It’s now about eight hours until close of polls in New Hampshire. Back at home, Britain is clocking off. So this is my last thought for today. Question: which lesser noticed factors might tip the balance in the Democratic race? In no particular order, the factors which might upset Obama, or help Clinton, include:
- Years. The people I meet in New Hampshire are mostly not under 25. The people I meet on Obama’s team, and at Obama’s events, mostly are. Will the older majority deliver a surprise?
- Tears. Hillary’s crying incident yesterday is being talked about a lot, both by campaigns and by voters. It has certainly given her more coverage. It has also shown she has changed her behaviour. But can looking vulnerable actually help her win?
- Toil and sweat. Each state with a primary has a basically autonomous “field” operation, to get out the vote. In Iowa, Obama surprised everyone by having a better operation than Hillary. In New Hampshire the same may not be true.
- Husbands. Twice today I’ve met voters who have used phrases like “with Hillary, you get two for the price of one.” Bill Clinton was hugely popular here. His presence has been little reported, but it might it make a difference.
- Sunshine. It’s a gorgeous sunny day here today, with temperatures even inching above freezing. For New Hampshire in January this is global warming came early. But will the warm temperatures mean a higher turnout of cold-fearing oldsters or idle, sunshine-seeking youngsters? This split is critical for Clinton and Obama, who dominate old and young voters respectively.
- Bloody minded independents. It is almost a trope of New Hampshire politics: the good people of the granite state are stubbornly, almost religiously independent. But these famed free spirits must choose, if they vote, which of the party primaries they vote in. They can’t vote in both. Many independents are thought to be on the fence not between Obama and Hillary, but between Obama or Republican John McCain. If McCain steals a bunch of Obama’s independent voters, it might be just the boost Hillary needs.
It might be that nothing can stop Obama from winning. The polls certainly suggest as much. But circumstances can change, and “events” have a habit of getting in the way of even the surest thing. Whatever the result, by the time Britain wakes up tomorrow morning, we’ll be finishing one hell of a night here.