January 9th, 2008
08:15 AM ET
5 years ago

The comeback kids

The CNN Ticker

McCain celebrates in Nashua after winning the New Hampshire primary.

NEW YORK (CNN) – For six months, John McCain has been slowly clawing his way out of the rubble of a campaign that by all accounts had completely imploded. Since Iowa, Hillary Clinton had been described as a candidate on the ropes.

In a matter of hours Tuesday night, both senators proved the political pundits and pollsters wrong. The people of New Hampshire have spoken, and Sens. Clinton and McCain are riding new waves of momentum.

Clinton capitalized on her strength with women voters, low income earners, and union members to derail what many had started to view as Barack Obama’s runaway train.

In the battle for the GOP nomination, McCain captured New Hampshire’s sizable independent and moderate Republican vote, and benefited tremendously from an electorate extremely disillusioned by the Bush administration. In the increasingly blue Granite State, a full 50 percent of Republican primary voters expressed a negative view of President Bush’s performance. McCain beat his chief rival in this state, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, by 15 points among this surprisingly large bloc of voters.

McCain, the Senate’s most notable GOP maverick, repeated his success from eight years earlier when he trounced then-Texas Gov. George W. Bush by appealing to both the Republican base and, more notably, independent voters. At the same time, Romney’s bid to win over voters by painting McCain as soft on illegal immigration largely failed. Simply put, not enough New Hampshire voters believe that illegal immigration is the most pressing issue facing the country.

And with the United States at war, the decorated Vietnam veteran and former P.O.W. benefited from an electorate that overwhelmingly described him as the best potential commander-in-chief. More than 4 in 10 Republican voters saw McCain as the most qualified to hold this title, compared to only 1 in 4 who felt the same way about Romney.

Meanwhile, Clinton found her voice, so she said, and regained her footing with her base of women voters. In Iowa, the New York senator lost the women’s vote to Obama by five points. By contrast, she carried the woman’s vote in New Hampshire by a sizable 13- point margin.

Clinton’s Iowa loss forced her to more fully engage in the type of retail politics that is demanded by New Hampshire’s notoriously fickle first-in-the-nation primary voters. And she successfully showed voters a rarely seen side of her by letting her guard down at a campaign event in Portsmouth. Her tears came one day before voters headed to the polls, and already observers are wondering if this display of emotion helped save her candidacy.

As Republicans and Democrats now embark on different paths in their pursuit of the White House, several candidates now find themselves with their backs to the wall. If he chooses to stay in the race, New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson will likely face a make-or-break caucus in neighboring Nevada. John Edwards is facing a severe cash crunch as he struggles to make his voice heard against his two better-funded opponents.

While Fred Thompson is banking on South Carolina, Romney and McCain are setting their sights on Michigan. And Mike Huckabee might have a surprisingly strong showing in that state’s hotly contested Republican primary. As in Iowa, evangelicals will be the key to any success on the part of the Arkansas governor. Rudy Giuliani is still counting on a strong showing in Florida to serve as a springboard into Super Tuesday.

Only 120 hours separated Iowa and New Hampshire. Now the sprint becomes a virtual month-long marathon with a potential February 5 finish line looming in the distance.

- CNN's Mark Preston and Alan Silverleib

Filed under: Hillary Clinton • John McCain • New Hampshire
soundoff (138 Responses)
  1. frank Honolulu HI

    Paul Steinhauser is an idiot. He wrote that double diget Obama lead column. Is he a professional writer or is he doing college writer training. Get your facts straight sir.

    January 9, 2008 07:09 pm at 7:09 pm |
  2. P. D.

    'can't begin to express the delight felt as you people agonize over Sen. Clinton's win.
    She IS Awesome.
    When your perv senators were playing footsie in the toilet and your top leaders wer banking millions from war profits and corporate kick-backs....
    when that smirking simpleton you voted as president recklessly trashed this country...
    Hillary Clinton was working. Working hard. with dedication, intellect and passion.
    AND through a troublesome time in her marriage she stayed in her marriage and honored her vows.
    Don't punish her for the indiscretions of her husband, her brilliant husband.
    If you do you are not the moral party you claim to be. What a laugh that claim is anyway.
    Do not underestimate Hillary Clinton.
    She is tough as nails and yes she has feelings, too. So what! I have seen your George's eyes glisten a few times. But on him it was touching.
    Hear this.
    I hope your stomachs are tied in knots and your heads are bursting with tension and your teeth are clenched in rage.
    For millions of your American brothers and sisters have been feeling so, every day for these past miserable seven years.

    VOTE for Hillary!
    .. woman especially.
    Make a woman president and watch this country rise again.
    Make your imprint in History.
    Make this VOTE go down in infamy.
    HILLARY 08
    Lord knows the men have had their day.

    January 9, 2008 07:11 pm at 7:11 pm |
  3. russ H

    Mr. McCain. Get Liberman for vice president and lead the way. I know a hundred retired soldiers that would go along with this versus the Clinton ways and Obama which does not know which way to go..

    January 9, 2008 07:26 pm at 7:26 pm |
  4. Robert Foose

    Barack Obama has been a Senator for 13 months prior to his decision to run
    for president. There goes the experience angle. His rational for running,
    outside of audacity, is judgment. True he didn't vote for the war. No one
    asked him. He was a state senator in Illinois. In Washington the only vote
    he casts differently from his chief rival is the vote on Iran. He couldn't,
    he wasn't there. On all other important issues his votes are identical with
    Hillary Clinton. I imagine with such limited knowledge of the issues, why
    not vote with someone who actually knows something about them. He speaks to
    our emotions. It's the facts he refuses to deliver on. I would like to ask
    those thinking of voting for him, to ask yourself one question, why? If it's
    charisma, race or his X factor, you may want to think again.

    January 9, 2008 07:29 pm at 7:29 pm |
  5. Robert Foose

    I believe that it is important, with the mess that the next president will inherit, that we have someone who is ready and Barack Obama is not. He is a creation of the media. Just 13 months in the Senate before running for president is what I call audacious. It is important that voters realize they are not voting for charisma but someone to lead this country after 8 years of the worst president in history.

    January 9, 2008 07:34 pm at 7:34 pm |
  6. Mark R. Fort Lauderdale FL

    Looks like the Obama express ran off the rails. TRAINWRECK!!!!

    January 9, 2008 08:11 pm at 8:11 pm |

    The media press or pundits are coronating barack and gave him a run away train as a gift but all of them is very very wrongggggggggggggg! what a shame . I used to believed in POLLS when Bill Clinton run against the Sr. Bush but now the POLLS IS A BIG FAKE OR FLUKE ! Don't blame the voters in NH. they don't lied I think those polls was done during the OBAMA rally instead of knocking every doors in NH . or called them and asked who they will vote for .

    January 9, 2008 11:01 pm at 11:01 pm |

    Those voters who says Senator Clinton is a weepy and can be a good contender for the best performance Oscard Award , all of you guys are all hipocrite . She maybe a popular figure but don't forget she is human like us and each one of us cried if were facing a big problem and has been through a lot during her marriage . This race is about herself and for the american people and she make it clear what she can do for each one of us when she become president with the help of the demorcratic congress and democratic senate . She is not running to make a history for herself , it's all about by putting people first not about her life and her husband . They contribute a lot in our country and her husband's personal life has nothing to do with her running for president . Either you like her or not , we have to accept that a woman can run and can win the White House and can worked with the big guys in Washington DC.

    January 10, 2008 12:16 am at 12:16 am |
  9. Ajay Jain, Garland, TX

    Obama on Electability:

    What Obama is forgetting is that he is dealing with The United States of America in 2007 where in spite all is said and done RACISM is alive. He just can not “hope” it ‘away’. Remember the "Willie Horton ads" on which Bush Sr. got elected. The Bushes are a bunch of racist people and they got away with it for three Presidential terms. John Quincy and the Adams, the only other father son team must be turning in their graves!!

    The so called 'polling' that is done among the majority Whites and Women give a very false impression of neutrality. For fear of being labeled a “racist” they say they will vote for a Black man in Obama but in the voting booth they will pull the lever for the White person / woman. Iowa was an aberration because it was a caucus and they are held in the open, counted publicly and Biden Richardson gave their non-viable “second” choices to Obama. Maybe they were promised the VP / Cabinet position secretly?

    Hence Obama should not jump to ELECTABILITY conclusions based just on polls like those conducted in NH at least on the democratic side where we have a Black and a Hispanic running in the United States of today's America! I was in a hospital this afternoon and a Blck nurse said they will kill him before they will elct him. That's how much Blacks are afraid of getting power! Remember the objections from the family members of General Collin Powell. He could and should have been our 41st President bot Bush Sr.!!

    Go Hillary44 08! http://hillaryis44.org/ http://facts.hillaryhub.com/ http://www.hillaryhub.com/ This election is a national campaign for the long haul till Michigan Primary on 1/15/08; Nevada Primary 1/19/08; South Carolina Primary (D)1/26/08; Florida Primary 1/29/08; and the most vital Super Duper Tuesday with 24 Primaries states voting on February 5th 2008, which will DECIDE the NOMINEE, then LA Primary 2/9/08; Maine Primary (D) 2/12/08; D.C. Primary, MD Primary, VA Primary 2/12/08; Hawaii Primary (D), Wash. Primary, Wis. Primary 2/19/08; Ohio Primary, R.I. Primary, TX Primary, VT 3/4/08; WYO. Primary (D); MISS. Primary 3/11/08; PA Primary 4/22/08; IND. Primary, N.C. Primary 5/6/08; NEB. Primary, W. VA. Primary 5/13/08; KY. Primary, ORE. Primary 5/20/08; S.D. Primary 6/3/08 not the early states! A pre-Iowa snapshot of the national election scene: http://uselectionatlas.org/2008.php

    January 10, 2008 05:56 am at 5:56 am |
  10. lee

    I just hope those of you who support McCain are ready for THE DRAFT because it will return with him in office.
    This man is all about the military, serving, and war.
    He doesn't have the intelligence or intrest to discuss other options.
    Just listen to him.

    January 10, 2008 09:33 am at 9:33 am |
  11. lee

    typo: interest

    January 10, 2008 09:35 am at 9:35 am |
  12. Linda Marana, Arizona

    OK,OK, let's not all jump on Hillary's bandwagon just because she is a woman. Come on now girls! If we are going to put a woman in the White House lets have it be for her intelligence, insight, and ability to handle people and courage to implement strategies that work, not just sound good . And please let's not let it be said that women can't handle stress or feel sorry for her because she sheds a few tears. She's going to have to stand up to more than this if she makes it in. I don't want Hillary to be President of these United States because I'm terrified if the thought of her negotiating with the big boys over war and peace, life and death, health insurance and several other issues. I am not trying to berate Hillary, her personality, her basic intelligence, or her wardrobe. But let's not stand on the premise that women can run a household therefore should be able to run the country, Let's vote on the issues and hope that after it's all said and done, that the president will adhere to his/her pre-election promises. Any way you look at it they will be inheriting a mess.

    January 10, 2008 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
  13. Annie

    I can see why people have been following Barak Obama and seem to think he can make everything better but that just isn't going to happen. I happen to like the guy...he is very well spoken, gives great speaches, however, he lacks the experience in MANY areas.

    Hillary, and I know there are people out there who just don't want another Clinton in the office need to understand that she is not Bill. She has 35 years of dealing with "CHANGE" (everyone's key word). Being a woman in a man's house (The White House) as got to have made her privy to things no other candidate can even profess to know about. As the First Lady she traveled all over the world and the President probably spoke to her as an adviser many times instead of a wife. He totally respects her political opinion.

    I say why not have a ticket "Clinton/Obama". Then after the 8 years in the White House the world will be ready for Obama.

    Go Hillary!!!!

    January 12, 2008 02:33 am at 2:33 am |
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