As I write, about 55% of the votes have been counted in the New Hampshire primary and it appears quite possible that Hillary Clinton might be about to defeat Barack Obama. I'll leave it to my lefty friends to figure out exactly why that might be, but here are a few guesses:
1) The Iowa caucuses are not a secret ballot. In the main, these caucuses are attended by party activists on both sides. Party activists tend to be further down the ideological spectrum, either to the Left or Right, than the general population. On the D's side of the aisle, such people like Obama.
2) Because you had to publicly declare your allegiance in the Iowa caucus, you had the element of moral vanity involved. There's always been a certain amount of preening that goes on in such a scenario and it leads to a group dynamic that would benefit someone like Obama who is the challenger, the outsider, the one who is poised to epater le bourgeoisie (pardon my French). Those crusty New Hampshireites were in a voting booth and they could do what they wanted. Some of them may not have bought into the dream.
3) A hell of a lot of people in the Democractic Party are beholden to the Clintons. Many of them remain loyal. It's possible they saw what was about to happen and rushed to the barricades.
4) Every four years we hear about the candidate who is going to be the one who brings the youth to the polls. In my first presidential election that particular flavor was Gary Hart. Last time around, it was Howard Dean. Back in 1968, it was all those fresh-scrubbed "Clean for Gene" folks. Notice how many of these folks ended up winning the election. The youth wave has been, in the main, chimerical. Maybe, just maybe it is again.
Obama may win this yet, even tonight. But the visions that a lot of people had that this would be a rout, that the Clintons would go quietly, always seemed far-fetched. Barack Obama will have to convince many, many more Americans that he is the guy. He might be able to do it. But this thing is just starting.
Update: now with 70% of the vote in, Clinton has extended her lead over Obama. Are you all ready for the "comeback kid" stuff on the 10 o'clock news?