The answer may well be that Hillary Clinton won (a victory, ahem, that probably doesn’t matter) by bucking the male political pundit stereotype of how a Presidential candidate should act.
Peering through the New Hampshire entrails is likely to go on for some time, and to throw up more evidence as time goes on, particularly when the pollsters who were predicting a large Obama win starting trying to figure out where they went wrong.
But the early signs are that a strong Hillary Clinton showing amongst women who made up their minds in the last few days of the campaign was key to her victory.
What could have caused her to do well amongst this group of people?
There were two events in the last few days that might have had a big political impact: Obama’s win in Iowa (but which, if anything, would have made people more likely to vote for him) and Clinton’s display of emotion. At one point when speaking she appeared to be close to breaking into tears, before regaining her composure and getting back on track – all within a matter of a few seconds.
This triggered an orgy of punditry speculation, largely from male pundits, about whether she really had the strength to be President (as well as a few brickbats aimed at those same pundits from those who pointed out that Republican Mitt Romney has three times started crying in public during his Presidential campaign, all three of which went largely unremarked and didn’t trigger any similar questioning of his own suitability).
But it now looks as if the pundits didn’t just give this issue undue attention because it was a woman/Clinton, they actually got the politics of it all wrong. Because amongst female voters, Clinton’s popularity seems (on the evidence so far, caveat, caveat) to have prospered after the incident, helping deliver her victory.