With NH win, Trump, Sanders set up protracted fight for nomination

  • Yashwant Raj, Hindustan Times, Washington
  • Updated: Feb 10, 2016 21:19 IST
Democratic U.S. presidential candidate Bernie Sanders and his wife Jane Sanders watch returns with their family at his 2016 New Hampshire presidential primary night rally in Concord, New Hampshire. (REUTERS)

Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Bernie Sanders won their respective primaries in New Hampshire easily on Tuesday night, setting up a protracted, closely contested nomination process in both parties.

Both ran as outsiders, and both ended the night with more than double the votes than their nearest rival. Trump got 35% (92,820) to John Kasich’s 16% (42,021). Sanders trounced Hillary Clinton, the front-runner in national polls and his only rival in the Democratic race, winning 60% of the votes (128,979) to 38% (88,964).

Watch | Trump wins, Clinton promises to work harder in New Hampshire

Their thumping victory was seen as a resounding defeat of their respective party establishments, which have been slow to embrace them, and doubt their message and winnability.

Sanders had news for his party leaders. “Together we have sent the message that will echo from Wall Street to Washington, from Maine to California,” he said in a victory speech.

And Trump had a similar message. “We are going to start winning again,” he said in his victory speech, clearly relieved keeping in mind the setback in Iowa last week.

A win in New Hampshire doesn’t always lead to the party nomination, but it could help Trump and Sanders change the narrative, seem more viable and thus, prolong the race.

US Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump points at a supporter at a polling place for the presidential primary in Manchester, New Hampshire. (REUTERS)

Republicans now go to South Carolina and Democrats to Nevada, states more demographically representative of the country than predominantly-white Iowa and New Hampshire.

Trump is leading in polls in South Carolina as well, and by a massive margin — 36.0% to 19.7% for Ted Cruz, currently second in the RealClearPolitic average of polls.

Clinton leads Sanders 50% to 30.5% in Nevada, which is next, and 62.0 to 32.5% in South Carolina, which follows. If these polls hold, the race could swing dramatically in her favour.

But she said in her concession speech on Tuesday night she knows she has to work harder, and identified younger voters as a challenge; Sanders had a lock on them in New Hampshire.

Hillary Clinton greets voters outside of a polling station at Fairgrounds Junior High School on February 9, 2016 in Nashua, New Hampshire. Clinton quickly conceded defeat after US media reported that Bernie Sanders had won the preliminary polling. (AFP Photo)

The race on the Republican side, however, is currently focussed on the Number 2 slot, with Trump so far ahead of the pack that his position is really not in any immediate danger.

John Kasich staked a claim to that slot by finishing second in New Hampshire, joining a crowded field with Ted Cruz, Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio and Chris Christie.

Cruz, who won Iowa, is currently second in the national average of polls (at 21% to Trump’s 29.5%), followed by Rubio, Ben Carson, Bush, Kasich, Christie and Carly Fiorina.

But the line-up could change. Bush was the other one who had a good night on Tuesday, finishing fourth. “This campaign is not dead,” Bush said. “We’re going on to South Carolina.”

Bush, who has struggled after entering the race as an establishment favourite last year, has the largest war-chest on the Republican side, and the backing of resourceful outside groups.

And there is Rubio, the other establishment favourite, who finished a strong third in Iowa but tanked in New Hampshire following a devastating take down by Christie in the last debate.

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