Tomorrow is the New Hampshire Primaries. (Unless, of course, you read this tomorrow. Then it's today that's the New Hampshire Primaries.) Candidates on both sides are hoping for a good showing or even a win for their respective parties, but I see two Democrats and two Republicans who absolutely need to win in New Hampshire.
- Hillary Clinton This one's a no-brainer. Hillary's third place in finish and meltdown in the national polls are signs of a campaign in serious trouble. In short, she needs to stop the bleeding that has been going on since she flubbed the question about whether she supported giving drivers licences to illegal immigrants. A win in New Hampshire will help her look like she's back in the hunt for the Democrat nomination.
- John Edwards This one isn't so much of a no-brainer, but it is no less important to consider. John Edwards needs a win in New Hampshire to stave off the notion that he's an also-ran with good hair. At first blush, Edwards's second place finish in Iowa is impressive...until you consider he also came in second in Iowa in 2004. A lot of his success in 2008 was sewn in 2004, but he didn't get the job done in 2004. If Edwards doesn't do well in New Hampshire, if not out and out win it, he will have to deal with people thinking he doesn't deserve to be in the top tier of candidates.
- Mike Huckabee Again, it's a seemingly odd pick, given that Huckabee came in first in the Iowa Caucuses for the Republicans. Whispers on the ground have said that he spent a lot of campaign money in Iowa, but he hasn't picked up that many endorsements. Not every state will have a load of evangelicals willing to vote for him, so he'll have to come up with a way to keep up the Iowa Caucus momentum. A win in New Hampshire will validate Huckabee's campaign in a way that a lower finish just won't be able to match.
- John McCain New Hampshire is McCain's last stand. He won New Hampshire in 2000 and self-destructed. Now in 2008, he's facing a tougher challenge because of Barack Obama. Sure, McCain's big with the independents, but so is Obama. The key to McCain's success is whether the independents will side with McCain, who came in fourth in the Iowa Caucuses on the Republican side, or Obama, who came in first in the Iowa Caucuses on the Democrat side. And let me tell you, if the independents think Obama is more viable than McCain, McCain will be out of the race shortly afterwards.
Four campaigns, two political parties, one goal. We'll see who's left standing after the dust settles in New Hampshire.