Presidential Primary Updates: A Dark Day in New Hampshire

Alexander J. Segal's picture

Presidential Primary Updates: The New Hampshire Primaries

Where the results of the Iowa Caucuses were promising, the results of the New Hampshire Primaries were significantly darker. Not only did Trump win, but the best candidate in the race suspended his campaign in the aftermath. In this post, I will review the results of the New Hampshire primaries and look forward to the voting in South Carolina and Nevada for the Republicans and the Democrats.

Please read my recap of Iowa as well [see blog].

In full disclosure, I am a Republican.

Republican New Hampshire Primary

1. Donald Trump (35.3%) [projected 10 delegates]
2. John Kasich (15.8%) [projected 4 delegates]
3. Ted Cruz (11.7%) [projected 3 delegates]
4. Jeb Bush (11.0%) [projected 3 delegates]
5. Marco Rubio (10.6%) [projected 3 delegates]
6. Chris Christie (7.4%)
7. Carly Fiorina (4.1%)
8. Ben Carson (2.3%)

A Dark Day: Trump Wins Big

Where Trump received a setback in Iowa at the hands of Ted Cruz, he not only won a convincing victory in New Hampshire, but also did slightly better than most of the polls indicated. While Trump's win was expected, the manner in which he won was highly discouraging to those of us who hold out hope that the Republican voters will ultimately refrain from further inflicting Donald Trump on the party and the country [see blog: Trump and Amnesty]. If there is any silver lining, it is that there still seems to be a solid ceiling on Trump's support. However, time will tell if the Republicans will be able to coalesce around one of the qualified candidates instead of the ranting celebrity.

No candidate should take too much glee from the results of New Hampshire given Trump's substantial victory. John Kasich did well enough to continue on after staking his campaign on New Hampshire, and he now deserves our strong consideration as an electable conservative. Ted Cruz is relatively happy with his third place finish in New Hampshire given his low investment in the state and its inhospitable demographics. However, the third place can be owed more to a fracturing of the anti-Trump vote than a particularly surprising performance by Cruz. Nevertheless, Cruz now shifts to South Carolina where he expects to challenge Trump on more favorable ground. Jeb Bush did well enough to continue to South Carolina, but only securing 11% of the vote after expending massive resources on New Hampshire cannot be taken by itself as a great victory. New Hampshire proved to be a disaster for Marco Rubio, who lost all of the momentum and positive coverage he carried from Iowa with an awful debate performance stemming from his exchanges with Chris Christie and ultimately a weak fifth place showing. Instead of building on his strong showing in Iowa, Rubio was lucky to earn any delegates at all in New Hampshire by narrowly squeaking over 10%. There will be heavy pressure on Bush and Rubio to perform strongly in South Carolina and Nevada in order to show voters and donors that their campaigns are viable going into the big day of voting on March 1.

Chris Christie and Carly Fiorina Withdraw

To add insult to injury, the best candidate in the Republican field was forced to withdraw from the race after his poor showing in New Hampshire. I hoped that the voters of New Hampshire would give Christie the boost he needed to continue his campaign, but ultimately his spectacular showing in the New Hampshire debate seems to have hurt Rubio far more than it helped him. As a resident of New Jersey, I know what Christie has done in advancing strong conservative policies in a very liberal state, and I am confident he would have been able to do the same for the country. Unfortunately, over a third of the voters in New Hampshire think that Donald Trump should be the leader of the free world and ignored the candidate who was actually “telling it like it is.” I am disappointed that Christie will not be given a full hearing from the voters, but I suppose I can take solace in that the end of his Presidential campaign ensures that he will not be leaving office in New Jersey a year early.

Additionally, Carly Fiorna also suspended her campaign after the voting. While I found her to be an interesting candidate, she was never able to capitalize off the momentum she gained from a couple of solid debate performances early in the cycle. We can only hope that the withdrawals of Christie and Fiorina will help consolidate the vote of Republicans who do not see in Donald Trump a man who should be the face of the United States.

Democratic New Hampshire Primary

1. Bernie Sanders (60.4%) [15 delegates]
2. Hillary Clinton (38.0%) [9 delegates]

While the media will surely focus on the crazy Republicans who delivered Trump to victory in New Hampshire, I would like to note that over 60% of the voters in the Democratic New Hampshire Primary decided that the best option for the Presidency is a self-described “Democratic Socialist” with a track record of visiting communist dictatorships in the 1980s. While I do not envy the choices of the Democrats, Bernie Sanders winning anything is notable to me — and not in a good way.

That being said, as I noted in my analysis of the Iowa Caucuses, the first two states were particularly favorable to Sanders. Like Trump, he slightly out-performed most of his polls, but it is important to remember that he was the prohibitive favorite in New Hampshire. While Clinton has mounting problems with her various scandals and seems chronically incapable of winning the votes of any Democrats under the age of 30, limited polling data indicate that she holds commanding leads in both South Carolina and Nevada. Sanders did what he needed to do in New Hampshire, but he will have to show he can expand his appeal in states that appear to be more favorable to Clinton in order to be a real threat for the nomination.

Looking Ahead

The Republicans and Democrats will both move to South Carolina and Nevada in the last week of February. On March 1, a slate of states will hold their votes on “Super Tuesday.” The results of South Carolina, Nevada, and the Super Tuesday states will go a long way toward answering questions in both primaries. I will post a new blog after the Republicans vote in South Carolina and Nevada about my thoughts on the outcomes and looking ahead to the Super Tuesday states.

Presidential Primary Updates:  A Dark Day in New Hampshire