Clarity will have to wait.
Contests that were expected to bring order to a chaotic race have instead set up more chaos. There’s now a higher likelihood than ever that both the Republican and Democratic contests extend well into the spring.
The Democratic race is headed for a reset. Hillary Clinton’s seemingly insurmountable advantages are likely to be lost in a flurry of online and on-the-ground enthusiasm, with the frontrunner left trying to co-opt an unlikely challenger’s message.
For the Republicans, a jumble near the top delivered Donald Trump a win and a second-place surprise of a finish to John Kasich. Rather than winnow the field, New Hampshire effectively added a new name to the list of viable GOP candidates.
Trump will have new confidence, proving that his polling results can turn into real votes. Ted Cruz, just eight days removed from his Iowa win, already had his ticket punched, the choice again of voters who wanted a candidate who shared their values.
The establishment trophy, though, is still up for grabs. But it could sport too much rust for it to be worth much, if the stalemate goes on.
Jeb Bush’s resources and strong close keep him in the mix through South Carolina and beyond.
Marco Rubio missed a chance to lock things down. That’s not the same as saying it won’t come back, though he’ll now have to guard against his backers defecting to Cruz or Bush.
New Hampshire most likely marks the end of the road for Chris Christie and Carly Fiorina. Ben Carson’s road probably ended even before Iowa, whether or not he chooses to acknowledge that any more than he heard his name announced at Saturday night’s debate.
Now, though, comes Kasich to the mix –- a folksy, moderate voice for a party that’s been dominated by the loudest of voices over the past year.
Perhaps there’s a turn left in this campaign toward the kind of practicality Tuesday’s runner-ups are offering.
The unifying themes of the first-in-the-nation primaries, though, revolved around anger and angst. Sanders, to the left, and Trump, to the right, offered politically opposed arguments that echoed and amplified voters’ worries.
Neither party has quite known what to do with them. The first two contests have gotten them no closer to figuring any of that out.