Well, contrary to my predictions (I’m wrong a lot folks), Obama’s Iowa win did lead to an Obama surge in New Hampshire. He’s now 10-13 points above Hillary, according to some of the most recent polls:
USA Today/Gallup: Obama 41%, Clinton 28%, Edwards 19%
Zogby: Obama 39%, Clinton 29%, Edwards 19%
ARG: Obama 39%, Clinton 28%, Edwards 22%
CNN/WMUR/UNH: Obama 39%, Clinton 29%, Edwards 16%
Marist: Obama 36%, Clinton 28%, Edwards 22%
Rasmussen: Obama 39%, Clinton 27%, Edwards 18%
Suffolk University: Clinton 35%, Obama 33%, Edwards 14%
I still don’t know. I actually caught much of the Democratic debate on Saturday, and I have to say, if undecideds were looking for a reason to back Obama, they didn’t have much to find. He looked, in a word, tired. Edwards, on the other hand, was dynamic and energetic, and did most of the heavy lefting against Hillary. Obama was relegated to the "me, too — what John said, I agree" role. No major flaws on Obama’s part, but if I had to choose a candidate solely on the basis of that debate, I would go with Edwards.
Of course, that was just one debate, and by all accounts, Obama’s energy and charisma is everywhere in New Hampshire. He’s got people energized. It would be a monstorous thing for him to pull off two wins. Race clearly isn’t a factor in this campaign (there are only three black people in Iowa and New Hampshire combined)*. Obama has always had South Carolina in the bag; if he wins new Hampshire, as expected (now), and South Carolina, as expected (always), this tight Democratic field turns into an Obama cakewalk.[UPDATE: Chris Bowers at OpenLeft, a guy clearly much smarter than me and who does this shit for a living, is inclined to think an Obama nomination is likely, but provides a cautionary note:
However, the point I want to make is that there is simply no guarantee that Obama will cruise to the nomination by winning New Hampshire. Further, from now through Super Tuesday, there are some states, such as Arkansas, Connecticut, Florida, New York and New Jersey, where Clinton is ahead by more than 19%. Collectively, these states mean that Clinton will only need to win California to maintain a national delegate lead. And yes, while Michigan, Florida and the super delegates are expected to simply throw their delegates to the national leader, what if, because of her advantage in the other states I just listed, super delegates, Michigan and Florida are the only things separating Clinton from a national delegate lead? Then, we have entered a true nightmare scenario, where internal party procedure could determine the nomination, rather than the Democratic electorate. Also, does anyone really think that Clinton wouldn’t have a big edge during an insider fight over internal party procedure?
I will say one thing — if I hear the word "change" again, I just might strangle someone — a random person — out of sheer frustration. It’s true — this election really is about change; I just get tired of hearing that word. I’m struck by the fact that Hillary Clinton — a woman — has come to represent the anti-thesis of change. She’s not doing a very good job of making the case that she represents something new in Washington.
Sadly, I don’t think Edwards is going to last much longer. His showing in New Hampshire portends to be comparatively abyssmal. Too bad, I would like him to stick around longer. What happens when he drops out? Well, it seems obvious to me — his supporters swing to Obama who is, well, not Hillary. And that puts Obama in the catbird seat.
On the Republican side? I think New Hampshire is going to mark the beginning of the end for Huckabee. Although he might linger for a few more primaries, it will become, after New Hampshire, essentially a two-man race: McCain and Romney (the latter of whom apparently blew away his competitors in last night’s debate). Giuliani, too, will hang on — at least until Florida, but will be out after he comes in second (or worse) there.
I can say quite confidently that the Republican candidate most Democrats would NOT like to see is John McCain. There’s a culty aura around him. I don’t fear him that much. Remember, the by-word of this election — even among the GOP — is "change", and McCain doesn’t have a nice fit with that word. He supports many of the Bush policies that independents have long rejected (i.e., the Iraq War). He’s pro-amnesty for illegal aliens, which doesn’t endear him to the neo-cons. And he’s as old as the hills, and prone to make mistakes.
Romney, I believe, would be a more formidable opponent for Democrats, although he’s not without his own problems. He’s a MAJOR flip-flopper, having once been pro-choice and pro-gay marriage. Those positions changed once he entered the race. The social conservative set simply can’t trust him, and are likely to stay home.
All in all, it looks good for the Democratic nominee, whoever that is. But one thing is for sure, in 48 hours, the game is going to change pretty dramatically.
* Not a true fact.