2016 Republicans, New Hampshire, State of the Race, Uncategorized

New Hampshire Recap (GOP): Trump Towers

February 10, 2016

After Iowa we weren’t 100% sure.  Now we know.  Trump voters are for real and the result was spectacular.  He got approximately 100,000 votes, more than Mitt Romney in 2012 against a far inferior field.  He beat the governors.  Combined.

In Iowa he trailed his final poll average by around 4 points.  This time he exceeded it by about the same amount.  Until proven otherwise, we can’t assume he’s any more likely to underperform than overperform.

That makes those national poll leads real and his ability to compete in all 50 states real.  The voting has begun and betting markets have Donald Trump as the favorite to win the GOP nomination.

In the next 24 to 48 hours, we’ll start taking a look at what each of the contenders have waiting for them in South Carolina and what their path to the nomination looks like (whether mostly wide open or mostly blocked.)  Before we can look forward, we need to look back, so here’s a semi-quick roundup on what happened to everyone:

Donald Trump

Beat expectations by as much as he fell short of them in Iowa.  Until further notice, this is all for real and zero hype.  New Hampshire is a favorable state for him, but was not the location where he had his largest polling leads.

Trump led basically every breakdown.  He did better than anyone with men, women, less educated, more educated, less conservative, more conservative.  Trump even did better with voters who favor amnesty.

With three governors camped out for months, plus a strong closing attempt from Cruz and Rubio, pulling over a third of the vote is a big deal.  Pat Buchanan won in 1996 with a lower share against a weaker field.  This is not just another populist protest candidate.

John Kasich

Congratulations on the win.  Now what?  That’s the officially certified opinion to have.  We’ll deal with the Kasich path later.  Today, he’s going to enjoy his day in the Palmetto State, just happy to have a reason to be there.

This was no small accomplishment.  On the day he entered the race, Kasich was one of 17 candidates.  Fifteen of them did worse in New Hampshire, many because they didn’t even last that long.  He finished ahead of every other candidate in the race with political experience.

Kasich didn’t get any larger share of the vote than Jon Huntsman in 2012.  That should probably restrain his excitement.  It’s hard to imagine he can win the nomination running as a non-partisan moderate.  Some adjustment is probably necessary.

He’s got his pitch down now, even if it’s a bit unconventional.  Having watched Bernie and The Donald just prior to Kasich’s victory speech, it’s hard to say that’s a bad idea this year.

Ted Cruz

It looks like Ted finished third, just ahead of Jeb and Marco.  Cruz gave a victory speech.  Pundits are crediting him with exceeding expectations.  Points to him for framing this to his best advantage, but that’s nonsense.

He caught a great break when Rubio face-planted.  Prior to the debate, Marco was on track to finish at worst in the upper teens.  Instead, it looks like he wound up a narrow fifth in the 10-11% range, barely qualifying for delegates.

Now Cruz can rightly say he finished ahead of Rubio where he should have (Iowa) and where he shouldn’t have (New Hampshire).  Ted got his voters out and avoided the one thing that would have harmed him, winding up in sixth place in single digits.

Rick Santorum was not a New Hampshire kind of candidate.  His 2012 Iowa victory wasn’t declared until a couple weeks later.  When the Granite State voted, they were under the impression Romney had narrowly triumphed.  True, Cruz didn’t spend much money, but Santorum spent even less.

Getting 2 to 3 points more than Santorum (9.4%) is not a major accomplishment.  Cruz is doing what he needs to and is still very much in the running, but he hasn’t knocked it out of the park yet.

Jeb Bush

The biggest immediate beneficiary of Marco’s meltdown.  Apparently Bush and his PAC spent upwards of $36 million in New Hampshire.  He did more than his share of town halls and camped out for the past several weeks.

All of that and he was a semi-distant second among the governors, closer to Christie than Kasich.  But he got at least a few more votes than Rubio, which was his most important mission.

Jeb got much better as a candidate over the past few weeks.  He’s now a more than adequate debater.  Nobody is sold that Kasich has a post-New Hampshire plan.  Rubio’s stock is plummeting.  At a minimum, Bush got a stay of execution to prove his value in South Carolina.

Marco Rubio

Ugh.  Not sure how many have seen it yet, but there’s another clip of him getting stuck on infinite loop from a town hall in New Hampshire.  For the purposes of media and donor propaganda, or advertising, it’s proof the debate wasn’t a complete one off.

Other candidates repeat themselves.  Trump and Sanders are two of the most repetitive candidates in American history.  But they’re very authentic.  Rubio fell on the sword during his concession speech.  It went over fairly well.

A week ago, Marco was on track to consolidate a large chunk of the party.  Now he’s ten days away from oblivion.  Someone wise once said things are never as good as they seem when they are great nor as bad as they seem when they are terrible.

With many voters favorably disposed to him, but very few all in, this is extra true for Rubio.  A strong debate this weekend and the conversation changes dramatically.  For now, it’s a long plane ride to South Carolina for the team.

Chris Christie

Hopefully the eventual nominee rewards Christie with the Justice Department.  Rubio was over 50% in the betting markets for the nomination when the last debate started.  This morning he’s below 20%.

That’s more than enough to make the ex-prosecutor Attorney General.  As Christie enjoys his day at home, “thinking” about what’s next before he formally withdraws, at least he can comfort himself with the knowledge that he got even for the hit ads run by Rubio’s PAC.

Carly Fiorina/Ben Carson

Both wound up about where polls indicated.  Both have vowed to continue for the foreseeable future.  Carson (8th in NH) will qualify for the CBS debate on Saturday.  If I’m reading the rules correctly, Fiorina (7th) will not.

She missed the ABC debate after finishing ahead of Kasich and Christie in Iowa.  Think the race would be a little different if she was included and they were excluded?

Now it looks like Carly is on the outside looking in while once again finishing ahead of someone who gets to participate.  Neither Fiorina or Carson have a legit chance at the nomination.  Both have a reason to stick around for spite.

For Carson, it’s the issue with Cruz from Iowa.  For Fiorina, someone who does not like to back down, something which works for Trump and Hillary, she does have funds and is likely determined to stick around until she’s allowed back on the debate stage.

Lots more to talk about over the next few days.

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