Let me start this post by throwing out some assertions.
- The most interesting question about New Hampshire, IMO, is not whether Obama beats Hillary or whether Mitt survives against McCain. It’s whether Obama has a greater draw over Independents than McCain, which thereby deprives McCain of any victory there.
- In her very gracious concession speech the other night, Hillary seemed genuinely thrilled by the huge Democratic/female/youth turnout (even after bitching about Obama’s direct appeal to "out-of-state" students for several weeks beforehand), even as she seemed to be recognizing how failed her strategy in Iowa had been.
- Mitt Romney won handful of delegates today, and regardless of what happens in NH, will go onto MI, a state where several buildings in Lansing bear his Daddy’s name, to compete against a guy who had a huge victory here in 2000.
All of which is my preface to saying that the pundits are (for the most part) dealing with a much too flat conception of what this primary is going to look like, seeing only the intra-party competition, and they’re not seeing that we’re already thick into a competition between the two parties that may well have real ramifications for the outcome.
That said, let me go back to the beginning and explain what I mean. The press has largely assumed that McCain, the "maverick" who won in NH in 2000, stands to be the non-Mitt there this year. That assumes, of course, that the Independents (and even the Republicans) who turned out for McCain in 2000 will turn out for him again and it assumes that McCain’s prime contestant is Mitt. Now, ignore the fact that NH is a pretty solidly anti-war state and McCain is up there threatening a hundred year presence in Iraq. The bulk of the press still seems to be ignoring an unstated contest between Obama and McCain for Independents. Chris Bowers reads it right, IMO, when he suggests,
No momentum for McCain and Huckabee whatsoever. Obama is sucking up all the air right now, and probably the New Hampshire independents that McCain needed. Read more