Bernie Sanders is clearly winning the Democratic ballot. Kinda expected, as New Hampshire Democrats will share basic genes with progressive New Englanders. The question going ahead for the party is how the other states next on the list - Nevada and South Carolina - will stick with Hillary Clinton as the national media starts playing up the Bernie vs. Hillary trout-slapping.
The Republican ballot is a bit more troubling, because Trump is in well enough a lead to claim victory (barring outright shifts in the later precincts against him, which is unlikely) and able to do so with double the percentage of the Second Place guy Kasich.
Why is this troubling?
Because it pretty much syncs with the way the polls leading up to New Hampshire were playing out.
Based on the numbers tallied by RealClearPolitics.com within this month, Trump had been polling in the 30 to 34 percent range, which is where the results are putting him. Kasich has been polling about where he's ending up in the 14 to 15 percent. Jeb Rubio and Cruz, vying for Third at the moment, are in the 12 to 10 percent range as the polls predicted.
This is a sign that the Likely polls = Actual voters. New Hampshire is one of the early states that CAN mock the polling in one or two cases, but if they're matching up, the later states are likely to match their polls as well.
This is a problem with Republicans because of three things:
- There is still no clear Establishment candidate for the Party to back vs. Trump or Cruz. Rubio wasn't able to build on his Iowa Third Place Finish, and now Kasich has the Big Mo... for this week.
- Cruz is not going away. If Trump falters, there's every likelihood the Trump supporters go to Cruz (as he shares similar philosophies and anti-Establishment cred).
- Trump has a win now, and vindication, and every reason to believe the polls favoring him in other key states - South Carolina, Florida, Ohio - will match the results in New Hampshire.
If the Republican Party leadership isn't openly panicking by tomorrow morning's news cycle, they should be. Referring to Matthew Ygelsias at Vox now:
Their most recent bout of wishful thinking concerned the Iowa Caucuses, where they managed to convince themselves that Trump finishing second and Marco Rubio finishing third represented a huge triumph for the forces of the establishment. But after tonight's results in New Hampshire, the truth remains the same: Trump is winning.
I don't say that Trump will win. He might not! But for him to lose, someone actually has to beat him. There is no automatic process through which he deflates, and no winnowing magic through which he can be defeated without someone actually taking the trouble to defeat him...
...The establishment's consistent dream, ever since Trump rocketed into a national polling lead, has been that consolidation of the "establishment lane" candidates will lead eventually some someone from the Rubio/Bush/Christie/Kasich foursome taking a strong lead. The problem for the establishment is that New Hampshire is the only state where this would have actually worked. Had supporters of those four men all united behind a single candidate, he would have won.
But they didn't...
Without a clear opponent, without a clear opposing platform within the party that the Establishment candidates could rally, the Republicans are stuck with Trump in the lead... and a likely chance he does get the delegate counts to win outright.
This is a problem because of what Trump represents: the worst of political indulgences, willingness to pander to primal fear and anger, a lack of respect for anything outside of his interests, personal habits of bullying and insults, and all-out willful ignorance.
And Trump's followers love him for it.
Trump's followers are hard-core haters: against Mexicans and Hispanics, against Muslims, against government, against a lot of things. For them to have a candidate available for full support in a general election is a terrifying prospect. Terrifying for the nation if Trump is able to sell that rage and fear to enough Americans to tear the United States apart: Terrifying to the Republican Party if Trump fails and drives enough moderate and centrist voters into the arms of the Democratic Party for decades.
Trump winning does not mean the nation is winning. And more people need to realize that.