New Hampshire Realities, V. 2
At the risk of making too much of one largely-white state that bears little resemblance to the rest of America, tonight's results do matter somewhat.
Memo to Hillary: As one of your steadiest supporters all these years, the message Madam Secretary isn't working. Nothing you, Bubba, your surrogates, or your campaign did in the week since Iowa did anything to narrow the gap in New Hampshire against Bernie. You lost all demographic groups to Sanders, and the independents also. Your whole key was to carry the white working class vote and the independents, coupled with women and the African American vote, and make Sanders earn it solely on an economic argument. Yet you weren't able to get past 40% in a two-person race, again in a state admittedly that bears little resemblance to Ohio, Pennsylvania, or even California. Sure, MSNBC slobbered all over Bernie and dissed your speech, which was better than what you gave all last week, but you have to expect the media to be against you. You'll have to shorten and sharpen the message for South Carolina and Nevada, and be able to explain why fairness and equality at home and stability and security abroad beats a "revolution". But if you can't sort it out by Nevada in time for the bigger states, then the party isn't into you and it's time to let them have their fever with Bernie, no matter what comes in November.
And the simple truth may be that it isn't the campaign or the message, but the messengers. As David Axelrod has noted, if the same problems from 2008 are happening again this year, it comes down to the one constant: the people choosing the campaign team and signing off on the message: the Clinton's themselves. Hillary may very well go down as someone who would have made a great president who didn't campaign well. A women's-based message has its limits with today's female electorate, as does tying yourself to Obama. These can be overcome with a stated reason for your campaign, and a focus on connecting to voters' hearts rather than their minds.
Bernie, congrats to you and your team. You beat Hillary with all groups, and now can take it on the road to real tests. But I saw nothing in your speech tonight that shows me how you'll beat back the "taxes and terrorism" attacks against you in the fall. If you and the Democratic Party want to stake all the gains of these last eight years, and the Supreme Court on getting millions of younger and newer voters to come out to offset those smears, then so be it. We're about to see if a "revolution" will work with the silent majority.
As for the GOP, the only certain and good thing from tonight is Christie's imminent departure. Having said that, it's hard to make too much of a result that shows Trump with a third, Cruz banking on an evangelical base, and the remaining bloc split among multiple candidates slated to kill each other in the coming weeks. What we really know from tonight is that there will be a wide open GOP convention, where the Democrats will not know who Sanders' likely opponent will be until it is too late.
Update (Wednesday): Christie and Fiorina are now out.