Wednesday, February 10, 2016

New Hampshire Primary Winners and Losers...

There wasn't much drama as to who would win the Republican or Democratic primaries last night. Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders had both been polling comfortably in first place for a long time and nothing would change that come yesterday. 

With a record setting turn-out, the people of the Granite State helped professional pollsters feel good about themselves once more after a rocky showing in the Iowa Caucuses last week. The final results conformed to the conventional wisdom that Trump and Sanders would win by a wide margin, that Hillary Clinton only had a small likelihood to come within ten percent of Sanders (she finished 22% behind Bernie). Pollsters also predicted a respectable showing from Ohio Governor John Kasich who finished a solid second, four percentage points in front of Iowa GOP winner Ted Cruz and five points ahead of Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio. 

The winners and losers of the 2016 New Hampshire Primaries...


Donald Trump -  After a bit of a clumsy 2nd place finish in Iowa, the Trump campaign responded with a renewed focus on the importance of a ground game in New Hampshire. While the outcome was never really in doubt, the time between Iowa and the Granite State allowed the campaign to recalibrate its approach slightly, and should serve it well going forward. With a 16 point lead in the South Carolina Primary Real Clear Politics poll, Trump is sitting pretty as the primary season moves South. With the affirmation that the New Hampshire victory provides him, look for even more swagger and bombast going forward. 

John Kasich - Ohio Governor John Kasich, at least for a night, broke out of the cluster of himself, Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio. New Hampshire was everything to the Kasich campaign, who mostly took a pass on Iowa in favor of touring the state and spreading his message via over one hundred town halls. His efforts were rewarded, as was his unique message and positioning with regard to the other Republicans in the race. Heavy on experience, policy and (for lack of a better word) his belief in  "American togetherness." Kasich is well funded, he has a very good organisation to help him as the primaries head south. Of concern is how well does he play in South Carolina (where he doesn't currently place in the top five of the RCP poll) and beyond. 

Bernie Sanders - Sanders seems to me to be a genuine, sincere and passionate man. He crushed HRC last night with 60% of the votes cast on the Democratic side of the primary. How badly did he defeat her by? CBS News reported that Sanders had captured a stunning 82% of the female vote. That is terrible news for Hillary Clinton. A Sanders win surprised no one and what the future holds for him only time will tell. It's great to win the opening game of the primary season, especially when its in your back yard, no doubt. But we'll quickly see the sheer magnitude of the Clinton campaign with all of its finances and infrastructure as we head to South Carolina and Nevada. Will Sanders be able to get his populist message to resonate enough to make a difference going forward?

Vermin Supreme - When you show up at other people's campaign events with a boot on your head, you're going to get noticed. This novelty candidate wound up with 243 votes, which is more votes than Mike Huckabee, Rick Santorum, Jim Gilmore (who is still officially an active candidate), George Pataki, Lindsay Graham and Bobby Jindal. Despite these hijinks, Supreme got far fewer votes this year than he did in the 2012 NH Primary when he got 833 votes. 


Hillary Clinton -  While no one really expected her to win in New Hampshire, this combined with a weak victory last week in Iowa, hardly puts forth a picture of a large, efficient campaign machine that will crush everything in its path. While I fully expect to see that behemoth spring to life over the next few weeks, right now the Clinton campaign doesn't seem to be firing on all cylinders. Her message doesn't have the passion of the Sanders campaign and she never been that good on the campaign trail. She's not a Barack Obama and no where close to her husband, former President Bill Clinton when it comes to hard core campaign skills. The Sanders campaign may have reached its zenith last night, but if the Clinton campaign doesn't step it up a notch and find a way to connect with their voters (the discrepancy in the female vote was shocking) quickly, Bernie Sanders will surely benefit. The sooner HRC dispatches Sanders and can focus on the general campaign, the better for her.

Chris Christie - New Jersey Governor Chris Christie made no bones about how important a solid showing in New Hampshire was. And as the polls leading up to yesterday's Republican primary consistently suggested, the primary voters left little doubt as to their feelings. A sixth place finish in the single digits does not bode well for the campaign's future. One wonders if his time would've been better spent taking a different approach in the last debate. While the attacks on Marco Rubio were entertaining, they weren't especially substantive. Christie has headed back to New jersey to "re-assess" his campaign. 

Marco Rubio - After an uplifting 3rd place showing that was basically a tie for 2nd in last week's Iowa Republican caucuses, the thinking was that Rubio was in a good position to carve out a space just behind the front-runner in New Hampshire. To finish in fifth place last night is not what the Florida Senator had in mind. Rubio quickly took the blame for his poor showing, claiming that his poor performance in last week's debate, "I did not do well on Saturday night. That will never happen again." Rubio sits in third place in South Carolina polls and has to be hoping for a better outcome there.

Carly Fiorina/Ben Carson - If we combine their vote total percents, they finish behind Governor Christie, who has the sense to re-assess whether or not his campaign is viable going forward. The token candidates have done their job, attracted some people who might not otherwise have identified with the GOP, but now its time to swear their allegiance to someone else, and step aside. From what I've seen and heard, Fiorina isn't going anywhere for a while. Ben Carson's future plans are less certain. 

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