Welcome to the second of a continuing series of my attempt to emulate a television sports reporter by giving "picks" for the winners in the New Hampshire presidential primary tomorrow night. The first of these attempted to pick the winners in Iowa last week.
Which brings me to the tote board. Let's see how my prognostications held up against reality.
On the Democratic side, I had Edwards out front by at least 4-5 points, and Obama narrowly squeaking out second from Hillary (essentially a tie for second). Well, I got the names wrong but predicted the race dynamics pretty well. That's my story and I'm sticking to it....
Total for Democratic picks so far: 1 for 3 (I correctly put Hillary in third, at least).
On the Republican side, I did a little better. I had Huckabee by five to ten points, followed by Romney and then McCain far back in third. I almost swept this one, but in the end Thompson edged out McCain for the third place spot. I still called the margins of victory pretty accurately, though, so I feel good about that.
Total for Republican picks so far: 2 for 3.
Total overall picks: 3 for 6.
I didn't bother calling the Wyoming Republican caucuses which happened over the weekend, because I'm mostly concerned with the Democratic race. Besides, nobody even bothers to poll Wyoming voters, because there just aren't enough of them to ask!
OK, enough of that... onward to the frozen tundra of New Hampshire.
New Hampshire Democrats
First place -- Barack Obama
Second place -- Hillary Clinton
Third place -- John Edwards
I went out on a limb and predicted a Democratic upset in Iowa, so this time I'm going to go more conventional. Barack is obviously riding a wave and there are lots of young college students in New Hampshire, so I'm going with an Obama win here -- by at least five points, perhaps even ten. Obama's going to pull in lots of independent voters here, which will actually affect the Republican race more than it does the Democrats. More on that in a moment.
Now, I really would like to predict a total upset here and say John Edwards is going to pull off the second spot, but I don't see much evidence of it happening as of this writing. The mainstream media bears a lot of blame for this, since there has been an almost total ban on even mentioning Edwards' name on the news since Iowa. It has been: "Barack is up, Hillary is down" -- all the time -- on the television screen. Edwards places second in Iowa, with a fraction of the money of either of the other two, and it's like that tree falling in the forest -- no sound is made. So I'd really like to see Edwards place second in the Granite State, because then the media would either have to pay attention to him or just flat-out admit that they're corporate whores, and that Edwards' message terrifies them.
But, as I said, I still see Hillary taking the silver here. But not by as much as predicted -- I think she'll only be a couple points ahead of Edwards when the votes are counted.
New Hampshire Republicans
First place -- John McCain
Second place -- Mitt Romney
Third place -- Ron Paul
John McCain wins this one handily. The mainstream media will go into a frenzy when this becomes obvious, and they will run away with the storyline: "Mitt has to drop out now." Romney's strategy was always to win the first two states, gain momentum, rake in the contributions, and make a good showing against Giuliani on Super Duper Tsunami Tuesday. This strategy is going to be in tatters after McCain whomps him tomorrow night. But, like all of these early-returns stories, they may prove later to be wildly exaggerated. We'll see.
But John McCain deserves a win here, for truly being last year's Comeback Kid. McCain stumbled so many times, and so badly, that all the Washington wisdom was that it was over for McCain. Now, the inside-the-Beltway crowd is all but anointing him the nominee. I don't think McCain's New Hampshire win is going to change things as much as the pundits expect, though (remember, Rudy has not yet begun to fight).
But McCain does deserve a little more press attention, and he's going to reap that in droves. He will beat Romney with the help of independent voters, who have helped him before in New Hampshire -- but not by as much as some expect. Many independents will be voting over on the Democratic side of the aisle this time around, so there won't be as many of them in McCain's total as previously. McCain wins by around five points. Romney takes second.
Because I'm playing a little conservatively on the Democratic side, I'd like to predict an upset on the Republican side this week. Third place in New Hampshire goes to... Ron Paul! New Hampshire's got a long tradition of libertarianism, and the young people who don't get out for Obama vote overwhelmingly for Ron Paul. New Hampshire could be Ron Paul's best chance to make it into the top three. He was excluded from last night's debate, which will only serve to help him, as many in New Hampshire saw this move by Fox News as being unfair. And Paul's going to be on Jay Leno tonight, which may (or may not) have done wonders for Huckabee in Iowa. In any case, Paul gets his voters out, and narrowly edges out Huckabee and Giuliani for third place. Unfortunately, he gets the same treatment after his upset as Edwards has been getting from the media -- an almost total blackout.
Those are my picks... what are yours?
[Previous states' picks:]
Chris Weigant blogs at: ChrisWeigant.com