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Let’s face it, Trump is the GOP frontrunner and crushed the field in New Hampshire

Donald Trump speaking to supporters at his 2016 New Hampshire presidential primary night rally in Manchester, N.H., Tuesday night.

I have little or nothing brilliant to add to whatever analyses you have seen of the New Hampshire primary results. So I’ll just list a few thoughts and impressions. I won’t pretend there is much that could be called “substance” to the results. For the moment, we’re in pure horserace territory.

Of course, the big winners were Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump. Also John Kasich, but not as big. If any of them go on to get their respective nominations, we’ll look back on New Hampshire as a key takeoff point. If they falter, we’ll come up with a way of explaining Tuesday night away.

Trump didn’t just win for the first time in his nascent political career. He crushed the field, more than doubling the vote of his nearest competitor. The brief talk, after his second-place finish in Iowa, that maybe his long, huge lead in the polls will not translate at the actual ballot box, will be over, unless and until he underperforms expectations somewhere else.

This win was huge. From where we stand now, it’s pointless to call anyone other than Trump the frontrunner for the Republican nomination. According to the three most recent polls in South Carolina (the next state on the schedule), he leads by 14, 19 and 16 points, in all three cases with Ted Cruz in distant second place.

In his remarks, Trump was gracious, by Trumpian standards, and didn’t insult anyone except perhaps the intelligence of his supporters with statements like this:

“We are going to do something so good and so fast and so strong that the whole world is going to respect us again, believe me…”

“So look, in a nutshell, we’re going to make great trade deals. We’re going to rebuild our military. It’s going to be so big, so strong, so powerful, nobody is going to mess with us. Believe me. Nobody. Nobody.”

“We going to knock the hell out of ISIS, and believe me, it’s going to be done the right way. We’re going to take care of the economy. We’re going to take care of jobs. We’re going to do all the things I said.”

Trump may also benefit by another part of Tuesday’s result. None of the so-called establishment candidates did well enough to force the others to drop out. Chris Christie hinted that he might. The other three “establishment candidates” — Kasich, Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio — will all definitely stay in for a while yet. The longer they divide up that portion of the primary electorate, the better for Trump.

Kasich, obviously, is listed among the winners because he finished a fairly strong second place, with a few points gap between himself and the rest of the field. For a guy who has been an asterisk for most of the race, this is big. For the moment, he either surpasses or joins Rubio as a name to mention when the discussion continues about which “establishment” candidate will make it to the final rounds.

Sanders and Clinton

As for Sanders, his victory margin of 22 points was epic. Yes, he was expected to win and Hillary Clinton has a huge lead in recent polls for the next primary state of South Carolina. If Clinton wins big there on Feb. 27, it would undo much of the damage she has taken in New Hampshire. If that lead starts to evaporate, her aura of inevitability will disappear. (I should mention that before South Carolina are the Nevada caucuses, where Clinton also has led in the polls, but the polls are way out of date.)

Yes, Sanders comes from neighboring Vermont and was always expected to win. But Clinton had cut Sanders’ lead in recent polls to as low as 9 percent. He more than tripled that. Yes, New Englanders have often benefitted from a home-court advantage in New Hampshire. Impressively, a New Englander has won that primary four times out of the last eight cycles in which no incumbent president was up for renomination. But the margins (John Kerry by 12 points in 2004, Paul Tsongas by eight in 1992, Michael Dukakis by 16 in 1988 and Ed Muskie by nine in 1972) all pale compared to Tuesday’s staggering Sanders margin.

Tuesday night’s big losers were Clinton and Rubio. A strong second-place showing in New Hampshire, after his strong third place in Iowa, would have cemented Rubio’s place as the likeliest “establishment” candidate to take on Trump. His fifth-place finish Tuesday was reasonably close to Bush in fourth, but he trailed Kasich by more than five points and netted zero delegates for his showing. To his credit, Rubio told his supporters that the poor showing was his fault, for blowing it in the debate Saturday night. Of course, saying this is also calculated to make him look humble and honest. But I don’t care. Good move.

Devastating exit polls for Clinton

I already wrote about the sheer size of the Sanders-Clinton margin. Some of the details of the exit polls were devastating. The age and gender breakdowns showed her with almost no demographic segments of strength. Sanders won a majority among women voters. Clinton carried a majority only among women 65 and older, but Sanders won all other age groups and his margin among the 18-29-year-olds was a staggering 85-14. Clinton scored poorly on the question of whether voters viewed her as “honest and trustworthy,” and this was the quality that a plurality of Democrats said was most important to them. Sanders bested Clinton among all income groups except those above $200,000.

Clinton and Sanders were both gracious in their post-election speeches to their followers and spoke generally kindly of one another. The closest I heard to a veiled shot by Sanders against Clinton was perhaps this:

“I am going to New York City tomorrow, but not going to hold a fundraiser on Wall Street.”

The closest to a shot by Clinton against Sanders was perhaps this:

“People have every right to be angry. But they’re also hungry. Hungry for solutions.”

Trump actually tried to be gracious to Sanders, congratulating him on his big win. But when the crowd booed the mention of Sanders, Trump added: “He wants to give away the country.”

Last point, although I’ve said it before: It’s silly to allow a couple of small states, or any two states, even if they were different than Iowa and New Hampshire, to occupy the space of special interest and attention in the nominating process every cycle.

Comments (32)

  1. Submitted by Dimitri Drekonja on 02/10/2016 - 10:09 am.

    The online prediction markets are always interesting to get another perspective as to what will happen– the one I looked at today had Trump as the leader, but still under 50% chance to get the nomination. Clinton is still sitting at over 80%. Both those chances seem realistic, in my opinion. On the R side there is just so much volatility.

    Bill Kristol is another source– just go opposite of his predictions. He’s going for Trump with Kasich as VP, and Sanders with Warren as VP. This after predicting Trump would finish 4th in NH. Good stuff. His twitter feed is good for a chuckle.

  2. Submitted by Tim Smith on 02/10/2016 - 10:38 am.

    Anybody but

    If you look at polls (not totally useful this time of year, BUT) Trump is the one who the Hillary has the best shot of beating at this point. 66% didn’t vote for Trump and there are still way too many in the race. Republicans need to get down to one among Kasich, Rubio, Bush and Christie, plus Fiorina and Carson out. The only hope of defeating Trump, sooner the better!

    Clinton looks much better in future primaries but trust factor and millennial vote are becoming huge issues. She sounded horrible at the podium last night, shrill grandma like. Shaping by Steinem et all not helping either.

    And the socialist runs off to meet with Al Sharpton today? Good luck to him!! ugh.

  3. Submitted by Paul Brandon on 02/10/2016 - 10:57 am.


    Trump may have won convincingly compared to any other single candidate, but his problem remains how to convince a majority of Republican caucus goes and primary voters to vote for him. If he can’t do that, he won’t be nominated.

  4. Submitted by Brian Simon on 02/10/2016 - 11:34 am.


    I am just stunned that Trump continues to lead the pack. Granted, I have a pretty low opinion of everyone he’said beating, but they’re at least on the record with votes and accomplishments (or at least attempts thereof) to guide voters. Trump is literally just saying whatever comes to mind and asking voters to trust him.

  5. Submitted by Jim Million on 02/10/2016 - 12:02 pm.

    Curiouser and Curiouser

    No matter your age, this ain’t your mother’s/father’s electorate.

    Also intriguing is the notion that HRC has some sort of lock on the minority voter crowd, South Carolina going forward.

    Why would this voter segment not back Bernie? Would they not find a Socialist more favorable than someone who represents unfulfilled promises?


    • Submitted by Brian Simon on 02/10/2016 - 03:43 pm.


      “Also intriguing is the notion that HRC has some sort of lock on the minority voter crowd”

      I’ve been wondering about that too. Is it because bill did well with them? It’s beginning to remind me of last time, when her campaign was built on a number of assumptions and presumptions.

    • Submitted by Steve Titterud on 02/11/2016 - 02:21 am.

      The minority leadership has failed their constituency..

      …in not advising them how the existing status quo has been developed and supported – and by whom.

      The big trade deals, starting with NAFTA, has cost them a huge number of jobs – decent paying jobs. Guess who ushered in NAFTA? The so-called “first Black President”, Slick Willy.

      The massive transfer of income and wealth from the poor and middle class to the wealthy has been kept safe under the guiding hand of people like Mrs. Clinton. How else can we reasonably explain the corporate and Wall Street economic support of Mrs. Clinton to this day?

      The idea that they are just investing in good government and look for no return on their investment in Hilary contradicts everything we know about campaign finance. This claim by the Clinton campaign is an insult.

      If the minority leadership awakens to the fact that their constituency has NOT been given a fair return on their investment of support by HRC and her fellow travelers, AND advise their community so, it could have a significant impact. We could see a lot of votes move from the one column to the other.

      It reminds me of the widespread amazement that many blue collar Reagan supporters were bamboozled into voting AGAINST THEIR OWN INTERESTS.

      The poor, disenfranchised, & unemployed should not be fooled into thinking Mrs. Clinton is going to lead any charge to significantly change their circumstances. She’ll give them lots of talk, and manipulate what they currently call her “messaging”, but in the end, all they will have to put on the table at suppertime is her words.

      I fear this minority leadership may have been compromised or at least co-opted into blind continuance of their support. They sell their constituency too cheaply.

      Mr. Sanders, on the other hand, has done no pandering based on race, and speaks on behalf of the entire bottom echelons, economically speaking, without special regard to race or minority status. It might just be that the minority community does not yet realize this.

      • Submitted by Roy Everson on 02/11/2016 - 06:54 pm.

        No time like the present

        You betcha, Steve. For generations we’ve been wisely focused on building a firewall to protect and extend civil rights to members of disadvantaged groups. For equally as long we’ve been woefully remiss in attending to the factors that widen Income disperity and degrades the middle class.

        While most election years provide a progressive candidate who hints at economic reform and ends up going nowhere — Harkin, Bradley, Dean, etc — this year the iron is hot and the Vermont senator catching fire can reiterate the economic message of Paul Wellstone — we all do better when we all do better.

  6. Submitted by Dennis Tester on 02/10/2016 - 12:47 pm.


    Here are my observations/predictions regarding delegates.

    Republicans: As long as there are multiple candidates in these primaries earning delegates, it increases the likelihood that no one, including Trump, will earn enough delegates to get the nomination before the convention, resulting in a brokered convention where all hell will break loose as the republican establishment attempts to deny Trump the nomination even if he has the most delegates.

    Democrats: If Sanders keeps winning states but leaves the states with fewer delegates than Clinton because of the “super delegates” nonsense, it increases the possibility that the outrage when Clinton gets the tainted nomination will cause Sanders to run as a third-party candidate to the wild cheers of his young supporters and end with the defeat of the democrat in the election.

    This is going to be a fun summer.

    • Submitted by Edward Blaise on 02/10/2016 - 01:52 pm.

      I agree..

      48% of Republican delegates are at large or RNC member delegates: all with limited flexibility to go their own way. If Trump plows ahead and averages 40% of all available delegates, he heads into the convention with only 20% of the total locked up. It is a long road to get over 50% and if Trump maintains his current disdain for political insiders, the guys he needs to kiss up to get their support, the road is even longer. Trump will be denied the nomination and will cry foul and we will see the ultimate left-right counter punch: TRUMP/SANDERS 2016!

  7. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 02/10/2016 - 12:51 pm.

    Sanders number are flat out impressive

    A break down showed that he won, and won pretty big with almost every voter except wealthy ($200+ a year) and older (65+) voters. He even captured the women’s vote.

    I wonder if the media will start following him now as a candidate in his own right instead of merely a foil to Clinton?

    • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 02/10/2016 - 01:12 pm.

      Home court advantage

      When he is a clear winner (not just a tie) in a state outside of his home court.

      • Submitted by Nathan Fisher on 02/10/2016 - 01:45 pm.

        Home court advantage?

        Clinton was up 50 points in NH in August. That’s a loss of 70 points (!) in five months, over two points per day!

        • Submitted by Dimitri Drekonja on 02/10/2016 - 02:23 pm.

          It’s a big drop, by any standards. But lets keep the math logical:

          5 months x 30 days = 150 days (give or take); 70 points / 150 days = 0.47 points/day.

          I personally don’t see that happening in states that are not neighbors/demographically close to Vermont. Thus, I buy the prediction market estimates, and the various predictions on the 538 site. Like Sanders a lot, especially his support of single-payer, so I’ll be pleased if he somehow pulls it off. But Clinton winning seems the most likely (but by no means certain) thing in either race right now.

          • Submitted by Brian Simon on 02/10/2016 - 03:53 pm.

            That’s the Big Question, isn’t it.

            The pundits and the Clinton campaign share your view, that Sanders benefitted in NH due to proximity to VT. Of course, such an argument ignores past successes the Clintons have enjoyed there. In 92 NH turned Bill into the comeback kid. In 2008 NH kept Hillary in the race after getting whomped in Iowa. Methinks we should not be so hasty in attributing Sanders’ success there solely to being senator from a neighboring state.

            • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 02/10/2016 - 05:03 pm.

              Home court advantage

              “The pundits and the Clinton campaign share your view, that Sanders benefited in NH due to proximity to VT. Of course, such an argument ignores past successes the Clintons have enjoyed there.”

              That argument also ignores the profound cultural differences between Vermont and New Hampshire. New Hampshire is quite conservative, with a strong libertarian bent. Vermont gave us Ben and Jerry’s, which should say it all.

  8. Submitted by RB Holbrook on 02/10/2016 - 01:02 pm.

    Who Wants to do the Smart Thing?

    If the Republican Party really wants to stop Trump, all but one of the candidates in the second tier need to drop out and coalesce around the remaining one.

    Now, who’s going to do it? That’s a hard one, because they each have their own degree of hype and narrative. Cruz? No, he has to stay in. He was raised to believe he is the anointed one, destined by God for greatness. You can’t ask a fellow like that to drop out. Rubio? He has been the New Face of the GOP for so long, it’s hard to imagine him accepting that this isn’t his year and he needs to pull out. Kasich? The candidate who doesn’t come across as a bomb-throwing lunatic? Again, hard to imagine the Republicans wanting him to leave (down-ticket elections would not be a disaster with him at the top). As far as the others–Bush is a negligible force, Christie did his damage and is leaving, and the other candidates are answers to trivia questions.

    Looks like it’s on to South Carolina for the next round.

  9. Submitted by Ray Schoch on 02/10/2016 - 07:21 pm.

    It’s going to be interesting

    I can’t remember a time when I’ve totally agreed with Mr. Tester in these spaces, so this is a first, but I think he’s right on target. We could end up with a brokered GOP convention, during or after which “all hell might break loose,” and the outrage factor among the Sanders supporters (or the Clinton supporters) should the other one become the Democratic nominee will come close to the same chaos. If Sanders runs as a 3rd-party candidate, I think Mr. Tester is quite correct about the likely outcome, though, of course, there remains a possibility that something very similar could happen on the Republican side, and if it does it should – no guarantees about anything this time around – put a Democrat in the White House. Trump may do that anyway.

    I’m still going to hate the political ads, turn off the sound on the TV, etc., just as I do in every election season, but I won’t be able to simply ignore the campaign(s) this time around.

    What I find most disheartening – for the moment – is the depth and breadth of prejudice, whether, racial, cultural, religious, or economic, not to mention gender-based, among so many people who are part of the “base” on the GOP side. I’m pretty sure I’ll find other things to be disheartened about as the campaign(s) progress, but right now, it’s the degree of ugly prejudice that’s so apparent in so many voters in Iowa and New Hampshire that’s embarrassing. It might be “democracy in action,” but de Tocqueville noted some problems with democracy when he was here a couple hundred years ago, and it’s sad to see that some of them remain. I see very little to be proud of in either the supporters or the candidates on the GOP side. Everyone on the debate stages seems to be pandering to the worst and lowest instincts of those in the audience. It ain’t pretty.

  10. Submitted by Solly Johnson on 02/10/2016 - 08:18 pm.


    In his victory speech Tuesday evening Bernie Sanders stated that the most important point in this election cycle is to have a Democrat in the White House. When he first announced his candidacy he said that he was running as a Democrat, but would support any eventual nominee. Based on Bernie’s record of honesty in the past, one has to assume that he will keep his word and support Clinton if she gets the nod. Of course, much can change between now and the convention.

  11. Submitted by Jim Million on 02/10/2016 - 09:24 pm.

    It’s Politics

    Of course, it ain’t pretty.

    It’s a red-blooded/blue-blooded American sport.
    Where do you suppose the Super Bowl came from?

  12. Submitted by Joel Stegner on 02/10/2016 - 10:14 pm.

    No crush involved

    Trump got 35%, the field got 65%.

    He beat individual candidates, but the others got nearly twice as many votes. That is not a crush.

    Sanders got 60% / if there was an crush Tuesday night it was Sanders, not Trump. Hillary’s poor showing of 39% was even higher than Trump.

  13. Submitted by Jim Million on 02/11/2016 - 09:46 am.

    KInda Sorta

    Bernie beat HRC by 21 points in a field of 2, essentially.

    In a much broader field, Trump beat #2 by 20, and each of the others by more than that.

    If Sanders “crushed” HRC, Trump certainly must be considered to have done the same to his field.

    • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 02/11/2016 - 11:40 am.

      Except that

      Sanders got 60% of the vote — enough for nomination.
      Trump got 34%, so he’s still got a lot of balls in the air.

      • Submitted by Edward Blaise on 02/11/2016 - 09:21 pm.

        Look a little closer

        And you will see that the actual NH delegate count is 20 for Sanders and 20 for Clinton due to those party insider at large delegates. The game is rigged!

  14. Submitted by Jim Million on 02/11/2016 - 09:49 am.

    Just in from NYT

    Scientists have recorded the sounds of colliding Black Holes.

    Please be careful out there, Eric.

  15. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 02/11/2016 - 12:00 pm.

    I must say…

    I continue to scratch my head when people react to Trumps success with surprise or even shock. The republican party has been cultivating toxic, ignorant, blowhards as candidates, spokes persons, media personalities, leaders, and constituents for three decades. Trump is simply the logical outcome of that regime. I honestly don’t know how this could surprise anyone who’s been paying attention.

    Republicans and their conservative “intellectuals” have overdosed on the cool aid and fallen into the Abyss without a parachute. Of course that doesn’t mean they can’t get into the White House.

  16. Submitted by Todd Adler on 02/11/2016 - 01:02 pm.

    Spend Spend Spend

    I find it odd that Trump wants to rebuild our military and make it strong again. We already dump 57% of our budget on the military and build $13 billion aircraft carriers the Navy doesn’t need. In fact we have more carriers than the rest of the planet combined. At what point do we say enough is enough and dial back on military spending so we can put a couple of dollars into rebuilding our infrastructure at home? We have roads and bridges that are falling apart and people in rural America who still don’t have decent internet access.

    Yet if someone says “it’s need for security”, no on bats an eye when the check is written. Our police forces are given armored vehicles and the Air Force has more drones than it knows what to do with. I realize that the military is treated as a jobs program, both to employ soldiers and manufacturing plants to build the gear, but perhaps we can shift some of those jobs over to more fruitful aspects that help build our infrastructure.

    • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 02/11/2016 - 01:34 pm.

      The good old

      military.industrial complex has put bases and factories in virtually every state, thus guarantying political support for whatever it wants.

    • Submitted by Bill Willy on 02/11/2016 - 09:18 pm.


      The 2015 military budget was just under $600 billion (China’s was $130 billion, Saudi Arabia’s was 80, Russia’s 70 and the rest of the world’s go down from there).

      But the BIG (additional or “supplemental”) cost comes in when we actually USE the military that money buys. The last time we really fired it up and put it in motion was when the Bush Brain Trust ordered up the Shock and Awe invasion of Iraq in 2003 “in defense of America.”

      That unnecessary and idiotic fiasco, combined with Afghanistan, has cost taxpayers SIX TRILLION bucks (so far) which breaks down to $75,000 per household in current and future tax payments (which just goes to show there’s more than one way to raise taxes and that you don’t need to be a Democrat to do it).

      And then, of course, there were the thousands of young Americans that were killed or injured and the 500,000 Iraqi men, women and children that died as a result of that invasion.

      But never mind them. We were defending America and helping them out at the same time by getting rid of a ruthless dictator who was going to kill them anyway.

      But getting back to the money and your point, the American Society of Civil Engineers estimates that it would cost $3.6 Trillion to rebuild America’s infrastructure (by 2020).

      We could have rebuilt the entire infrastructure almost twice if the Bush administration hadn’t blown it at Tora Bora in December of 2001 or simply NOT used the military to blow a hole in the bag of snakes that went slithering all over that part of the world which is why — each and every Republican pres candidate is telling us — we need to INcrease defense spending and crush ISIL before they drive over here in there Nissan pickup trucks with the 50 caliber guns bolted to the box and blow us all away.

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