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An early night! With first and second place settled in both the Democratic and Republican races, we’re putting a bow on our New Hampshire primary live blog relatively early. Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2016, will likely go down as a historic day in American electoral politics. Trump and Sanders, separately, represent powerful currents in the electorate, and New Hampshire voters have done their best to prolong the 2016 nominating contests: Cruz, Bush and Rubio are all muddled together with 10 percent to 12 percent of the New Hampshire vote. They will finish, in some order, third, fourth and fifth. We’re also likely to see several Republican candidates drop out over the next 48 hours. Meanwhile, Sanders has a big win, but he will now have to compete in two states, Nevada and South Carolina, with much less friendly demographics. That is all to say: We’re going to have a lot more coverage of tonight’s results in the days ahead. Thanks for hanging out. ’Night!
(UPDATE, Feb. 10, 2:17 a.m.): Nate, Clare, Harry and Jody recorded a late-night podcast with some thoughts on the results. Listen to it below, or subscribe in your favorite podcast player.
One of my favorite cross-tabulations in the exit poll is its breakdown of when voters made their final decision. In Iowa, Trump faded substantially among late deciders, leading to his second-place finish. Presumably he did better in New Hampshire? Well, sort of. In the table below, which is derived from the exit poll, I’ve grouped voters who decided “just today” or within the last few days into the “late decider” group and those who made a decision “in the last month” or “before that” into the “early decider” group. The results suggest that Trump didn’t do particularly well among late deciders, winning 22 percent of their votes. But he had a lot of voters who were loyal to him from the start:
|CANDIDATE||EARLY DECIDERS||LATE DECIDERS|
What about Rubio? Presumably Saturday night’s debate cost him a lot of support? Yes, probably, although overall Rubio actually did slightly better among late deciders (12 percent) than early ones (9 percent). What may have happened is that voters who initially were intrigued by Rubio after Iowa backed away from him after the debate; the 11 percent or so of the vote he’ll get tonight is close to where he was in pre-Iowa polls of New Hampshire.
Fiorina and Carson are projected to finish a distant seventh and eighth, respectively, in New Hampshire. Despite their poor finish today, they have the support between them of about one in nine Republican voters nationally: In our latest national polling average, Fiorina had 2.5 percent and Carson 8.3 percent. So what happens if they drop out of the race? Cruz probably would benefit more than Trump would.
The online pollsters at Morning Consult added up results from January polls it conducted among 5,456 Republicans and Republican-leaning independents nationally, asking for their first and second choices among the candidates. So far Morning Consult has published second-choice data for supporters of candidates who have already dropped out. They shared with us the data for Carson and Fiorina. Among Carson supporters, 24 percent had Cruz as their second choice, 19 percent named Trump and 10 percent named Rubio. Fiorina had far fewer supporters, but they might be higher leverage: 23 percent said they supported Rubio, 14 percent named Cruz and 5 percent named Trump. (Another 18 percent named Carson, and in this scenario those supporters would need to go to their third choice, or maybe skip voting.) Of course, these polls preceded the votes in Iowa and New Hampshire, and voters’ second choices could be even more volatile than their first choices are.
It’s not clear yet whether Christie will end his campaign. As I wrote earlier, Christie has been perhaps the most consistent Republican in the debates. He’s also a strong retail campaigner, which was evident here in New Hampshire. But Christie’s liabilities, from Bridgegate to his periodic deviations from conservative orthodoxy, were formidable also. He had plenty of opportunity to break out in New Hampshire and instead faded toward the end. It just doesn’t look like voters are buying what Christie is selling.
And the correct answer is … sell Trump.
Think I’d buy Rubio, but that’s probably because I didn’t watch the whole debate.
I’m selling Trump, Nate.
I’d buy Cruz.
If I sold Christie for a penny I’d probably get a tenth of a penny in return. So, I guess then sell Rubio.
I was gonna buy Kasich until he told me to hug people at the mall.
OK, all, here are the current betting market odds for the GOP nomination right now, per PredictWise (as of 10:20 p.m.). You get one buy OR one sell. Just one. Who is it?
Regarding the big remaining questions: I will be very curious to see how younger black voters break. If Clinton is currently winning black voters and young Democrats/independents are leaning toward Sanders, I wonder if the assiduous courtship of the #BlackLivesMatter generation will work.
Until tonight, Kasich did not receive much attention as a presidential candidate, which he even joked about early in his “victory” speech (Kasich placed a distant second to Trump).
Kasich’s speech was a good example of how unusual his message is in this campaign; he’s really been the only candidate, left or right, to talk about political polarization, saying that all Americans are ultimately in it together. Although such bipartisanship is admirable and might play well in a general election, it may not help Kasich persuade GOP primary voters to back him.
Yeah, there are four people now competing for the not-Trump spot on the Republican side, and IMO the concept of “lanes” has gone to hell. Cruz, Kasich, Bush and Rubio are all in the same lane. That lane is otherwise known as “getting the nomination.”
The other big question, on the Democratic side, is what will minority voters do? But we won’t get that answer tonight.
Who is going to be the anti-Trump? Will there be multiple anti-Trumps? You can’t have four of them. You can probably have, at most, two. I think one of those is Cruz, but who is the other one? (If there even is another one.)
What are the big questions we’re still looking for answers to tonight?
David, I dare say Clinton’s coalition is starting to look a little bit like Obama’s. That is, wealthier white voters and black voters. If, however, Clinton loses black voters to Sanders, then she’s in a world of trouble. There’s no sign she’s losing those voters yet, though.
Surprise, surprise: Some of Clinton’s best towns (perhaps more accurate: least worst towns) tonight were some of her weakest towns in 2008. It looks like she’s taken 46 percent in Exeter, 43 percent in Portsmouth and 43 percent in Concord. Most surprisingly, there’s even one report she took 47 percent in Hanover, home to Dartmouth College (this has not yet been reported by the AP). Clinton appears to be doing better with academic types in New Hampshire this time, but has cratered with rural and blue collar Democrats.
In their book “Why Iowa?” David Redlawsk, Caroline Tolbert and Todd Donovan argue that early contests allow candidates to demonstrate viability and electability — they show voters in later contests that they can win the nomination and be competitive for the general election.
Tonight’s victories have probably done a lot for perceptions of viability for Sanders and Trump. But what about electability? I’ve argued before that Trump might be more electable than he seems. Maybe that’s true of Sanders too. But, based on my experience studying political rhetoric, I’m not sure either of these speeches sounded like a successful general election candidate quite yet. We probably want to see some more contests — in more populous and diverse states — before the electability question is resolved.
Just as he was during his concession speech in Iowa, Trump was a standard, polite politician during his New Hampshire victory speech — for the first couple of minutes, anyway. As Farai pointed out, the transition came — with normal Trump un-subtlety — with, “Now that I got that over with!”
Then Trump took a more Trumpian path: He’ll strengthen the border, rebuild the military, preserve the Second Amendment and make America great again “the good ol’ fashioned way” — because he has friends, because he loves his supporters and because his supporters love him.
The next two states to vote in the Democratic primary are Nevada and South Carolina. (Nevada votes before South Carolina for Democrats; the reverse is true for Republicans.) In both cases, there’s been a conspicuous absence of polling: Nevada hasn’t been polled since December, and South Carolina was polled a few times in January but hasn’t been surveyed since Iowa. Still, one thing that’s clear is that the terrain is going to be tougher for Sanders from here forward. Here are the current FiveThirtyEight polling averages for Clinton and Sanders in all of the states where we’re keeping track of them.
Sanders has a bright spot in Wisconsin, and Ohio and California look better for him than some of the other states. But he starts way behind Clinton in most other places and will need a lot of momentum out of tonight.
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Tonight’s victory speeches include the “political revolution” Sanders called for and Trump admitting that his ground game in Iowa wasn’t up to snuff. The crowd chanted “USA” during interludes in Trump’s speech, and Trump himself played around with the “nice Trump”/pugilist dichotomy. “I’d like to congratulate the other candidates,” he said at one point, quickly parrying: “Now that I got that over with! …” As he heads to South Carolina, surfacing the “nice Trump” and running a tight ground game may be critically important. Although Trump leads in South Carolina, Cruz’s following among evangelical voters may sway votes in numbers larger than polls indicate. That’s what happened in Iowa. (I’m also struck by how domestically focused Sanders’s speech was compared with a large focus on trade and world influence in Trump’s speech.)
To a first approximation, I agree with this tweet from New Yorker writer Ryan Lizza:
But one irony is that the Republican Party finally did seem to be doing a bit of deciding — Rubio received 10 endorsements, including quite a few high-profile ones, between the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary. The failures more came earlier in the election cycle, when the party didn’t do a good job of clearing the field or vetting its candidates. It’s like when you leave for the airport with exactly enough time to get to your gate. Maybe you’ll make it, but you have no one to blame but yourself if you encounter a long security line and miss your flight instead.
If you’re wondering who is going to come in third on the Republican side, you’re not alone. I have no idea, to be honest. Right now, Bush, Cruz and Rubio are all within 1.2 percentage points of one another, with many votes to be counted. It should be noted that none of them is above 12 percent right now, though Cruz leads, with Rubio in fifth.
Sanders, having won New Hampshire, seemed to be trying to address one of his core weaknesses in his (extended) victory speech: electability. Early on in his speech, he argued that the type of voter enthusiasm that drove his win in New Hampshire is what Democrats need in November, saying that Democrats win when voter turnout is high and Republicans win when voter turnout is low.
Otherwise it was a fairly standard Sanders speech. He hit, among other issues: income inequality, campaign finance, veterans’ issues and mass incarceration. Sanders also spoke directly to his young supporters, who polls show prefer him to Clinton, addressing social justice issues, jobs and criticizing the costs associated with obtaining a college education.
The bad news for Bush at the moment is that he’s in danger of being edged out for third place by Ted Cruz. Curiously, Cruz’s slight surge into third seems to be fueled by strong showings in Strafford County, especially around Rochester along the Maine border. Perhaps not coincidentally, these were also some of Rick Santorum’s best towns in the 2012 primary. A week ago, Bush backers would have been ecstatic about finishing ahead of Marco Rubio. But finishing behind John Kasich and Cruz could take a lot of the luster off.
Sanders’s speech emphasized the power of the people and the idea that when turnout is high, progressives win. He’s also made a point to talk about the need for eventual party unity and has moved on to attacking Republicans. But as this was going on, I got this tweet:
Now, New Hampshire and Iowa determine fewer than 100 delegates combined. It’s very early to talk about what the Democratic primary electorate wants. But Sanders and his supporters may walk a fine line here: If Clinton wins in a way that liberal activists see as illegitimate, that could be a real mess.
CONCORD, N.H. —
It’s no secret that on election night the candidates do a bit of a scheduling dance to make sure their speeches end up on TV. But it’s still strange to watch the Kasich party come close to starting the speech and then back off several times. Lots of big cheers and chants that sort of peter out as it becomes clear that their candidate isn’t going to take the stage after all. I overheard one Kasich staffer say, “We thought we could squeeze in between Hillary and Bernie. Now we have to wait, and Trump may start soon.” A surprise second place may feel nice, but I guess it doesn’t buy you the cred to command your own network attention.
I know I’m putting the cart way before the horse, but it’s hard to imagine who would win the Veepstakes if tonight’s New Hampshire winners got their party’s nomination. Ken Rudin did this analysis of which historical POTUS/Veep partnerships worked well and which failed. Sanders, who has framed himself as a barnstorming socialist Democrat, could face a backlash if he chooses someone too middle of the road. He might need that tactically, but it could alienate his base. For Trump, his choice may be almost immaterial, but it seems unlikely that it would be any of the guys he’s been sharing a debate stage with. Clinton, who framed her speech tonight around core progressive issues, would probably do well by following the typical Veepstakes rules (one of them: go older if you’re young, and vice versa; another: pick a powerful, well-liked governor of a swing state), as would a GOP establishment candidate like Bush.
Prediction markets have Bush’s chances of winning the Republican nomination up by quite a bit. I suppose that makes sense given how poor a night it’s been for Rubio (and to a lesser extent, Christie). But still: Bush has just 11 percent of the vote so far with a third of New Hampshire precincts reporting. This in a state where Bush has invested a ton of time and money and which is a pretty good fit for him ideologically. If Rubio hadn’t disappointed so much by comparison, this result would look like a pretty big failure for Bush.
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On the contested convention question: Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada are the setup, but the real delegate prizes are in March, which is do-or-die time. That’s why South Carolina and Nevada are the last best opportunity for anti-Trump/Cruz voters to coalesce. If they don’t, it’s unlikely that Rubio/Bush/Kasich will hit important delegate thresholds in the South-heavy “SEC primary” March 1 and then it would be unlikely that Rubio/Bush/Kasich win must-win, winner-take-all states Florida, Illinois and Ohio on March 15. If South Carolina and Nevada don’t make up for New Hampshire’s failure to clarify the establishment field, the odds of a contested convention go up dramatically.
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Well, we’ve made our share of stupid predictions over the course of this election cycle. But the 20 percent odds I gave for a contested convention back in December are starting to look pretty good! The thing is, even if Republicans eventually consolidate around an establishment alternative, it may take them some time to do so. Meanwhile, Trump and Cruz are going to be piling up delegates. And it’s not like Trump and Cruz’s support is going to crater to zero if someone emerges later on — they represent important constituencies within the party.
Interesting question from commenter Josh Edge: “Could the fight on the GOP side feasibly make it to the convention floor? Or will the party eventually coalesce behind a single anti-Trump candidate?”
Perhaps it shouldn’t be too surprising given Sanders’s lack of history with the Democratic Party, but he is doing far better with undeclared voters than he is with registered Democrats. Although he leads 72 percent to 27 percent over Clinton among undeclared voters, Sanders is tied with Clinton at 49 percent among registered Democrats. That could paint trouble for Sanders in closed primaries, when only registered Democrats can vote.
Clinton just finished her concession speech, and harking back to Obama’s 2008 campaign theme, she spoke about “change” a lot. But despite her loss to Sanders, it appeared that she was more focused on setting herself apart from her Republican counterparts, expressing her support for “human rights” — calling out “women rights,” “gay rights,” “voter rights,” etc. — than she was on setting herself apart from Sanders.
On Twitter, a reader asks how a Rubio-Kasich-Bush stalemate ends and suggests:
Jokes about the individuals aside, I think this is a really important point. The fraying of party ties and formal organizations and the ways in which presidents can independently cultivate political support have contributed to this situation. This is the result of an increasingly powerful and public presidency. It’s also an unintended consequence of party reform. The party networks people mention that groups like super PACs play the same role party elders once did. But I maintain that party organizations, which are interested in the party’s viability from year to year, and the related groups that make up their networks have different incentives. And their methods of sanctioning candidates who don’t get in line are coming up short.
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Our partners at ABC News have projected that Ohio Gov. John Kasich will finish in second place in the New Hampshire Republican primary. So where does he go from here? Here’s what I wrote about Kasich earlier today:
The question is how Kasich would take advantage of a strong finish. He has run pretty far to the left in New Hampshire despite having a fairly conservative record as governor of Ohio. That moderation really does help him here, but there are fewer centrist Republicans outside New Hampshire. Furthermore, Kasich doesn’t have all that much money remaining, certainly not as compared with candidates like Bush.
My guess is that there’s a difference between Kasich doing pretty well and doing really well. If Kasich replicates Jon Huntsman’s 17 percent of the vote from four years ago, he might be a good story for a few days but not have much impact beyond that. If he gets to 20 percent or more of the vote, however, finishing well ahead of the other “establishment lane” candidates and even threatening to win here, that’s a different story.
Based on the results so far, Kasich is more on track for a Huntsman-esque 17 percent of the vote than something in the 20s. However, there’s one big difference between Kasich today and Huntsman four years ago. Whereas Huntsman finished behind Mitt Romney, who was broadly acceptable to Republican party elites (Huntsman also placed behind Ron Paul), Kasich has done the best of the traditional candidates tonight. It’s still not clear what that buys him, but as Republicans cast about for answers, the highly popular governor of Ohio might get at least some consideration.
We’ve been focusing so much on the ideological divide on the Democratic side that you may forget about what looks to be a developing class divide. Sanders has won every income group, except for voters from families with a total yearly income of $200,000 or more. If you look at voters’ educational attainment, he’s doing worst among voters with a post-graduate degree — beating Clinton by just 3 percentage points. The wealthiest Democrats were also Clinton’s best group in Iowa.
From our partners at ABC News:
“Based on our analysis of the vote, ABC News projects that Kasich will finish second in the NH Republican primary. ABC News also projects that Christie will finish 6th, Fiorina will be 7th, and Carson will be 8th.”
“Third place is currently a three person race between Cruz, Bush, and Rubio.”
CONCORD, N.H. — Jody, our designated primary-night driver, observed some potent symbolism as we pulled in front of Concord High School, where the Bernie Sanders victory party was held tonight — the school is located on Warren Street. In case you’re not picking up what we’re putting down, it seemed to portend something of the cosmic significance (or cheeky event planning) that a democratic socialist from Elizabeth Warren’s furthest left wing of the Democratic Party was about to win the first-in-the-nation Democratic primary.
Almost as soon as we got inside the gym, which had been outfitted with risers that the TV media had already made liberal use of, the room was saturated with the dulcet tones of Wolf Blitzer calling New Hampshire for Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders. The crowd — or what of it that had trickled in so far — erupted in cheers. A couple of young staffers hugged and then grooved to the sounds of “Uptown Funk.”
“I thought CNN was a little early,” said Diane Watson, an English teacher at the school. “Let’s get the room filled before we say he won.” She was there with her colleague Jill Dater, also an English teacher — “We can point out the social studies department for you,” she said.
When asked about recent comments by Gloria Steinem and former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright about women’s obligation to support Hillary Clinton, Dater, 43, cited Susan Sarandon, who said recently of her support for Sanders: “I don’t vote with my vagina.”
“There’s a seat in hell for them too,” added Watson, 43, riffing on Albright’s line about the need for women to help one another advance.
A couple of rows behind them, dancing in the bleachers, was Sarah Stevens, a 28-year-old substitute teacher. She agreed about the feminist dust-up, but mostly talked about how Sanders had brought her to politics — she liked that he was consistent. “He’s been saying the same things for 30 years.” Plus, she said, “he’s the first politician I’ve ever trusted.”
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I don’t know who is going to drop out after tonight on the Republican side, but I have to admit that I don’t really know why Carson, Christie or Fiorina would fight on. Carson is dead last of any serious candidate on the Republican side right now with just 2 percent. He came in fourth in Iowa. Christie is last of the New Hampshire-centric candidates with just 8 percent, after doing very poorly in Iowa. Fiorina is doing even worse with only 5 percent. Even if they don’t realize it, these three candidates are almost certainly done for.
Apart from Trump and Sanders, who’s having a good night? Pollsters, that’s who. The results so far on both the Republican and Democratic sides are within a few percentage points of the final polling averages for all the candidates. The closest thing to an exception is Rubio, who has 9.9 percent of the vote so far versus an average of 14.5 percent in the polls and who (you got this one right, pundits!) seems to have been hurt by Saturday night’s debate to a degree larger than the final polls were able to pick up.
If you were to sketch out the most disastrous New Hampshire outcome possible for the anti-Trump GOP “establishment,” I’d argue it would be what we’re witnessing right now.
Unlike in Iowa, Trump appears to be exceeding his polling average and expectations. Furthermore, the only “breakout” candidate in the next tier appears to be John Kasich, who looks likely to win a clear second place finish thanks to strong showings in liberal enclaves. But Kasich holds little appeal outside of New Hampshire. Bush looks likely to finish slightly ahead of Rubio, setting up an establishment muddle in South Carolina.
In one sense, tonight looks like Clinton’s worst night of the 2016 campaign yet. But, if tonight also means that the Republican race remains a complete mess for the next several months, it could actually turn into Clinton’s best news in the long run.
I’m a lover of election nights, and this is not the type of night I dream of. Both sides have been decided. Both were called as soon as the polls closed. Both sides are blowouts. Gosh, Iowa was just so much more exciting. Don’t worry, though, we’ll cover what looks to be a close fight for second on the Republican side!
There’s still a strong vestige of the old-fashioned moderate Yankee Republican wing trying to make its voice heard amid all the year’s messy populism. If you add up the vote for Kasich, Bush and Christie (so far), they total more than Trump’s vote. A single strong centrist who lacked some of the flaws of those three candidates might have changed the story tonight. But the combination of their egos and money splintered the moderates and handed the night to Trump.
Another sign of how painful this nomination process is likely to be for Republicans, and how Democrats’ predicament isn’t quite the same:
According to exit polls, only 48 percent of New Hampshire Republican voters would be pleased with Donald Trump as their nominee. Trump fared better on the question than Ted Cruz (38 percent) and Marco Rubio (40 percent), but nonetheless, Republicans who did not vote for Trump would have trouble with him as their nominee by almost a 3:1 margin.
By contrast, 64 percent of New Hampshire Democrats would be happy with Hillary Clinton as their nominee, while 78 would be happy with Sanders.
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Farai, I agree it’ll be interesting to see what happens if Bush finishes third. I know I’m the broken record (stuck iPod?) for the “this race isn’t changing” thesis, but I think that unless something really shifts between Rubio, Kasich and Bush, the three of them remain in a stalemate, and behind Trump and probably also — as the race moves south and west — Cruz.
One of the stories of the night is the high turnout, driven in part by the intense competitions on both sides. I recently read a really interesting paper by Heather Evans, Michael Ensley and Edward Carmines that finds that competitive races have long-term positive effects on citizens’ political interest and participation. They use House races for their analysis, but it’s not ridiculous to imagine that this might be the case for primaries too.
The idea that this wild race has drawn people into political participation is pretty encouraging. But the way parties have operated since the 1970s kind of depends on limited input from the public. Absent the smoke-filled rooms and multivote conventions of the past, party leaders depend on very loose, informal methods of control. If the interest we’re seeing this year turns out to be durable, party leaders won’t be able to do this anymore.
I’ll be very curious to see if Bush will get a viability bump from tonight. So far, it looks like Kasich will take second place, but even if Bush even takes third — and even that’s not guaranteed — it could give his flagging campaign more reasons to press on. That does not, however, mean he will be able to recover front-runner status. But I wonder if Trump implodes at some point during the race (not saying he will — he has proven quite durable), whether GOP voters will reconsider the value of establishment candidates. Right now that seems like a long shot … but hasn’t most of this race?
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So far, it looks like Kasich is on track for a distant second-place finish behind Donald Trump. But a more significant development would be Rubio finishing behind Bush, who is currently in third, or even Cruz, who is currently in fourth. The worst news for Rubio in early returns is that his weakness appears to be geographically widespread: So far he’s cracked fourth place in only one town of any real size, Portsmouth, and just barely.
Preliminary thought No. 2: I’m not sure I buy that tonight is an equally poor result for both Democratic and Republican “party elites.” It’s been clear to us for a long time that New Hampshire was an excellent state for Bernie Sanders, between its white and liberal demographics and its proximity to Vermont. The key tests of the breadth of Sanders’s constituency are still to come.
For Republicans, however, New Hampshire is a state that’s supposed to winnow the field. Instead, it’s given us a mess, with four “establishment” candidates all bunched up between 8 percent and 16 percent of the vote as I type this. Although it’s not quite the worst-case scenario for the GOP — Trump’s middling performance in Iowa is evidence that he can be stopped under the right conditions — they’re in a pretty rough spot.
Looking ahead, I think South Carolina will not only be another pivotal race, with very different demographics than New Hampshire, it may also become a place where what candidates say during the primary may come back to haunt them in the general.
On the GOP side, Cruz will be looking to regain ground in a state with a strong base of evangelical voters. Trump and Cruz will likely battle for the win, but for all the GOP candidates who don’t drop out, it will go full-on Hunger Games, with anyone hoping to move from behind the pack having an incentive to let loose verbally. If the level of attacks rise, so will the clippable audio and video moments that end up in general election ads.
It’s long been clear Sanders isn’t competing strongly with Clinton, thus far, for black voters, key to South Carolina’s Democratic base. The fights we saw with Clinton over who holds the progressive crown are likely to intensify as well.
Kasich-Rubio is the contest I’ve been waiting for. A big question there would be what it would take for elites to rally around Kasich. According to the endorsement primary numbers, he’s got a third of the endorsement support that Rubio does.
Clinton’s biggest weakness tonight? Unlike in 2008, she’s failing to win blue-collar New Hampshire convincingly. Sanders has connected there. In fact, some of Sanders’s biggest margins so far are in towns Clinton won in 2008. So far, Sanders has won Manchester, Seabrook and Candia by double digits.
I wrote about how New Hampshire could be very dangerous for Marco Rubio. Well, it looks like he could be heading toward a worst-case scenario. Not only is Rubio behind John Kasich for second, but he’s currently running in fifth place behind Jeb Bush and Ted Cruz. If that result holds, his 3-2-1 strategy isn’t just not going to work, it’s been blown up.
The TV folks are all over the “horrible night for party establishments” narrative at the moment. But I’m not sure this is quite right. New Hampshire, with its maverick political culture and its small size (making media buys and campaigning pretty straightforward) seems like very friendly territory to this kind of candidacy. The fact that these candidates (Sanders and Trump) have emerged is surprising, but that they’re doing well in New Hampshire? Not so much.
One more possibly preliminary thought: In some ways, tonight’s results reset the Republican race to where it was before Iowa.
Donald Trump is not invincible, but he has real supporters out there, and they’ll come out and vote, especially in states with high turnout. At the very least, Trump is a formidable candidate to win plenty of states and delegates unless there’s another candidate in the mix to stop him.
In states with lots of evangelical voters, that candidate could be Ted Cruz. But in other states, the answer is less obvious. Republican “party elites” are having trouble coordinating with themselves, and one another, on any of the alternatives.
Welp, that’s a wrap … the New Hampshire primary has been called for Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders right as the polls closed at 8 p.m. Eastern. What a contrast with the cliffhanger of the Democratic Iowa caucuses, which went into the wee hours of the morning. Of course, this is not really a wrap but a pivot in a long race. I personally will be looking to see if some voters who favor Clinton because they perceive her as electable, but are not passionate about her candidacy, will begin to re-examine Sanders’s electability. There’s a bevy of fascinating psychological research on how voters over the years have assessed electability, including everything from physical appearance to competence.
Based on very early returns, if there’s any Republican who could be on track for a break-away second-place finish behind Trump, it’s John Kasich. He appears to have won two wards each in Concord and Lebanon, two heavily liberal cities that are in Kasich’s wheelhouse. But, it is still very early and this could change.
One purpose of early contests is to winnow the field — to show who has real support and who isn’t cutting it. Another related purpose is for candidates who generated doubts among elites to show that their candidacies have legs. This latter purpose was, at least according to various accounts, a big part of the role played by “beauty contest” primaries before the McGovern-Fraser reforms. The classic example is JFK showing he could do well with Protestant voters by winning in West Virginia. I think it’s possible that Republican elites have been waiting for Iowa and New Hampshire to test Rubio in a similar way, but after Saturday the Rubio questions have shifted a bit.
In the post-reform system, the long invisible primary and the imperative for parties to maintain control over the process mean that we’ve come to expect Iowa and New Hampshire to be the beginning of the end. Remember the shock and discomfort that the 2008 contest was actually competitive?
In 2016, it’s pretty clear the contests aren’t going to have that role. So far the likely message seems to be that insurgent, populist candidates have more support than anyone imagined. I predict there won’t be much winnowing on the Republican side: This contest will tell us very little about who is the strongest candidate among Rubio, Bush and Kasich. Trump’s predicted victory has excused them all from the pressure to win. A disappointing finish for Rubio certainly wouldn’t help him, but I can’t see him bowing out at this point.
Our partners at ABC News have called the New Hampshire Republican primary for Donald Trump!
Winning New Hampshire is a huge deal for Trump. But as I wrote earlier today, it’s also important to track Trump’s margins. Fortunately for Trump, for a race to be called this early, it implies a fairly clear victory. According to Decision Desk HQ, Trump has 30 percent of the Republican votes recorded so far, and The New York Times has him with 33 percent. That’s pretty close to where polls projected Trump to end up, but we’ll see how his numbers track over the course of the night.
Another piece of good news for Trump is that the “establishment lane” of the GOP looks more and more like a multicar pileup. John Kasich looks fairly likely to take second place, perhaps even a fairly clear second, while it appears to be a disappointing night for both Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush.
ABC News has officially called the New Hampshire Democratic primary for Bernie Sanders. We gave Sanders a greater than 99 percent chance of winning the state, so this isn’t much of a surprise. Still, it’s quite something that someone who wasn’t even a member of the Democratic Party until a few months ago is going to win the first primary on the calendar — and by what looks to be a convincing margin. I don’t think many people would have thought that a democratic socialist would do as well as Sanders is doing. Sanders obviously won’t be on such friendly ground in the Nevada caucuses or South Carolina primary, but the idea that Hillary Clinton is going to put Sanders away anytime soon seems far-fetched.
Clinton is beginning to show some first signs of life tonight. For example, she appears to have won a ward in Concord and kept several others close. Concord was the biggest city Obama won against her in 2008. It’s still possible she could keep Sanders’s margin under 20 percentage poitns tonight.
If you’re trying to read the tea leaves in the early results, you can already see how tonight could be a good one for John Kasich. He’s doing about as well as Jon Huntsman did in Lebanon in the western part of the state. If he can match Huntsman’s numbers in other places, it will probably be good enough for 17 percent statewide and second place.
At this point, it’s pretty clear from the early results that Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump will win New Hampshire, possibly very convincingly.
I really, really want to quote Buffalo Springfield lyrics: “There’s something happening here. What it is ain’t exactly clear.”
If tonight goes as well for Trump as the early (possibly unreliable!) hints we’re seeing, then maybe the news is simply that high turnout is good news for Trump after all. While Iowa turnout was high relative to past Iowa caucuses, it’s still very small as a share of Iowa’s population. New Hampshire’s turnout, by contrast, is high in both a relative AND an absolute sense. People love to vote here.
The record turnout we’re seeing is a result of the variety of populism that’s disrupting the race. We have socialist-leaning populism; nativist populism; a tough-talking but not-far-right Christie populism. We are awash in various messages that say it’s time to save the country from itself … and of course, some of these broadly speaking populist voters would hate the others’ positions.
We’re seeing a lot of talk of record turnout in New Hampshire — whaddya make of it?
One of the longest lines at the Bow Memorial School polling center was the "return to undeclared" station. In New Hampshire, you can walk into your polling place without a declared party affiliation, sign up to cast a ballot in whichever party's primary interests you most, and then reclaim your free agency once you're done–literally on your way out the door. It's one of the cooler voting cheat codes we've seen!
So far there are no real surprises in the vote totals coming in. Big wins for Sanders and Trump totally in line with the precincts that have reported so far.
There are long lines at some New Hampshire polling places, with less than an hour of voting to go. This is also the first time New Hampshire law requires voters to show ID. If they don’t have it, they can file a provisional ballot, a “challenged voter affidavit.” A 2014 Government Accountability Office study found that new voter ID regulations depressed turnout in Kansas and Tennessee. The issue has become politicized, with Republican lawmakers generally favoring the ID laws and Democrats generally opposing them. In New Hampshire, some analysts posit that this will hurt Sanders, as college students whose age demographic favors him could be unsure of the law. But early exit polls show strong voting by political independents, another strong Sanders demographic.
Yeah, I think the Republican results are the more meaningful. The Democratic electorate in New Hampshire basically has no black voters, a crucial part of the party’s constituency nationally. The Republican electorate in New Hampshire may be more moderate than those of other states, but when you combine Iowa and New Hampshire and two top-two finishes for Trump, it would mean something. Moreover, the fact that Rubio seems unlikely to bring the mainstream conservative lane together means that we have a still-unsettled Republican field going forward.
I think the Republican results are likely to be more meaningful, Micah, because expectations for Sanders are so high. So I doubt winning New Hampshire will move him to the front-runner spot because of the all of Clinton’s other advantages.
Which party’s results will be more meaningful tonight? That is, which will tell us the most about how each primary is likely to proceed?
Harry, I guess I’m a little more bullish than you on Trump, depending on what margins he gets! Trump winning with 25 percent of the vote is quite a bit different from him winning with 35 percent of the vote. And it matters how the other candidates line up. If Trump gets 35 percent of the vote or something and the “establishment lane” is a mess, that’s a really excellent result for him and I wouldn’t be too dismissive about his chances going forward.
I still remain very pessimistic about Trump’s chances going forward. Still, it seems likely that he is going to follow up a second-place finish in Iowa with a first-place finish in New Hampshire. Trump may be the only candidate to finish in the top three in both states. The idea that he’s magically going to vanish doesn’t seem likely to be borne out.
Greetings from Bow, New Hampshire! We arrived at the Bow Memorial School polling site in this town of 7,500 (it’s just outside of Concord) at about 5 p.m., as people were getting out of work and hitting the polls — walking in, we saw a truck hitched up to an old-timey trailer with a big old “Kasich” sign tacked onto it, a couple of people were conducting exit polls, and kids were whining to go home. Inside, town Selectman Harry Judd showed us a tally (updated every half-hour, in theory) of how many voters had cast a ballot thus far, compared with the same time slot in the 2012 and 2008 elections. From 7 to 7:30 this morning, 175 people had voted, compared with 120 in 2012 and 207 in 2008 at the same time. The numbers were a raw total of voters, not yet broken out by party.
Turnout throughout the day looked stronger than in 2012 (when there was no Democratic primary) and similar to numbers from 2008, when Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton battled it out in the state. The biggest numbers thus far had come in the 3:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. hour, where numbers appeared to be exceeding 2008 turnout. Earlier, New Hampshire Secretary of State William Gardner predicted that turnout for today would be about 550,000, which is about 25,000 more votes than were cast in 2008.
But Judd said Bow is not representative of the state. “We always vote heavier,” he said, noting that the town was a heavily Republican one. The selectman himself is a statistical outlier — “I was the first registered Democrat to be elected in 275 years.”
BOW, N.H. — When visiting the polling site at Bow Memorial School today, we ran into a pair of women collecting exit poll information for Edison Research. Louise Knee of Bow (left in picture above) had been outside the gymnasium exit since 6:40 this morning. Ramona Branch of Dublin, New Hampshire, had arrived about an hour before we got there to check in and relieve Knee during the final push toward the polls’ closing at 7 p.m.
We’ve been hearing a lot about record turnout today. Knee and Branch had a data point of their own that supports that. Halfway through the day, Edison Research called them and said they should switch from sampling every fourth voter to every eighth.
Their pitch to voters who have cast their ballot and are rushing back to their car? “Excuse me, do you have 90 seconds to take a quick poll?” They then ask which party the voter cast their ballot for and hand them one of these two forms. There are three variations of the GOP and the Democratic form, covering a wide range of questions from favored candidates to more ideological questions.
Knee said that, anecdotally, she was noticing two types of voters: “A lot of people don’t even know who they are going to support when they are walking in. And the rest knew exactly who they were going to vote for months ago.”
And why are these two willing to stand out in the cold and ask people who they voted for? Well, they are getting paid by Edison. But, also, said Knee, “it’s your civic duty.”
It depends a lot on how close Kasich is to Trump and how well the other conventional candidates do; the permutations here are a lot more complicated than they were in Iowa. The only thing it seems totally safe to presume is that Kasich wouldn’t drop out.
You and I have both been pretty bullish on Kasich driving around New Hampshire this week, Nate. If Trump comes in first and Kasich second, what does that mean for the Republican race?
A: Carly Fiorina. Maybe Ben Carson, although if he didn’t drop out after Iowa, there’s no particular reason for him to do so now. And if the pre-election polls are right, Chris Christie will have performed the worst among the “New Hampshire lane” candidates, and there might be some pressure on him to drop. But even that isn’t certain if we get a messy result on the Republican side tonight and it looks like Rubio is in trouble.
No Republican as bombastic as Donald Trump has ever won New Hampshire, so in many ways, there’s no precedent for this year’s GOP vote. But past results could provide important guidance as votes begin trickling in tonight.
If John Kasich wants to sneak into a surprise second-place finish, he’ll have to perform very well in the same kinds of places where Jon Huntsman — another Boston Globe-endorsed Republican — did well in 2012. Huntsman’s best towns tended to be among New Hampshire’s most liberal and academic: Hanover, Keene, Concord, New London, Durham, Bow, Portsmouth and Exeter. For Kasich to earn second place, he’ll probably need to win more than a fifth of the vote in these towns.
Meanwhile, if Ted Cruz wants to stun the naysayers who say his appeal among evangelical voters doesn’t translate in the Granite State, he’ll need to do well in the places where Rick Santorum performed best in 2012. These include the heavily Finnish enclave of New Ipswich (home to the Apostolic Lutheran Church, “an evangelical Laetadiasnist religion founded by Scandinavian immigrants”), Weare (where Cruz held a meet-and-greet at a sports bar last week), Rindge, Rochester, Barrington and Claremont.
If Marco Rubio wants to do well, he needs to win the same constellation of well-educated, upper-income suburbs he won in Iowa. These include Amherst, Hollis, Bedford, Windham, Bow, Hampton, Merrimack and Londonderry — all places where Mitt Romney did well in 2012. If he’s not coming in at least second place in these towns, he’s probably not coming anywhere near second place statewide. If Bush is out-polling Rubio in any of these towns, it would be a particularly bad sign for Rubio.
As for Trump, we might expect his support to be strong in blue-collar towns with low proportions of college graduates. If Trump towers over the competition tonight, he’ll probably be thanking GOP voters in places like Manchester, Rochester, Laconia, Goffstown, Salem and Derry.
This is one of the cooler things I’ve seen in a while. Milo Beckman, a recent Harvard graduate, designed an applet that simulates the results of tonight’s Democratic and Republican primaries based on FiveThirtyEight’s forecasts and generates fake, New York Times-style headlines about them.
You can play around with Milo’s program.
Instead of filtering Republican candidates into the “establishment lane” and “outsider lane,” a distinction that’s problematic for all sorts of reasons including that the term “establishment” is fairly meaningless, I wish another distinction had caught on instead: describing Republicans as being in the “Iowa lane,” “New Hampshire lane” or “both lanes.”
Ted Cruz, Ben Carson, Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum belong (or belonged) in the Iowa lane.
Jeb Bush, John Kasich, Chris Christie and Carly Fiorina belong in the New Hampshire lane.
Donald Trump, Marco Rubio and Rand Paul probably belong in both lanes.
This distinction is useful for a candidate like Fiorina, who has never held elected office but who was the CEO of a major company and a Republican candidate for Senate in 2010, and who has conventionally conservative policy positions. Is Fiorina really an “outsider”? I don’t know. But she’s definitely in the New Hampshire lane, as she has much more of a presence here than she did in Iowa.
Sometimes it’s easy to forget how hard the presidential candidates work. And I’d argue that no candidate for president has worked New Hampshire harder during this campaign than Republican John Kasich. I went to Kasich’s final New Hampshire town hall last night. It was his 106th. That’s 106 speeches and 106 question-and-answer sessions. And even on No. 106, Kasich seemed to still be enjoying himself. We’ll see in a few hours if all his effort pays off.
Sanders’s huge lead makes this year’s Democratic primary a much different story from 2008, but there are echoes. If Clinton wants to beat expectations in New Hampshire tonight, she’ll have to perform well in a lot of the same places where she beat Barack Obama in 2008.
In 2008, Clinton’s entire 7,589-vote statewide margin over Obama was attributable to just five heavily working-class towns: Manchester (the largest city), Nashua (the second-largest city), Salem (a suburb on the Massachusetts border), Rochester (a mill town on the Maine border) and Berlin (a mill town in the north country). If Clinton wants to keep things close with Sanders tonight, she’ll need to win these towns. If Sanders is winning them, it’ll be a sign that he has broken Clinton’s grip on working-class Democrats and is headed for a big victory.
Meanwhile, Obama’s five biggest margins in 2008 came from liberal, academic, stereotypically granola towns: Hanover (home to Dartmouth College), Keene (home to Keene State College), Durham (home to the University of New Hampshire), Concord (the capital) and Portsmouth (an artsy, high-income coastal city). If Clinton is winning at least 40 percent of the vote in any of these towns, it could be a good sign for her. But if Sanders is winning them by more than 2-to-1, we could be in for a “Bernie blizzard.”
MANCHESTER, N.H. — Your roving FiveThirtyEight politics team has been doing a little campaign office-hopping in New Hampshire — how else would you have us spend our day but careening down icy roads and trying to figure out how the heated steering wheel function on our rental car works?
The last few days before an election are basically peak organizing time, and one thing we’ve had our eye on during the campaign is how campaigns use data to target voters. But we’ve also been paying attention to what they’re collecting to refine their data sets. With this in mind, we sallied forth into offices filled with soggy welcome mats and empty pizza boxes.
Our first stop was John Kasich’s Manchester office; the Ohio governor has been the talk of the town in New Hampshire, and it would be an understatement to say that the life of his campaign depends on his doing well here tonight. The Kasich campaign has four other offices around the state, but Manchester is its beating heart, with at least 14 full-time staffers. Jeff Polesovsky, Kasich’s national political director, said there are six staff members in South Carolina but that the majority of the campaign’s efforts are focused for the moment on the Yankee vote.
The Kasich mothership is situated in a repurposed old house, and it was a full one when we got there. Six students were phone-banking in the front room, a couple of staffers were running logistics from their laptops in a cozy office, and volunteers streamed in and out the back door. According to staff, there were about 150 people out walking neighborhoods Monday.
Kasich’s team, along with a number of other campaigns, is using the i360 platform to direct volunteers in the field to the best doors to knock on and to help plan the most efficient routes. The information gathered is automatically fed back to headquarters and updates existing data sets so that organizers can direct additional resources to neighborhoods where the going is slower.
Down the road, Marco Rubio’s Manchester’s office had a more corporate feel. The campaign has taken over half a floor in an office park building, and we had to wander down a long hall and through a couple of mostly empty rooms to get to the center of the action, where the phone-bankers abounded — 26 of them, according to our count. There was one particularly notable ‘banker: “George Pataki here — I was governor of New York for 12 years,” a very tall man was saying into an iPhone when we entered the room.
Our last stop was Chris Christie’s office, half the second floor of a low-slung building with a medical office below it. While the campaign declined to comment on the record, it seemed apparent that Christie had a similar “get out the vote” effort to all the others. About 16 phone-bankers sat around folding tables; they appeared to be using a phone interface similar to the one we saw at Ted Cruz’s Iowa office, where responses can be logged directly into the database via the phone keypad.
The anticipatory mood all around would be accurately described by Christie himself a few hours later at his last town hall event before the election. “This is political Christmas Eve in America,” he said. “It’s Christmas Eve for politicians, and you all get to play Santa Claus.”
The only thing that’s interesting to me is the polarization. Both the Democrats and Republicans have fewer self-described moderates than in prior years. I guess that makes sense given where politics are these days, but it’s still strikes me as rather interesting given that New Hampshire is thought of as a more moderate state.
Gang, anything striking in these preliminary exit poll results?
And here are the 2008 results, for Democrats and Republicans:
As we start to get results in a little bit, here’s a good reference: The results of New Hampshire’s 2012 Republican primary:
While our forecast models regard Donald Trump as the likely but hardly certain winner in the Republican race tonight — they give him, respectively, a 69 percent and 75 percent chance of winning New Hampshire — our forecasts don’t equivocate as much in the Democratic race. Instead, both our polls-plus and polls-only models give Bernie Sanders in excess of a 99 percent chance of winning.
The difference comes despite the fact that both Trump and Sanders lead their nearest opponent by roughly the same margin in the polling average, about 15 percentage points. As off the mark as primary polls can be, for a candidate to lose while leading by 15 points in the polls is almost unprecedented. The one big exception came in New Hampshire, however: Walter Mondale led Gary Hart by 16 percentage points in polls of the New Hampshire Democratic primary in 1984 but wound up losing the state. (In fact, Hart won fairly easily, by 9 percentage points.) An important caveat is that there weren’t nearly as many polls in 1984 as there are now.
There were plenty of polls, by contrast, in the Democratic race of 2008, and they all showed Barack Obama ahead of Hillary Clinton by about 8 percentage points. Clinton won New Hampshire instead. Still, Clinton’s task is almost twice as hard now, as she has to make up a 14- or 15-point deficit.
Translating a small-but-nonzero chance of a Hart/Mondale type of upset into an exact probability is challenging. But as I explained earlier, the most important factor in the model is how many viable candidates there are in the race; the more candidates, the wilder things tend to be. In the Republican race, there are somewhere between five and seven viable candidates, depending on how you count them, making the race about as wide open as we’ve ever seen in a primary. That’s why the Republican forecast has much wider error bars, making Trump a more likely upset victim than Sanders.
The fluidity of the Republican race is also borne out in some other data. Polls before tonight showed that Republicans were less likely than Democrats to have firmly decided on a candidate. And according to preliminary exit polls, almost half of Republican primary voters decided on a candidate in the past few days, while just one in five Democratic voters did.
Still, models are only approximations of reality, and showing that 99 percent number for Sanders makes me a little nervous. Not a lot nervous, but I’d gladly take Clinton at 100-1.
How much will the results of the Republican Iowa caucuses affect voters in New Hampshire and beyond? A pair of polls from Morning Consult provides some clues.
The Washington, D.C., technology and media company that conducts weekly online polls asked more than 2,000 Republicans and Republican-leaning independents nationwide whom they supported in a poll just before the caucuses Feb. 1. Then it asked a subset of those same people the same question over the four days after the caucuses — providing a rare chance to track the sentiment over time of the same group of people, rather than a different random sample of people. (See the full results of the poll; free registration required to access.)
The results were positive for Donald Trump. About one in nine Trump supporters had changed their minds and switched to a different candidate after Trump finished second to Ted Cruz in Iowa. That might sound like a lot, but Trump supporters, according to this data, were more likely to stick with their candidate than were backers of his major rivals, including Cruz.
Trump supporters were more likely to switch to Cruz than to Marco Rubio. Meanwhile, Cruz and Rubio supporters who changed their minds were more likely to switch to the other man than to Trump. That’s consistent with the trend in national polls after Iowa: Trump’s support dips, but he remains the big leader.
|CANDIDATE SUPPORTED AFTER IOWA|
|CANDIDATE SUPPORTED BEFORE IOWA||DONALD TRUMP||TED CRUZ||MARCO RUBIO|
For a different look at how Iowa might have affected voting today in New Hampshire, watch this video compiled by my colleagues who have been in the state over the past few days and have asked voters how much Iowa mattered to them.
MANCHESTER, N.H. — It’s New Hampshire primary night! And we’re holding nothing back. Stick with us throughout the night as we dive into the Republican and Democratic results.
Donald Trump seems poised to win the first-in-the-nation primary. So does Bernie Sanders. But the margins matter. For instance, a strong second-place finish by Marco Rubio would help him solidify a spot atop the so-called establishment lane of the Republican primary. But if Rubio finishes behind John Kasich and/or Jeb Bush and/or Chris Christie, the muddle is likely to reign.
Hillary Clinton seems like she just wants to keep things close, and “close” is in the eye of the beholder.
So grab a drink, leave a comment and send us your questions. It’ll be a ride.