On the dot of 8 pm, CNN declared Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump the winners of the New Hampshire primary. The results apparently are that clear. It appears that a big battle for 2nd, 3rd, and 4th place may be shaping up on the GOP side; we won’t know more on that until more results come in. Meanwhile:
- Sanders and Trump, as unlikely as it may have seemed a few months ago, are for real. They proved in Iowa that they can contend; they proved tonight that they can win, and apparently win big. And if, as appears will be the case, Trump pretty much lives up to his poll numbers, it also helps answer a question that has hung over the GOP race for months: do Trump’s sometimes astronomical poll numbers reflect real voters? At least in NH, they did.
- The GOP establishment, such as it is, is in meltdown. The two men the establishment hates most – Ted Cruz and Donald Trump – went 1-2 in Iowa, and Trump appears to have won NH running away. Marco Rubio, the supposed establishment choice after Jeb! flamed out, only managed third in Iowa and may well do worse in NH. What’s their next move? As of now, John Kasich is holding second place, but he seems an unlikely rallying point.
- Unless Chris Christie and Carly Fiorina do a lot better than they’re doing right now, they seem to me unlikely to be able to continue. Christie then might choose to back Kasich (if he holds 2nd), or Jeb!, or he might wait. Christie didn’t garner much electoral support, but he is an effective surrogate, and he did a lot of damage to Rubio in the last debate. He wouldn’t be a bad guy to have in your corner going forward. Fiorina … not sure anyone really cares.