Feb. 10, 2016


The results of the New Hampshire primary are in and they have a number of important indications for the presidential race although no decisive change can be said to have emerged from it. The first and most important of them is the clear rejection by the voters of the party establishment on both sides of the political spectrum. The decisive victory by Donald Trump (35.2%) and by Bernie Sanders over Hillary Clinton (60% vs 38.3%) is a hard reminder to the leadership of both parties that they are badly out of touch.

The Republican Party -  Apart from thee convincing victory of Trump, there were a number of other surprises in the republican primary in New Hampshire. One of them was the second place finish of governor Kasich of Ohio with 15.8% of the vote. This was not totally unexpected because he had concentrated virtually all his campaign efforts in the state, but beating the better known Cruz, Rubio and Bush was nonetheless impressive. It is not clear, however, whether this performance will give him momentum for the next primary in South Carolina on Feb. 20, since he does not appear to have either money or much of an organization in that state.

Of the remaining contestants, most notable was the relatively poor performance by Marco Rubio, who came in fifth (10.5%) and the relatively good showing by Jeb Bush, who came in fourth (11.1%). Rubio’s uninspired performance was due to his poor showing in the republican debate last Saturday, for which he apologized to his supporters, while Bush’s campaign that seemed moribund after Iowa, has received a shot in the arm. Candidates that appear on the verge of elimination after New Hampshire include Chris Christie (7.5%), Carly Fiorina (4.2%) and Dr. Carson (2.3%).

South Carolina polls currently show Trump Leading with 36%, followed by Cruz (20%) and Rubio (14%). Among better noticed endorsements in that state are Senators Tim Scott’s, who is black, endorsement of Rubio and that of Jeb Bush, by Senator Lindsey Graham, who recently dropped out of the presidential stakes.

The Democratic Party – The huge victory by Bernie Sanders over Hillary Clinton was more than a defeat, it was a humiliation. This has caused more than head scratching among the democratic establishment since most election experts agree that the self-proclaimed socialist Sanders is not electable in the general election in November. Hillary’s hope is that her fortunes would improve dramatically after the caucuses in Nevada (Feb. 20) and the democratic primary in South Carolina (Feb. 27). Election observers point out that the demographics of South Carolina with 28% African-Americans and 5% Hispanics are considerably friendlier to Clinton than New Hampshire, which is 91% white. Nonetheless, her huge loss, especially among young voters in New Hampshire, as well as her continuing e-mail problems that could lead to her indictment are a cause for serious concern among the democratic establishment. Should she be indicted, or stumble again in the coming primaries, most observers expect the democrat powers that be to put up another candidate in the race, such as Joe Biden.

With respect to Sanders, despite his overwhelming victory, he has problems very similar to those of  John Kasich discussed above. His political appeal is very limited outside of liberal New England, while his lack of national security experience and his exotic economic views are unlikely to play well among conservative southern voters and the minority vote. Also, it is well-known that he has very little money left as testified by the fact that he openly asked for contributions in his victory speech in New Hampshire, which is highly unusual.