John Podhoretz said of the 2012 campaign, “Every great political campaign rewrites the rules; devising a new way to win is what gives campaigns a comparative advantage against their foes.” In a way the New Hampshire primary winners broke the rules, but were helped by conventional wisdom.
The New Hampshire primary turned out pretty much as expected, the “establishment” of each of the major political parties got creamed big time.
Trump broke many of the rules as he won. He did little of the retail politicking that’s usually needed in the granite state, and he barely touched his yuge wallet. The billionaire was outspent by most of his opponents.
The New Hampshire results prove that “Hope and Change” has taken over the GOP in the form of the Donald Trump. It is the same emotional response displayed in 2008 by the supporters of Barak Obama and Rand Paul only the anger and desire for change is more intense. This is not to suggest the policies are the same, or even the voting coalition, but Trump has generated emotional support from a people who desperately want to feel that their government is listening to them. They are angry at the party leaders who promised them everything and delivered little. The results of the first in the nation primary will only serve to strengthen that support.
After the Iowa causes I suggested that the GOP would be a three-way race for the rest of the way. That was before last week’s debate and Rubio’s failure. Now GOP race has regressed back into a confused state as all the Trump opponents have coagulated into a big pack. If one looks at the polls for upcoming primaries, with few exceptions Trump has powerful leads. But as Dan Cook, a San Antonio sport caster, once said, “The opera ain’t over till the fat lady sings.” So far I haven’t heard anyone singing fat or thin.
Unless you read yesterday’s column here at the Lid, Kasich’s second place finish was a surprise thanks to a influx of last minute decision makers. But John Kasich’s strong showing may be a one-off as he spent much of his limited funds on New Hampshire and has little or no organization in the next primary state, South Carolina.
Ted Cruz, the other “non-establishment” candidate did not have the huge evangelical support he had in Iowa and finished third with 12%, a little more than one third of Trumps 35%. Fear not Cruz fans, his finish was pretty good in state that is not usually kind to social conservatives. But the upcoming South Carolina and the southern states primaries on March 1 are more Cruz friendly. If you thought the Cruz/Trump rhetoric battle was nasty in the final days before Iowa don’t despair because it’s about to get much nastier.
Jeb Bush was 4th right behind Cruz. Strangely he is bragging that his 11% showing was a big victory and that his campaign now has the win at its back. South Carolina is Bush territory as his dad and brother always did well there. Jeb Bush will spend a ton of money in S.C.. But in all probability he wont be attacking Trump the leader, but will be “carpet bombing” Kasich and Rubio in an attempt to become the last “not-trump” standing. But Jeb Bush still has the anchor of his last name, and while he is conservative is probably the least conservative of the remaining candidates. Do not be surprised if Bush’s “carpet bombing” pulls down Kasich and Rubio but does nothing to help his campaign. Jeb will be toast after South Carolina.
The debate hurt Rubio, hurt him real bad. The question is now can he raise himself back up. Rubio’s surprise third place victory in Iowa was partially due to late deciders breaking his way. In New Hampshire most of them went to Trump and Kasich. Rubio’s support began a free-fall when Rick Santorum couldn’t name any Marco accomplishments, and accelerated when he couldn’t beat back Chris Christie’s attacks during the debate. This coming Saturday is another debate and if the story on Sunday is anything less than Marco has a great debate, his campaign will probably continue its slide.
Perhaps the best result of last night was that Chris Christie’s attack on Marco Rubio didn’t help him one bit. Christie has returned to New Jersey for a “reevaluation” of his campaign. Reevaluation is political jargon for he’s going to drop out. Look for the New Jersey governor to say buh-bye before Saturday’s debate.
Carly Fiorina (4%) and Ben Carson’s (2%) campaigns are both irrevocably dead. They haven’t realized they are supposed to fall over as of yet. Neither one of them will be a part of the next debates, they have little remaining money or support. They should be suspending their campaigns but that doesn’t mean they will.
Another surprise showing for the GOP was former governor of Virginia whose vote total of 125 blew through his Iowa number of 12. Only God knows why he’s still around.
On the Democratic side it was a Sanders blow out. And just like the Trump voters, he appealed to the people looking for change. Sadly, there are going to be many New Hampshire women going to that”special place in hell” as Sander’s won almost every demographic including women (of all ages). As expected he embarrassed Hillary with millennial voters, a big concern as younger voters were key to the Obama victories.
Hillary is leading from here on in, but don’t count Bernie out. Look to see if he gets a big bounce from the victory and how Clinton reacts. The race is still hers to lose, well unless an FBI indictment forces her out before then.
There is a two-week rest before the next primary, however buy the big bag of popcorn, keep an eye on this space, and fasten your seat belts because the nominating process is about to experience even more rule-breaking and greater turbulence.