As Clinton and McCain rebound in N.H., races are wide open
On the Democratic side, a potentially historic clash lies ahead. For the GOP, Michigan is the next test.
WASHINGTON; and CONCORD, N.H.
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Senator Clinton defied the polls and edged out Sen. Barack Obama with the help of women voters, roaring back from defeat in Iowa and setting up an intraparty battle of historic proportions – pitting the first viable woman and African-American against each other for their party's nomination. Both well-funded and well-organized, Clinton and Senator Obama represent a clash between a seasoned, establishment-backed Washington insider and a youthful, charismatic outsider whose campaign has morphed into a movement.
In the Republican race, Senator McCain surged ahead of former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney in a state that had endorsed his straight-shooting style in the 2000 primary. Left for politically dead just a few months ago, McCain now becomes a top contender for his party's nomination in a still-crowded GOP field.
The next showdown, Jan. 15 in Michigan, could be decisive for Mr. Romney. If he loses again – this time in his native state – his campaign is probably over. Also still in the hunt are Iowa's GOP winner, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee; former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, who begins to compete for real in the Jan. 29 Florida primary; and former Sen. Fred Thompson of Tennessee, who is banking on the Jan. 19 South Carolina primary.
"There are no front-runners in either party," says Larry Sabato, a political scientist at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. "We all need to be patient and stop doing what comes naturally to media and pundits, trying to pull the curtain down before the play is finished."
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