Two down in the Presidential playoffs. The results had only one surprise, and that was Hillary’s “come from behind” win. Though how much of a come from behind win it was is debatable. But it certainly got enough hype from the media, reinforced by polls, which we never saw what the actual questions were, or the sampling sizes and demographics. Not that it mattered, it made for enough viewers to justify next season’s ad rates for the various networks.
Even with all the hoopla over Hillary’s break down, there was a real story to be told, but only a few dared to talk about it. While it’s still very early on, the trends starting to form from Iowa and New Hampshire are indicative of a very unusual happening, the potential of having two brokered conventions. It could very well end up that both parties will have no clear winner, with two or even three candidates vying for delegates. While it would be boring for most people, for political junkies and pundits, it would be a field day. But tha’s pure speculation at this point. I have a feeling that at least one candidate will emerge from “Super Tuesday” on February 5th.
So let’s do a quick break down of what happened in the Granite State….
On the Democratic side, Barrack Obama stumbled a bit. Coming off his “upset” win in Iowa, Obama slacked off in New Hampshire. I think he tried to just ride his “bump” from the Iowa victory, and didn’t put in quite enough effort to win in New Hampshire. He missed a big opportunity here, one where he could have knocked Clinton into panic mode, and pushed John Edwards to the brink. But it was not all Obama’s fault. New Hampshire likes Bill Clinton, and he made a lot of trips in support of his wife. Plus the Clinton’s have a machine in New Hampshire, one which got out the vote for them, over coming the enthusiasm for Obama. I don’t give much credence to Hillary’s break down in the diner as being a factor here, it came too late, and left too many wondering as to her motivation and honesty in that episode.
As for the snake oil salesman Edwards, well, he was never going to finish higher than 3rd anywhere except in the Carolinas. He just doesn’t play well outside of his “home turf,” and it shows. And poor Bill Richardson, the only truly qualified Democratic candidate, is now in limbo. Conflicting reports as to the demise of his campaign are circulating, with “sources” saying he will drop out, and a spokesperson saying he won’t. He could stay in, and potentially be a spoiler in the Southwest (Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Nevada), but I doubt it. I suspect he will drop out after Nevada, and before February 5th. The only question will be who will he endorse, if anyone? If it comes to a brokered convention, the few delegates he has may be key, which will put him into a very powerful position.
Meanwhile, on the Republican end of things, Rudy finally out polled Ron Paul. Whew. They all had me worried there for a bit. But other than that, things went pretty much as expected. John McCain’s showing was right about where I figured it would be. This was a big win for McCain, as it will give him momentum going into Michigan. Romney was once again the bridesmaid with his 2nd place finish. Huckabee finished a respectable 3rd, given that he doesn’t translate well to the voters of New Hampshire. But I will give him credit for at least contesting the primary, and taking his finish in the right light. The rest? Well, I don’t think Fred Thompson ever set foot in New Hampshire, and Duncan Hunter was a non-entity to the state as a whole.
So where do the campaign go from here?
John McCain- He can’t stop, and needs to continue to press hard. McCain can win in Michigan, though it will be a dog fight with Romney, and Huckabee will play well there as well. McCain must keep up the startegy that got him the win in New Hampshire. The traveling town hall format will work well, and gives voters, and potential voters a real look at him, and what he stands for. A win in Michigan would give him a much improved chance in South Carolina, which will still be a fight with Huckabee and Fred Thompson.
Mitt Romney- It’s still a bit early to press the panic button, but one has to wonder what it will take for him to win a primary. Michigan will either take Romney off life support, or put him into a coma. His loss in New Hampshire must have been disappointing, given how mcuh he spent, how much he campaigned, and the fact he was governor of Massachusettes. He of all the candidates needs to win Michigan, as I don’t think he will do all that well in South Carolina. Anything more that a 2 point loss in Michigan will leave Romney reeling, as the spread in New Hampshire was more than he could afford.
Mike Huckabee- Huckabee never really had a shot in New Hampshire, but that didn’t stop him from trying, unlike say Rudy or Fred. He gave it an honest try, but just couldn’t connect with enough of the voters. He will contend strongly in South Carolina, and may be a surprise in Michigan. Huckabee will live or die on February 5th, depending on how well he does in the Southern states.
Rudy Giuliani- How long before the “Missing: Have you seen this Candidate” posters go up? He’s virtually disappeared from the national radar screen, except with a “where is he” comment. Rudy’s big state strategy, begining with Florida I still think will back fire, and leave him out in the cold. Then again, I though his whole candidacy was premature, and badly handled from the begining. Drop out now, and run for the Senate here in NY against Schumer. Please!
Fred Thompson- This campaign has been mismanaged for some time now. He’s still alive, and will get a boost from South Carolina, and will contend in many states on February 5th. But I don’t think he has the gravitas, the campaign message, or ability to contend in the big states to carry him far enough. I expect that after the 5th, Fred will drop out, and endorse one of the other candidates, which will put who ever that is into the pole position.
Duncan Hunter- Or should I say Don Quixote? This was a doomed campaign before it began. He can’t carry California (his home state) let alone any other state. He’s good in the Congress, but that’s the extent of it.
Ron Paul- Oh my oh my. Hey, I thought his “revolution” was going to start in New Hampshire? So, 8% is a “revolution?” Or maybe people were finally waking up to just what a nut case he is. If the revelations about where his funding comes from wasn’t enough, there’s the archives of his various “newsletters.” You can read more about those at LGF or at The Captain’s Quarters, which have the extensive links. AS I’ve said previously, this guy associated with people that even Strom Thurmond would have slammed the door on.
Barack Obama- Get back to what carried him in Iowa. Despite a missed opportunity in New Hampshire, he’s still got momentum, and the mass appeal to consistently win right through the 5th. He benefits from a three way race, as it makes him look the best, with Edwards sniping at Hillary, and Clinton having to divide her attention bewteen Obama and Edwards.
Hillary Clinton- She needed the New Hampshire win badly. Not so bad as a loss would have been panic time, but close enough. Clinton needs to knock out Edwards, and do it soon, so she can concentrate on Obama. A three way race hurts her, as she has to divide resources to combat both Obama and Edwards, which often pushes her off message, and leaves her looking “not so fresh.” She will carry at least two major states on Super Tuesday (New York, and either California or Florida), but will be in a fight in all the rest.
John Edwards- He’s never going to get the nomination, but if can generate enough staying power, could play kingmaker at the convention. He will compete well in the South, and should carry the Carolinas, and possibly three or four other Southern states. No matter what, he will be finished as a viable candidate after February 5th.
Mike Gravel and Dennis Kucinich- Go home, and stay there. Or go hang out with Ron Paul. Whatever. You don’t matter, never did, never will.
Bill Richardson- This one is tough. The guy who should be the candidate is left out in the cold. Just goes to show you that qualifications, competence, and ability matter less than “star power.” If Bill can make it another month, he may end up holding the deciding cards, depending on where Edwards finishes. Richardson can’t make it beyond February 5th, unless he gets soem divine intervention, but if can stay in it untill then, he could become a key player at the convention. If I was Bill, I’d stick it out through the 5th, then drop out, but not endorse anyone. Give the media pundits something to chew on, and keep his name in the news for free.
Now to await the next polling disaster…