New Hampshire Primary Winners & Losers

New Hampshire Primary Winners & Losers
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They like to say in New England that Iowa picks corn and New Hampshire picks presidents. We’ll see about that – as the last three presidents did not win the New Hampshire primary. But Granite State voters have delivered their verdict for 2016. The winners and losers are:


Bernie Sanders & Donald Trump: The most obvious victors, but also potentially the most consequential. New Hampshire voters could have crushed either one of these campaigns; instead, the Vermont senator and New York mogul validated their status as significant players in their respective primaries and ensured that both parties are in for a slog, at least through the month of March.

John Kasich: A triumphant second-place finish makes the Ohio governor the breakout star of the night. Where it takes him beyond that is anyone’s guess. He has little or no campaign structure outside of New Hampshire, and hardly any money, so will he be able to parlay his finish into enough momentum to get him through to Ohio, which doesn’t vote until March 15? That’s his hope, and Tuesday night his hopes were realized.

New Hampshire Voters: Pundits are quick to coalesce around the conventional wisdom, and after last week’s vote in Iowa, many boldly proclaimed Republicans were down to a three-man race. But New Hampshire voters have a history of sticking it to media know-it-alls, and they’ve done it again by upending that narrative. Ironically, the commentariat benefits from its rebuke by New Hampshire, since it extends the race and allows of the creation of new narratives and a new conventional wisdom.


Marco Rubio: Florida’s junior senator squandered the significant momentum he’d gained in Iowa with his poor debate performance Saturday night. In a five-minute span, Chris Christie’s attack and Rubio’s robotic response altered the course of this campaign. Instead of enjoying his status as a rising star consolidating the establishment vote, Rubio heads to South Carolina a wounded candidate, desperate for a win.

Hillary Clinton: Clinton’s own camp assured anyone who’d listen that the former secretary of state could absorb a loss in New Hampshire without suffering serious damage. The campaign calendar now heads south, her staff pointed out, where she’d be bolstered by friendly African-American Democrats. But a loss this decisive raises questions. Clinton deployed her husband and her daughter to attack Sanders and recruited big-name surrogates, including Madeleine Albright and Gloria Steinem, to rally the women’s vote. It failed. Talk of yet another “reboot” and campaign “shake up” were being heard this week, but Tuesday’s rout raises the question of whether her candidacy has a more fundamental problem.

The Democratic & Republican Establishments: A corollary to the first two losers on the list, Tuesday night’s vote was a body blow to the party establishments. The GOP establishment was desperate to kill off Trump, and thought it had a chance based on the results in Iowa. But Trump demolished the field, garnering around 35 percent of the vote in an eight-person field. Similarly, Sanders won 60 percent against the fixture of the Democratic establishment. A majority of voters in New Hampshire – like tens of millions of others around the country – are fed up with the status quo, and the vote represents an even more stark rejection of the establishment.

Chris Christie: The fat lady has sung. The New Jersey governor's sixth-place finish effectively puts an end to his campaign. Despite his strong debate performance down the stretch, Christie never managed to gain traction in this race. The reality is that Christie’s moment to run for president came four years ago – and he missed it.

Tom Bevan is the Co-Founder & Publisher of RealClearPolitics and the co-author of Election 2012: A Time for Choosing. Email:, Twitter: @TomBevanRCP

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