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Analysis: Huckabee up, Clinton down heading to Granite State

  • Story Highlights
  • Two new front-runners emerge in the 2008 race for the White House
  • Mike Huckabee gets incredible turnout from self-described evangelical voters
  • Hillary Clinton fails to capture the women's vote as Barack Obama prevails
  • GOP battle for New Hampshire appears to pit Romney against McCain
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By Alan Silverleib and Mark Preston
CNN Washington Bureau
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NEW YORK (CNN) -- Mike Huckabee needed incredible turnout from self-described evangelical voters Thursday to win Iowa. Hillary Clinton was counting on capturing the women's vote to carry the day.

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee scored well with evangelical voters.

Huckabee succeeded, while Clinton did not.

So goes the tale of two very different presidential campaigns that appear to be on separate arcs: Huckabee up, Clinton down.

Two new front-runners for the 2008 race for the White House have emerged. For Republicans, it is Huckabee, the former Arkansas governor. For Democrats, it is Sen. Barack Obama.

With 95 percent of Republican precincts reporting, Huckabee, former governor of Arkansas, had the support of 34 percent of voters, compared to 25 percent for Romney. Fred Thompson had 13 percent, McCain had 13 percent and Ron Paul had 10 percent.

With all Democratic precincts reporting, Obama had the support of 38 percent of voters, compared to 30 percent for John Edwards and 29 percent for Hillary Clinton.

Now the Iowa campaign is over. No more stops in Cedar Rapids. No more overnights at the Des Moines Marriott. Fried Twinkies are a thing of the past.

It is on to New Hampshire as the race enters a new phase with some new players for the next five days. Then, Democrats and Republicans veer off and follow separate paths in pursuit of the presidency before reconnecting on the February 5 "Super Tuesday" primaries.

Most of the candidates will already be on the ground in the Granite State on Friday attending rallies, shaking hands, trying to capitalize on momentum or salvage a disappointing showing in Iowa.

Sens. Chris Dodd and Joe Biden have bowed out gracefully, while New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, Rep. Ron Paul and Rep. Duncan Hunter continue their quests after getting slaughtered in Iowa.

On Friday, two Republicans will rejoin the race. Sen. John McCain and Rudy Giuliani enter the picture after skipping Iowa. Prohibitive early-state favorite Mitt Romney comes to New Hampshire battered and bruised, but still very much alive due to his deep roots in the state and even deeper pockets.

The battle for New Hampshire appears to be shaping up between Romney and McCain, who beat then-Texas Gov. George Bush there in 2000. But it also remains to be seen how much momentum Huckabee can generate from his astonishing victory in Iowa.

Iowa is no New Hampshire.

The largely conservative libertarian New England state could prove to be rough sledding for the newfound champion of social conservatives.

In Iowa, entrance polls of caucus-goers showed that 3 out of every 5 Republicans were self-described born again or evangelical Christians. Huckabee beat Romney by better than 2-to-1 in this voting bloc. Among the rest of Iowa's Republican electorate, however, Huckabee finished a distant fourth behind Romney, McCain and Fred Thompson.

In New Hampshire, social conservatives are not as influential. This potentially opens the door for Romney to regain the upper hand or for McCain to repeat his 2000 victory.

The Arizona senator will find himself in a two-front battle: against Romney for the hearts and souls of GOP voters and against Obama for the state's unpredictable and sizable independent electorate.

Clinton suddenly finds herself looking at Obama's back and rethinking her strategy for winning the support of younger women. Iowa entrance polls showed that the New York senator was the top choice of women over 60, while Obama was strongly preferred by women between the ages of 18 to 59.

Another major challenge for Clinton will be how to weaken the Illinois senator without being accused of running a divisive, negative campaign. So far, voters have rejected this style of campaigning.

Meanwhile, Democrats John Edwards and Richardson, as well as Republican Thompson, are still alive with many contests to go.

A win Thursday would have been a major boost to Edwards' campaign, and the pressure is now on the former senator to deliver a victory in either labor-friendly Nevada or his birth state of South Carolina. With a distant fourth place finish in the Hawkeye State, Richardson has yet to demonstrate he is a top-tier candidate.

For Thompson, he must find a way to stay alive until the race turns south to what should be a more hospitable electorate. The question is, even if the actor and former Tennessee senator makes it to South Carolina on January 19, will he already have been written off?


And will Giuliani's "Big State" strategy, which starts with the January 29 Florida primary, prove to be successful?

The bottom line: The race has just begun, but for some it may almost be over. For others, it already is. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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