MANCHESTER, New Hampshire – At a victory rally for Donald Trump in New Hampshire’s largest city, a crowd of his most ardent supporters – men and women of all ages, virtually all white – jeered at the sight of Florida’s former governor Jeb Bush and Sen. Marco Rubio as they flashed across television screens airing the results of the primary here on Tuesday night.
Hors d’oeuvres were passed around and the beer flowed as the real-estate mogul trounced his rivals, winning 35 percent of the vote – a 20-point margin from his nearest rival, the gentler John Kasich, governor of Ohio, in the biggest statistical victory the state has handed to a Republican in 16 years.
Trump voters at this rally told The Jerusalem Post what they have been telling local and national media outlets for months: They are tired of the established American political class – represented by the Clinton and Bush families – and they seek a true disruption to Washington’s status quo.
No Republican in modern history has won the presidency without earning first or second place in the New Hampshire primary. And Trump, who finished in second place in the Iowa caucuses, is about to enter a series of contests in which he has consistently and without interruption topped the polls: in South Carolina, where he maintains a double-digit lead, and in Nevada, where the New York businessman maintains multiple properties.
The race then proceeds to Super Tuesday, when a slew of contests take place on a single day and candidates are forced to take to the airwaves. That brand of campaigning is less personal and more reliant on free and paid media – precisely Trump’s style – as candidates bleed funds to catch up with his dominance of the cable news cycle.
Victory in New Hampshire is precisely what he needed – a decisive win, in a campaign predicated on the power of winning and the need for America to reclaim its place as a global standard. He is likely to continue winning until the four candidates running to be the establishment alternative – Bush, Rubio, Kasich and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie – agree on which one should proceed as his primary challenger.
Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, who won the Iowa caucuses, also outperformed expectations, earning third place in the primary after spending only $600,000 in the state. He proceeds to states far more favorable to him, such as South Carolina, which has Republican demographics similar to those in Iowa.
So, while New Hampshire had been seen as the state to iron out a messy field, no such luck resulted from the primaries on Tuesday night. The contest proceeds as confused as it was months before voting first began.
On the Democratic side, few ever expected former US secretary of state, first lady and New York senator Hillary Rodham Clinton to be behind in the Democratic National Convention delegate count so early in the primary process. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont – a state that neighbors New Hampshire – was expected to win on Tuesday night, but his victory was by a margin that surprised even Clinton staffers.
Her campaign now acknowledges a need to “take stock” of its operation, having won Iowa by less than half a percentage point. But it remains confident in the long haul, and grateful she is exiting a period of the race demographically favorable to Sanders.
In past elections, both Hillary and former president Bill Clinton have performed strongest in diverse districts and precincts. Sanders, by contrast, has thus far secured a coalition driven only by young white voters – a fact that will have to change if he seeks victory in the Southern state contests to come.
Both Hillary and Sanders have plenty of money to play seriously on Super Tuesday and through the month of March when Sanders may outperform Clinton in the Midwestern states of Minnesota, Wisconsin and in the mountain states.
Nevertheless, Clinton merely needs to perform as well as she did in 2008 when she lost the nomination to then-senator Barack Obama based on the preferences of “super delegates” to the national convention while winning both the pledged delegate count and the popular vote.
Nevertheless, Clinton’s trouncing to a self-described democratic socialist reflects a growing trend within the Democratic Party for significant change. Exit polls from New Hampshire showed that 40% of Democratic voters want the next president to be more liberal than Obama.
Revolution against the status quo appears well under way on both sides of the aisle – amounting to greater polarization of the American electorate.