Isn't it wonderful how democracy can kick the political punditry classes in the face from time to time. I don't recall a single person who thought Hillary Clinton had an earthly in New Hampshire yesterday. Indeed, many thought Obama would win by a double digit margin (I predicted 8 per cent).
When I went to bed at 1.30am I was still under the illusion that it was Obama's victory, even thought the early results showed Clinton had a four point lead. And at this point let me apologise to those who I had encouraged to blog with me through the night. I had forgotten I had rather stupidly arranged a meeting in Westminster early this morning, which meant I had to get up at 7am.
Thew great thing about both the McCain and Clinton victories is that the race is wide open going into Super Tuesday on 5 February. At a stroke, Hillary resumes her front runner mantle, and who knows, it may indeed be the spur she needed to find her voice, as she said in her victory speech. The moment of vulnerability she displayed on Monday (whether real or not) could turn out to be the point at which people began to see her in a more human light. Who knows?
On the Republican side, McCain wasn't just dead and buried as a candidate a few months ago, he had been put in the coffin. He had money, had fired most of his campaign staff and seemed to be going through the motions. A month, as Harold Wilson might have said, is an eternity in presidential politics. While Mike Huckabee has come out of nowhere to be a semi-serious candidate (Lord help us) it is clear that McCain is the big winner fron the last week. The big losers are undoubtedly Mitt Romney and Rudy Giuliani. Romney has a home in New Hampshire, had been governor of neighbouring Massachussets and should have done much, much better. I watched his concession speech and could see why he lost. He gave his stump speech again and seemed to think that just because he looks like an identikit US President, the position should be his for the asking.
Giuliani didn't have a campaign in New Hampshire. His strategy is to win big in Florida at the end of the month and then sweep the board on Super Tuesday. It's very risky for a candidate whose campaign has so far been the dampest of damp squibs.
To those who slag off the US and its electoral system, last night will have come as a shock, as indeed it was to the rest of us. But whatever the result, the best statistic of the evening was that there was a record voter turnout. Let's hope that is repeated in every primary and in the general election itself in November.