Various media reports indicated that a very high turnout was expected today in the New Hampshire primaries, aided by relatively warm weather, as the race for president is finally giving the media and the public at large something substantial to chew on. The Iowa caucuses last week generated some tremendous attention for Barack Obama, and many former and current political operatives are saying that he's got great momentum at the moment.
Whether Clinton's goose is cooked if she loses (reports said the apparently super-important culinary trade association in Nevada is poised to endorse Obama, who also is expected to draw newly energized African-American voters in South Carolina) of course remains to be seen. But as one agency exec who has traditionally worked for Republican clients said to me: “I'm actually excited about the idea of idea of Obama as president. The prospect of an African-American becoming president could be very inspiring for kids.”
Significantly, no major revelations about Obama's past have come to light since the start of the campaign, this exec noted. Efforts to denigrate him for past drug use have flopped, for example, as have attempts to portray him as some sort of security threat for having Muslim relatives. A reported effort to form an “anybody but Obama” group has also failed to go anywhere.
Among the Republican candidates, how much momentum Huckabee gained from his win in Iowa is less clear, as the typical New Hampshire Republican is not in the same evangelical mold as the voter base that supported Huckabee in Iowa. Another former Republican operative said that Romney, meanwhile, appears to be in trouble, especially with his lead having eroded in New Hampshire, a supposed lock for him given his former governorship of Massachusetts.
Will McCain, with an edge in the New Hampshire polling, be the new frontrunner? The race will likely remain quite splintered. Also, McCain is now 71, and his age could be an issue. But that doesn't seem to be a factor at the moment. The former Bush administration insider told me: “I think that's gone away. Maybe it was an issue when he first announced. But he looks fine to me. He seems like he's totally healthy.”
Elsewhere on the trail…
Door-to-door campaigning still trumps direct mailings or other marketing.
Is Clinton's “tearing up” at NH café good or bad, political analysts wonder?
Fred Thompson skips NH today to focus on South Carolina.
Publicity stunts during campaign aim to gain support for pet issues like healthcare, etc.
Romney classmate holds press conference denigrating Mormons.