Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Hillary Wins in New Hampshire... What Now?!

The election returns from New Hampshire are in, and Hillary Clinton has pulled off a remarkable comeback win. She has narrowly bested Barack Obama, 39% to 36%. Edwards is a distant third with about 17% of the vote. While this likely dooms Edwards (and certainly Richardson will be dropping out soon, despite his claims that he can compete in Nevada), what does this mean for the race generally?

One thing it might mean is that the reports of Hillary Clinton's demise are premature. The Clinton's are well loved by rank and file Democrats. What is so surprising is that she is doing so well in a place rife with Independents, like New Hampshire. Time will tell how the voters broke. One theory is that Edwards' folks decided he just wasn't viable and ended up breaking for Clinton... they are blue-collar rank and file Democrats more likely to support her than the cerebral Obama. Another theory is that women ended up breaking heavily for Clinton after her performance in the debates and the "Diner Sob." Finally, Obama's youth brigades may have told pollsters they were for him, but then ended up not turning out (that's what you get for inspiring frat-boys, Barack).

But seriously, the other thing it might mean is that rather than coasting, Obama may, in fact get the proper vetting and scrutiny that his campaign will need if it is to survive a general election campaign - particularly if McCain emerges as a consensus candidate (the only one who might be able to pull out a win against the Democrats in 2008). I think Obama (or Clinton, for that matter) would make a fine nominee. However, his campaign to date has largely centered on platitudes and variations on the "change" theme. That won't hold up for the next 11 months. We're going to need more... "beef" as Walter Mondale so eloquently put it to Gary Hart back in '84.

Slate ran a post on this topic that is worth checking out. It's clearly a huge victory for Clinton if she pulls it out, but it isn't a death knell for Obama, just a reality check. Getting the nomination against the caliber of opponent he is facing shouldn't be easy.

Apparently, it isn't.
There is more analysis on this race (and others) at Mulish Behavior and Green Mountain Daily. There are pictures and video footage of Vermonters canvassing for Edwards from last weekend as well.

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