The Night the Pollsters Got It Wrong

The reporters who were gathered there had had even less R and R than the candidate they were traveling with. And no need to put on a smiley face about the trudge through Iowa earlier in the week. Their franchise, one said in the airport hangar, was “fucked.”

“We thought we owned a McDonald’s, but we own a Wendy’s.”

Friday, Jan. 4, 10:15 a.m.
With Barack Obama in Portsmouth, N.H.

Inside an old airplane hangar at what used to be Pease Airforce Base in Portsmouth, Barack Obama was making his first New Hampshire appearance since his Iowa victory.

He recited his standard stump speech, but there was a confident, almost giddy spirit in his voice and among the crowd of a few hundred supporters.

Referring to his new status as the Democratic front-runner, he said: “This feels good. It’s just like I imagined it when I was talking to my kindergarten teacher.”

Friday, Jan. 4, 4 p.m.
With Mike Huckabee in Henniker, N.H.

Mike Huckabee was speaking at a rally of his supporters in the gymnasium of New England College in Henniker.

“Do you really think they had this much fun at Hillary’s rally?” Mr. Huckabee said, after playing a few songs on the bass guitar with a local band.

He introduced his friend, Chuck Norris.

Mr. Norris told a story about people from the Middle East who come to the U.S. and buy things and load them on private planes and do not pay taxes.

“Chuck Norris for president!” screamed an audience member.

Mr. Huckabee took the microphone.

“What about Chuck Norris for secretary of defense?”

Friday, Jan. 4, 7 p.m.
In the New Hampshire Dome, Milford, N.H.

A giant crowd gathered at the Hampshire Dome for the N.H. Democratic Party’s Club 100.

Bill Richardson gave his speech. By the time he was wrapping up, hundreds of Mr. Obama’s supporters had begun gathering near the stage, chanting and yelling.

Then: an eruption. The majority of the hall that holds the party dinner—the dome actually is enormous, by the way—jumped to its feet as Mr. Obama entered the room. Definitely a minority were sitting.

“People say, Obama, he may talk good, he may have good ideas. … But they will say, Obama hasn’t been in Washington long. He needs to be seasoned and stewed. We have to boil all the hope out of him. And you know—that argument didn’t work in Iowa. And it’s not going to work in New Hampshire.”

Saturday, Jan. 5, 9:30 a.m.
Rudy rides a Segway at Southern New Hampshire University, Manchester, N.H.

A conference was gathered at Southern New Hampshire University: Robotics enthusiasts. “For Inspiration & Recognition of Science and Technology,” the meet-up was called. “A unique varsity sport of the mind,” the competition literature read. “Designing and building a robot is a fascinating real-world professional experience.”

Rudy Giuliani rode in on a Segway.

While he did receive a warm response, the attendees were ultimately there to see robots fight.

On his way out The Observer caught up with him.

In New Hampshire, “we’re going to do well,” said Mr. Giuliani. “And then we’ll be ready to live and fight another day.”

Saturday, Jan. 5, 10 a.m.
In the lobby of the Manchester Radisson

Republican political consultant and talking head M
ike Murphy was in the lobby of the Radisson in Manchester.

“President Clinton? Never gonna happen,” he told a reporter. “She loses here, but she keeps trying. She turns into Ed Muskie in a pantsuit. “There’s your money quote.”

Saturday, Jan. 5, 11 a.m.
‘Live Well Laugh Often Love Much’: Litchfield, N.H.

An hour or so after the robot fight, Mr. Giuliani gave a speech at a packed house in Litchfield. But it was a house.

“Live Well Laugh Often Love Much” was written above the archway leading into the living room where Mr. Giuliani spoke. Keys hung on the wall next to the closet. Appliances got in the way of people as they squeezed into the kitchen.