Did Romney cost Obama the New Hampshire primary?
Hillary Clinton seems to have narrowly upset Barack Obama in the New Hampshire Democratic primary, while John McCain beat Mitt Romney by a comfortable margin on the Republican side. Interestingly, McCain seems to be a distant third, behind Clinton and Obama, in the total number of votes cast today. (He was first by this measure in 2000, the last time both parties had competitive primaries here.)
Clinton’s win is attributable to her strong showing in the southeastern part of the state, which includes lots of people who used to live in Massachusetts. This area has traditionally been very Republican, very conservative, and very anti-tax. It should have been big for Romney, but my suspicion is that the area has been moving toward the Democratic Party and toward the political center over the past few years. It’s quite possible that these new Democratic primary voters (many of them independents) broke for Clinton. Perhaps if Romney had run for president as he had run for governor in Massachusetts, as a social and fiscal moderate, he might have kept enough of those voters from Clinton and given Obama a victory on the Democratic side.