t count McCain or Huckabee out of anything. A win in Michigan for either of them will probably determine who wins South Carolina and becomes Rudy’s biggest opponent nationally. If Romney ends up taking Michigan, like he should, I still think South Carolina would be between Huckabee and McCain. However, the key thing is that the longer Republicans fumble to pick a candidate, the more it validates Giuliani’s plan to save his time, money and energy for the national stage.

With 11 days until the Nevada caucus, things are going to be getting interesting. Join us here at Civic Alert for all of your campaign coverage as we separate the news from the bullshit.


3 Responses

  1. I agree with Scott’s analysis of why the polls defeated Barack Obama. His victory in NH definitely seemed inevitable.

    Obamaniacs in Nevada and South Carolina need to vote, no matter what seems likely!

  2. Obamaniacs… clever.

  3. You have to remember though…black people love Bill Clintons…the black vote isn’t a surefire thing.

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