FOX News’ exit poll shows McCain with a 5% lead over Mitt Romney. Interestingly enough, that same exit poll shows that Clinton and Obama are also separated by 5%, with Obama leading 39% to 34%. The early results have been very favorable to Clinton, which would really make this race interesting. If Obama fails to blow out Clinton, that would be a major shot in the arm for the Clinton campaign.
More as the night continues…
UPDATE: 7:06PM – Jim Geraghty is getting some very interesting exit poll results showing a very close race on both the Democratic and Republican sides. This could be a rather interesting night if those exit polls hold true.
UPDATE: 7:14PM – Both CNN and FOX News have called the New Hampshire primary for John McCain. It looks like McCain may beat Romney by a bigger margin that Obama will beat Hillary. That’s an unexpected result.
This puts McCain in the position of being the frontrunner, as Romney’s strategy was based around strong showings in Iowa and New Hampshire. I don’t think that Romney will bow out, but it seems likely that he’s not going to be able to recover from this. If McCain wins in Michigan, and I think he will, that’s the end of Romney’s campaign.
Conservatives are going to be taking a close look at McCain in the next few weeks, which means that McCain has a lot of reassuring to do on key issues. However, on key issues like Iraq and spending, McCain has been a conservative vanguard. That may be enough for many conservatives, even with McCain’s squishiness on other issues.
Here’s the interesting question: where does Romney’s support go in the aftermath of consecutive loses in Iowa and New Hampshire?
UPDATE: 7:38PM – Clinton still has a slight lead against Obama with 16% of the votes in. I doubt it will last, but if Clinton stays within striking distance of Obama, it will be a very interesting race. This isn’t looking like an Obama blowout at all, which means that Clinton may be following her husband as being the “Comeback Kid” in New Hampshire—remember that Clinton also came in second in New Hampshire when he got that moniker.
UPDATE: 7:43PM – Interestingly, McCain did very well with late deciders, which indicates that Romney’s supposed late gains didn’t actually materialize. That’s interesting, as there were indications that Romney was making a comeback in New Hampshire. If these numbers are accurate, that means that Romney’s efforts to retool his campaign towards the end just didn’t work.
UPDATE: 7:47PM – Romney is speaking – “we got a silver.” Unfortunately for Romney, I just don’t see him coming back from this one. His strategy was based upon winning these early contests, and failing that he doesn’t seem to have much of a fallback strategy.
UPDATE: 7:53PM – This is interesting. While Romney speaks, more numbers are coming in. Hillary Clinton is increasing her lead against Barack Obama. She’s now ahead by 6% with about 23% of the precincts reporting. Anything could change, but it’s looking more and more like the runaway Obama win that was widely predicted isn’t appearing yet.
UPDATE: 8:04PM – Huckabee is speaking, despite taking only third. Meanwhile, the Clinton/Obama race is slowly tightening. Clinton is still ahead, but the margins are closing a bit. Still, even if Obama wins narrowly, Clinton could be the Comeback Queen tonight…
UPDATE: 8:12PM – McCain is speaking. A lot of iPhones in the crowd, which is chanting “Mac is back.” Indeed he is. McCain’s campaign was DOA a few months ago, and now he’s the frontrunner. McCain is emphasizing how he’s the “straight talk” candidate. Right now it’s looking like the predicted blowouts were reversed—McCain has won convincingly against Romney, and Clinton still leads Obama with 36% of the vote counted.
This is looking like a night for dramatic comebacks.
UPDATE: 8:17PM – McCain looks very Presidential tonight. I was an early supporter of Senator McCain in 2000, and the John McCain I’m seeing tonight is the John McCain I liked then. For his faults, I could see Republicans rallying around him—and a McCain/Thompson ticket sounds really good to me.
UPDATE: 8:27PM – The Clinton/Obama race is tightening, with Clinton still ahead by 2% and 42% of the vote counted.
Captain Ed has an interesting theory—that independents crossed over to vote for McCain, thinking Obama would win handily. Only about 20,000 fewer Republicans showed up to vote than Democrats, which gives some credence to that theory.
UPDATE: 8:31PM – The latest FOX News exit poll shows Clinton ahead 39-37%. I’m starting to think that she could win it. Hillary Clinton is the Comeback Queen tonight, as it’s looking like Barack Obama can’t pull off the blowout that everyone was expecting.
UPDATE: 8:36PM – Jim Geraghty has rave reviews for McCain’s speech. McCain actually carried the conservative vote in New Hampshire, and with Churchilian rhetoric like that, it’s not hard to understand why.
Clinton’s lead has increased to 4%—I’m really starting to think that she’s going to win. If she does, prepare for the coronation of the Comeback Queen.
UPDATE: 8:47PM – CNN is saying that the college towns haven’t reported in yet, and that might shift the balance back over to Obama. That could be, but unless Obama suddenly breaks out and wins convincingly, Hillary has still utterly demolished expectations tonight.
UPDATE: 9:00PM – The exit poll results are interesting. Clinton is dominating the female vote by 13%. She’s also winning union voters, lower-imcome voters, and older voters. Obama is winning with younger voters and independents.
UPDATE: 9:07PM – Here’s an interesting thought. The CW is that the college vote will heavily favor Clinton. But will it favor him enough to beat the current spread? Dartmouth has an enrollment of about 6,000—could Obama really pick up enough votes from places like that to beat a roughly 3,000 vote spread? I’m starting to wonder if Obama can really pick up enough votes to beat Hillary’s momentum if demographic trends continue.
UPDATE: 9:12PM – On FOX, Obama’s people are saying that the race could come down to Hanover. I’m not so sure—the exit polls are showing that Obama is not doing as well as predicted in western New Hampshire. The margins keep fluctuating, and if there’s a trend towards Obama, it isn’t showing yet.
Hanover is where Dartmouth is, but again, if it’s a 4,000 vote race, even a strong Obama showing may not be enough for Obama to pull ahead. Michael Barone is running the numbers, and says that Hanover could erase Hillary’s gains. Still, that’s only if Obama trounces Hillary there. If it’s a 60/40 split, Hillary could still eke out a narrow win—and even a narrow win makes Hillary look good.
The bottom line is this: Hillary Clinton defied expectations tonight. Even if she loses by a narrow margin it’s still a victory for her campaign. If she wins, even more so.
UPDATE: 9:19PM – Edwards is speaking. I’m trying to hold my dinner in. What a phony, and a phony who has no chance to win. Thankfully.
UPDATE: 9:33PM – The AP has called the race for Hillary Clinton.
UPDATE: 9:35PM – MSNBC has has also called the race for Hillary Clinton. With a 5,000 vote margin, it’s still possible for Obama to take the lead, but I’m not so sure that it’s likely at this point.
UPDATE: 9:42PM – I’m calling it for Clinton. With a lead of ~6,000 votes, even a strong turnout in Hanover doesn’t seem likely to shift the balance. This is a major achievement for Senator Clinton, and a major loss for the pundits.
This afternoon, the word was about the collapse of Hillary Clinton. Tomorrow it will be about the coronation of the Comeback Queen. What a night!
UPDATE: 9:45PM – Jim Geraghty reminds us all of just how wrong the polls were in this race. Let that be a lesson to those who think that political polls have a great deal of meaning.
UPDATE: 9:47PM – FOX News has called the race for Hillary Clinton. Barack Obama is about to speak.
This is bad news for McCain, because his win is already old news.
UPDATE: 9:49PM – Obama’s speech sounds more like a victory speech than a concession speech. Then again, with the race this close, his campaign is hardly over.
UPDATE: 9:56PM – If someone had said that tonight John McCain would beat Romney by a larger margin than the spread between Obama and Clinton I’d think you were nuts. If they had said that Hillary Clinton would beat Obama, I’d definitely think they were crazy. Yet tonight, the crazy people would have been right.
UPDATE: 9:57PM – CNN has also called the race for Hillary Clinton.
UPDATE: 10:00PM – I’m surprised at how vapid Obama’s speech is: I think his schtick is wearing a bit thin. All this talk about “change” and “yes we can” but no substance to any of it. Change to what? Yes we can do what?
I don’t think the Democrats are in a post-partisan mood this year any more than they have been in the last few years. They want to kick ass, and Hillary Clinton is a pro at that.