Resurrection as a Political Art Form

Out of the snows of New Hampshire came the walking dead-dead at least as pronounced by the political blogs and

Out of the snows of New Hampshire came the walking dead-dead at least as pronounced by the political blogs and media talking heads. Last summer, they chronicled the exquisite decline of the candidacy of Senator John McCain. McCain is the type of guy you would be proud your kid became. He is a genuine war hero, a free thinking politician, a maverick in a party known for its ideological straight jackets. He is also a little bellicose in foreign policy. He engages the voters in these states with tough talk and blunt and often funny observations. When he lost the 2000 primaries to George Bush II, he dismissed the press corps at the end with the farewell, "Good by, you idiots." Well, McCain showed that in flinty New Hampshire where he was once again the man of the main Republican Party. Mitt Romney, who vacations in New Hampshire (and a zillion other places), was lambasted by the major newspapers there which saw him as a "phony." As in Iowa, McCain will have a difficult time with battles in upcoming states with large fundamentalist voters,

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Mitt Romney, who vacations in New Hampshire (and a zillion other places), was lambasted by the major newspapers there which saw him as a "phony."

In the Democratic party, Senator Hillary Clinton who was written off by her usual right-wing haters as well as the New York Times, suddenly emerged from what was supposed to be an 8-10 point deficient according to the polls. She won by three points. It appears that the women's vote proved more reliable for her in New Hampshire than it did in Iowa. New Hampshire women tend to be more focused on women's rights, and Hillary hit hard on the right to choose (abortion). But most interesting is that she did well in blue collar cities like Manchester and Nashua, where the appeal of bread and butter issues is gaining strength as the economy is moving toward recession. The record high turnout on a sunny day did not leave Obama with the clear cut victory that the pundits predicted. He did better among independents, but she carried the registered Democrats who defiantly want to end the disastrous reign of Bush II. Once again, she profited from the issue of experience which 20% of the voters said was the top issue. Where voters identified that issue, she led Obama by a 12 to 1 ratio. Hillary also ran strongly among voters over 65 (46% to 36%) and in union households 40% to 32%. Obama was the choice of the young carrying two thirds of the voters in the 18 to 24 category. He did better among college educated voters and those with incomes over $50,000. By 39% to 29 %, the voters said that Hillary would be the best commander in chief in the Democratic fold.

Commentators seem to take it as a personal insult that there is no consistent winner. One day its McCain, or Huckabee, the next its Obama and Clinton. Who is going to win the horserace? By February we will have a better idea when more large states weigh in.

What is happening is that in different states the differing political base is being reflected in the results. The fundamentalists are strong in Iowa, especially in the western part of the state, but that is not an inclination in New Hampshire where the emphasis is on individualism. They are still Republicans, but in different wings of the GOP. The caucus favored Obama's passionate style in Iowa, but in New Hampshire, the Democratic organization is friendly to the Clintons' and the people who live in Boston's shadow are seeing the economic conditions roll in. In Iowa, the pundits said that the war in Iraq was not an issue; but the voters in the Democratic Party said the opposite. There are clearly generational issues in the Democratic Party as well and these have strengthened Obama's candidacy among people who want change but also talk of national unity and purpose.

We are not confused. We come from very different angles in what may be the most important election since 1932.

Michael P. Riccards is Executive Director of the Hall Institute of Public Policy – New Jersey.

Resurrection as a Political Art Form