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.
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.
I wonder if the Republican race will have an effect on the Democratic race. Hypothetically, if it seemed like John Kasich was going to be the Republican nominee, instead of Donald Trump or Ted Cruz or Marco Rubio, would Democrats be a little bit less afraid of gambling on a Bernie Sanders nomination?
Carly Fiorina and her campaign have been quiet tonight, as she took roughly 4 percent of the vote. But that doesn't necessarily mean a drop-out announcement is imminent for the seventh-place finisher. This morning, her campaign sent out an email with recent Fiorina tweets showcasing her plans for South Carolina and Nevada. (For the record, she's "looking forward" to the Carolina debate on Saturday, and has events and ad buys scheduled for Nevada. Her schedule isn't changing, Politico reports, citing her deputy campaign manager.) And earlier tonight, she reassured supporters: “I'm not going to sit down and be quiet, and neither are you.”
Hindsight being 20-20, it sure is easier tonight to pick out the signals from recent polling that predicted Kasich’s strong second-place finish. This weekend, a University of Massachusetts-Lowell survey showed him garnering 16 percent percent of New Hampshire’s independent vote, the largest share behind Donald Trump. He also scored well among self-described moderates—again, directly behind Trump. Conservatives went to Cruz as their second choice, just as they did in tonight's exit polls.
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.”
Ted Cruz, that winner of Iowa, is in a three-man race for third-place tonight, and he's tentatively leading. He struck a grateful and positive tone in a speech from his campaign headquarters in Hollis. "This election, this primary and this general election in November 2016, will be a victory for the hardworking men and women who want to believe in the promise of America" in the face of Washington corruption. Cruz didn't have to place terribly high in New Hampshire. He wasn't expected to win it, and in recent days, Cruz's campaign was already focusing on South Carolina. It hopes Cruz can lock up evangelical voters there, like he did in Iowa.
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.”
John Kasich credited his second-place finish to the residents of New Hampshire, praising them for their efforts and touting his experience in the state. The Ohio governor reflected on the more than 100 town halls he’s had in the state. "People for some reason are able to come to these town halls and feel safe,” he said, suggesting that he would continue such a strategy moving forward. “From this day forward I am going to go slower and to spend my time listening and healing and helping." Whether he can execute that and fare well moving forward remains to be seen, but his confidence tonight was clear: "If you don’t have a seatbelt go get one."
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.
New Hampshire hasn't been kind to Ben Carson or Carly Fiorina. Final tallies aren't in yet, but Carson and Fiorina are hovering near the very bottom of the GOP pack. Carson is performing the worst with just 2.3 percent of the vote to Fiorina's 4.4 percent. It's hard to see how either can remain a viable candidate for much longer, though so far nobody's dropped out tonight. Chris Christie also isn't doing well, especially for a candidate who has effectively staked his campaign on success in New Hampshire. The New Jersey governor tried seemingly every tactic to win over voters in the Granite State, but right now it looks like he won't even finish in the top five on the GOP side of the race.
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!”
Donald Trump enters to the Beatles’ “Revolution,” which is some serious trolling.
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.
The spin from the Clinton campaign began literally as soon as the polls closed in New Hampshire with a three-page memo to reporters entitled “March Matters” from campaign manager Robby Mook. He said the campaign had “long anticipated” a split in the first two contests and argued Clinton was strongly positioned for the 28 primaries and caucuses occurring next month, in which 56 percent of the delegates are at stake. “The nomination will very likely be won in March, not February, and we believe that Hillary Clinton is well positioned to build a strong—potentially insurmountable—delegate lead next month.” As expected, Mook’s case relies on Clinton’s strength with African Americans and Hispanics, who comprise a much larger portion of the primary electorate in the bigger and more diverse states that vote in March. “We believe that Hillary’s unique level of strength among African Americans, Hispanics, women and working families of all backgrounds—combined with the most data-driven and targeted campaign ever waged—will net the delegates in March needed to put her on a clear path to the nomination.” The big unanswered question, however, is whether the success Sanders has had in Iowa and New Hampshire will cause minority voters to reconsider their support for Clinton. We’ll get an early idea of that in South Carolina and Nevada.
The scene from Bernie Sanders’s election-night party in Concord, New Hampshire: When the networks called it for Sanders, a grin broke out on Renny Cushing's face. A 5-term state representative from Hampton, Cushing has voted in 11 Democratic primaries, but never before for a winner. The list of doomed liberals he's supported includes Jesse Jackson, Tom Harkin, Jerry Brown, and Barack Obama (who lost the 2008 New Hampshire primary). "This is going to send a message through the whole country," Cushing predicted. "No more business as usual! Enough is enough!" In the half-full high-school auditorium in Concord, the speakers switched from CNN to the Sugarhill Gang, and a dance party broke out.
Can a Clinton come in second in New Hampshire and still win the Democratic nomination? Just ask Bill, who did that in 1992 and promptly dubbed himself—with some chutzpah—the Comeback Kid. But his prediction turned out to be right. No such luck for Hillary Clinton, though: She won the state in 2008, so her only angle tonight is to spin it as just another race, rather than a counterintuitive victory. Of course, who came in second when she won the state in 2008? That'd be Barack Obama.
Voters in New Hampshire's first-in-the-nation primary were faced with a lengthy list of candidates to chose from tonight: 28 Democrats and 30 Republicans in all for a total of 58 candidates. As BuzzFeed explains: “That's because pretty much anyone who filed their papers last year and paid $1,000 to the New Hampshire state government can make the primary ballot.” So how are those candidates doing? Earlier in the night, Richard Witz, described by BuzzFeed simply as a “man from Massachusetts” pulled ahead of Carly Fiorina and Ben Carson in early voting results for the GOP primary. Now, however, Carson and Fiorina have regained a lead over the mysterious candidate and Massachusetts man. Witz is currently at 0.8 percent of the vote for the Republican primary.
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 polls are all closed in New Hampshire, and even though there are still many New Hampshirites still in line to vote, the networks have started calling the primary for Bernie Sanders on the Democratic side and for Donald Trump on the Republican side. That's an expected win for both men. For Sanders, the question is how far he can run up the score on Hillary Clinton. For Trump, it's a big bounceback after a humbling second-place finish in Iowa. It's too early to get a clear picture of how the rest of the GOP field might pan out.
One post-game aspect of this contest worth keeping an eye on: whether the state's new voter ID law affected turnout. As Priscilla notes, high turnout has been expected. But detractors of voter ID laws argue that they suppress low-income, minority, and elderly voters. And a General Accounting Office report—requested, coincidentally, by Senator Sanders and several colleagues—showed the laws disproportionately affect African Americans and young voters. New Hampshire's law is less rigid than others, and there's a procedure in place so voters who show up without ID can nevertheless cast a ballot. A political scientist at the University of New Hampshire told WBUR that "the kinds of groups that have criticized voter ID laws as being discriminatory largely don’t exist in the New Hampshire electorate," citing the state's high incomes and low minority populations. Still, some voters without ID may not show up because they don't know about that procedure, or might be intimidated by the idea of arriving without an ID.
Retail politics—glad-handing, holding town halls, getting out and meeting voters face-to-face—has long been viewed as a key to victory in New Hampshire's first-in-the-nation primary. Granite State voters take pride in that, saying it allows them to vet candidates to a degree that wouldn't be possible in larger states. Critics, however, argue that such a small state doesn't deserve the outsized political attention. Donald Trump has defied the tradition by favoring massive rallies over smaller venues as he campaigns. If Trump wins tonight, it could challenge the assumption that retail politics are a necessary to succeed in the state.
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.
A higher turnout is expected in New Hampshire than in Iowa, where caucuses typically attract active members of the Democratic or Republican Parties. New Hampshire’s Secretary of State Bill Gardner predicted a record turnout that would surpass 2008 by 25,000 votes. CNN is reporting such a turnout tonight, particularly in the town of Merrimack, where the line of cars reportedly stretches two miles up the road from the polls.
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.
CNN showed an only-in-New-Hampshire interview a few minutes ago featuring two of the state's undeclared voters, and it's illustrative of the struggles candidates face in trying to attract these mercurial beings. Sarah Thomas, who leans libertarian, said she was about to go vote for Donald Trump. She used to support a candidate who considered Trump his archenemy: Rand Paul, who said last month that the way he wants to spend his “every waking hour is to try to stop Donald Trump from being our nominee.”) Bruce McCracken, who typically votes for Democrats, is an even stranger case, at least for voters who are used to registering and voting for one party only. He said he decided to vote for John Kasich, one of the more moderate Republicans in the race, as “as an insurance policy” so that “the country would be in good hands if the Democrats lose.” Somewhere in New Hampshire, the Sanders and Clinton camps are wondering why he couldn't use his vote on them.
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.
John McCain won't endorse a Republican candidate for president now that his close friend Lindsey Graham has dropped out of the race. But early Tuesday afternoon, McCain took to the Senate floor to influence the primary in his own way, by criticizing "loose talk" on the campaign trail about reviving the practice of waterboarding "and other inhumane interrogation techniques." He called the New Hampshire primary an important step to selecting the next commander-in-chief, particularly one who respects American values and ideals. He made the case that not only does waterboarding—which is illegal—produce bad intelligence, but it also compromises those ideals. Plus, in supporting waterboarding, "candidates are saying they will disregard the law," McCain said. "I thought that was our complaint, Republican complaint, with the present president of the United States."
Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders each head into primary day with double-digit leads in the New Hampshire polling averages, but that might matter less than you think, thanks to a couple of factors. First, as we’ve noted, polling in general has been going through a rough stretch. The Gallup poll famously missed President Obama’s popular-vote victory in 2012. And the final Iowa caucus polling was incorrect in both 2012, when it missed Rick Santorum’s late surge, and last week, when most surveys predicted that Donald Trump would win, not Ted Cruz. Yet none of those misses were as bad as the polling in New Hampshire eight years. On primary day, the RealClearPolitics average had Barack Obama up by 8.3 points. Hillary Clinton won by 2.6 points, in an embarrassment for the polling industry and a stunning upset that (briefly) rejuvenated her campaign. Given that history, those big leads for Trump and Sanders might not be that safe after all.
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.