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Sunday, January 6, 2008

On to New Hampshire

George Wenschhof

Next Tuesday in New Hampshire another interesting variable at play is the registered independent voter. In this state registered independent voters can request either a Democrat or Republican ballot.

If the trend continues from Iowa, more will request Democrat ballots but then the question becomes what Democrat will earn their vote? They will certainly be a determining factor in the win, place and show finish of the candidates - oops, I said I wouldn't use any more horse race metaphors - sorry.

Four years ago after Edwards had come in second in Iowa with 32%, he went to New Hampshire and came in fourth at 18% behind Kerry, Dean, and Wesley Clark. However, he then won S. Carolina and then after finishing second in many of the states on March 2, 2004 (that year's Super Tuesday with ten states) Edwards dropped out. He was later named VP running mate with Kerry and we all know the rest of the story.

Edwards received 30% in Iowa this time around and unless Richardson catches fire in New Hampshire, Edwards will finish at least third in New Hampshire this time. I mentioned in an earlier post I expect Richardson to do well in the Nevada primary on the 19th which makes the S. Carolina primary on the 26th a critical state prior to the new Super Tuesday on February 5th when over 20 states hold their primaries and close to 2100 delegates are up for grabs. Edwards really needs to finish above third in New Hampshire and that is going to be difficult.

Both the Obama and Clinton campaigns have a strong presence in New Hampshire and both want to win this state. It is more critical for Clinton as she had always referred to New Hampshire as the firewall for her campaign - a state she would win, regardless of how she did in Iowa. She received double digits leads in all the polls until several weeks ago when Obama began to chip away at her double digit lead.

Now the Concord Monitor poll shows basically a tie between Obama and Clinton with Obama - 34%, Clinton - 33%, and Edwards - 23% - see the Real Clear Politics poll data graph

A close second place finish by Obama will be fine for his campaign will be able to say how well he did when Clinton poured everything she had into New Hampshire. A win here by Obama would be huge and continue to build momentum for his campaign.

It appears it will be close in New Hampshire - keep an eye and ear out for any "I got you" moments over the next few days as campaign operatives look for ways to improve the odds for their candidates in this primary.

The last time I looked, my notes have it that there are 4,372 delegates at stake in the primaries and the Democratic nominee must receive at least 2,209 so although each of these states are important, the nomination process is just getting started.

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