The American presidential campaign took a surprising turn this week.
Senator Hillary Clinton won the Democratic vote in the first primary state, New Hampshire, on Tuesday. That was after she finished third last week in the Iowa caucuses. And Senator John McCain won the Republican primary in New Hampshire after he finished fourth in Iowa.
Political experts say the battle for the nomination in both parties is wide open.
The big winners in Iowa were Senator Barack Obama for the Democrats and former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee for the Republicans.
Public opinion researchers predicted that Barack Obama would win New Hampshire by as much as twelve points. But Hillary Clinton won a narrow victory, at thirty-nine percent to Senator Obama’s thirty-six percent.
Hillary Clinton had some of her strongest support among older women. The New York senator and former first lady hopes to become the country’s first female president. Senator Obama would be the first African-American president. The Illinois senator has enjoyed wide support among people under the age of thirty.
The Clinton campaign was not sure how voters would react after people saw an emotional side of her that they are not used to seeing. It happened Monday at a question-and-answer event in New Hampshire. Tears came to her eyes as she talked about not wanting to see the country fall backwards.
In the Republican race, John McCain found support among voters concerned about national security and terrorism. The Arizona senator also appears to have been helped by independent voters. He defeated former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney. Mike Huckabee came in third.
Voters in New Hampshire said the most important issues were the economy and the war in Iraq.
New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson dropped out of the Democratic race this week. He finished fourth in New Hampshire. Senators Joe Biden and Chris Dodd left the Democratic race after receiving low numbers in Iowa.
Primary season began last week with Iowa’s caucus meetings. Primaries and caucuses are the American process used to choose delegates to the national nominating conventions. The Democrats will meet in late August and the Republicans in early September. The conventions are where candidates are officially chosen to represent their party in the general election in November.
Later this month, primaries will be held in other states including Nevada and South Carolina. But the big event will be Super Tuesday on February fifth. More states will be voting on Super Tuesday than in past years. More than twenty states including California, New York and Illinois will hold their primaries that day.
And that's IN THE NEWS in VOA Special English, written by Brianna Blake. For more news about the presidential campaign, go to voaspecialenglish.com. I’m Steve Ember.