Hillary Clinton In New Hampshire

Posted on January 9, 2008

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Hillary Clinton and John McCain are the Comeback Kids of 2008 in New Hampshire.

What a roller-coaster week for Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and the Democratic Party!

Hillary Clinton, expected to lose in New Hampshire, scored a stunning victory last night in a very close race. Clinton was first with 39 percent (110,500 votes), a small but clear margin over Obama with 37 percent (102,900 votes). John Edwards was third with 17 percent (47,800 votes).

The Democratic Party now has two brilliant and talented political superstars.

Barack Obama demonstrated the power of charisma and became the leading spokesman for change in Iowa.

Hillary Clinton, in her own words at her victory speech: “I found my own voice in New Hampshire.” She also showed her emotion in New Hampshire, and that may have made all the difference.

CNN is reporting this morning that 15 percent of New Hampshire voters decided who to vote for on Tuesday. The candidates efforts on Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday, clearly had an effect.

New Hampshire women lifted Hillary Clinton to first place. The turnout of young voters was not as great in New Hampshire as in Iowa. It is not yet clear how strongly the youth vote went for Obama. What is clear is that Barack Obama, the African-American senator from Illinois, did very well indeed among white voters in two states with small minority populations.

Hillary Clinton came in third in the Iowa caucuses last Thursday. Polls in New Hampshire over the weekend showed her falling behind Barack Obama, the decisive winner in Iowa.

Pundits predicted a double-digit loss for Hillary Clinton in New Hampshire. They wondered if she would be able to continue after a second straight defeat.

Much of the TV reporting Monday focused on Clinton’s momentary show of emotion at a meeting with New Hampshire voters early Monday morning. Endless speculation: Did the candidate’s eyes tear up? In public! Or was that simply a catch in her voice at a weary moment?

Then the election places opened. When the polls closed Tuesday night, Hillary Clinton took a small lead over Barack Obama in early returns. Indications were that women voters did not defect to Obama, but stayed with Clinton. Clinton won big in Manchester, the largest city in New Hampshire. Democrats were on edge for much of the evening, waiting for votes to come in from college towns, where Obama had strong support from young voters.

When the counting was over, Hillary Clinton had scored a surprise victory. Barack Obama was a close second, still very much in the contest for the Democratic nomination. For Obama, the loss in New Hampshire may be no more than a momentary setback. John Edwards finished a distant third.

A clear winner in Iowa and New Hampshire is the democratic process. Voters turned out in record or near-record numbers in both states. The positive energy generated by Barack Obama is clearly responsible for the heightened interest in the primaries. And unseasonably balmy weather boosted the turnout in New Hampshire.

McCain had been counted out by many on the Republican side. Tuesday night he easily defeated Mitt Romney, former governor of Massachusetts and well-known to N.H. voters.

McCain won 37 percent (86,800 votes), Romney was second with 32 percent (73,800 votes). Romney conceded before 9 p.m. Tuesday. I’ll not venture further than that into the very unsettled presidential scramble in the Free-Lunch Libertarian Nativist Party.

From my vantage point in Maryland, it seems impossible to imagine any Republican being elected president in 2008. Even if the economy were strong, who could overcome the legacy of the failed Bush administration and the tragedy of the war in Iraq?

The candidates are exhausted, but they will be up early for interviews on the morning TV shows any minute now. For me, it’s time to leave for my day job.

Godspeed to Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama as they campaign in Michigan, South Carolina, Florida, and then Super-duper Tuesday on Feb. 5. Let’s have a lively and positive Democratic debate. — Bernie Hayden

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Posted in: Democracy, News, Politics