As soon as polls closed Tuesday evening, multiple news outlets called the New Hampshire presidential primaries for Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders and Republican candidate Donald Trump, two outsiders who have run campaigns that belie political conventions in a number of ways.
Both candidates went into the first-in-the-nation primary as the heavy favorites, with polling averages showing wide leads for them in their respective races; and they came out victorious without much of a fight.
With less than a quarter of the state's votes reported at 8:45 p.m. ET, projections showed Sanders and Trump with commanding double-digit leads over their party rivals. In the Republican race, the secondary narrative becomes whether John Kasich, Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, or Ted Cruz will take second place, each fighting it out with low-teens percentages of the vote.
Trump’s victory comes on the heels of a surprising loss to Ted Cruz in the Iowa caucuses—a defeat which many saw as a sign of the reality TV star’s impending political decline. By winning the Granite State, Trump will head into the South Carolina primary (Feb. 20) with renewed confidence and a RealClear average polling lead of 16.3 percent. The Donald’s victory in the Northeastern state comes as a result of appealing to New Hampshire’s business-minded conservative populace, which is less concerned with the social conservatism that propelled Cruz to a Hawkeye State victory last week.
Marco Rubio, a candidate that many thought could eventually galvanize support and occupy some sort of “establishment” lane, is barely passing the 10 percent line after suffering a bruising beatdown by Chris Christie in the most recent debate. In order to earn delegates from the state, candidates must hit that 10 percent tally, putting Rubio’s gains at risk.
Sanders’s win over frontrunner Hillary Clinton gives the self-described “democratic socialist” some momentum headed into next week’s Southern primary. However, he faces a tough road ahead as he is looking at an average 13-percent deficit nationwide against the former secretary of state.
"We had no campaign organization, we had no money, and we were taking on the most powerful political organization in the United States of America," Sanders told an energized crowd at his victory party. "Because of a huge voter turnout—and I say huge—we won because we harnessed the energy and the excitement that the Democratic Party will need to succeed in November."
Trump has managed to win a primary as a political novice after calling for a ban on Muslim immigration, referring to Mexicans as “rapists” and calling his chief rival Ted Cruz a “pussy” on the eve of the primary. As for Sanders, he has mounted an impressive campaign based on a substantial base of supporters with small donations, railing against the establishment and galvanizing women to support him over Clinton.
"New Hampshire, I want to thank you, I love you," Trump said taking the stage on Tuesday night. "We're going to be back a lot." He delivered a fairly typical stump speech in which he promised to restore America to its greatness with the best deals and the best safety. "I am going to be the greatest jobs president that God ever created," he boldly proclaimed, turning new shades of orange under the bright lights. "Remember that. We are going to make America so great again. Greater than ever before."
President Barack Obama survived a New Hampshire loss in 2008 on his way to winning the presidency, but the first-in-the-nation primary is largely seen as a predictor, or at least a provider of momentum, for eventual wins. In fact, for the Republicans, no candidate has won the party’s nomination since 1944 without coming in either first or second in the Granite State.