Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York rode a wave of female support to victory over Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois in the New Hampshire primary on Tuesday night. In the Republican primary, meanwhile, Sen. John McCain of Arizona revived his presidential bid with a Lazarus-like win.
The performances of McCain and Clinton followed their defeats in the Iowa caucuses, where Clinton placed third and McCain fourth. McCain’s victory was the fruit of a meticulous and dogged turnaround effort; his second bid for the White House was in tatters last summer because of weak fundraising and a blurred political message, leading him to fire senior advisers and refocus his energy on New Hampshire.
Clinton’s victory came after her advisers had lowered expectations with talk of missteps in strategy and concern about Obama’s momentum coming out of the Iowa caucuses.
Several New Hampshire women, some of them undecided until Tuesday, said in interviews that a galvanizing moment in the race had been Clinton’s unusual display of emotion on Monday, when her eyes filled with tears and her voice cracked as she described the pressures of the race and her goals for the nation.
“As voters began to see the choice they have and heard Hillary speak from her heart, they came back to her,” said Mark Penn, Clinton’s chief strategist.
Obama leaves New Hampshire with political support that is still considerable, after his victory in Iowa and his growing support in the nominating contests ahead. Clinton had been struggling to stop Obama, turning on Tuesday to new advisers to shore up her campaign team, and both of them are strongly positioned heading into the Nevada caucuses on Jan. 19 and the South Carolina primary days afterward.
McCain’s victory dealt another serious blow to Mitt Romney, the former governor of neighboring Massachusetts. Romney campaigned hard and spent heavily as he sought wins in Iowa and New Hampshire, only to come up short in both states. McCain, after watching television reports of his victory in his Nashua hotel room, took congratulatory calls from Romney and Mike Huckabee, the former Arkansas governor. He then went downstairs to declare victory.
To cheers of “Mac is back,” McCain told supporters Tuesday night, “My friends, you know I’m past the age when I can claim the noun ‘kid,’ no matter what adjective precedes it. But tonight, we’ve sure showed them what a comeback looks like.”
Surveys of voters leaving the polls showed Obama particularly strong among male voters, young people and independents. Obama advisers said he was poised to leave New Hampshire with a competitive edge in South Carolina, where they expect the heavily black electorate to rally around his bid to become the nation’s first black president.
Yet Obama, like Mrs. Clinton, has devoted considerable financial resources to Iowa and New Hampshire, and his advisers said they plan to spend carefully in the coming contests. He is scheduled to hold a major fundraiser on Wednesday night in Manhattan — Clinton’s home turf — and intends to make new requests for donations from online donors and major party figures.