Donald J. Trump and Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont harnessed working-class fury on Tuesday to surge to commanding victories in aNew Hampshire primary that drew a huge turnout across the state.
Mr. Trump, the wealthy businessman whose blunt language and outsider image have electrified many Republicans and horrified others, benefited from an unusually large field of candidates that split the vote among traditional politicians like Gov. John Kasich of Ohio, who finished second, and former Gov. Jeb Bush of Florida.
But Mr. Trump also tapped into a deep well of anxiety among Republicans and independents in New Hampshire, according to exit polling data, and he ran strongest among voters who were worried about illegal immigrants, incipient economic turmoil and the threat of a terrorist attack in the United States.
As polls closed, is it revealed that Mr. Trump had received 35 percent of the vote, and Mr. Sanders approached 60 percent.
The win for Mr. Sanders amounted to a powerful and painful rejection of Hillary Clinton, who has a deep history with New Hampshire voters and offered policy ideas that seemed to reflect the flinty, moderate politics of the state. But Mr. Sanders, who has proposed an emphatically liberal agenda to raise taxes and impose regulations on Wall Street, drew support from a wide cross-section of voters, even edging her out among women, boosted by his appeal among the young.
At his victory party, Mr. Sanders, flashing a wide, toothy grin, pointed to the large voter turnout as evidence that only he could energize the Democratic electorate to defeat the Republicans in November.
“Together we have sent a message that will echo from Wall Street to Washington, from Maine to California,” Mr. Sanders said. “And that is that the government of our great country belongs to all of the people, and not just a handful of wealthy campaign contributors and their ‘super PACs.’ ”
Yes, the demographics of New Hampshire’s Democratic electorate skewed in Sanders’ favor. And, yes, the Vermont senator enjoyed near–native son status in the Granite State, where voters have a history of favoring their fellow New Englanders in primaries. But none of that changes the fact that Bernie has now battled Hillary to a near-draw in the first nominating contest of the year and handed her a convincing defeat in the second. As recently as this past summer, Sanders was still struggling to be treated as a legitimate candidate for the Democratic nomination; after New Hampshire, there’s no denying he’s a bonafide contender.
To be clear: Clinton remains the overwhelming favorite to win the nomination. The former secretary of state still has the same advantages she did before voting began: the campaign and super PAC war chest, the ground game, the endorsements, the pledged superdelegates, and the general support of a party establishment that hasn’t hesitated to tilt the scales in her favor. She can see brighter days are on the horizon, too, in the form of the Nevada caucus on Feb. 20, the South Carolina primary on Feb. 27, and a March 1 Super Tuesday slate full of Southern states likely to provide her with a warm welcome. The next week or two will be rough for her, but she wouldn’t trade places with Sanders if given the chance.
Yet she now has a very real reason to worry. Her team tried its hardest to tamp down expectations in the lead-up to Tuesday’s primary and will continue to do everything it can to spin the loss into something resembling an inconsequential footnote, a challenge that becomes more difficult the further she finishes from Sanders in the final New Hampshire count. But while Tuesday’s results won’t decide the nomination, the results can be discounted only so much. Sanders had the wind at his back in New Hampshire over the past few months, but the state can’t be mistaken as hostile territory for Clinton. Bill Clinton used a surprise second-place finish in the 1992 primary as a springboard to the nomination that year and went on to win the state in the general election both that fall and four years later. In 2008, Hillary beat then–Sen. Barack Obama by nearly 3 points in New Hampshire, surprising pollsters in the process. This year, she had the backing of the state’s Democratic governor, Maggie Hassan, and the state’s sole Democratic senator, Jeanne Shaheen. She led Bernie by roughly 40 points this past summer and had regained a polling lead as recently as December. Tuesday’s results should sting.
While Mr. Sanders led New Hampshire polls for the last month, and Mr. Trump was ahead here since July, the wave of support for both men was nonetheless stunning to leaders of both parties who believed that in the end, voters would embrace more experienced candidates like Mrs. Clinton or one of the Republican governors in the race. Yet the two men won significant support from voters who felt betrayed by their parties and were dissatisfied or angry with the federal government.
Beyond Mr. Trump, four Republicans were clustered together, each receiving less than 20 percent of the vote. Mr. Kasich’s surprise second-place finish was driven by voters who described themselves as moderates and independents and were charmed by his pragmatism and his upbeat campaign. Effectively skipping Iowa, Mr. Kasich spent 62 days in New Hampshire, holding 106 town-hall-style events.
“We never went negative because we have more good to sell than to spend our time being critical of somebody else,” an ebullient Mr. Kasich told supporters, vowing “to reshine America, to restore the spirit of America and to leave no one behind.”
But as striking as Mr. Kasich’s surge may have been, the fall of Senator Marco Rubio of Florida may have been more significant. Mr. Rubio initially appeared to be capitalizing on his strong finish in Iowa, rising in the polls here, but a disastrous debate performance on Saturday halted his momentum. Mr. Rubio; Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, who won the leadoff Iowa caucuses; and Mr. Bush, whose campaign was all but left for dead after a series of poor debate performances and staff cutbacks, were bunched together.
Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey finished a disappointing sixth after staking his campaign here. With little money left and a slim chance of being eligible for aRepublican debate on Saturday, the governor said he was going back to New Jersey on Wednesday “to take a deep breath.” Supporters of Mr. Bush, who formed an alliance with Mr. Christie here as both sought to diminish Mr. Rubio, are lobbying him to endorse the former Florida governor.
Mr. Trump’s win is the biggest victory in a New Hampshire Republican primary since at least 2000. He won pluralities of both Republican and independent voters, and showed strength across demographic groups. At an exuberant victory party at a banquet hall in Manchester, people waved foam fingers reading “You’re hired!” or “Make America great again!” Mr. Trump’s remarks ranged from emotional expressions of thanks to his late parents to more belligerent assertions that echoed his stump speech.
“I am going to be the greatest jobs president that God ever created,” vowed Mr. Trump, adding that he would “knock the hell out of ISIS,” or the Islamic State.
Mr. Trump’s performance here, which followed Mr. Cruz’s victory in Iowa, has left the party establishment with two leading candidates who Republican leaders believe cannot win a November general election.
And with Mr. Rubio unable to establish himself as the clear alternative, the Republican race moves to South Carolina with little more clarity than before New Hampshire voted.
For the Democrats, Mr. Sanders’s popularity with liberals, young people, and some women and working-class white men has underscored potential vulnerabilities for Mrs. Clinton in the nominating contests ahead. She is now under enormous pressure to prove that her message can inspire and rally voters.
In a punchy concession speech, Mrs. Clinton tried to look beyond New Hampshire and pledged to fight for the needs of black, Hispanic, gay and female voters — members of the coalition that she believes will ultimately win her the nomination.
“Now we take this campaign to the entire country,” Mrs. Clinton said. “We’re going to fight for every vote in every state,” she added, continuing, “I know I have some work to do, particularly with young people.”
Clinton advisers gritted their teeth Tuesday night as they dissected exit polls and other data to try to fathom the depth of Mrs. Clinton’s political vulnerabilities. One troubling sign: Mr. Sanders was the choice, nearly unanimously, among voters who said it was most important to have a candidate who is “honest and trustworthy.”Several advisers to Mrs. Clinton said they were especially concerned about her shakier-than-expected support among women — the group that provided her margin for victory in the 2008 New Hampshire primary. The Clinton strategy depends on her beating Mr. Sanders among women and attracting large numbers of minority voters, like Hispanics in Nevada and African-Americans in South Carolina. Those states hold the next Democratic contests, later this month.
Summarised from: NY Times, Slate