The stakes were high as residents of New Hampshire cast votes in the first primary of this Presidential season.
Cruz was looking to recover from an embarrassing mistake made by campaign staff last week and Trump was hoping to bolster his position after coming in second at the Iowa Caucus. Meanwhile, as Bush, Rubio, Christie and Kasich clamored for the title of ‘establishment pick’, New Hampshire promised to be anything but boring.
And that’s to say nothing of the Democrats.
Sanders had been leading Clinton by as much as thirty points in the Granite State, prior to a tightening in the polls. And with Clinton beating Sanders by what some believe to have been as little as a coin toss the week before, the obvious establishment candidate on the Democratic side needed to prove herself. That never looked like it was going to happen in New Hampshire and with a deficit of more than 21%, it’s safe to call this primary for Sanders.
So as the votes are finally counted, what have we learned?
We’ve learned that mistakes can be costly. Not only did “Rubio Bot” and his scripted repetition of lines cause him a great deal of ridicule, it also lost him the number two position in New Hampshire. And mistakes cost Cruz dearly as well, placing him in a razor thin fight for third place, and taking with it, much of the momentum he’d gained from his win in Iowa.
As Trump slides home to his first victory of the year, the Republican establishment looks undecided on who best to choose to fight Trump. Rubio, no longer the safe bet at second place, now looks to be in a fight with Kasich, Trump’s runner up in New Hampshire.
As the final tally of votes continue, it’s unclear who is set to come in at third behind Kasich. At last sighting, Cruz was eking out a narrow third place, followed by Bush and then Rubio.
All this means that the race for “establishment pick” is wide open. With Cruz coming in ahead of all but Trump and Kasich, he’s likely to argue that he’s the obvious choice for strong conservatives. And with Kasich’s campaign now breathing new signs of life, he’s to argue that he can take on Trump or Cruz, better than any traditional Republican candidate.
Either way, Trump is now ready to crown himself the obvious choice. And unless Cruz can mount a strong comeback over the next few weeks, Trump’s likely to be looking at little competition from the right. And if he isn’t, it’ll be all eyes on Kasich, Bush and Rubio, to see who is best placed to take on the Donald.
In a similar fight on the other side, Sanders has capitalised on his commanding lead and landed a decisive victory in New Hampshire. But that was always to be expected.
New Hampshire is among the whitest states in the country, and with black voters favoring Clinton by as much as 70 points in some states, Sanders’ victory is likely to be short-lived. As the campaign season begins to swing through the south, the almost 20% of non-white American voters are likely to play a pivotal role in electing Clinton ahead of Sanders for the Democratic nominee.
So what does all this mean for the rest of the race?
Well for one thing, it means New Hampshire residents can sleep easy tonight. With the $100 million spent on political advertising likely to soon fade, the town is no longer expecting 30,000 calls per day from campaign staff like Donald Trump’s.
Instead, as the delegates from New Hampshire flow to Trump on the Republican side and Sanders on the Democratic, the question everyone will now begin asking is: “Who’s looking best dressed in Nevada and South Carolina?”