Democratic Sen. Hillary Clinton edged out Illinois Sen. Barack Obama in the New Hampshire primary yesterday, giving the New York politician a crucial win in her quest to become the first female candidate to be nominated by either major party.
In the Republican race, Sen. John McCain defeated former Mass. Gov. Mitt Romney, repeating his win in the state that launched the Arizona veteran’s strong showing in the 2000 presidential primaries.
Clinton’s victory, by a three point margin with 96 percent of precints reporting, came less than a week after Obama won the Iowa caucuses—a victory that had appeared to give Obama, a Harvard Law School graduate, significant momentum.
But Clinton’s Harvard supporters said that their candidate was not to be underestimated.
“Everyone left her for dead after Iowa, and that was just foolish given the depth of her support in New Hampshire,” Rahul Prabhakar ’09 said at the Institute of Politics (IOP) primary-night event yesterday. “The Clintons have a long history in New Hampshire, going back to when the state launched Bill’s campaign in ’92.”
Meanwhile, McCain bested Romney by a five point margin, capitalizing on his appeal as a maverick in the “Live Free or Die” state.
“He’s not as into the rhetoric and insulting people, and more about bringing people together,” said Marissa A. Babin ’11, who added that she likes both McCain and Rep. Ron Paul of Texas.
Clinton’s win leaves the race wide open as the contest turns to Nevada and South Carolina in the next month.
The competition in South Carolina—a state where half the Democratic primary electorate is black and that former Senator John Edwards of North Carolina won in 2004—promises to be a close race.
McCain’s win in New Hampshire reshuffles the Republican outlook, likely making him and former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, the winner of the Iowa caucuses, the leading contenders for the nomination.
The results were a jarring blow to Romney, a graduate of Harvard Business School and the Law School, who considers the state his home turf and had spent more than twice as much money as McCain.
IOP Director Jim Leach, a former Iowa Congressman and a moderate Republican, said that as the race continues, those candidates who can bridge the nation’s political divide will have an edge.
“What I see is a yearning for idealism,” Leach said. “Among the conservatives on one side and the progressives on the other, there is a remarkable desire for unity.”
—Staff writer Paras D. Bhayani can be reached at email@example.com.