Well the results are in and everyone by now knows that Hillary Clinton and John McCain were the underdogs cum victors last night in New Hampshire. I wasn't at all surprised by the McCain win, since I saw that coming, but the Hiliary win took me by complete surprise and the unbelief that followed took a while to rid. I had a naive sense of optimism late in the night, hoping that the college town votes of Dartmouth and New Hampshire U would swing the votes in favor of Obama, but that surge never emerged...Most of the commentary right now in the media is focused on a)why the early polls were so wrong, as they suggested Obama was more popular by double digits and b)what was it that turned the tides for Hillary Clinton.
I think a number of things are worth mentioning. The first is the overhype that is often directed at and emerges from the Iowa caucauses. Perhaps because political wonks are so eager and excited about the upcoming presidential race they have a tendency to jump to conclusions too early and exaggerate where the candidates stand, (which I think happened with Obama in Iowa). The Iowa system (on the Democratic side) is very different from the rest of the country, so Obama was perhaps the more obvious winner, because independents who may have wanted to vote for someone else, ultimately felt a stronger attraction towards Obama, instead of Hillary. The second thing is that because everyone expected Obama to win in NH, and by big numbers, it is likely that he felt he had inherited the luxury of assurance, which is a dangerous luxury in a presidential race, because it usually means they don't try as hard and are less persasive and passionate in their speeches. Hillary on the other hand appeared to be an early wreck after the Iowa caucus and their was much talk of intercamp disputes and fissures in her camp, adding to the overall feeling that Obama would be the inevitable winner in NH. Another thing worth pointing out is that Iowa signifcantly changed Hillary's approach. She opened up and showed a much more personal side that she had previously been reserving or not exposing, and people responded, as the polls would show, quite positively to this new Hillary. Also the fact that McCain did so well in NH was bad news for Obama, since McCain's main strength came from independent votes which would have, in all likelihood, otherwise gone Obama--votes which he desperately needed to beat Hillary in NH.
Even though I'm biased in favor of Obama I still think his post vote results talk was better than Hillary's, because he seemed unphased by the setback, and turned the attention off of his loss almost effortlessly, and seemed eager to continue his campaign. Hillary was obviously very excited about her win, as would be expected, but I just wasn't...so her speech seemed to lack substance.
By the way, did you happen to notice that there were youthful looking teens in the background of Clinton's NH win speech? You have to assume that was for a political purpose: to make it appear that teens were behind Hillary in NH and not, as is usually the case, Obama.
Anyways this win in NH for Hillary means the race will stay neck and neck between Hillary and Barack for a long time, and it will be much harder to say who will be the victor early on...we're, unfortunately, going to have to be patient and watch what happens without any hints.