As New Hampshire began voting, here's what pundits and reporters examined

The iconic, if not necessarily predictive, New Hampshire primary was finally upon us. The snowflakes actually outnumbered the legions of journalists covering the contest, given the wintry weather that did not put a damper on potentially record turnout.

So when the people who were watching it closely, even racing about the state in some cases, got out of bed Tuesday, what did they really want to know?

"Whether after all that's happened, New Hampshire might actually give Jeb Bush a second wind," said John Harwood, political correspondent for CNBC and a columnist for The New York Times. Indeed, the general thought is that he must do well, perhaps no worse than third place, to be seen as viable. He's got money to burn still, given commanding fundraising, but very poor showings in both Iowa and New Hampshire would make his life tough.

Given the quirkiness of the New Hampshire primary, only the defiantly arrogant could be unequivocal about what might happen. There was, among other matters, the reality that the majority of voters, who are independents, could choose to vote in either the Democratic or Republican primary. So if you're generally upset with "the system," you might theoretically wonder if you should back Democrat Bernie Sanders or Republican Donald Trump. It complicates prognostications.

"What's happening with Rubio and the governors?" wonders John Dickerson, host of CBS' "Face the Nation." Dickerson has moderated one Democratic debate and will handle the same duties Feb. 13 at the first big post-New Hampshire Republican faceoff.

"After seven years of criticizing a president who lacked any executive experience, will a direct attack on that front, amplified by social media play a role at all? Or, will voters who want an alternative to Donald Trump and Ted Cruz stick with Rubio as the electable alternative who has a vision for the future."

And Dickerson added this Tuesday morning: "Did the McCain way (namely 114 New Hampshire town hall meetings by Sen. John McCain in 2000) repeated by Kasich (104) and Christie (74) matter? One of the big questions of this vote is what old rules are still in play. After Cruz's victory in Iowa we saw that groundgame still matters. What else still matters? What doesn't?"

Roland Martin, a radio talk host and TV analyst, had a lot of things on his mind.

"Polling shows Gov. Christie coming in sixth. If he fails to crack the top four, will he drop out of this race and go home to New Jersey?"

Then there's The Donald: "If Trump wins New Hampshire, will national media outlets stop playing up his circus act as cute and finally demand he actually speak to real policies?" said Martin.

Finally, he wondered, "If Jeb Bush places second, will he channel Bill Clinton in 1992 and declare himself the Comeback Kid?"

Jill Lawrence, the commentary editor at USA TODAY, wondered about size of victory, gender and the fate of State House denizens. "What will be Bernie's winning margin, and how much of it will he owe to women? On the GOP side, will any governor survive New Hampshire to fight another day?"

And amid the substantial on-air and print analyses of televised debates, radio talk host and Fox News analyst Laura Ingraham had two straightforward queries that she'll wait to see resolved. First, will New Hampshire take a flyer on a third Bush term? And how much do New Hampshire voters actually care about debate performances?

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    James Warren

    New York City native, graduate of Collegiate School, Amherst College and Roosevelt University. Married to Cornelia Grumman, dad of Blair and Eliot. National columnist, U.S. News & World Report. Former managing editor and Washington Bureau Chief, Chicago Tribune.


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