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New Hampshire Primary Wrapup

By Kevin Robinson in News on Jan 9, 2008 4:20PM

2008_1_primary.jpgIn what could quite possibly be the nail biter of the season, Hillary Clinton pulled it out last night, winning the New Hampshire Democratic primary by a two to three point lead over Iowa front-runner Barack Obama. While most of the media was writing Hillary's political obituary, she was winning New Hampshire. With the Nevada caucuses next, and the black vote potentially split between the Clintons and Barack Obama, South Carolina may be back in play. In fact, Clinton's win last night showed one of Obama's key weaknesses: his reliance on independent and new voters. Female and older voters seemed to gravitate towards Clinton last night, with 45 percent of female Democratic voters chose Clinton. Voters over the age of 40 also picked Clinton, with nearly 70 percent going for Hillary over Obama.

The opposite happened on the Republican side of the race, where nearly 40 percent of independents who voted in the GOP primary cast a vote for McCain, who had 37 percent of the overall vote. Mitt Romney came in second with 32 percent, and Mike Huckabee, the winner of last week's Iowa GOP caucuses followed with 11 percent. Huckabee gave what was most likely the best concession speech of the night, conceding third place while preparing to head to Michigan, Nevada, South Carolina and Florida. "Tonight we're going to come out of here with continued momentum," Huckabee told supporters. "In Michigan, in South Carolina, in Florida ... what you helped us continue will be carried right on through, and it won't be long we're going to be able to secure the nomination and on to the White House and on to leading America," he said. Huckabee is polling well in both Michigan (which won't have a real Democratic primary this year) and South Carolina, which have much larger Evangelical constituencies than New Hampshire. Huckabee will have to contend with McCain, however, who is counting on both states to carry his campaign.

While the big story coming out of the race last night is Hillary's "comeback", the lesser reported story is the beginning of the end of the hard-right's grip on the GOP. Even though McCain appears to have made a comeback last night, and might even do well in Michigan or Nevada, the Republican primary is far from over. With Mitt Romney the closest the neoconservatives have to a candidate, Mike Huckabee a genuine Christian Conservative, and moderate Republicans too cowed to step up, the coming fight in the Republican party will make the Democratic primary seem like a cake walk.

Heading into Nevada and South Carolina, watch for the GOP race to get nastier, with Romney fighting to stay in the race. In the Democratic race, Bill Richardson will burn out gracefully, in the hopes that he gets the nod for Veep, and John Edwards will keep fighting through Super-Duper Tuesday. New Hampshire was about the rebirth of the underdog. The coming primaries are about stamina and grace, and who will walk away from February 5 with the nomination. At this point, it's anyone's game to win.

Image via AP Photo/Alex Brandon