The Democratic contest was much closer than polling and pundits had predicted. Although all polling showed Barack Obama would score a wide, he narrowly trailed Hillarly Clinton for most of the night as results were being tabulated. The numbers: Clinton – 39%, Obama – 37%, John Edwards – 17%, Bill Richardson – 5%, Dennis Kucinich – 1%. Clinton’s upset win — in that she had gone from NH frontrunner to trailing by double-digits in nearly all polls over the past five days — immediately revived her campaign.
It also highlighted the inherent flaws in polling in a highly fluid race. In the end, it was the solid support from female voters — a group she split last with with Obama — that gave Clinton her victory on Tuesday. Edwards was openly hoping for another second place finish, but vowed again he will “continue on until the convention” after his distant third place finish. Richardson also vowed to continue his campaign. Obama and Clinton will face-off in all of the upcoming contests as national co-frontrunners. Obama is viewed as holding an edge over Clinton in South Carolina, with the state’s large black voter base. Edwards, however, also needs a strong showing in SC to remain relevant.
By contrast, Nevada is currently viewed as a highly competitive, three-way race between Clinton, Obama and Edwards. Labor unions will dominate the Nevada contest, and all three enjoy labor support. Florida is viewed as a Clinton stronghold, then all bets are off for February 5. Michigan will not be a contest for the Dems, as Clinton is unopposed on the ballot in the state. Look for the Democrats to now face a protracted nomination contest.