Women Deliver N.H. for Clinton; Moderates and Indies for McCain

Mainline Democrats, economically stressed voters and women -- especially gray-haired ones -- delivered New Hampshire into Hillary Clinton's hands.

On the Republican side, moderates, independents and late deciders proved crucial for John McCain, who also was boosted by a big advantage on personal qualities such as leadership, experience and straight-talking.

The New Hampshire results instantly revived Clinton's candidacy after her third-place finish behind Barack Obama and John Edwards in the Iowa Democratic caucuses. Similarly, McCain erased the sting of his Iowa fourth-place, far behind Mike Huckabee.

But the race for the nomination remains wide open in both parties, with no clear front-runner. The political landscape in the states conducting primaries in the next month is very different than in New Hampshire or Iowa.

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Independents, for instance, constituted 37 percent of the Republican electorate in New Hampshire, and voted decisively for McCain; he only tied Mitt Romney among mainstream Republicans. But in Florida, which conducts its primaries at the end of the month, only 17 percent of all GOP primary voters in 2000 described themselves as independents, while eight in 10 were rank-and-file Republicans.

Similarly, liberals made up a 56 percent majority of Democratic primary voters in New Hampshire and divided evenly between Clinton and Obama. But in South Carolina, where Democrats vote Jan. 26, fewer than four in 10 Democrats identified themselves as liberal in 2004. And while virtually every Democratic voter in New Hampshire was white, blacks constitute about half the electorate in Georgia, Louisiana and South Carolina -- potentially a source of strength for Obama.

DEMS -- Clinton lost men and women alike to Obama in Iowa. New Hampshire was different: She again lost men, by 40-29 percent, but won women by 46-34 percent -- and women, as usual here, accounted for a bigger share of voters.

Most notably, Clinton won women age 65 and up by a smashing 57-27 percent. Among senior men, by contrast, she and Obama ran evenly.

The economy was the single biggest issue to voters in both parties, and that worked for Clinton as well. Among those who called it their top concern, she beat Obama by 9 points, 44-35 percent. Clinton also won lower income and lower-education voters: she beat Obama by 15 points among voters from less than $50,000 households; he won by 5 points in $100,000-plus households. Similarly, among people who didn't go beyond high school, Clinton won by 18 points; among people with more than a high school education, Obama won by 3.

Moreover, among voters who said they're "getting ahead" financially (just 14 percent) Obama won by 17 points -- reflecting his better showing generally among upscale and better-educated voters. Among those holding steadily financially (the biggest group, 57 percent) Obama and Clinton split the vote, 39-38. But among the three in ten (28 percent) who are doing worse financially, it was Clinton 43 percent, Obama 33 percent -- enough to make the difference.

And in terms of party allegiance, Clinton won Democrats by 45-34 percent; Obama won independents -- 44 percent of all voters in this contest -- but not by a wide enough margin to counter Clinton's edge among party regulars. Turnout among self-identified independents -- always very high in New Hampshire –was lower than its peak, 48 percent in 2004 and 50 percent in 1992.

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