1/09/2008

Hillary ekes out New Hampshire upset; more analysis

With most of the votes in, CNN and other outlets say that Hillary Clinton and John McCain have each won their respective parties' primaries in New Hampshire. Time for me once again to don my pundit cap. (Apparently I look a lot more attractive with a pundit cap than without one.)

In terms of pledged delegates to the Democratic and Republican national conventions, Barack Obama still holds a thinner-than-Wheat-Thins lead of 25-24 over Clinton, with Edwards at 18. Romney has 24 delegates to 18 for Mike Huckabee, 10 for John McCain, 6 for Fred Thompson, 2 for Ron Paul, and 1 for Duncan Hunter. Again, a candidate must win a majority of the convention delegates to win the nomination. More on how delegates are selected later.

If nothing else, Hillary and McCain proved with this primary that they are top-notch contenders and are both very much in it. Big victory for Hillary? Yes. Setback for Obama? Yes. Fluke? We'll find out soon enough.

For Hillary, this win should remind everyone that it's not over yet, despite her disappointing third-place finish in Iowa. Must do well in: Michigan. I mean, there are five choices on the ballot in Tuesday's primary: Clinton; Gravel; Kucinich; Gravel; Dodd; and Uncommitted. Gravel and Kucinich were the bottom finishers in both Iowa and New Hampshire, while Dodd is no longer running. More on Michigan's primary in the next couple days.

For Obama, this could in many respects be considered a disappointment. He was, after all, leading by several points in most polls leading up to the primary. He had a certain amount of momentum that has now been lost. That said, only twice in the last ten elections has a Democrat won every single Democratic primary and caucus, and Obama only lost New Hampshire by two points. Also, as I mentioned, he holds a one-vote lead in the delegate count. If nothing else, this should motivate Obama supporters and remind them not to take things for granted. Oh, and polls aren't always that reliable. Must do well in: South Carolina. Nearly half of South Carolinians who took CNN's exit poll in the 2004 primary were black. Neither New Hampshire nor Iowa can be considered nearly that racially diverse.

Edwards has pulled two disappointing performances in a row. Both Clinton and Obama received twice as many votes as Edwards in New Hampshire. Must do well in: South Carolina, for three reasons. First, he was born in Seneca, SC. Second, he currently lives in North Carolina. Third, he won South Carolina over Kerry in 2004. Should he follow his disappointing showing in the Granite State with another one in the Palmetto State, look for many in the 'Anybody-but-Hillary' crowd to ratchet up the pressure on Edwards to drop out and let said anti-Hillary crowd more or less unite behind Obama.

Richardson has been a much bigger disappointment than Edwards. Richardson took 2% in Iowa and 5% in New Hampshire, failing to win a single delegate to the Convention. Must do well in: Nevada, with its heavy Latino population.

Just a few months ago, McCain was all but counted out. His campaign looked like it was on its deathbed. Yet with a third-place finish in Iowa and a victory in New Hampshire, it appears that (to borrow an expression) rumors of the death of his campaign were greatly exaggerated. Must do well in: Michigan, where it has been a battle between him and Romney from the get-go.

Romney won the barely publicized Wyoming caucus last Saturday and has finished second in the other two states. Despite their second-place finishes, he and Obama each actually lead their National Convention delegate counts. Still he must do well in: Michigan, which his father governed from 1963-1969.

What happened to Huckabee? McCain tripled Huckabee's total in the Granite State, and Romney came close to pulling off the same feat. South Carolina has a higher percentage of evangelical and born-again Christians, and regional favoritism could benefit him. Thus, he must do well in: South Carolina.

Rudy Giuliani edged Ron Paul after finishing behind him in Iowa. Fred Thompson took a dismal 1%. Why is Duncan Hunter still running?

1 comment:

Matt said...

I think (get that crow in the oven...) that Obama will take SC - that black 50% was waiting for Obama to show himself as viable: Iowa showed that.