Wow, what a night! Against the recent odds--and despite the overconfident predictions of media pundits--Hillary Clinton pulled out a win in the New Hampshire primary election, beating Democratic challenger Barack Obama by the narrowest of margins (39 percent to 37 percent). This throws the race back up for grabs, and makes those folks, like The New Republic’s Martin Peretz and Democratic consultant Donna Brazile, who had previously declared that former President Bill Clinton was a drag on his wife’s candidacy, have to rethink their positions.
So now Obama has a win in Iowa, and Clinton has one in New Hampshire. (John Edwards came in third, of course.) Given the strength of both the Democratic frontrunners, it’s possible that we’ll see more of these back-and-forth victories for a while yet. New Hampshire enjoys being a maverick, when it comes to choosing U.S. presidents, and it’s unlikely that other states, such as South Carolina and Nevada, will follow its lead slavishly.
Expect the same sort of unsettled contest on the Republican’t side. John McCain, who won tonight and also won New Hampshire against George W. Bush in 2000, is unlikely to be as warmly treated elsewhere. As far as GOPers are concerned, he’s on the wrong side of the fence regarding immigration legislation, and his Bush-lockstep approach to the Iraq debacle (he told an audience in New Hampshire last week that it’s fine with him if the United States remains in Iraq for the next century!) will turn off fellow Republican’ts who are tired of wasting lives and money in the cause of Bush’s bellicosity. And McCain’s woes only become greater if he actually has the chance to face the general voting public. His pro-war stance won’t endear him to independentss, who largely side with Democrats on the Iraq mess; and it will probably be those independents who once more hold the final cards in November. In other words, Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee ought not to be folding up their tents just yet.
It’s a real horse race now.
READ MORE: “A Clinton Wake Becomes a Revival,” by Jim Tankersley (The Swamp); “An Inconvenient Resurrection,” by Marty Kaplan (The Huffington Post); “McCain: The Last Man Standing in New Hampshire,” by Mike Madden (Salon); “Goodbye Hillary. Oh, Wait ...” by Steve Allan (Noir Writer); “New Hampshire Polling Fiasco Not Unique in History,” by Sam Stein (The Huffington Post); “First Woman to Win Seriously Contested Prez Primary,” by John Nichols (The Nation).