Journalists should never be part of the story. But it's worth mentioning that Judy Woodruff and Gwen Ifill, the first female co-anchor pair of NewsHour, make up the first female-only moderating team for a presidential contest.
In a year of outsider success, Tuesday’s New Hampshire primary was the apotheosis of the outsiders. On the Democratic side, Senator Bernie Sanders coasted to a huge victory over Hillary Clinton. And for the Republicans, Donald Trump regained his footing after a letdown in Iowa, winning about a third of the vote and notching a huge victory over the rest of the GOP field.
The results for the rest of the field threatened to remake the race, too. Ohio Governor John Kasich, a moderate technocrat who had seemed to lack traction throughout the campaign, saw his decision to bet all his marbles on New Hampshire pay off, as he came in second. Meanwhile, Senator Marco Rubio had a painful night, falling to an apparent fifth-place finish with the vote mostly tallied—a major stumbling block to his momentum. Chris Christie, whose demolition of Rubio during Saturday night’s debate helped knock Rubio down, didn’t get much of a boost and seemed headed for the exits. Ted Cruz appeared to land in third place and Jeb Bush trailed behind in fourth, while Carly Fiorina and Ben Carson lagged far behind.
Those results came amid a huge surge of interest in the race, as traffic snarled and voters waited in long lines in the frigid night to cast their ballots. New Hampshire officials expected turnout to set an overall record.
It was the biggest night of Sanders’s political career, and he celebrated it with a nearly half-hour speech. Sanders beat the once-bulletproof Hillary Clinton, victor in New Hampshire in 2008. He was helped by the Granite State’s proximity to his home state of Vermont, but he also helped himself with overwhelming wins among young people and independent voters. Sanders serves in the Senate as an independent. He beat Clinton by some 20 percentage points, a blowout win by any standard. (Sanders also made history, becoming the first Jewish candidate to win a presidential primary election.)
His challenge now is to make sure Tuesday wasn’t the high-water mark for his campaign. Sanders has several advantages: a highly motivated group of supporters, a small-dollar fundraising juggernaut, and a clear message. But the next few states are tougher terrain for him than Iowa or New Hampshire: less white, less liberal, and more Southern. Clinton conceded as soon as the polls closed, then gave an upbeat speech in which she borrowed many of Sanders’s own themes, adding, “People have every right to be angry, but they’re also hungry. They’re hungry for solutions.” She can perhaps take solace knowing that the last person to come in second in New Hampshire’s Democratic primary was the man she beat in 2008: Barack Obama. The next Democratic contest is the February 20 Nevada caucus, but the main focus is likely to be on South Carolina’s February 27 primary.
For Trump, the win is a bounce back from his second-place finish in Iowa. He was jovial on stage Tuesday night. “We learned a lot about ground games in a week,” he said, referring to his failure to produce turnout in Iowa. The commanding win—doubling his closest rivals—matched up with pre-election polling. As soon as the polls closed, pundits proclaimed Trump once again the frontrunner for the Republican nomination, and he moves on to South Carolina’s February 20th GOP primary, where he leads in the polls.
Almost as big a story as Trump’s victory was Rubio’s terrible night. The Rubio campaign previously said it wanted to finish third, second, and first in Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina, respectively, and after nailing the first step in Iowa, Rubio acted like he’d won. The plan didn’t work out in New Hampshire, though, where Rubio came in an apparent fifth. Exit polls showed that many Republicans decided on a candidate just in the last few days—that is, since Rubio’s widely panned performance in the February 6 debate. The distant finish is a serious blow to Rubio’s plan to lock up establishment support and force rivals out of the race. Rubio took the blame Tuesday, telling supporters, “I did not do well on Saturday night … That will never happen again.”
Ironically, the one candidate who seemed likely to leave the race after Tuesday night was New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. His hardnosed performance in the debate derailed Rubio, but that didn’t pay off for Christie, who had pinned his hopes almost entirely on New Hampshire. Instead, he finished sixth with less than 10 percent of the vote. It’s hard to see how Christie has a path ahead, and while he didn’t announce a campaign suspension, he said he was headed back to the Garden State to consider the results. That’s a steep fall for a man who less than two years ago was acclaimed as the frontrunner.
The two likely beneficiaries of Christie’s exit are the other moderate governors in the race: John Kasich and Jeb Bush. An ebullient Kasich celebrated his victory Tuesday, saying, “Tonight, the light overcame the darkness.” Well, sort of. Kasich finished with about half of Trump’s votes, a distant second. His totals were worse than Jon Huntsman, a moderate governor who dropped out after New Hampshire in 2012. And Kasich has spent so much time and effort in New Hampshire that he’ll have to scramble to catch up in South Carolina and beyond. Nationally, he still hasn’t caught on in the polls, but now he can make a bid for the establishment slot—especially after Rubio’s slip.
And what about Jeb Bush? Weathering months of mockery and an atrocious finish in Iowa, Bush soldiered on and came out battling Cruz for third place, with about 11 percent of the vote. Reporters suggested that Bush had finally started to find his stride on the stump, and the last two GOP debates were among his finest. The New Hampshire result seems good enough to keep him in the race into South Carolina, especially since he remains one of the best-funded candidates. Whether he is now back in contention is a different story. If nothing else, the polls show that the millions the Bush super PAC spent attacking Rubio paid off: Bush managed to edge his former protégé in the returns.
Ted Cruz jockeyed for third with Bush. The Granite State wasn’t expected to be especially fertile territory for the Texas senator, and while he might have liked to do better to build on his momentum after winning Iowa, Cruz ended up with a respectable share of the vote and a ticket to South Carolina, where he should have better chances. The news is less sanguine for Carly Fiorina and Ben Carson, both of whose campaigns are struggling for oxygen, and neither of whom cracked 5 percent of the vote. Both vowed to go on to South Carolina, but it’s hard to see why.
The Granite State jealously guards its reputation for producing upsets and changing the direction of the race. At the top of the ballot on Tuesday, the winners were the candidates who led in the polls coming in. Nonetheless, the two victories make for dramatic moments, unforeseeable even a few months ago, when neither Trump nor Sanders was taken seriously as a candidate. The rest of the Republican results could be nearly as consequential, helping determine whether GOP leaders can coalesce behind a candidate to stop Trump or Cruz, or whether chaos will take over again. In short, it was another classic New Hampshire night.
—David A. Graham
A somber Marco Rubio placed the blame for his lackluster finish Tuesday squarely on his own, much-maligned performance at the GOP debate on Saturday night. “I’m disappointed with tonight,” he told supporters in New Hampshire. “But I want you to understand something: Our disappointment tonight is not on you. It’s on me. I did not do well on Saturday night, so listen to this. That will never happen again. That will never happen again.”
Rubio was roundly mocked for repeating the same canned talking point over and over during the debate under pressure from Chris Christie, and he appeared to suffer a similar laps during a rally on Monday night. With about 78 percent of precincts reporting, he was in fifth place and narrowly trailing Ted Cruz and Jeb Bush for third. Whatever the final result, it is likely to be far from the strong second place showing he was hoping for after he gained won momentum by nearly overtaking Donald Trump in Iowa. There will be a lot of pressure for him to regroup in South Carolina.
Chris Christie announces that he will go back to New Jersey to wait and see how the rest of the vote shakes out in New Hampshire before making a decision about what comes next. He indicated that by tomorrow morning or afternoon, he will likely be ready to make that call. It sounds like a decision to drop out of the race is imminent, even if it didn't come tonight.
The New Jersey governor looked subdued as he spoke. It seemed like he wanted to hit an optimistic note, but his disappointment shone through. “I have both won elections that I was supposed to lose, and I've lost elections I was supposed to win. What that means is you never know. It's both the magic and the mystery of politics that you never quite know which is going to happen,” Christie said. “We came here to say that speaking your mind matters, that experience matters, that competence matters, and that it will always matter in leading our nation. That message was heard by a lot of folks, and it was stood for by a lot of folks here in New Hampshire, just not enough, not enough tonight.”
Christie congratulated Trump on his victory tonight, but indicated that the real-estate mogul doesn't have the race sewn up. “The race will continue down the road in South Carolina, and other states as we move forward, but for New Hampshire, they have chosen their candidate tonight, and he deserves congratulations for that.”
Young voters turned against Hillary Clinton. Consider these numbers from the pollster John Della Volpe of Harvard's Institute of Politics (where I serve on the senior advisory board). He's been surveying millennial voters since 2000. ”In '08 Clinton actually won 25-29 year olds in NH by a few points, lost 18-24s by 3:1,” Della Volpe emailed me.
As those voters aged, though, Clinton lost many of them. “Tonight,” Della Volpe wrote, “she lost under 30s by 6:1; 30-39 year olds by 3:1.”
What does Donald Trump look like as a winner? A lot like Trump the rest of the time. His victory speech on Tuesday was standard Trump fare: Build a wall. Repeal and replace Obamacare. “I am going to be the greatest jobs president that God ever created.” “We don’t win anymore.” “We are going to make America great again.”
What was unusual about Trump’s speech was the preamble: A magnanimous, emotional Trump. He began by recalling his late parents, and also thanked his brother and sister, as well as remembering his late brother Fred. He thanked his wife and his daughter. He thanked his campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, and made light of his ballyhooed organizational failures in Iowa. “Does Corey have a ground game or what?” Trump grinned. “We learned a lot about ground games in a week.” Trump even took a moment to praise his rivals for the GOP nomination. “We have some real talent in the Republican Party,” Trump said.
“Now that I got that out of my way,” he added. “Tomorrow, boom boom, but that’s the way it is.” And that’s exactly how it’s likely to be in South Carolina, starting tomorrow morning: The unlikely frontrunner is back on top, and the effort to stop him will be more frantic than ever. Odds are he’ll be ready to punch back.
If Jeb Bush can maintain the narrow edge he presently holds over Marco Rubio, it will position him well for the upcoming primaries, particularly in South Carolina, where millions of dollars in ads have already aired. But he’s still fighting for third with Ted Cruz in the polls.
Bush’s campaign hinged on a strong showing in New Hampshire, and he tried to offer reassurance tonight that he’s still in the fight. “This campaign is not dead. We’re going on to South Carolina,” Bush said tonight, but was cut off by the networks which switched over to Donald Trump who stepped up to speak at a different location.
“Thank you, New Hampshire!” a somber but clearly gratified Bernie Sanders said, addressing a crowd of thrilled supporters in a high-school gymnasium in Concord, New Hampshire. His win, he said, had sent a message to the country: “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!” Sanders began with an allusion to his electability argument, saying his campaign inspired record turnout, “the energy and the excitement that the Democratic Party will need to succeed in November.”
He also made a pitch for party unity—the acrimony between Sanders and Clinton in recent days has had some Democrats worrying that it will be hard to bring the party together behind the eventual nominee, whoever it is. “We will need to come together in a few months and unite this party and this nation, because the right wing Republicans we oppose must not be allowed to gain the presidency.”
Sanders spoke for nearly half an hour, hitting most of the policy themes of his regular stump speech. But it was hard to begrudge him for going long: There’s a chance this moment will be the high point of his entire political career. That’s not how Sanders sees it, of course. He closed with a look forward: “Now it’s on to Nevada, South Carolina, and beyond!”
African American voters are the key to Hillary Clinton’s nomination bid, which may be why she twice referenced the water crisis in Flint, Michigan, in her concession speech. Conventional wisdom suggests that Bernie Sanders, the Vermont socialist who defeated Clinton in New Hampshire, can’t make inroads among blacks and other minorities.
I’m not so sure. Although middle-aged and elderly voters recall Bill Clinton’s presidency and are old enough to appreciate Hillary Clinton’s record, millennial minorities weren’t old enough to vote when the Clintons left the White House.
The exit poll tonight shows Sanders roughly splitting non-white voters in New Hampshire with Clinton, 49 to 50 percent. I’ll be closely watching future election results to see how Clinton and Sanders compete for young minority voters. Continued inroads by Sanders into these voting blocs would cause Clinton problems.
“I want to say, I still love New Hampshire, and I always will,” Hillary Clinton said as she congratulated Bernie Sanders and conceded a loss in front of cheering supporters. “Now we take this campaign to the entire country. We’re going to fight for every vote in every state.”
In one speech, she tried both to take up the issues that have propelled Sanders and highlight the ones she believes will resonate with the African American and Latino voters she is depending on to deliver victories in South Carolina, Nevada, and the bigger states to follow. “People have every right to be angry, but they’re also hungry. They’re hungry for solutions,” she said. Clinton cast herself as a fighter, with a riff on the “women’s rights are human rights” line that she famously delivered in China 20 years ago. And she reminded voters that she’s been “knocked down” before. “I know I have some work to do, particularly with young people,” she said. “It’s not whether you get knocked down. It’s whether you get back up!”
Three weeks ago I reported from a Kasich event, where his campaign manager, Beth Hansen, predicted a strong finish:
“Our surge in New Hampshire is less than four weeks away!” Hansen says, to scattered applause from the group of several dozen clean-cut people in bow ties and long wool coats. “I feel really good about our ground game,” she adds. “We don’t rely on the public polls.”
ABC News is now calling second place for John Kasich. In a crowded Republican field, the Ohio governor has struggled to stand out. Early on, he put all his chips on New Hampshire, gambling that the state would reward his straight-talking persona. Tonight, that looks like a winning bet.
Back in April, Molly Ball produced this prescient profile of the candidate:
If only, Republican voters might be thinking, there were a candidate who could appeal to blue-collar voters but also mingle with the GOP establishment. A governor who’d proven he could run a large state but who also had national experience. Someone who’d won tough elections and maintained bipartisan popularity in an important swing state. A candidate whose folksy demeanor and humble roots would contrast nicely with Hillary Clinton’s impersonal, stiffly scripted juggernaut.
That’s Kasich’s pitch, in a nutshell.
Read it for yourself, here.
Can Donald Trump be stopped? Of course, he can—but his path to the Republican nomination gets easier if the race for second place in New Hampshire remains jumbled.
The GOP’s anti-Trump crowd needs to quickly coalesce around an establishment candidate—Florida Senator Marco Rubio, Ohio Governor John Kasich, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie or former Florida Governor Jeb Bush.
Rather than ganging up against Trump and conservative-darling Ted Cruz, the establishment candidates have chosen to attack each other. Nothing would make Trump happier after New Hampshire than a repeat of that mistake.
According to Clinton’s communications director, Jennifer Palmieri, Clinton has called Sanders to offer him congratulations and is “en route to address her supporters.”
According to early exit-poll data, Bernie Sanders takes the lead among women by 12 percentage points. Hillary Clinton has been falling short in picking up support among women, particularly young women who are flocking to the Vermont senator. Over the weekend, Madeleine Albright and Gloria Steinem called for them to support Clinton over Sanders. “We can tell our story of how we climbed the ladder, and a lot of you younger women think it’s done,” Albright said. “It’s not done. There’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help each other!” A series of factors have come into play here. For one, many young women feel that they’ll see a female president in their lifetime therefore chipping away at the urgency to elect Clinton.
And, for some, Clinton’s role in the accusations against her husband in the 1990s have also left supporters conflicted.
Humiliation is the only word for it. Hillary Clinton won the New Hampshire primary in 2008. She campaigned in the state in 1992, when her husband spun a second-place finish into “The Comeback Kid.” The former first lady and secretary of state has long had higher name recognition in New Hampshire than Bernie Sanders, the septuagenarian from nearby Vermont. The state’s open-primary system tends to create moderate primary races, which favors her position inside the Democratic Party.
And still, she lost.
Clinton and her advisers are correct to say she still retains numerous structural advantages, starting with the February 20 primary in South Carolina, a state whose Democratic electorate favors a candidate like Clinton with strong ties to the African American community. She is still the favorite to win the nomination.
But don’t buy the spin that Sanders is New Hampshire’s favorite son. Clinton should have won, and the way she lost underscores her weaknesses: A lack of voter enthusiasm, a lack of credibility, and a lack of a response to an insurgent candidate exploiting the public’s desire for political disruption.
The Kasich story is a perfect illustration of how expectations matter more than almost anything else in the early primary states. As of right now, the Ohio governor has just about exactly the same percentage of the vote that former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman had in the New Hampshire primary in 2012. Huntsman, who was also considered the most “moderate” Republican in the field, finished third with nearly 17 percent. But while Huntsman dropped out in the days that followed, Kasich is likely to get a burst of momentum and positive press if these results hold up
It is also, very preliminarily, looking like Chris Christie may have damaged Marco Rubio without meaningfully raising his own profile—an outcome that seemed likely to me when I spent time with Christie over the weekend.
If the GOP results are as much of a traffic jam for second place as the current returns are showing, it’s possible nobody will drop out. But there are big questions about where a candidate like John Kasich can score another win, with the next several contests concentrated in deep-red Southern states.
Steve Schmidt, architect of John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign, tells MSNBC that Trump has “tapped into something deep in the Republican psyche. … These voters believe that the country is on the edge. … Donald Trump is American nationalist.”
David Goldman / AP
Across the American political spectrum, voters are demanding to know, “What side of the barricades are you on?” Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump positioned themselves on the people’s side, and won the New Hampshire primaries.
In an era of polarization, there is one uniting force in politics: populism. The latest reminder came Tuesday night, when a socialist from the back bench of the Democratic Party and a celebrity billionaire from reality TV crushed the candidates of the status quo.
Anti-establishment, pro-disruption voters voiced their displeasure with a corrupt and disconnected duopoly. Four of 10 voters in both the GOP and Democratic parties identified themselves and independents—from outside the two major parties.
In the GOP primary, about half of the voters said they wanted a political outsider and feel betrayed by their party. Among voters in the Democratic primary, the candidate attribute most sought by voters was honesty and trustworthiness, which apparently cut against scandal-plagued Hillary Clinton.
Despite all their obvious differences, the voters backing both Trump and Sanders want some of the same things: America pulling back from rest of the world to focus on domestic concerns; reducing special deals for the rich; reversing violations on the public’s privacy by the government and big business; fighting corporate welfare; and curbing big banks and other financial institutions.
There are many remarkable things about this night. But not least among them is that Bernie Sanders has just become the first Jewish candidate to win a major party’s state-primary election for president. For that matter, he’s the first non-Christian ever to do so. That this has gone largely unnoticed is perhaps even greater evidence of the nation’s growing acceptance of all kinds of diversity than the simple fact that it has occurred.
The first few thousand votes are in, and, as expected, they show a tight race for second on the Republican side, with Kasich, Cruz, Rubio, and Bush tightly clustered around the magic threshold of 10 percent—the minimum to walk away with any delegates tonight.
But it’s worth pausing for a moment to appreciate the frontrunners. The polls have shown Trump and Sanders leading so consistently, that it’s easy to look past the improbability of that outcome. But as the actual votes are tallied, the first returns show a billionaire real-estate developer who’s never held elective office, and who’s broken most of the rules in the standard political playbook, headed toward the sort of landslide win that most career politicians never achieve. And then there’s the Brooklyn-born democratic socialist, an independent senator from Vermont, poised to win the Democratic primary in an equally decisive fashion.
Not all the polls in New Hampshire have even closed yet; we’ll have to tally many more votes before either of these things passes from speculation to reality. Either of these outcomes, though, seemed beyond the realm of political possibility when these two outsiders entered the race. That tonight, both could simultaneously come true is simply astonishing.
Figures purporting to be drawn from the second wave of exit polls are now circulating on social media. There are multiple versions out there. That may be because each of the networks in the consortium weights the raw numbers differently as they adjust the data, or it may be another very good reason to take these numbers with a grain of salt.
Most of the figures circulating show Trump and Sanders with large leads, and Kasich in a solid second on the Republican side. I explained before why these numbers shouldn’t be trusted, and I’d reiterate that caution now. The exit poll numbers we have at this point tell us what voters are thinking—in a race as closely clustered as the battle for second in the GOP primary, they simply can’t tell us who’s actually winning.
I’d been wondering whether Bernie Sanders might be subject to a reverse social-desirability bias among younger Democrats: They tell pollsters they support him because it’s considered unpopular among their peers not to. The public nature of Democratic caucusing, then, would partially explain his surge in Iowa among people under 30, where 84 percent backed the Vermont senator, and open the door to Clinton performing better than expected in New Hampshire.
The first results are now available from the New Hampshire exit polls. They show an increasingly polarized electorate—both more liberal and more conservative than in 2012. Voters are frustrated, fearful, and angry—trends that were particularly pronounced in the Republican primary. About a quarter of Democrats, but more than half of GOP voters, wanted a candidate from “outside the political establishment,” ABC reported. Republican voters were also more concerned about the threat of terrorism, three-quarters were very worried about the economy, and two-thirds would support a temporary ban on Muslims who are not U.S. citizens entering the country.
In what may be a worrisome sign for Marco Rubio, 45 percent of Republican voters said that they had made up their minds in the last few days, and 65 percent said that the last debate was a factor in their decision, said CNN.
Exit polls are conducted by a media consortium, which pays interviewers to approach voters as they exit the polls (hence the name) and ask them a detailed set of questions. Those answers are then compiled to reveal the correlations between the demographic profiles of voters, their opinions, and the votes they actually cast.
They’re an invaluable tool, when an election is over, for figuring out why it turned out as it did. But they’re largely useless for predicting who will win. The interviewers are only present at a relative handful of sites. Some sorts of voters may be particularly likely to decline to participate; others may not answer accurately. After the votes are counted, pollsters can make statistical adjustments as the results roll in, to make their data line up with the actual shape of the voting public. But at this stage, the data on which candidates are up and which are trailing are worse than useless—they’re actively misleading. The preliminary data on demographics and opinion are more useful, but may still shift based on additional interviews before the polls close, and statistical adjustments made afterwards.
Today, Molly has a great piece on why "the kids" love Bernie Sanders. But why exactly does Hillary Clinton fail to connect with the youth? Maybe it's just a language barrier. Here's a great nugget from Amy Chozick of The New York Times:
When a voter approached her at a polling station at Parker Varney School in Manchester, N.H., on Tuesday to ask for a picture, he explained that his friend had taken a selfie with the former first lady on Monday and he was jealous because the shot “went viral.”
“You went viral?” Mrs. Clinton said to the man’s friend. “That sounds like some kind of disease.”
How do you know when a candidate isn't feeling optimistic about his chances of victory? One good sign is when he doesn't even plan to stay in the state for results. Ben Carson will skip his New Hampshire victory party and head straight to South Carolina, ABC reports.
Ben Carson will not be attending his New Hampshire election party tonight, will fly to South Carolina instead, campaign says. -@KFaulders— ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) February 9, 2016
Lower-polling candidates have been vowing all week that they'll be going on to the Palmetto State no matter the results, and Carson is showing he means it. But there's a risk, too. In Iowa, Carson skipped town, headed to Florida for a "fresh set of clothes," then went to New Hampshire. That spurred rumors—fed by Ted Cruz staffers—that Carson was about to drop off. This time around, Carson won't be making a stopover in Florida.
There’s a quirk in New Hampshire’s primary process that could prove important. Voters who aren’t registered with either party—about 40 percent of the state’s electorate—can choose which race they want to vote in. Twenty-three percent of voters in New Hampshire had not made up their mind on whether they’ll cast their votes in the Democratic or Republican primaries, according to a WBUR poll taken from February 2-4.
In 2000, 60 percent of independent voters chose the GOP race, helping John McCain. In 2008, 62 percent of undeclared voters voted in the Democratic contest between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. With two hotly contested races, voters have a tough choice. The WBUR poll found their interest fairly evenly split. If they swing toward greater participation in the Democratic race, that would increase Sanders’s margin; if more voters choose Republican ballots, that could power John Kasich into a second-place finish, the poll found.
It’s looking like snow won’t play much of a factor in New Hampshire, after all. There were a few inches overnight in locations in the southern part of the state, but the storm is now clearing out. The National Weather Service forecasts flurries at most, and even AccuWeather, which has a taste for the hyperbolic, expects relatively clear weather with a minimal effect on voting, despite snowfall yesterday.
Bad weather famously suppresses turnout, especially for Democrats, though the record is mixed on snow. A 2007 study of voting patterns in The Journal of Politics found Election Day snowfall can deter some voters—but only if it’s a larger-than-average storm. Rain, on the other hand, is bad all the time.
The voting is underway in New Hampshire, where voters in three hamlets—Hart’s Location, Millsfield, and Dixville Notch—cast their ballots just after midnight. Once all the registered voters have made their choices, the ballots can be counted.
Dixville Notch went for Kasich over Trump, 3-2, and for Sanders over Clinton, 4-0. (Kasich had personally telephoned each Dixville voter to ask for their support.) In Millsfield, voters backed Cruz over Trump, 9-3, scattering individual votes among Marco Rubio, John Kasich, Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, Carly Fiorina, and Rand Paul. In Hart’s Location, voters backed Sanders over Clinton, 12-7, with two votes for Mark Stewart Greenstein, a candidate who wants to inject “liberty” into the party. Among Republicans, Kasich picked up five; Trump, four; Christie, two; and Bush, Carson, and Rubio one apiece.
In all, Sanders now leads Clinton 16-7, and Kasich, Cruz, and Trump are tied at 9 apiece.
What does it augur? Not much. But it’s a reminder of how New Hampshire has turned its primary into a quadrennial civic ritual. And for the communities that stage these votes, it’s a bid for continued relevance while they await revival.
In the rest of New Hampshire, polls will open at 7 a.m., and mostly close at 7 p.m., or in about 20 communities, at 8 p.m.
Whenever the spotlight strays too far from Donald Trump, he finds a way to pull it back. Most politicians read speeches; Trump reads crowds. On Monday night in Manchester, in the middle of a riff about Ted Cruz’s refusal to whole-heartedly endorse water boarding or other forms of torture, he heard a shout from a woman in the audience. He paused. “She just said a terrible thing. You know what she said? Shout it out because I don’t want to say.” She complied. “Okay. You’re not allowed to say—and I never expect to hear that from you again…she said he’s a pussy. That’s terrible. Terrible!”
The crowd cheered. It chanted. It roared. And just like that, Trump was headline news again, for saying something you can’t put in most headlines.
That was how it went in New Hampshire on Monday, where the weather was frigid, and the campaign-trail rhetoric overheated.
Donald Trump called Jeb Bush “an embarrassment to his own family.” Jeb shot back: “Donald Trump, you’re the loser!” Chris Christie said that Marco Rubio looked like he was “drowning and grabbing for a life preserver” in the Republican debate, while a prominent Rubio supporter labeled Christie “a lot overweight.”
In the Democratic race, Hillary Clinton accused Bernie Sanders of pocketing $200,000 from “Wall Street firms” for his Senate races. Sanders’s campaign manager fired back, contesting that calculation, and charging that the Clinton campaign was in “disarray.”
The messages reflected the high stakes in the Granite State. Polls show Sanders and Trump with commanding leads. Their rivals are trying to pull off upset wins, or at the very least, exceed expectations. Hillary Clinton fears a clear-cut Sanders win could help his campaign gather momentum, and is hoping last-minute voters will break her way, as they did in 2008.
The three governors in the Republican race—Bush, Christie, and John Kasich—are wooing voters looking for a seasoned executive. Ted Cruz is hoping his surprise Iowa win can power him to second in New Hampshire, while Marco Rubio hopes his surge to third in Iowa will do the same. The other remaining Republicans—Carly Fiorina, Ben Carson, and Jim Gilmore—are likely hoping not to embarrass themselves.
But will voters turn out? In the populous southern part of the state, half a foot of snow was predicted by dawn, with gusty winds and temperatures remaining well below freezing through the day. But that may not be enough to keep voters at home, as both nominating races heat up.