New Hampshire results thread: McCain triumphs, Clinton completes an improbable come-back

11:20pm: Clinton's audience was on fire, the candidate looked tired but clearly looked delighted. One thought to explain the dual results: Some independents could have switched and voted for McCain thinking that Obama had won for sure considering the coverage of the race showing him the quasi-sure winner. Meanwhile, one thought in the GOP race: Michigan is an open primary, and Democrats aren't having a vote there. That is going to be a very significant boost for McCain's chances there.
11pm: Obama's concession speech presses ahead the call for "change" and "hope." As always, Obama's speech was powerful and roused the crowd by repeating "yes we can." By the way, remember how small a 3% lead for Clinton in NH seemed just 10 days ago and how leads in the low double-digits were considered major stumbles until the end of November.
And before we pile on polls, consider that (1) polls were mostly on the field over the week-end when the bounce was at its highest, when bounces are notoriously volatile and it's a very hard polling period; and (2) independents apparently massively switched their allegiance at the last minute from the Dem to the GOP race. We knew Obama and McCain couldn't both do well, and that's what happened. And (3) Rasmussen, ARG and Suffolk all suggested that the race had stabilized and that Clinton was slightly coming back. Remember, ARG said last night that Clinton had regained her lead among female voters. Frankly there were signs in the polls that Clinton was very much alive. The media is trying to push the responsibility of their misguided coverage on polls, when frankly it's the way they portrayed them (I myself was expecting an Obama victory, obviously, but I was indicating that Clinton still had an opening in commenting on today and yesterday's polls).

10:35pm: CLINTON PROJECTED WINNER by MSNBC and the AP. CNN is refusing to follow (though they still announced the AP call, which seems like cheating, either you call it or not). MSNBC/AP apparently realized that the college-town storyline was empty given how small those towns are (and UNH is apparently not in school yet) and that there were more votes outstanding from a place like Nashua. With 67% in, it's still 39% to 36% but that represents 5,500 votes now. The press is running with a giant come-back story (MSNBC reading the headlines of the next few days).

10:20pm: And some good news for Clinton supporters: Nashua has only reported 55% (Clinton leads 48% to 31% in a city with lots of registered Democrats) and a similar situation exists in Manchester (75% reporting). The remaining votes there should balance out Hanover and Durham... A very interesting comment by Marc Ambinder: "Remember: turnout guru Michael Whouley blessed the New Hampshire organization of HRC and didn't set foot in Iowa." And now we're on to the Democratic speeches. Edwards is clearly not withdrawing. His speech sounds very similar to last week's.
10:10pm: At this point Obama cannot count that much on Hanover and Durham, since there aren't that many votes in that county. The media has apparently already chosen the storyline for the come-back: it's the tears. Apparently no one is thinking of crediting her strong debate performance (especially the second-half). With 62% in, Clinton has increased her lead to 4,500 votes.
10pm: Clinton is staying ahead by about 3,500 votes with 59% of the vote reporting. Hanover and Durham appear to still not have reported. Percentage-wise, it's only 39% to 37%, so obviously a very tight race.
9:50pm: Rochester was carried by Clinton 45% to 30%, which is interesting given that it's teh hometown of one of Obama's biggest NH backers, Rep. Shea-Porter who is supposed to be strong among activists. Rochester is also the town where that hostage-crisis occured about 6 weeks ago. With 50% reporting now (we're getting there, slowly), Obama climbed back to 39% to 37%, trailing by less than 3,500 votes now. And Romney has managed to get up at 32%!
9:40pm: Obama might be waiting for Hanover and Durham, but Clinton is expanding her lead for now, up 4,500 votes (40% to 36% with 47% in). CNN just tried to explain (by the way, Romney is now behind 6%. He would love to stay in this range at this point, as the size of his defeat could play a big role in his viability going forward.
9:30pm: Good news for Obama supporters. CNN is reporting that Hanover (Dartmouth) and Durham (UNH) have not yet reported.
9:25pm: McCain vowed to press ahead to Michigan in his victory speech, in front of a clearly excited crowd chanting "Mac is back." McCain is channeling the 2000 spirit, but his situation is much stronger than his 2000 position: the exit polls are showing McCain carrying registered Republicans. And Obama has climbed back a point, 39% to 37% (42% in).
9:20pm: Exit polls are now coming out in details, and they imply a Clinton win who needs by 13% among women, loses by 12% among men with women making up 57% of the electorate. With 40% in, it's 39% to 36% and Romney is narrowing the gap, 37% to 30%. Clinton is ahead among registered Democrats 45% to 34%, and trailing 43% to 31% among independents (Update: more refined numbers have a much smallest Obama lead among independents).
9:05pm: Romney's speech continued the Olympics metaphor, claiming "silver" for the second time and made sure to claim "gold" for Wyoming. Unfortunately for him, it's going to be hard for him to spin this given that he is losing really big at this point (though I'll wait a bit more before assessing his chances, let's wait to see how big the margin is). Huckabee's speech was very self-satisfied, celebrating his good score (12% isn't particularly high, frankly, given that he won Iowa 5 days ago). Meanwhile in the Democratic race, it's 34% reporting and still 40% to 36% in Clinton's favor! We're past a third of precincts...
9:00pm: CNN finally gave some indication of where the votes are coming from. They are reporting that Manchester (which Clinton is winning) is reporting faster than the rest of the state and that Concord where Obama is a bit stronger is slower in reporting (though I'm not sure that's true given that we already know McCain has won throughout Concord). And Obama is now getting a bit closer, 39% to 36% with 26% in.
8:52pm: Not many more precincts reporting that 10 minutes ago, but Clinton is leading 40% to 34% now with 23% in. Edwards is far behind at 17%. Among Republicans, McCain is still up 9% on Romney (these numbers have been remarkably stable, with Huckabee at 12% and Giuliani and Paul basically tied at 9% (about a 300 votes difference).
8:42pm: With 21% in, Clinton is still up 40-36 with a difference of 2,200 votes. Especially remarkable in this storyline for now is that Clinton is staying strong despite the surge in turnout. But clearly McCain's huge victory has a lot to do with Obama's inability to take a lead her. We knew that both Obama and McCain could not win big, what we did not see that Obama would be trailing with 21% in.
8:35pm: First tangible sign that Clinton might actually have a chance: She is leading in Manchester, the state's biggest city. Meanwhile, Thompson is barely ahead of Hunter...
8:30pm: Time to slowly focus on the Democratic race. And Clinton is now ahead 40% to 36% (!) with 15% in. Obviously surprising numbers and I'm unwilling to try and understand what's going on for now. Among the GOP, Huckabee, Giuliani and Paul are tightly following each other in that order. Pundits are now taking delights in pounding Romney's negative ads. For what it's worth, I would like to point out that most of Romney's ads were based on policy, much more so than McCain's personally negative ads. But one key number: McCain carried registered Republicans by about the same percentage than independents!

8:15pm: McCain called the winner. HUGE defeat for Romney -- Losing is one thing, but he looks to have suffered a much bigger defeat than expected if it is being called this early. And this is surely due to a wave of independents going for McCain which could limit Obama's surge. Truly incredible come-back for McCain. (Another sure thing is that Edwards will not make it in the top two tonight.)

8pm: All polls have now closed. Ambinder reports exit polls have Obama crushing Clinton among independents, but Clinton LEADING among Democrats and among independents. But exit polls have McCain leading among both independents and registered Republicans. Can Clinton actually pull off a win or at least staying within 4-5%? And among Republicans, it looks like McCain for now.
7:45pm: Keep this in mind when Giuliani tells us that he is not weakened by his repeated losses tonight: A new Florida poll has him fourth... For what it's worth, MyDD is seeing early exit polls with McCain up 6% and Obama up 4%. Those kind of tight numbers in early exit polls means it's basically impossible to predict off of them. With 9% in among Democrats, Clinton is up 38% to 36% (unclear what precincts are reporting, these are obviously early); among the GOP, it's 8% in and McCain is up big, 38% to 28%.
7:30pm: I'm not sure why the first results are already being reported before all polls close, but here are results with 6% of precints counting already: Obama and Clinton ae tied at 36% among Democrats. Among Republicans, with 5% counting, it's McCain 38% to 29% for Romney.
7:10pm: Anecdotal evidence from Nashua County that indies are breaking in the Democratic race, though exit polls are confirming that independent proportions are pretty much in line with prior cycles. Also, 18% of GOPers and 15% of Dems reported deciding on their choice only... today. Late-deciders go for candidates with the most boom (read Obama). And in a possibly big exit poll finding just reported on MSNBC: GOP voters found that Romney's ads were the most unfair (the Union Leader is a big factor in shaping this).
6:10pm: MSNBC is giving more definite numbers: 43% of the Democratic voters are independents, and 38% in the GOP race (which is a higher than expected number, SOS Gardner had predicted 25%). While this does not mean they are breaking 50-50 since early indications are that Democratic turnout are higher, it's still dramatically more balanced than what some people were expecting (Romney's camp was publicly hoping for independents to go more than 70% for the Democratic race). So early indications are good for McCain -- and more marginally for Clinton who cannot just rely on this to hope for a win but it could limit the size of Obama's victory.
5:30pm (all time Eastern): Early exit polls suggest that around 30% of voters in the GOP race are independents and 40% in the Democratic race. The proportions are perhaps closer than expected which is good news for McCain. Though it also looks like those proportions are what most polls were expecting, which would suggest that there won't be surprises tonight on the basis of a surge among independents.

Original post: Here we are. It's only been 5 days since the Iowa results thread and I am pulling another late-nighter to cover the New Hampshire primary. It's truly hard to believe that we will be done with both IA and NH for 4 years in just a few hours. Unless the races are very tight, we should know the results even quicker than we did on Thursday. Networks will rely on their exit polls to make calls shortly after 8pm if there is a blow-out, since New Hampshire is much more straight-forward than Iowa.

First issue: Turnout. And the numbers are likely going to be huge, as all reports are that there is an "absolutely huge" turnout. And many precincts are now on the verge of running out of ballots, especially on the Democratic side -- one more indication of which party independents are choosing to vote for. (A reader emails me the link to the Nashua Telegraph's updates of the race which confirm reports of very high turnout without any mention of more voters and ballot trouble among Democrats).

For now, check my guidelines of what to expect tonight.

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  • If indeed turnout is this high, Obama's going to win and McCain's going to lose... if all of the independents are voting, they're going to go Obama over McCain, fosho.

    By Anonymous La Riza, At 08 January, 2008 17:02  

  • ". . . if all of the independents are voting, they're going to go Obama over McCain, fosho."

    That has got to be the most ridiculous thing I've heard for some time. Obama is not that popular. My feeling is that this means that McCain is getting his fair shake of indies, too.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At 08 January, 2008 17:38  

  • 70% of registered independents voted in the Democratic primary. That's the more relevant number.

    By Anonymous dave, At 08 January, 2008 17:44  

  • Scratch that, Marc Ambinder may have a typo on his site. He says "3 in 10 independents are GOP voters," but I think he might be the other way around.

    By Anonymous dave, At 08 January, 2008 17:58  

  • I think what is meant by this is that out of the GOP voters, 30% are Independents. Out of the Democratic voters, 40% are Independents.

    By Anonymous app state, At 08 January, 2008 18:07  

  • I don't know about all this, but it looks like John McCain is going to win this thing.

    By Anonymous Steve, At 08 January, 2008 19:21  

  • where are you getting your numbers?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At 08 January, 2008 19:44  

  • It's important not to throw to much dirt for Hillary's grave quite yet. NH does not want to be responsible for the destruction of Hillary's Presidential ambitions.

    By Anonymous Southern Slav, At 08 January, 2008 21:32  

  • With 47% precincts reporting, Hillary's got a 4,100 vote lead. Hillary's appeal should not be discounted.

    By Anonymous Southern Slav, At 08 January, 2008 21:43  

  • No way was Obama's speech 'powerful'. You could see the disappointment in his eyes and it was weak and empty.

    By Anonymous Steve, At 08 January, 2008 23:40  

  • Who would ever have believed that a narrow win for Hillary Clinton in an early primary would be construed as showing signs of vitality from her campaign? And yet, here we are... What a strange election!

    So, where to from here? My guess is that Clinton spins her no-doubt strong Michigan showing into another sign of vitality, even though she's basically unopposed. (To my MI friends: Is Dodd still on the ballot there, even after his dropout?) Then she probably hopes for a good result in the non-binding preference poll in NV, where she was leading big in the last poll I saw (caveat: a month old now). A win there, and she can argue her case for the "big mo" going into SC. But the case will be weak, and Obama is likely to still be strong. It's definitely a two-horse race, and an exciting one.

    Taniel, very much agree with you on the McCain storyline for Michigan. Romney is polling well among Republicans, but the national storyline now has McCain as a serious contender, which means he should get his fair share...and he should do better among independents there. A win in MI would improve his showing in SC and probably help him grab NV on the same day. Then he could well take advantage of Rudy's fall to win in FL, in which case he's the odds-on favorite going into Tsunami Tuesday.

    A thought, though: What happens if Romney comes out on top in Michigan? It's not unlikely, considering his background and the numbers...and then we'd have three states, three winners at that point. (WY barely counts, it's such a closed process.) Thompson could muddy the picture even more with any kind of strong showing in SC. So NV and FL might well become the battlegrounds where the GOP nom is decided.

    By Anonymous Mr. Rational, At 09 January, 2008 01:20  

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