A collection of links & excerpts from journalists and commentators across the web.
Counter the conventional wisdom today, I think the New Hampshire primary is a win for the so-called establishment – of both parties. Not a win in the sense that either party establishment got what it wanted, but that each has gained important new information that will help them both adapt to be more representative of, and more effective for, parts of the American electorate that they had been ignoring or taking for granted. The Democratic establishment now has, from Senator Bernie Sanders, a clear blueprint of how to reach out to white working-class voters and young voters of all demographics at the same time. That’s a big win for both parties, in a developmental sense.
The GOP has learned, the very hard way, that someone who can self-finance their campaign, and is not reflexively anti-government, can take the nomination away from the most talented establishment pols (e.g. Rubio) and the purist of ideological zealots (e.g. Cruz). As horrifying as Trump is, it is still the case that he has lead a revolt by regular GOP voters against the party elite that ignores their interests while appealing to their fears. That Trump is super-rich and has appealed to the worst fears of GOP voters to do this does not change that he has given the establishment an incentive to relearn how to appeal to the actual interests of the non-super-rich. Basically, I am saying that this election is Neo – a naturally reoccurring anomaly that, though appearing chaotic, is actually part of the greater order – and that we have just arrived at the point where him and the Architect are going to talk about things for a bit. Of course this is real life, not the movies, so probably they will work it out without the robots and mechs fighting.
All of this is just to say that while many of the links and excerpts below refer to the establishment as being the loser last night, I see it differently. Thinking about the long term, objectively, both establishments have been handed a rare opportunity to change course without (further) backlash. That’s a win, even if they don’t realize it.
Enough out of me, onward to the reactions from the interwebs. I organized these into headings – general overview (data, winners/losers, big picture), Sanders/Dems/Hillary, Trump/other GOP. As always, comments and additional link submissions are welcome and appreciated, just click here or use the comments at the bottom of the post.
Winners, Losers, Data, and the Big Picture
Vote (percentage, delegates) as of Wednesday morning:
Dem: Sanders (60%, 13), Clinton (38%, 15) (Clinton’s delegate tally includes her New Hampshire super-delegates, in case you are wondering how she can lose in a landslide and still have more delegates.)
Tom Bevan declares the winners (Sanders, Trump, Kasich, and New Hampshire voters) and losers (Rubio, Clinton, Dem/GOP establishments, and Christie). He says of 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.
Dylan Matthews has his own list of 3 winners (Trump, Sanders, Kasich) and 3 losers (Clinton, Rubio, Christie), saying of Kasich’s showing:
It’d be going too far to call Kasich’s second place finish a surprise. He, Rubio, Cruz, and Bush were all basically tied for second through fifth in polling going into the primary, and Kasich gained more than any of them in the last days of campaigning.
But the victory is still notable. In 2012, Huntsman wasn’t able to ride moderate Republican and independent support to second place; Ron Paul edged him out, and Huntsman dropped out even before the South Carolina primary. Kasich is definitely not dropping out now.
Jim Geraghty gives a similar overview of the primary result, but doesn’t seem to take Kasich’s chances going forward too seriously:
John Kasich’s relentless focus on New Hampshire paid off. He’s got little infrastructure in New Hampshire and beyond. He’s got 2 percent in the RealClearPolitics average in South Carolina, 2.3 percent in Florida, and 4 percent nationally. Onward, karate-chopping, Medicaid-expanding son of mailman!
David Graham describes the New Hampshire vote as the “apotheosis of the outsiders:”
The Granite State jealously guards its reputation for producing upsets and changing the direction of the race. At the top of the ballot on Tuesday, the winners were the candidates who led in the polls coming in. Nonetheless, the two victories make for dramatic moments, unforeseeable even a few months ago, when neither Trump nor Sanders was taken seriously as a candidate. The rest of the Republican results could be nearly as consequential, helping determine whether GOP leaders can coalesce behind a candidate to stop Trump or Cruz, or whether chaos will take over again. In short, it was another classic New Hampshire night.
I love the word “apotheosis” by the way.
Moving on to the big picture, Andrew Prokop was one of the (many) commentators to put out am establishment-panic piece:
The results of the New Hampshire primary were chaotic and dispiriting for the two parties’ establishments, suggesting that both primary contests will last much longer and be much uglier than elites had hoped.
Douglas E. Schoen puts the establishment’s drubbing in the broader context of voter trust, or lack thereof:
We are living in a time when trust in Americans institutions has collapsed. A recent Pew survey shows that less than 20 percent of Americans trust the government always or most of the time. And a CNN poll showed that 60 percent think the American Dream is unachievable today.
Against this backdrop, it’s no surprise that America is in revolt. Honesty and trustworthiness matters more than whether a candidate has experience or can win in November according to voters. And the establishment isn’t delivering anything resembling what the American populace desires in their political leaders.
Timothy B. Lee focuses on the GOP establishment now being stuck between an unelectable rock and a hard place that can’t get elected:
Add it all up, and the result is going to be continued paralysis. The primary doesn’t put any of these four candidates in a position to seriously threaten Trump. And the longer it takes for the race to converge on a single anti-Trump candidate, the harder it will be for anyone else to catch up.
And it’s even worse than that for Republican elites: The candidate with the best chance of challenging Trump is Ted Cruz, a man whom many Republican insiders hate. So GOP insiders will have to choose between allying with a man they can’t stand and making themselves totally irrelevant.
Jonathan Chait, as he is so good at doing, catalogues (and maybe revels in, a bit) the GOP establishment’s complete failure to deal with Trump’s candidacy:
Trump has performed better than any of his critics (myself included) imagined possible when he first seized control of the race last summer. If he has a ceiling, it’s no lower than that of any of his competitors. His internal opposition has declined. He has gotten better at politics. But he has also benefited from a hapless Republican Establishment that now faces the prospect of a takeover by an outsider it cannot control, and that richly deserves its predicament.
(Always read the Chait links, folks.)
Jonathan Bernstein does a nice job reminding everyone that the New Hampshire primary is the only thing that actually happened last night, and most of the fuss over it is not reality-based:
The big advantage for Sanders over the next few weeks is that we’re about to have a media freak-out about Hillary Clinton and her chances. It will be largely unjustified. No, she will not sweep all 50 states, as Al Gore did in 2000, but nothing so far suggests her polling leads in coming primaries are phony.
We’re going to hear more speculation that Trump will either now win everywhere, or that we’re headed for a contested convention with no candidate winning an overall delegate majority. Don’t believe it. In four of the last five contest Republican contests, four candidates received at least 10 percent of the South Carolina vote, but eventually the logic of place-order finishes continued to knock out losers until a winner emerged.
I think Bernstein is wrong to say (elsewhere in the piece) that any of those other GOP candidates could defeat Trump one on one. Bush’s unfavorables among GOP voters are north of 50% – he isn’t going to beat anybody one on one. His only accomplishment in this race so far is proving me wrong when I predicted he would drop out before the end of 2015 (and proving me wrong is not, you know, a big accomplishment. Gravity has already done it twice this morning.)
Sanders, Clinton, and the Democratic Party
Trudy Ring summarizes the results and speeches (videos available here) of both Democrats:
Sanders and Clinton both delivered high-energy speeches to enthusiastic supporters after the results were announced, and both of them touched on LGBT issues.
“We must pursue the fight for women’s rights, for gay rights, for disability rights,” Sanders told his supporters toward the end of his victory speech, after making familiar points about economic inequality and the need for campaign finance reform. He also pledged that the “political revolution” he seeks “will bring tens of millions of our people together, including “blacks and whites, Latinos, Asian-Americans, Native Americans, straight and gay, male and female, people who were born in America and people who immigrated here.”
Clinton, after talking about her strategies for the economy and job creation, said, “But even all that is not enough. We also have to break through the barriers of bigotry. African-American parents shouldn’t have to worry that their children will be harassed, humiliated, even shot because of the color of their skin. Immigrant families shouldn’t have to lie awake at night listening for a knock on the door. LGBT Americans shouldn’t be fired from their jobs because of who they are or who they love. And let’s finally deliver something long overdo, equal pay for women in this economy.”
Tierney Sneed recaps the results (and compares them to polls) while also providing some information about the Clinton campaign’s immediate response to losing:
The Clinton campaign circulated also a memo written by campaign manager Robby Mook almost immediately after the results were projected, stressing the importance of the March primary states, where a majority of the delegates needed to win the nomination are allotted. The memo argued Clinton, given the states’ demographics and her ground game, was well-positioned to sweep up the nomination then.
Focusing on Sanders, Josh Voorhees points out that Sanders and his supporters have a lot to celebrate:
Sanders and his supporters, meanwhile, should be ecstatic. Last May, Bernie launched his campaign in New Hampshire with calls for a “political revolution.” But while talking to reporters later that same day, the self-styled democratic socialist’s rhetoric soared closer to earth. “I fully concede that I get into this race as a major underdog,” Sanders said then, before adding: “We’re going to do better than people think, and I think we’ve got a shot to win this thing.” Less than a year later, Bernie’s already proved himself right on both counts.
Andrew Prokop agrees, and describes Sanders’ victory and its meaning for the Democratic establishment:
A longtime independent and “democratic socialist,” Sanders is calling for the Democratic Party to move to the left on economic and domestic policy issues — embracing single-payer health care, funding college tuition for all Americans, and hiking government spending on infrastructure and Social Security benefits. And he’s argued that because recent Democratic leaders have been too centrist and too reliant on fundraising from business interests, the American public has lost faith that the party will fight for them.
If his campaign’s success is any indication, a lot of the party’s voters find this critique really convincing. Sanders has proved popular enough to raise massive amounts of money from small donors, enough to let him go toe to toe with Clinton, who’s backed by the entire Democratic establishment. And his supporters showed up to New Hampshire polls in droves on Tuesday.
Molly Ball has a good write up of Sanders’ triumphant night, including this fun bit about the Senator’s win finally providing a victory party for a long frustrated New Hampshire leftie:
The supporters at Sanders’s primary-night celebration were exultant at the outcome, one that seemed far-fetched mere months ago. “So this is what a victory party is like!” said Renny Cushing, a bushy-bearded, five-term state representative from Hampton. Cushing had voted in 11 New Hampshire Democratic primaries, never for a winner. The list of doomed liberals he’d supported included Jesse Jackson, Tom Harkin, Jerry Brown, and Barack Obama (who lost the 2008 New Hampshire primary but, of course, went on to win the election).
Over at FiveThirtyEight, the Data-crunching Debbie Downers of media hype (that’s a compliment, just to be clear), Harry Enten provides a lot of data to push back on the idea that Sanders has scored a pivotal victory:
You could already see how Sanders might have problems in Nevada and South Carolina even as he was crushing Clinton in New Hampshire. Despite winning the state by more than 20 percentage points, the best Sanders could manage among registered Democrats was a tie. His large margin came from registered independents who voted in the Democratic primary. You must be a registered Democrat to vote in the Nevada caucuses, though you can register as one the day of the election. In 2008, 81 percent of Nevada caucus-goers self-identified as Democrats. Just 58 percent of New Hampshire voters on Tuesday thought of themselves as Democrats.
Most worrisome for Sanders is his 25-percentage-point loss among New Hampshire Democrats who want to continue President Obama’s policies. Obama’s current job approval rating among blacks nationally is about 90 percent. Sanders will have big problems in South Carolina if he doesn’t do better among voters who like Obama.
Betsy Woodruff and Jackie Kucinich think the Sanders campaign is doing long term damage to Clinton, even if she becomes the nominee:
The contrast highlights just how much damage Sanders is doing to Clinton’s campaign. Even though he’s still a longshot to snag the nomination, his candidacy is persuading young voters, women, and progressives that Clinton is in the pocket of big banks and corrupt corporations—and it’s persuading Clinton’s own supporters that they’re on the sadder side of this contest.
Focusing on Clinton, Brendan Borderlon has an obviously biased, mildly sensationalized take on her defeat last night:
Clinton may love the Granite State, but the feeling isn’t mutual. The once-prohibitive favorite for the Democratic nomination suffered a crushing rejection from the same voters who back in 2008 reinvigorated her collapsing campaign against Barack Obama. Vermont senator Bernie Sanders trounced her in nearly every demographic, especially young and rural voters. Many major news outlets called the race for Sanders within one minute of the polls’ closing at 8 p.m. Eastern time.
Annie Karni describes how Clinton’s campaign is planning to pivot from their previous message, to a new focus on gun violence and outreach to African American voters:
Clinton is set to campaign with the mothers of Trayvon Martin and Eric Garner, unarmed African-Americans who died in incidents involving law enforcement officers and a neighborhood watch representative, respectively. And the campaign, sources said, is expected to push a new focus on systematic racism, criminal justice reform, voting rights and gun violence that will mitigate concerns about her lack of an inspirational message.
“The gun message went silent in New Hampshire,” remarked one ally close to the campaign. “Guns will come back in a strong way.” She is expected to highlight the problem of gun violence as the leading cause of death among African-American men as she campaigns in South Carolina on Friday.
Isaac Chotiner writes about Clinton’s call for realism in her concession speech:
Hillary Clinton’s impressive concession speech Tuesday night, which followed Bernie Sanders’ even more impressive win in the New Hampshire primary, was a bracing call for getting real. Clinton is making a version of the case she made against Barack Obama in 2008: Voters may be inspired by her opponent, but they should vote for her if they actually want change to occur. The argument didn’t quite succeed in 2008, although Clinton and Obama battled to what was nearly a tie. Against a weaker (if surprisingly formidable) opponent this time, will it be enough?
Saving the best for last, Jamelle Bouie (who, like Chait, you should always click the link for) describes the resilience of Clinton and her supporters, while also putting the primary in context:
Tuesday’s defeat was grim, but it is important to remember that Iowa and New Hampshire are not the Democratic Party. In particlar, the voters who backed Sanders are younger, whiter, and far more liberal than the typical Democrat. From now forward, the question of the Democratic primary is whether this cohort is a harbinger of a shift in the Democratic Party writ large, or if it’s sui generis, the product of attitudes, experiences, and expectations that aren’t shared among the rest of the party’s voters.
And now for something a little different…
Donald Trump Turned Polling Numbers into Votes
Josh Voorhees describes how this victory for Trump will legitimize his candidacy, or at least his odds of winning the GOP nomination:
The victory will legitimize Trump’s candidacy in ways that his polling performances and crowd sizes have been unable to. He just bested the best the Republican Party has to offer in a state where his establishment rivals have no excuses, given primary voters there are considerably more moderate than Iowa’s GOP caucus-goers. Trump still has his work cut out for him in future contests, but it’s now impossible to dismiss him as a paper tiger, as many of his rivals were eager to do after he failed to win the Iowa caucus last week.
Matthew Yglesias points out that Trump’s Iowa showing was more impressive than he got credit for, and that things will only get better for Trump in the next few contests:
For all that mainstream Republicans hyped up Trump’s narrow loss in Iowa, in reality his performance there was impressive. Everyone knows retail politics matters more in the early primary states and organization matters more in the caucus states. Trump, who doesn’t do much retail politics or any ground game should have gotten crushed in Iowa. Instead, he finished a strong second. Shift to New Hampshire where organization matters a bit less, and he got first.
Up next is South Carolina, where he has a 16-point lead and where there’s not enough time for retail politicking to make a big difference. Barring something dramatic, he is going to win.
On February 23, Nevada holds Republican caucuses. That’s the GOP’s best chance to deal Trump another blow before the election storms forward to the March 1 contests in Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, and Virginia. At that point, you’re simply talking about too much geography being in play for retail politics to make a big difference. Trump’s mastery of broadcast media will be a huge asset for him.
David French thinks Trump won a three-part victory in New Hampshire last night:
First and most obviously, he didn’t just win the popular vote, he more than doubled his closest competitor. The gap was so large that it was a bit pathetic watching John Kasich claim a moral victory. Kasich practically moved to New Hampshire, banked everything on the outcome, and got less than half Trump’s votes — even though Trump (compared to his rivals) campaigned far less in the state.
Second, the also-rans were bunched up in a confused muddle of mediocrity, and that can only benefit Trump. As of 11:00 pm, the next four candidates have between 10 and 16 percent of the vote, leaving them with not enough votes to matter but enough votes to likely give each one reason to go forward. If his third place position holds, Ted Cruz has at least some reason to be happy, but it’s not like he’s sailing into South Carolina with the wind at his back. Consequently, the anti-Trump vote will remain fragmented.
Third — and this is what I missed — Trump is right now over-performing versus the RealClearPolitics polling average, thus dealing a blow both to the “Trump people won’t turn out” and the “Trump as Buchanan” theories. He pushed through the Buchanan vote ceiling and decisively won in a high-turnout primary. All of this bodes well for him as his campaign moves South, where he’s polled strongly virtually from the start.
Maggie Haberman has a story about how Trump’s supporters stuck with him after his hyped-as-poor (but actually impressive) Iowa showing:
Despite a stream of provocative and even offensive remarks by Mr. Trump right up to the night before the primary, comments that might have destroyed any other candidate, his supporters mostly appeared to have made up their minds months ago, and never wavered.
“Wow, wow, wow,” he said as he took the stage at his victory party Tuesday night, his family alongside him.
As supporters waved foam fingers reading “You’re hired!” and “Make America Great Again!,” Mr. Trump seemed to have recaptured his pre-Iowa bravado, virtually guaranteeing great trade deals and a military “so big, so strong and so powerful, nobody is going to mess with us.”
It would be easy enough to overreact to Tuesday’s results. With only two states having voted so far, we don’t really have enough data to know why Trump finished with 24 percent of the vote in one of them but 35 percent in the other, or which result represents the better baseline going forward. (Be wary of tautological explanations along the lines of “Iowa was a bad state for Trump” or “New Hampshire was a good state for Trump.”) Prediction markets regard Trump as more likely than any other candidate to win the Republican nomination but nevertheless slightly worse than even money against the field, an assessment that strikes me as pretty reasonable.
But for anti-Trump Republicans, there’s a danger to underreaction, too. One reason that candidates like Trump have rarely won nominations in the past is because parties take a lot of steps to fight them. If the Republican Party’s defense mechanisms are broken, or if it assumes Trump will go away without intervention, the rest of the party may be competing for second place.
And Ezra Klein takes a moment to be awestruck by Trump’s political ascension:
Trump lives by the reality television trope that he’s not here to make friends. But the reason reality television villains always say they’re not there to make friends is because it sets them apart, makes them unpredictable and fun to watch. “I’m not here to make friends” is another way of saying, “I’m not bound by the social conventions of normal people.” The rest of us are here to make friends, and it makes us boring, gentle, kind.
This, more than his ideology, is why Trump genuinely scares me. There are places where I think his instincts are an improvement on the Republican field. He seems more dovish than neoconservatives like Marco Rubio, and less dismissive of the social safety net than libertarians like Rand Paul. But those candidates are checked by institutions and incentives that hold no sway over Trump; his temperament is so immature, his narcissism so clear, his political base so unique, his reactions so strange, that I honestly have no idea what he would do — or what he wouldn’t do.
The non-Trump GOP Candidates
Trudy Ring gives a rundown of the GOP primary results, including this bit about Kasich:
Kasich is a social conservative too, but he has avoided anti-LGBT rhetoric and even said he accepts that marriage equality is the law of the land. The candidate, who courted New Hampshire voters with 106 town hall meetings, gave a modest speech to supporters Tuesday night, although he expressed pride in having run a positive campaign. “Tonight the light overcame the darkness of negative campaigning,” he said.
He pledged to bring Americans together. “We’re going to solve the problems of America not by being extreme, not by being first a Republican or a Democrat,” he said. He noted that as a conservative, he sees government as the last resort to address problems, not the first, and he urged Americans to get to know their neighbors and build community. “It doesn’t take government, it takes our hearts,” he said.
Josh Voorhees thinks Kasich’s second place finish is a problem for the GOP and not all that great for Kasich:
There were always going to be two narratives coming out of New Hampshire: the major one about Donald Trump, who has been leading in state polls for months, and the minor one about whichever of the establishment-friendly foursome came out on top in the contest within a contest between Rubio, Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, and Kasich. Someone like Marco, or even Jeb, was well positioned to use the second-place spotlight to finally begin consolidating establishment-minded voters, which remains the best and perhaps only path left for any of them to pass Trump and Iowa-winner Ted Cruz later this year. Kasich, though, is almost comically ill equipped to travel that difficult path.
For starters, there’s the very real problem that his bank account is running low. He raised only $3.2 million in the final three months of last year and began 2016 with only $2.5 million on hand—about a fourth of what Rubio had in the bank and a third of what Bush did. Yes, Kasich’s performance in New Hampshire will likely come with an uptick in fundraising, but the odds are that he’s still going to have significantly less than Rubio and Bush, not to mention Trump and Cruz. Much of the money he does bring in this week, meanwhile, will be canceled out by the millions Rubio and Bush will now spend via their super PACs to torpedo Kasich’s campaign.
Tim Alberta generously covers Jeb Bush’s bizarre claim of having some kind of momentum coming out of New Hampshire:
Jeb Bush’s team can breathe a sigh of relief. His campaign is on firmer footing now after a tight fourth-place finish here. There is no question he’ll be moving on to compete in South Carolina, a state where his organization is strong and his family’s network is well established. And as a bonus, Bush defeated former protégé Marco Rubio, something his team felt was essential to resetting perceptions of who is best positioned to consolidate the support of center-right voters.
Clare Foran writes about Christie’s very bad night, which is expected to be followed by him dropping out of the race any minute now:
The governor attempted to put things in perspective on Tuesday after results had started to trickle in. “I have both won elections that I was supposed to lose, and I’ve lost elections I was supposed to win. What that means is you never know,” he said. “It’s both the magic and the mystery of politics that you never quite know which is going to happen.” Taking stock of his less-than-stellar New Hampshire showing, Christie will have to think seriously about his plans for the days and weeks ahead. Voting looms ahead in Nevada and South Carolina, two states where it’s not clear that he will fare much better.
Alexis Levinson sees nowhere for Christie to go but out:
With 88 percent of precincts reporting, Christie remained in sixth place, at just 7.5 percent of the vote. Unless something changes, he will not earn a spot on the debate stage in Greenville Saturday. And with many Republicans hoping to winnow the field to make it easier to take on Trump as the race moves forward, Christie will be under huge amounts of pressure to bow out. It would be nearly impossible for him to justify continuing his campaign after such a poor showing in the state where he devoted almost all of his campaign’s time and resources.
(Update: Christie has (susp)ended his campaign)
Moving on to Senator Rubio, the candidate that Governor Christie managed to take down with him, Jim Newell doesn’t see how the Senator can be viewed as the establishment pick after such a bad defeat in New Hampshire:
Cruz and Trump have won the first two nominating states. History dictates that one of them will be the nominee, and they’re the favorites heading into South Carolina. With the very notable exception of Newt Gingrich in 2012, South Carolina always picks the Republican nominee. The party doesn’t just need to settle on an establishment nominee around whom to rally—it needs that person to be a great candidate with a strong campaign to pull off what would be a history-defying comeback against Trump or Cruz. Rubio was eyed as the only candidate of the four who could fill that role. What if he can’t?
Eliana Johnson looks at the challenges Rubio now faces, and how he got here after such a hyped third place showing in Iowa:
What happened? Rubio’s stumble on the debate stage here on Saturday evening, his first major misstep of the campaign season, was every bit as real, and as apparent to voters, as the media made it out to be. Rubio had turned himself into a caricature. Dan Quayle isn’t stupid, but don’t try convincing many Americans of that. And Rubio may not be robotic, but as costumed robots chased him across snow-covered New Hampshire over the past 48 hours, as jokes about his robotic campaign performances appeared on three separate late-night comedy shows, and as Rubio himself pulled another halt-and-repeat routine on stage at a Nashua rally Monday evening, it was apparent that Rubio the robot had become a thing. And things, like Quayle’s “potatoe” and Al Gore’s earth-toned wardrobe, are difficult to shake.
Dara Lind points out that Rubio’s entire strategy is in tatters after his fifth-place finish in the New Hampshire primary:
That’s not to say that Rubio can’t reverse his fortunes yet again. But he’s starting from scratch. This goes against the premise of the 3-2-1 strategy: that finishing strong in Iowa would give Rubio the momentum to pull ahead of everyone but Trump in New Hampshire, and then give him the momentum to pull ahead of Trump himself in South Carolina.
But here’s the problem for Rubio: Trump’s lead in South Carolina has been commanding. It wouldn’t have been easy to topple him even under the best of circumstances. It’s certainly not going to be easy for a man who appears to have taken the momentum he had and squandered it, all in the course of a week.
Bizarrely, I did not find a single link that focused on Ted Cruz. Many of the links I have posted so far (and those I post below) refer to Cruz, but I didn’t find a focus on him anywhere. What surprises me about this is that a third place showing in New Hampshire is better than you might expect from the winner of Iowa (at least, in the GOP contest, where the two states have dissimilar voting blocs and histories). Cruz has the money and the following to stay in the race long term. This is important, even if he can’t win outright. Senator Cruz can prevent Trump or an establishment candidate from getting over the delegate threshold to clinch the nomination, which will basically make him the kingmaker. Now there is a thought that should keep Republican elites up at night. Speaking of GOP fever dreams…
The Chicken-Littleing of the GOP Establishment
Byron York has a longer piece that you really ought to read, detailing just how out of touch the GOP elite – none of whom support Trump – are from the GOP electorate that is propelling him to victory:
They were joined, it appears, by an even wider group of their fellow New Hampshirites. According to exit polls, Trump won among men, and he won among women. He won all age groups. All income groups. Urban, suburban, rural. Every issue group. Gun owners and non-gun owners. Voters who call themselves very conservative and those who call themselves moderates.
In short, Trump won everybody.
And he did it in a way that’s hard to diminish. In the days before the primary, scores of out-of-town journalists and visiting politicos debated among themselves how to set the rules for the “expectations game.” Say Trump won but underperformed his polling, as he did in Iowa; some observers thought he might fall to 25 or 26 percent. And then say some other candidate in second or third place did better than expected. What would the numbers have to be before the opinion makers would declare the other candidate the real winner of the New Hampshire primary? Conversely, how high Trump would have to score before the commentariat would concede that he really won?
John Nicols goes in to detail about how the New Hampshire results are basically the worst case scenario for the GOP:
effectively strengthening his claim on the Tea Party and evangelical contingents that will be far more influential in the caucuses and primaries to come.The hope of the elites was that New Hampshire would produce an appealing alternative to Trump and Cruz. Instead, voters turned out in record numbers to give Trump a huge win and to give Cruz a third-place finish in a state where the Texan was never expected to run all that well—
And Ramesh Ponnuru, also a reliably good read, casts about for what the new (or even, first real) anti-Trump strategy might be:
New Hampshire is just one state, but the exit poll numbers coming out of it do not lend themselves to an obvious anti-Trump strategy. Co-opting him on immigration does not seem promising, given that he cleaned up among voters who don’t prioritize it. Saying he isn’t a real conservative may be important for conservatives, but won’t drive down his strong support among moderates. Perhaps, given Trump’s large margins among people who are looking for a candidate who tells it like it is, his rivals should let people know how often the man lies.
But how to take down Trump is at the moment a theoretical concern. While it’s still early in the primary season, we have to circle back to Trump’s other coup of the night: Even if there were a clear anti-Trump strategy, it’s not clear which candidate would employ it.
The next event of the election season is the #DemDebate tomorrow, February 11th, and probably some other #GOPDebate soon after, followed by the Nevada Democratic caucus and GOP South Carolina primary both on February 20th. Check back here at TLP again for reax on those events.
In the meantime, drink, fornicate, and be merry, for the end of civilization draws nigh.