Senior Political Analyst
Whether you like Hillary or Barack -- or John, Rudy or Mike -- we should all welcome the results in New Hampshire for one fundamental reason: they keep these races alive for a while longer.
Only a couple of days ago, especially on the Democratic side, we were in a rush toward coronation. The press and GOP candidates like Romney and McCain were all ready to pronounce Obama the Democratic nominee and intimated he would probably go all the way to the White House. New Hampshire voters said, "Not so fast," and that's a good thing for the candidates and the country.
As magical as Obama has seemed, the truth is that most Americans don't really know him well enough to make a sound judgment. Keeping this race open will allow voters to vet him more fully and to compare and contrast what he offers versus Hillary. We have already seen how much a defeat helped Hillary to reassess who she is and how she is reaching voters. She is a better candidate now because she was humbled in Iowa, and Barack will be a better candidate because he was humbled in New Hampshire. Much the same argument applies to the candidates on the Republican side.
Keeping the race open also gives voters in many other states a chance to shape the final outcome, and that, too, is a good thing. I am here in California and last night when I spoke in Oakland, many in the audience of 3,000 were enthusiastic that now their voices will be heard, too. (By the way, in a show of hands, they were pretty evenly split between Hillary and Barack.)
Finally, the results were good last night because they not only humbled some of the candidates but also humbled the press. All of us in the "commentariat" -- me included -- needed to hear loudly from voters that they are the ones who have the ultimate power in a democracy, not us, and that we need to have a little less certitude and more humility than we sometimes express.