Well, Hillary came in two points ahead of Obama in New Hampshire, and 22 points ahead of John Edwards. Edwards insists that he’s still in it for the remaining 48 states, but I have a hard time imagining how he will do any better in those states than he did in Iowa, where he camped out for the last 3 years. I wish him luck, though.
I’m inclined to agree with the general consensus that Hillary won a lot of support from the asinine obsession various folks (including Edwards, alas) had with her tears the other day. But like publius, I don’t think that sexism is ultimately behind Hillary’s slipping poll numbers. If there’s a bias working against her, it’s a bias against dynastic legacies (clearly more a feature of Democratic politics).
There are other factors. The “inevitability” story she was pushing had no appeal to anyone who cared about policy, politics or, frankly, America. When she talks about her experience, it just calls to mind her failure with healthcare reform in the early ’90s, and her total failure of leadership and insight in the runup to the invasion of Iraq. Experience matters, but only if you learn from and fix your mistakes. Finally, her campaign has been mechanical and uninspiring. Obama and Edwards are inspiring speakers. They know how to work a crowd, how to craft a speech and bring an audience around to their way of thinking. Bill Clinton has that same ability, but Hillary does not.
I’d love to see a race between Obama and Edwards. I think some critical issues would be fought over, and the public would learn something along the way. In that setting, Edwards might be able to change my mind and many more. At this point, though, Edwards lags in fundraising, and it isn’t clear how he can run the sort of massive campaign necessary to compete seriously on Super-duper Tsunami Tuesday. I suppose he’ll pick a few states and try to build up a few delegates, and with them a seat at the table when the convention rolls around. Obama is likely to win in South Carolina, Nevada is up for grabs, and then Obama and Clinton will test out their ability to run an elaborate, multi-state campaign. That’ll be a useful preview of the general election, whatever the outcome might be. With the winners of Iowa and New Hampshire evenly split, there’s no momentum at work, other than the gradual erosion in support that Hillary had been seeing for months.
It’ll be an interesting month.
As for the Republicans, the dynamic seems totally strange. Romney keeps underperforming, but he keeps losing to different folks. Not being out to pull it together in New Hampshire weakens him, especially given that his plan all along was to sweep these early states. Giuliani is staying nicely at the bottom of the rankings, but his 9/11-lalia keeps things entertaining. Huckabee will do well in many of the southern states, and the rest of the party will eventually get together behind an anti-Huckabee, at which point things will get really interesting.