Four weeks and a day ago, I made some Iowa predictions which I largely reaffirmed yesterday. Like most predictions I make, they were a ways off of the mark!
Twenty-four days ago, I made my New Hampshire predictions with the caveat that they were routed in my Iowa predictions being accurate. Now I will give you a bit of a post-mortem on my thoughts on Iowa and then revisit predictions for New Hampshire.
Today, as I predicted, the fifth and sixth place finishers in Iowa have dropped out, however I didn't have the fifth one predicted correctly. Despite my high hopes, Joe Biden failed to get traction and won about 1% of the delegates to county conventions. I think he, and the other lower-tier candidates, were swamped by the massive turnout. In 2004, turnout for the Democrats was a record 140,000. Last night that record was obliterated with 240,000. This made reaching the 15% viability threshold much more difficult. As I explained yesterday, if you get 14% in a caucus, you actually get 0 while if you get 15%, you get 15%. Assuming uniform increases in turnout, if you pulled 15 people to a 2004 meeting with 100 attendees, you would have been viable. In 2008, that same meeting would have swollen to 170 attendees and 26 supporters would have been required to be viable. I wonder in how many cases Biden and others missed viability by just a hair due to higher turnouts?
Anyway, on to the big fish. Barack Obama surprised the hell out of me with a big win. Kudos to his team who have huge bragging rights today. On the Republican side, Huckabee had faith in the faithful and that paid for him in spades, the Republican race also set new records for turnout, largely driven by high numbers of evangelical Christians. Romney's loss by a large margin there spells big trouble for his campaign in my view.
Giuliani's numbers need to be given attention. He campaigned in Iowa with about the same effort as John McCain, one might argue even a bit harder than McCain, yet McCain beat him there by a margin of four-to-one. If you look at a chart of poll averages all year, Giuliani was always in third or better until mid-December yet on January third he finished a distant sixth.
On to New Hampshire
On the Republican side, my prediction changes, but only by small shifts. McCain will still win by a large margin. However, I now believe that Huckabee, tied for third in most polls here already, will surge to a virtual tie for second by edging Romney out slightly in the high teens. Giuliani's disasterous showing in Iowa will make it a tough fight for him for fourth with Paul. As I predicted earlier, I imagine Hunter will drop out or at least be totally irrelevant. Thompson will be going directly to South Carolina without passing go, totally ignoring New Hampshire and probably Michigan and Nevada. His numbers in New Hampshire will reflect that.
So my Republican prediction would be:
Watch for Romney to start running hard today in Michigan in terms of money and advertising. He learned last night that money can't buy a small state like Iowa and that is why he will be badly beaten in New Hampshire as well. Michigan, his home state where his father was a popular governor, will be where he takes his last stand on January 15. His hope will be that, despite McCain's win there in 2000, his name recognition and his ability to spend infinity dollars on television advertisements there will allow him to eke out a win and get back into the game. If Romney can't win New Hampshire or Michigan, he will have no option but to drop out.
The Democratic race is also very interesting. I have never given Barack Obama much of a chance in this race. I must now retract that; he is a very serious player for the nomination. Clinton must win or virtually win New Hampshire now in order to survive in my view. If she trails Obama by substantially less than the 9% she lost by in Iowa, she can channel her husband's claim to a comeback and maybe recover. However, if she loses by a similar or greater margin, I would say it is all over but the crying.
In recent polls, Obama and Clinton have been close in New Hampshire and he has even led in some, and this is without the surge that will come from last night's victory. New Hampshire's debate on Saturday will be critical for her.
However, I think that she is in a lot of trouble. Couple that with the Democratic history of never electing its frontrunners and I predict the following for New Hamphire.