Like most people who pay attention to polls, I was fully expecting Barack Obama to breeze to an easy victory in New Hampshire the other day. In fact, the last person who figured that Hillary Clinton would win in New Hampshire apparently was Hillary herself who seems to have been almost caught off guard by the surprise victory.
I’m not sure what happened exactly, although Kevin Drum is probably correct that it was just the cumulation of a lot of little things going on in the midst of a fluid situation. You can blame the polls that had Obama 13 points up, but just realize that all the polls seemed to agree on this and they also got the Republican race exactly right.
So Hillary clearly “won” even though based on the all-important delegate count it was a tie.
But Hillary will clearly benefit from the victory. Now it will remain to be seen if she can also recover her lead in the national polls and whether this will serve to undermine Obama’s support in South Carolina (or is N. Caroline next? I forget.)
I was already prepping myself for an eventual Obama victory which could still happen although things are much more cloudy than before. I think what New Hampshire does show, however, is that Obama might be the better candidate for the general election based on his appeal to independent voters. Also, he would be less of a rallying point for the wingnuts’ whose hatred of Hillary is beyond demented.
Nevertheless, I think Hillary or Obama either one would be a good candidate and would win in November.
On the Republican side, I think John McCain has swapped places with Rudy Giuliani as the new consensus candidate of the GOP establishment. This still rubs the wingnut faction the wrong way because even though he is more socially conservative than Rudy, he falls short on their immigration litmus test. In addition, McCain supports campaign finance reform, opposes torture and (the real kicker) actually wants to do something to combat global warming!
However, McCain still proudly wears the Iraq albatross around his neck and that by itself would sink his candidacy as it will any GOP nominee.