Wow, big night on both sides. While anyone finishing behind will tell you it's early and it's only one state, the results last night do tell a story. Obama finishing in first going away is BIG! He has become the candidate of hope and change in the democratic party and democrats are nothing if not romantics about their politics. I think this big win will grow into a win in NH and that will lead to a string of victories and the nomination. It's not inevitable, just my feeling. Let's break down the rest of the field on the Dem side:
Hillary- She can say what ever she wants, but finishing third has to hurt. She needs a win in NH. If she loses she won't go away, but it makes the task harder. I can't see her winning in SC but I can see some victories for her in several of the Feb 5th states, but without a win going into those states she will be fighting against a candidate with huge momentum.
Edwards- He ran a good campaign in Iowa, the problem is he's been running it since 2004. Finishing a distant 2nd has got to hurt. He has very little money and isn't likely to finish better than third..if he finishes in third by double digits to Hillary than he should just call it a day and hope for a life as party chairman or something.
Richardson-...he's done, but he could play spoiler in NH. I don't think it's likely, but if he can somehow finish ahead of Edwards he will have effectively killed the Senators hopes and likely will end that campaign. What would that mean to the rest of the race? I think it would be then end for Hillary. I think that most of Edwards supporters would be far more likely to support Obama than Sen. Clinton.
How about the republicans? Well, I don't see Huckabee winning the nomination, but his victory is significant. The fact that McCain didn't run helped him in the sense that Iowan voters were looking for someone other than Romney to vote for and they found him. Unfortunately for the former Governor of Arkansas, NH voters aren't likely to run to a socially conservative, evangelical Christian at the polls. Fully expect Romney to lose to McCain...I think it could be a big loss too. NH is often full of surprises. What are their futures?
Huckabee- Great win in Iowa...NH is a lost cause, he likely finishes 4th behind McCain, Romney, Thompson and maybe even Paul. If he hopes to rebound he'll need a strong finish in SC (2nd). It's possible, after all it is a state with deep religious roots. He'd be better off spending the next 5 days using his victory in Iowa to raise money and leave NH alone.
Romney- I honestly can't see him winning in NH...he likely would have lost a gubernatorial race in MA had he run for another term. He really only won previously because the dems had really weak candidates. He's a flim-flam artist of the highest degree. He's too slick and not very likable, not the kind of candidate NH voters like.
McCain- A win in NH will do his campaign wonders. He is the current comeback kid and I can see him riding a NH wave all the way to the nomination. The GOP isn't about change, it's about status quo and let's face it, any party that would nominate Bob Dole truly believes in taking turns.
Thompson- On many right wing blogs he's referred to as the guy dems fear most...really? Fred Thompson? The guy who looks like a broken in LL Bean boot? They are right about one thing, he has the best conservative bonfides of anyone running, but the problem is he doesn't seem to really want the job...he's running because he's qualified...ok, great...technically I'm qualified, but I don't want the job. If you don't want it you shouldn't be running. How does he get the nod? He'll need to win in SC. He's not running hard in NH (big mistake, had he campaigned hard there he could have snagged 2nd place), so a big finish in the south and in some of the feb 5th states is vital. If he finishes behind Paul in NH he should euthanize his campaign.
If I had to pick now I'd guess a general election of Obama v. McCain but the is the hardest race to call in recent memory.