A few observations the morning after the New Hampshire primary.
Obviously the results narrow the field in both parties. Bill Richardson can go back to Santa Fe and wait for the call to become the Secretary of State in the next Democratic administration or maybe even Vice President, depending on how deftly he handles the time between now and the convention. And this is probably the end of the Edwards campaign; he’ll run in South Carolina and make a showing on Super Tuesday, but for all intents and purposes, the results last night — 17% of the vote — can’t be encouraging. That’s too bad; he’s run a campaign that has brought up a lot of good points and reminders of what is important to a lot of people, but apparently not enough to get traction, and it’s been that way for most of the last year. So that leaves Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. There’s a match made in right-wing nutsery hell…or the biggest fund-raiser for them since the Ken Starr report.
For the Republicans, it’s pretty much down to three: John McCain, Mitt Romney, and Mike Huckabee, if the national polls are to be believed (and after yesterday’s flummoxing, that’s not a sure bet). The Giuliani juggernaut is pretty much a sputtering jalopy now; he’s turned into a parody of himself, none better than the time he said that he understood “Hillary’s tears” because 9/11 made him emotional, too. Fred Thompson got fewer votes than Ron Paul, and he’s probably trying to get Law & Order producer Dick Wolf on the phone to see if it’s too late to get his old job back. (It is.) As for Mitt Romney, his loss next door to his adoptive state of Massachusetts, it must be a shock to find himself getting beaten again; his sense of patrician entitlement must be taking a beating.
As I said last night, the New Hampshire votes rocked the world of the pundits who, without exception, had pronounced Hillary Clinton’s campaign either over or in deep trouble. To be fair, they were basing it all on the polling, which turned out to be very wrong. Why? The conventional wisdom runs the gamut from a backlash to the Hillary-bashing to the reputed contrariness of the New Hampshire voter to the probable explanation that people don’t always tell the pollsters what they really think.
A lot of people were getting ready to write that the race was over after one caucus and one primary. Well, not quite. Pass the popcorn.