- Other Republicans in close fight for second place in primary
- Clinton campaign says race will be decided in later states
With a win in New Hampshire, Trump re-assumed his front-runner status in the Republican nominating contest after finishing second in the Iowa caucuses on Feb. 1 to Texas Senator Ted Cruz, despite leading state and national polls for months. Cruz and four other Republicans are vying to finish well behind Trump to establish themselves as the alternative to the billionaire.
Sanders’ victory in the first-in-the-nation primary, after his razor-thin loss to Clinton in the Iowa caucuses on Feb. 1, means the party could be headed for a long and competitive nominating fight.
Clinton’s defeat -- by a 74-year-old Democratic socialist, in a state she won in 2008 -- is sure to stoke worries among her supporters about her strength in upcoming contests, even as she still is on track to win the Democratic nomination.
Robby Mook, Clinton’s campaign manager, released a statement right as polls closed at 8 p.m. in New Hampshire, trying to tamp down any panic among supporters.
Mook said splitting the first two contests was “an outcome we’ve long anticipated.” The campaign was focusing now on the next two contests, caucuses in Nevada and a primary in South Carolina, “and we feel very good about our prospects for success,” Mook said.
“The nomination will very likely be won in March, not February, and we believe that Hillary Clinton is well positioned to build a strong – potentially insurmountable – delegate lead next month,” he said.
While her campaign tried to dismiss Sanders’ lead in New Hampshire as “home-field advantage” as a New England candidate, polling data showed that Clinton had lost support since 2008 among women -- especially young women -- as well as blue-collar workers and those earning less than $50,000 a year. It showed why Sanders’ message of a rigged economy benefiting the wealthy is resonating.
With 14 percent of precincts reporting, Sanders was holding onto 56 percent of the vote with Clinton carrying 42 percent. Trump was capturing 34 percent of the Republican primary vote. There was a battle for second place with Ohio Governor John Kasich slightly ahead of a tightly bunched group made up of former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, Senator Marco Rubio and Cruz.
Following his loss in Iowa, Trump’s campaign faced criticism that he didn’t have a competitive political operation to compete with other campaigns. Some also questioned whether his preference for large scale, stadium-sized rallies was personal enough in early-contest states, where voters place premiums on retail politics.
In the days leading up to the New Hampshire primary, Trump got local. Besides large scale rallies, he campaigned in local diners and police stations.
Still, Trump didn’t shift his tone. On the eve of the primary, Trump repeated a vulgar term about Cruz that was first uttered someone in the crowd. His remark was widely circulated on social media and grabbed cable news headlines.
The fight for second place behind Trump featured a fight among as many as five Republicans, including three current or former governors staking their campaigns on a strong showing in New Hampshire.
Coming out of Iowa, Rubio’s strong third-place finish set him up for another big night in New Hampshire. But after a debate stumble Saturday, other Republicans are trying to slip in behind Trump, including Kasich, Bush and Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey.
New Hampshire historically serves to narrow crowded presidential fields, like this year’s Republican contest, but the volatile nature of the race could take the nominating fight in both parties well into the spring. In fact, most of the Republicans who competed in New Hampshire seem sure to go on to the next contest in South Carolina on Feb. 20.