Michael Barone

The entrance poll showed Obama beating her among women, 35 percent to 30 percent, and among men, 35 percent to 23 percent. Keep in mind that the turnout, though a record high, amounted to only about 10 percent of registered voters who lean Democratic. Clinton can hope to do better among the larger primary electorates in New Hampshire, South Carolina and other contests. But she's obviously no longer the overwhelming favorite. The contest between them is likely to be resolved by Feb. 5, when over half the nation will have had a chance to vote.

The outlook for Republicans is less clear. Huckabee showed he had the capacity to bring new voters to the polls: In this year's entrance poll, 60 percent of Republican caucus-goers classified themselves as "born-again Christians," as opposed to the 38 percent "religious right" in the 2000 caucuses. But among the 40 percent non-born-agains, Huckabee won only 14 percent of the vote. There are many Christian conservatives voters in some upcoming Republican contests -- though not in New Hampshire. But Huckabee has to expand his appeal to be a real contender.

The onlooker who is the big winner is third-place John McCain. He's been leading or tied with Mitt Romney in recent New Hampshire polls, after Romney was leading there for months. And while Romney has the capacity to self-finance to Feb. 5 and beyond, it's not clear he'll be a real contender if he fails to win in New Hampshire.

Fred Thompson had a disappointing finish in Iowa. Rudy Giuliani didn't play there, but whether he can recover his high standing in polls in Florida and the big Feb. 5 states is not so sure.

All this threatens to set up arduous contests in both parties with, until recently, unknown candidates able to expand their party's constituencies facing well-known warhorses who may find it tricky to win without antagonizing those constituencies. A tough spot for both parties all around.


Michael Barone

Michael Barone, senior political analyst for The Washington Examiner (www.washingtonexaminer.com), is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a Fox News Channel contributor and a co-author of The Almanac of American Politics. To find out more about Michael Barone, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com. COPYRIGHT 2011 THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER. DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS.COM