What struck me off the top is how much the results here reflect the pre-Iowa conventional wisdom, with hilary winning soundly among women who see her as validating their lives and with the Democratic machine vote (unions went heavily Hilary, as did "core democrats").
Indeed, had Iowa not happened, this is exactly the result one would expect. Which leads to the question: was Iowa a fluke? If so, why? Or is NH, where Clinton has been building a "firewall" since this summer when she was doing lackluster in Iowa, make NH the exception. I expect endless debate on whether the "emotional moment" made the difference in "reconnecting" with women, because our mainstream media loves the surfaces.
But on we roll to Nevada, with a debate scheduled along the way. If the difference is caucus v. primary (as some suggest), will Nevada's caucus change the dynamic along the way? And what about SEIU (with 60K members here), and other organized labor?
(There is, of course, the MI primary, but as the Democratic Party will not seat their delegates none of the top 3 Ds are campaigning there.
A few thoughts:
1) Clinton's NH upset will obviously reassure her supporters that Clinton is still a winner. The question is, what does it do to the non-Clinton supporters. Edwards remains frozen at his core 15%-20%. Do Edwards supporters start acting strategic and support Obama? Or do they try to rally around Edwards in Nevada and SC? If Richardson drops out (a real possibility if he loses in Nevada), do those votes migrate to Hilary?
2) If Obama loses in NV (which I think likely), much rides on SC. I do not believe that Obama can win enough on Tsunami Tuesday without a win other than Iowa, particularly given Hialry's lock on the Super Delegates. Much will depend on how hardy Obama's base proves. Will this disappointment rally the troops to fight harder? Or will it confirm for the doubtful that America still will not elect a black man as President? The nature of that debate is critical in the black community in SC.
On the Republican side:
1) McCain is now back in the race. Romeny is expected to do well in Michigan, however. That will keep Romney alive. I expect Thompson to drop soon.
2) Huckabee did reasonably well for his lowered expectations for NH. Expect more of the same in MI. He will do well enough in third until he gets to SC. Here again, SC will play the pivotal role in setting expectations before Tsunami Tuesday.
A final reflection:
If I believed for a minute that Clinton would interpret a narrow win as an indicator that she needs to shift to more genuinely progressive positions and make room in her team for new faces and new ideas, I'd be a lot less depressed. But my expreience with the Clinton team is that they suffer from the same problem the Bushies do. A win is a win and it confers a total mandate. The very fact of winning -- however marginally -- confirms the wisdom of all past acts and current assumptions. We have seen the result of that in the Bush Administration. I don't expect any different here, should it come to that.