I want to take a look at each of the candidates in the Republican presidential field following Donald Trump’s rout in the First in the Nation primary state of New Hampshire. In a nutshell, I believe the race effectively comes down to a Donald Trump vs. Ted Cruz race. Cruz moving forward may be the only candidate down the stretch with the finances, organization and grassroots support to be able to stop Trump after the first two contests.
Disclaimer: The results listed below reflect the results at 12:45a with 88.3% of precincts reporting in. I’ll update with final results later today.
1 . Donald Trump – 35.1% (92,203 votes)
Congratulations to Donald Trump for a convincing win in New Hampshire. He won convincingly. I have no doubt he would have won, but I wonder if the margin would have been the same if 40 percent of the Republican primary electorate wasn’t independent. I can only wonder because I haven’t seen exit polling that breaks that out. I thought he would win, but I didn’t expect he would win by double digits.
In any case, he will again be the center of attention in the media leading up to South Carolina. He is in a strong position. He had little organization in New Hampshire and still pulled out an overwhelming win.
Exit polling showed that half of the voters in the Republican primary wanted an outsider, and he won 57 percent of that vote. Also, four in ten said they were angry at the Obama administration, and he led that group with 39 percent. Seven in ten were very worried about the economy, and Trump led among those voters with 35 percent.
Also, on immigration, 40 percent agreed with deporting illegal immigrants, and 46 percent of those votes backed Trump — also, two-thirds said they support his proposal to ban Muslims from entering the United States, and 42 percent of those voters supported Trump.
Trump spent $3.7 million for the New Hampshire primary.
2. John Kasich – 15.9% (41,645 votes)
Kasich “surged” in New Hampshire but as of midnight only had 15.9 percent. He ended up being “the anti-Trump” candidate. Exit polling showed that Kasich led where Trump was weak. 45 percent of New Hampshire Republican primary voters said they valued experience. Kasich received 28 percent of the vote.He also led among voters who disapproved of Trump’s plan to bar Muslims from entering the United States. Kasich tied Trump among moderates and liberals.
I need to point out that former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman placed third in 2012, but still found there wasn’t a pathway for him past the Granite State. I don’t see Kasich being competitive in South Carolina or the southern primary states on Super Tuesday. He probably should leave the race after South Carolina, but I could see him staying in until the Ohio Primary on March 15.
Also, $12.1 million (combined campaign/Super PAC) was spent to support Kasich.
3. Ted Cruz – 11.5% (30,264 votes)
Expectations were low for Cruz, who won the 2016 Iowa Caucuses. He performed better than the 2012 Iowa Caucus winner Rick Santorum did (Santorum placed 5th with 23,642 votes). According to exit polling, he trailed Trump as the second choice among those who wanted an outsider and those who were angry with the Obama administration. He led among strong conservatives and evangelicals, of which there were fewer in New Hampshire. Evangelicals consisted just shy of 62 percent of Iowa Republican caucus goers. Forty percent of Iowa’s caucus goers identified themselves as strong conservatives. In New Hampshire, only 25 percent of Republican primary voters identified themselves as evangelical, and only 30 percent identify themselves as strong conservatives.
South Carolina plays better to Cruz’s strengths. In New Hampshire, there was hope that Cruz would have libertarian vote rally behind him. That happened to an extent, but he didn’t get the same support from that group that Ron Paul did in 2012 that led him to a second place finish.
Considering there was only $580,000 spent by Cruz and related Super PACs for the New Hampshire Primary, he came out of New Hampshire in good shape.
4. Jeb Bush – 11.1% (29.083 votes)
Polls that indicated a Bush surge were obviously wrong. Bush’s campaign and related Super PAC spent approximately $35 million for the primary, and in light of that, this result had to be very disappointing.
I suspect Bush will hang on until at least South Carolina, but he may stay in until Florida’s primary on March 15th unless he has a lot of pressure from donors and supporters to drop.
5. Marco Rubio – 10.6% (27,695 votes)
Any momentum that Rubio had following Iowa is now gone. I believe he is in better position moving forward than Kasich or Bush, but his path to the nomination has been made that much harder, especially considering he outspent Cruz in both Iowa ($11.8 million vs. $6.1 million) and New Hampshire ($15.2 Million vs. $580,000) and has placed behind Cruz in both states. There was a lot of buzz that he could come in second or possibly even win in New Hampshire.
6. Chris Christie – 7.5% (19,761 votes)
Christie was second only to Bush in terms of campaign/Super PAC spending at $18.5 Million. His attacks on Rubio hurt the junior senator from Florida, but didn’t help the New Jersey governor. He is traveling back to New Jersey to assess his campaign. I suspect he’ll be suspending his campaign either today or tomorrow.
7. Carly Fiorina – 4.2% (10,924 votes)
There was $1.8 million spent on behalf of the Hewlett-Packard CEO. Fiorina is not likely to make the cut for the CBS Republican debate on Saturday in Greenville, SC. While I just don’t see any pathway to the nomination for her, she has not indicated that she will be dropping out.
8. Ben Carson – 2.3% (5,927 votes)
Even though Carson’s chances for winning the GOP nomination are essentially non-existent after finishing fourth in Iowa and practically last in New Hampshire (among major candidates), his campaign has said he’s going on to South Carolina, Nevada and Super Tuesday.