The reason behind the result in New HampshireBy now everyone knows that Hillary Clinton came back to defeat Barack Obama in the New Hampshire Democratic Primary. Much of the mainstream press is attributing this to Hillary's "crying incident," but there may be something else to Hillary's victory that had little to do with that little episode-one that may actually hurt her with voters in the long run. Barack Obama's defeat in New Hampshire may have had more to do with the Republican Primary than the one in which he ran.
It was something of an open secret among political operatives, hacks, mainstream press, and informed political bloggers of both parties that a big factor in any Obama victory in New Hampshire would be independent voters, who are allowed to vote in either party's Primary there. It was expected that these independents would opt for the Democratic Primary and Obama, after polls going into yesterday's vote in the Granite State showed him with a sizable lead. Without independents, Obama would almost certainly lose, as New Hampshire Democrats were shown to favor Clinton by a margin of about 1.5 to 1.
Another candidate who depended on independents for his political success in New Hampshire was John McCain. Independents voted in the Republican Primary there in 2000 in large numbers and handed the then-underdog McCain a huge win over George W. Bush, who identified Republicans in New Hampshire preferred by about 2 to 1 vs. McCain. In this contest, proclaimed Republicans would have given New Hampshire to Mitt Romney by a narrow margin if independents did what the polls were suggesting and voted in the Democratic Primary.
So was it Hillary's crying spell that put her over the top? No. The independents that Barack Obama was counting on to assure him victory in New Hampshire instead voted in the Republican Primary and went heavily for John McCain and handed him a victory on the Republican side, while the lack of "independent" presence in the Democratic Primary insured Hillary Clinton her victory. It is a process that is a great argument for why Primaries and Caucuses should be closed.
The reality that McCain has to rely on independents for his Primary victories is exactly why he will not be the Republican nominee (it is why he was not the last time), and it may be what brings Obama's campaign to an end-and all of this may create an unexpected opening for Fred Thompson.
Labels: Presidential Election