JUST IN: Christie’s out.
ALSO JUST IN: Fiorina suspends campaign.
No time for a witty lede — we’ve got a lot to cover today, so let’s dig right in.
The Smart Take was that all Hillary Clinton had to do to “win” was to lose by fewer than 20 points in a state which is practically Bernie Sanders’ home turf. Yet she failed even that, losing by nearly 22 points. When you look at the numbers beyond those, things actually look worse for Clinton — and maybe for the Democrats in general.
In yesterday’s two-person race, Clinton’s support actually slipped by a percentage point compared to her winning performance in 2008’s three-way race between Herself, Barack Obama, and John Edwards. Her vote total slipped even more. Clinton received 112,404 votes in ’08, but just 93,443 this year (with 97% of districts reporting). That’s a decline of about 17% or so.
Sanders won with just better than 60% of the vote, and a total of 147,291 votes. The two runners up from ’08, Obama and Edwards, earned between them just 53%, but a combined 153,514 votes. For all of the enthusiasm Sanders supposedly generates among Democrats frustrated with the status quo, he wasn’t much good at actually turning out voters. Neither, I probably don’t need to add, was Clinton.
Most ominous for Clinton is that her campaign manager, Robby Mook, is downplaying the significance of South Carolina — previously considered her firewall state.
When assessing these things, I always like to take a break halfway through and ask, “How bad is it really?” Bad enough that ThinkProgress’s Bryce Covert (whose spouse works for the Clinton campaign) felt compelled to blame Clinton’s staggering loss on sexism amongst New Hampshire Democrats.
It’s safe to say that Joe Biden and Mike Bloomberg woke up in exceptionally sunny moods this morning.
OK, now for the GOP results.
Donald Trump did exactly what he needed to do: Win big.
Still with 97% reporting, Trump got better than 35% in a crowded field and over 99,000 total votes. That’s more than double his closest competitor, John Kasich. Also notice please that even though Trump got 35% to Clinton’s 38%, he still trounced her — in a blue state — by about 6,000 votes. McCain won in 2008 with a larger share, but only 89,000 votes. Mitt Romney, who has deep roots in neighboring Massachusetts, equaled Trump’s vote total but had to win nearly 40% of the vote to do so.
Numbers don’t lie, so there’s no way to spin away the magnitude of Trump’s victory.
Looking at second place we have at long last reached Peak Kasich. Kasich trailed with about 16%, just like fellow pseudo-Republican Jon Huntsman in 2012. Kasich earned a little over 40,000 votes, again just like Huntsman. Unless he can somehow hang on for five more weeks until the Ohio primary, Kasich will never do any better than he did in New Hampshire — once again just like Huntsman. Having put up a good fight, Kasich should go back home before too much longer and concentrate on how to help make his home state turn red in November.
If we’ve reached Peak Kasich, last night might also have given us Trench Cruz. Cruz’s brand of conservatism doesn’t play well with New England voters, but he still managed to get almost 12% and a third-place finish. That’s a respectable enough result to move him on to South Carolina and Nevada, where an improved performance might position him for Super Tuesday.
Poor Jeb! Bush. His family has a long history in New England. His father won New Hampshire big during a hard-fought primary against Bob Dole. His brother was the last Republican to win the state in a general election, just 12 years later. But poor Jeb!, with all his money and name recognition, couldn’t even finish in the top three and had to settle for fourth behind Cruz. Jeb!’s donors, long rumored to be souring on their man, will start jumping ship today, which brings us to…
Marco Rubio. It may be impossible to overstate how badly Rubio hurt himself these last few days, starting with his “Marco Rubot” performance in Saturday’s debate.
Every candidate has weaknesses SNL will turn into caricature. The trick is to not do the caricature yourself, Marco.
— Stephen Green (@VodkaPundit) February 7, 2016
Rubio followed that up with a “I-meant-to-do-that/I-didn’t-mean-to-do-that” backflip almost worthy of a Triple Lindy. The surge he’d been enjoying in recent weeks seems to be over. He lost to Jeb! by half a point who lost to Cruz by three-quarters of a point who lost to Kasich by a lot. Jeb!’s waffling donors had been expected to switch allegiance to fellow Floridian Rubio, but today they have to be asking themselves if they really want to be two-time losers.
Rubio is still in this, but he needs to win somewhere, and last week’s Florida Southern College poll shows him trailing Trump by seven even in his home state. Complicating things is that Florida Southern’s results were completed before Marco’s terrible, horrible, no good, very bad weekend.
The bottom tier starts with Chris Christie and ends with Ben Carson, with Carly Fiorina in the middle. Their vote totals combined don’t quite match Kasich’s. All three were longshots before last night, and now their chances are nil. It’s time for all three to take the hint and narrow the field.
Speaking of vote totals, if we tally Trump and Cruz together as the Anti-Establishment Vote, then they lost to the Combined Establishment Candidates, 47% to 53%. I’m not sure how much that means in a field with so many Establishment Candidates to choose from, but it would seem that GOP voters might be less inspired by outsiders than Democrat voters are. That could be a potential hurdle for Trump, and give Rubio a narrow path to the nomination. Or voter attitudes could help Trump if Republicans are less interested in venting their frustrations than they are in picking a perceived winner. It’s just too soon to tell which way that breaks.
After New Hampshire, the GOP race is down to Trump and Not-Trump, with Not-Trump consisting almost entirely of Cruz and Rubio. Each still has a path to Cleveland, although right now that path looks to be paved with gold and with giant TRUMP! signs all along it.