ABC Debates

ABC, as in, Anybody But Clinton. Can we all agree that last night's Democratic performance wasn't every-man-for-himself, but rather a concerted effort by Richardson, Edwards, and Obama to effectively undermine Hillary's shot at the nomination? She complained about the "pile on" strategy once before, and I didn't really buy it.

Now, however, the charge seems legitimate. Nobody's looking to befriend Hillary. Despite Obama's newly acquired status as frontrunner, she remains the person to beat. That's telling. If she can't squeeze a win out of N.H. (increasingly doubtful), she'll be in fairly mortal danger. Even if the party base is still willing to lend an ear, the most visible power players are aligning against her. That includes Richardson, a man twice appointed by her husband to prominent positions inside the executive branch. Ouch.

On the GOP side, there were no winners. I think Romney failed to take a much needed stand. There's no way he triumphs in New Hampshire now. There's still Michigan, but even that's looking increasingly precarious. Wouldn't savor being on his team at the moment.
Ron Paul played the black sheep/crazy uncle (yawn). He's finished. I'll be surprised if he polls over 10% in New Hampshire. McCain held his ground but didn't do anything to impress; Thompson and Giuliani were both so-so.
Huckabee made a few cute quips, and probably distinguished himself the most. For his efforts, he'll enjoy a small bounce in the Granite State, and large one in Michigan.

Not a very exciting night, except for Hillary's near meltdown. Almost a Dean moment -- almost.
Well, with the coming and going of that zero-gains debate, I think all the pieces are in place. Barring something major, something unexpected, N.H. will pan out thusly . . .

1. Obama (by 5 or more)
2. Clinton
3. Edwards (trailing, a lot)

1. McCain (again, 3 - 5)
2. Romney (solid second)
3. Distant third, will only matter if it's Huckabee, and even then not so much

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