Facts first, then analysis.
With all but a handful of votes totaled, here are the GOP results from yesterday, and the results from Iowa as well:
New Hampshire 73,806 86,802 26,035 2,80820,054
Iowa29,494 15,559 40,84115,9044,097
Total 103,300 102,361 66,876 18,712 24,151
NH Delegates47 1
Wyoming Delegates 8 3
Total Delegates3010216 1
I will update the box above when the final results from New Hampshire are posted.
The first thing to note is that even with Iowa’s and New Hampshire’s Independents added in, Romney has won more votes in Iowa and New Hampshire combined than McCain, and almost certainly significantly more Republican votes.
Next, Mike Huckabee, despite his spinning last night, had a terrible day in New Hampshire yesterday, using all the “Iowa momentum” and the “infusion of cash” to drop 14,806 votes from his Iowa total despite a much larger electorate. Huck’s appeal is revealed as very, very limited, and will fall further as voters recognize him for a very good hearted man who is in no way a conservative. He will do better in Michigan and South Carolina than he did in New Hampshire –there is no way he could do worse– but he’s a second tier candidate still, and his campaign tactics have nearly destroyed his appeal as a vice presidential nominee.
George Bush won 41% of the vote in Iowa in 2000 –35,948 votes– and then struggled in New Hampshire where he took only 30% of the vote to John McCain’s 48%, but Bush still collected 72,330 votes in a crowded field –Forbes and Bauer and Keyes and Hatch were still in the race then. Bush thus doubled his vote total from Iowa to New Hampshire.
Mike Huckabee shed voters and appeal between Iowa and New Hampshire, and his 2008 total of around 27,000votes in New Hampshire failed to match Steve Forves’ third place finish of eight years ago.
Mike Huckabee told LarryKing last night that he was competing in Michigan, which is the first three way test of Romney, McCain and Huckabee, and though the state allows for any voter to participate whether Democrat, Republican or Independent, it will be a good measure of Huck’s appeal in a big industrial state which is in a one state recession. If he can draw Democrats with his neopopulist message, he’ll have a genuine argument that he can trash the Reagan coalition and replace it with something new.
South Carolina is really a McCain-Huckabee-Thompson race, with Romney finally getting the bye that all other candidates have enjoyed in one or more states, though Romney has to compete in Nevada the same day.
Florida is shaping up as the key state of the first third of the primary season —the second third comes all at once a week later, and the third third is everything else that follows, especially Ohio and Texas on March 4. Rudy Giuliani begins his effort in earnest there, hoping that the extended series of also-rans doesn’t diminish his appeal among the Sunshine State GOPers. Jeb Bush’s organization is almost wholly committed to Romney, though, and is already working every bit as hard there as is Giuliani’s, with absentees and early voting underway for days already.Florida is a red state and a crucial one, with a large and diverse GOP population which will be full of information and analysis as it makes its vote. In Florida we are going to get the first results from the full field fully engaged. Until then the race remains in the preliminaries, though every contest counts as Florida is watching.
Between that vote on 1/29 and today, the GOP has to answer some crucial questions:
Can the Reagan-Bush Coaltion of national security hawks, the investor class and values voters still hang together?
Does the immigration issue really matter to its base? If so will that base enthusiastically support Senator McCain who will never persuade it he has heard their concerns and genuinely changed his outlook on the issue.
Do the Bush tax cuts and the philosophy of the Reagan cuts they embody still motivate Republican voters? John McCain voted against the Bush tax cuts and stands by that vote. Do Republican voters between now and the end of voting in Florida care about that?
Is there a “marriage vote” in Michigan, South Carolina, Nevada and Florida? John McCain has voted twice against the Federal Marriage Amendment. Do those votes matter?
And does national security trump everything? John McCain hopes so, because that is his strong suit, and Mike Huckabee hopes not because he is not persuasive in arguing that he is ready to be Commander-in-Chief.
Finally, can Mitt Romney sustain the performance he gave on Sunday night in the debate and in his speech last night when he conceded New Hampshire to McCain?Romney took the “expectations” hit in Iowa and came roaring back on Sunday and Monday in New Hampshire, though not with enough to get the win. Now he’s got a full week to make a charge in Michigan with the minimum objective of keeping it close enough there that he keeps his Florida base solid, and the possibility of an even better showing that knocks McCain backward.
Looking ahead to February 5, here are the states conducting contests that day:
Of these, Arizona, Arkansas, Massachusetts, New York, Tennessee and Utah won’t tell us much about the general election, but the three C’s –California, Colorado, Connecticut– will tell us quite a bit, as will Minnesota and Missouri. (You can debate New Jersey which is a quasi-home state for Rudy, just as Utah is for Romney.) California reflects the GOP’s money reserves, and the other four are purple states which the GOP will need in the fall. A month from now we may not have a nominee, but we will know if the Reagan-Bush coalition is dead or struggling to assert that it remains the core of the party, no matter what Senator McCain and Governor Huckabee say.