Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump Win the New Hampshire Primaries

Election '16

Voters in New Hampshire delivered a resounding rebuke of the US political establishment on Tuesday, with strong wins for leftwing Democrat Bernie Sanders and bombastic Republican outsider Donald Trump in the second major test of the 2016 presidential race.

The validation of both insurgent campaigns followed a surprise win for Texas maverick Ted Cruz in the Iowa caucuses last week and a poor showing by both Hillary Clinton and most mainstream Republicans, which together suggest a long and volatile primary race ahead.

Sanders, the Democratic socialist senator from nearby Vermont, was headed for a commanding victory over Hillary Clinton in the New Hampshire primary,according to preliminary results from the Associated Press.

High voter turnout has helped power Trump to a possible double-digit victory that could end up matching consistent polling leads, he’s maintained since declaring his candidacy.

With just 35% of precincts reporting in New Hampshire’s Republican primary, a trio of establishment candidates – Ohio governor John Kasich (at 15.5%), former Florida governor Jeb Bush (11.4%) and Florida senator Marco Rubio (10.4%) – were in a pileup with Cruz to finish in the top tier and combat what Trump has declared “a movement”.

The rest of the Republican field was expected to space out as the night wore on. But early indications showed that Chris Christie, the New Jersey governor who lambasted Rubio on the debate stage last weekend, might not lot last long despite having banked on a strong showing here. 

““There are more people in the Republican party willing to vote for the rest of the field than Donald Trump – there are far more people feel that way across the country,” said John Sununu, the former New Hampshire senator who is supporting Kasich.

The fight over the 2016 nomination had been expected to be a wintertime formality for Clinton. But the prospect of sustained campaigns from Sanders and Trump had sent the former secretary of state’s campaign intoa whirlwind of spin about whether the outsider surge could last.

The call for Sanders came early: with just under 14% of precincts reporting, he had 56.4% of votes to Clinton’s 41.5%. At the Sanders results party in Concord, they were turning supporters away before polling had even closed. Few were doubting he would win; the question was only by how much.

Clinton called Sanders about 8.15pm to congratulate him on his victory. In a statement, her campaign manager Robby Mook said the campaigns were “splitting the first two contests” after her extremely narrow victory in Iowa last week, adding that the Vermont senator’s victory was “an outcome we’ve long anticipated.”

Senior Sanders staff see this decisive win in New Hampshire as their ticket to the genuine national campaign momentum that has so far proved difficult to achieve.

Chief adviser Tad Devine told the the Guardian he is increasingly confident of securing union support to help the campaign in Nevada, scene of their next and perhaps most important showdown with Clinton.

“People need to understand something,” said a passionate Devine. “We are a better campaign. We are a better resourced campaign. We have more people on the ground. We are demonstrating that resource superiority by going on television all across this country. We are redeploying hundreds of people who worked on this campaign [in New Hampshire]. We are happy to compete with them in the air and on ground anywhere in this country.”

Clinton’s campaign had been bracing for a loss, with surrogates telling Granite State voters in a cafe earlier in the day that they were “looking for a miracle”.

The former secretary of state’s 2008 comeback win in New Hampshire against Barack Obama added momentum to the prospect of the first female US president. But the state offered no such luck this time.

Earlier on Tuesday, Clinton had made a last minute push to win voters at polling stations around New Hampshire. Joined by her daughter, Chelsea Clinton, she stopped by three polling stations in Manchester, Nashua and Derry to shake hands with voters and thank her volunteers. 

Greeted by chants of “Madame President” at a middle school in Nashua, Clinton posed for a photo with a woman who said it was on her “bucket list” to shake the hand of the future president.

At a stop in Derry, Clinton ran into the husband of another candidate hoping to be the first female president: Carly Fiorina.

Between dueling campaign signs, Frank Fiorina and Clinton briefly exchanged pleasantries. Clinton remarked that the primary was an “amazing, wonderful part of our Democracy” and Fiorina agreed.

“Give my best to Carly,” Clinton said, as her team escorted her back to the car.

But in the end, it wasn’t a good night for either of the candidates.

Early exit polls showed that 40% of Democrats preferred a candidate who was more liberal than Obama.

Voters across the state said they were gripped by Sanders and Trump, perhaps more for what they represented rather than the nature as tried and tested candidates who could go the distance. From school gymnasiums to post offices in socially liberal cities and gun-toting conservative hamlets, they expressed widespread discontent with both Clinton in particular and the Republican party’s leadership as a whole.

In Rochester – the northern border town where voters have selected the eventual Democratic and Republican nominees in every primary since 1972 – resident Christine Draper said she wanted to vote for Sanders. But the Vermont senator had only convinced Draper, 47, of his credentials in the last week – too late to switch her party affiliation and become a Sanders Democrat.

Draper instead voted for Jeb Bush, even if the establishment figure was at odds with her desire for a change in how politics is conducted. “I don’t believe the political system as it is represents what the people want,” she said.

But for others, Trump stood out from the pack.

Chris Comfort, a 50-year-old retired plumber, had voted for Trump. “I really believe he’s not owned by anyone,” he said. “And that’s a big thing in politics today.”

Comfort said he also admired Sanders, whom he saw as atypical of the American political system: “He is likeDonald Trump in the fact that he’s a man of principle – he doesn’t waver,” he said. “Mr Sanders has always been for what he believes in, and I respect that.”

Trump’s campaign, fueled by a blend of insurgent populism and unprecedented media attention, turned every rule of politics on its head throughout his campaign. The real estate mogul’s success in New Hampshire happened despite a comparatively weak campaign organization in the Granite State and a penchant for controversial remarks which would have sunk the campaign of almost any other candidate.

Yet none of the comments affected Trump’s standing with his base of disaffected blue-collar white voters, drawn to his pledge to “Make America Great Again” and desire to build a wall on the Mexican border.

The result is that a candidate without a strong field organization whose campaign was partially funded by selling hats, is now a frontrunner for the presidency.

The two parties will now criss-cross the country, with Sanders carrying his momentum to a Democratic caucus in Nevada on 20 February and Trump testing his popularity among southern Republicans in South Carolina’s primary on the same day. The campaigns will then turn their attentions towards Super Tuesday on 1 March, when 14 states will vote – including seven in the south, where Clinton was expected to beat Sanders among African American voters.

But Joseph Bafumi, an associate professor of government at Dartmouth University who has studied how new voters can be brought into a party’s coalition by outsider candidates, said Trump and Sanders had become “much more viable for the nomination” by meeting expectations in New Hampshire on Tuesday.

“It’s more of a question of momentum,” he said of Trump, “but it indicates to the rest of the country that his supporters can reliably go out and vote for him.”

Reported by Matt Sullivan, Tom McCarth yand Dan Roberts in Concord ,Sabrina Siddiqui, Ben Jacobs and Lauren Gambino in Manchester and Adam Gabbatt in Rochester, New Hampshire.

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