2:05 AM: I’m signing off for the night with a recap of the winners and losers (as far as we know at 88% reporting):
- Donald Trump: The Donald benefits from his crushing victory, managing to outperform the polls by a few point with over double the votes of second place in the Republican primary. Further, the pileup around third place keeps Jeb and Rubio squabbling over the establishment lane and leaving only Cruz to battle Trump in South Carolina.
- John Kasich: His 16% actually lagged Huntsman’s 2012 result, but it was good enough for 2nd place in a far more fractured field than the last presidential cycle. Of course, Kasich will have to trudge through tough turf in South Carolina and Nevada, so momentum will be his biggest problem moving forward. Further, his campaign burned most of its money on its New Hampshire stand, so he will have to rebuild the coffers in a compressed timeframe. Still, anything less than second would have immediately, rather than later, ended the campaign, so at least he can point to a high note and the small chance he over-performs expectations in one of the next few states.
- Ted Cruz: Cruz looks likely to hang onto third place, winning the “expectations game” as an arguably poor fit for independent- and eccentric-loving New Hampshire (see tonight’s winners). Further, Rubio’s fifth place finish prevents him from focusing fire on Cruz, now having to deal with an extra duel with Jeb. It’s worth noting this result easily could have been fourth or fifth, with only 1200 votes separating him and Jeb. Considering Paul managed 1.7% (1700 votes) without actually running, I wonder: did the Kentucky senator’s withdrawal pave the way for Cruz’s third place finish?
- Jeb Bush: Jeb fell just shy of third place, which isn’t great after millions burned in New Hampshire but is good enough to move on. He’s bringing in the big guns, George W and Sen. Lindsey Graham, to South Carolina and looking for a Hail Mary. Expect all the pent-up animosity between him and former protege Rubio to come bursting out. Jeb is still in a terrible position with massive unfavorable ratings and anemic poll numbers. But hey, so you’re saying there’s a chance!s
- Gilmentum: Former Virginia Governor Jim Gilmore has surged from 12 votes in Iowa to 125 in New Hampshire (with more than 10% out as of this writing)! In all seriousness, there is no campaign when you failed to make the ballot in most primary states, but his persistence is… well, fairly unexplainable.
- Bernie Sanders: Bernie managed to crack 60% and prove a reason to carry on. He will have a tough road with minority voters in Nevada, South Carolina and beyond, but with momentum and his overwhelming dominance with millenials he might just make something happen.
- Minnesota Republicans: Realtor and Hall family scion Chad Anderson (R) won an upset victory in today’s special Minnesota legislative election, flipping a D+7 seat and bringing the Republican majority in the chamber to +12 in the swingy chamber. While this seat will prove difficult to retain in November, it at least expands the playing field for embattled Republicans in the state.. This is the third surprise special election result in a couple months (with Ds winning in Oklahoma and Rs in Bexar County, Texas), which just goes to show how volatile and unpredictable races with less than ten or fifteen percent turnout can be.
- Polling: Iowa, Louisiana, Britain, Canada: throughout the last year polling as an industry has taken a lot of hits. That trend didn’t materialize in the Granite State tonight. Besides the late break-away from Rubio, the polls generally got New Hampshire right. Weirdly, the much maligned ARG had one of the best final polls.
- Amateur political reporting: Props to the team at the Decision Desk. Their returns lagged AP much of the night, but they have big plans and a solid volunteer team that went toe to toe with the rest of the media coverage of the Granite State primary (I recommend their newsletter). It makes one hopeful about volunteer reporting on elections more generally…
- Marco Rubio: The Florida senator is probably the biggest loser tonight. All he needed was second or third place (behind Cruz) to effectively bully at least some of the other establishment lane candidates out of the race. Then, three days before the primary, he managed to steal that easy jog from himself by engaging with Christie and walking straight into a trap by infamously repeating himself several times as he was criticized for canned statements. Rubio is certainly not out of the race; he has invested heavily in Nevada and South Carolina and still has stronger poll numbers than any other establishment lane candidate. Nevertheless, #Marcomentum is tarnished, and those numbers could change with a blunted result at fifth place behind Jeb! of all candidates.
- Chris Christie: Christie swung hard in the last debate, but he only managed to drag Rubio down with him. He finished in 6th with about 8%, which would lock him out of the next debate. Further, his campaign went all-in in New Hampshire and is basically penniless. Christie said tonight he was canceling events in South Carolina and headed home to New Jersey to consider his next move and await the full results. Expect a campaign suspension sometime Wednesday.
- Carly Fiorina: Fiorina finished with 4% and also won’t make the next debate. So far, her staff is talking up events in Nevada, but it’s hard to keep going when trailing the pack so hard.
- Ben Carson: Carson did not even appear at his New Hampshire campaign after-party tonight, so his 2% is an asterisk more than anything else. I’m sure he will perform higher in evangelical-friendly South Carolina, but does he really think he still has a path? Or are the consultants feasting on his direct mail riches whispering in his ear?
- Hillary Clinton: Really, her campaign and concession speech spun a 20% defeat as well as you can. While a victory would have effectively ended the Democratic primary, now the Clinton machine will have to pull out its biggest weapon: black and Hispanic voters. And while the Sanders insurgency appears manageable outside looking in, the Clinton camp probably doesn’t want to look too closely at the deja vu feeling of being the establishment frontrunner supplanted by an exciting grassroots candidate.
12:28 AM: Later night update. The AP is beating the Decision Desk in the returns rate, with 83% versus 78% reporting. We noted the remaining returns looked friendlier for Cruz, and sure enough he’s now leading Jeb by about 1200 votes. We’ll have a recap of the results coming later in the night.
11:01 PM: With 62% reporting, exactly 250 votes separate Cruz and Jeb for third place.
10:37 PM: Christie just spoke to his supporters. He canceled events tomorrow in South Carolina to return to New Jersey. While he said they will wait for all of the results to make a decision, this is basically code for Christie suspending his campaign as expected.
10:18 PM: With Jeb narrowly trailing 3rd place Cruz, he declared in his victory speech that, “this campaign is not dead. We’re going on to South Carolina.” If I had to guess, Christie and Fiorina will drop out after tonight’s 6th and 7th place finishes respectively. They better look out for Gilmore, who surged tonight from 12 votes in Iowa to 87 votes and climbing. #Gilmentum
10:12 PM: As Kasich takes a well-earned victory lap in his speech, it’s worth noting the John Weaver backed candidate is basically mimicking his predecessor’s 2012 performance in New Hampshire. Kasich has 16.7% right now to 16.9% for Jon Huntsman. Luckily for Kasich, that same performance was good for 2nd place instead of 3rd this time around.
1009 PM: Trump is giving his victory speech. “We are going to win so much, you’re going to be so happy, we’re going to make America so great again, maybe greater than ever before.” He also declared, “We’re gonna win in South Carolina! I love you all!”
1007 PM: Surman taking over for awhile. I’m happy to report Republicans picked up a seat in the Minnesota legislature tonight. Chad Anderson won the D+7 seat in Bloomington with 9% turnout, but props to him and his team for a hard-fought victory.
956 PM: Cruz spent less than a million on ads in New Hampshire. Bush spent $35 million.
941 PM: AP is now over 40% and has Trump leading Kaisch 34% to 17% with Cruz coming in third at 12%. Sanders continues to vaporize Hillary by over 20%.
925 PM: Clinton continues to drone on in a fashion that is causing votes already cast for her to potentially change after the fact to Sanders.
917 PM: The race for third in the Republican primary continues to bounce back and forth between Cruz and Bush, but it appears territory more friendly to Cruz remains out.
900 PM: In case you just returned from a cave on Mars, Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders have won their respective primaries. John Kaisch and Ted Cruz are rounding out the top three on the Republican side.