Two newcomers stormed the gates in Iowa and came away with dramatic victories Thursday night. Sen. Barack Obama's (D., Ill.) win was historic because only one other black candidate -- Jesse Jackson -- has won a caucus or a primary. And Mike Huckabee rose from relative obscurity by preaching his way into the hearts and minds of Christian conservatives.
From here, the election can unfold in two ways: the Iowa winners could hold on to their momentum, or the losers may come from behind. I see the losers getting revenge in New Hampshire on Tuesday.
Whether or not you support Obama, everyone should take a moment to recognize the significance of his win. The United States has long symbolized equality and freedom. Sadly, we also have had a history of slavery and then segregation that belies our stated principles. I hope our country can leave the wounds of history behind.
Small Biz the Clear Loser in This Election
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Obama's win will help in New Hampshire, but I can't predict that he will win the primary. Massive turnout fueled his win in Iowa. First-time caucus participants and independents joined to crown him the winner. In terms of delegates, the race remained almost as even as can be. According to CNN, Obama collected 16 delegates to John Edwards' 14 and Sen. Hillary Clinton's (D., N.Y.) 15.
Obama is expected to get some help from independents again in New Hampshire. But many independents there will also be drawn to Sen. John McCain (R., Ariz.) and Rep. Ron Paul (R., Texas). McCain has a successful history; he won New Hampshire in 2000.
Clinton has led in the Granite State for months. She dipped in December, but has bounced back in the last few weeks. Her campaign has been buoyed by important endorsements from local newspapers, including the
The Keene Sentinel
Plymouth Record Enterprise
Foster's Daily Democrat
Clinton also has the help of her husband, Bill Clinton. The Clintons never had any organization in Iowa. But New Hampshire was the start of Bill Clinton's comeback in 1992, where he finished a solid second and went on to win the Democratic nomination. They are well known and well organized. I expect Hillary Clinton to win a tight race here.
In the Republican race, Mitt Romney had long led the polls in New Hampshire. He has a second home there and shares a familiarity with his fellow New Englanders after serving as governor of Massachusetts. Red Sox blood runs deep up there.
Romney has suffered several setbacks. Two major newspapers issued editorials against Romney because, they say, he's willing to say anything to win. Furthermore, the media love to push McCain. So McCain has surged ahead of Romney. I think the race in New Hampshire is too close to call, but Romney does have the advantage of cash to advertise over the final weekend.
After the one-two punch of Romney and McCain, the struggle will be for third place. Rudy Giuliani once led the national polls by impressive margins. But as
I predicted a month ago, he has cratered. Poor showings in the first three contests will truly test his big-state strategy.
Giuliani has reversed a bit recently and scrambled in the last week trying to gain support in New Hampshire. Images of the former New York mayor after 9/11 often featured him in a New York Yankees hat -- not a popular position in New Hampshire. I see Huckabee rising to supplant Giuliani for third place. Paul might even edge out Giuliani.
Underdogs will upset New Hampshire, keeping the outcome of this race up in the air.