Why all the surprised faces?
I understand that the polls predicted a different result, but really, why is anyone surprised at how the New Hampshire vote turned out?
Libertarian, conservative New Hampshire has always loved McCain, and was going to be more comfortable with Massachusett’s Romney than southern preacher Huckabee. Likewise, centrist Clinton was a better play than liberal Obama or populist Edwards.
I think Obama did surprisingly well, given those political realities. Clinton won her must-win race, but Obama is still the one to beat. Edwards, for his part, is pinning his hopes on South Carolina. He’ll need a strong showing there to avoid becoming the odd man out in the Democratic dance.
McCain, likewise, had a must-win here, but it does not mean he has recovered and is now a frontrunner. Had he lost, he was probably out; winning simply means the Republican race is still totally up in the air.
Of more interest is the showings of Giuliani and Paul. I expected Paul to do better in the Granite State, given his politics. People can and will debate whether his old newsletters played a role, but it doesn’t matter all that much: the number is high enough for him to keep going. Giuliani, meanwhile, largely ignored Iowa and New Hampshire (this report notwithstanding) in order to focus on Florida and Super Tuesday. He risks losing momentum before then — and the poll numbers from Florida aren’t encouraging. He needs a win, and soon, to remain relevant.
So enjoy the vote results, but don’t read too much into them. Basically, nothing much changed. Nobody died, nobody broke out ahead of the pack.