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Category Archives: NH Primary
The results are in, and Bernie Sanders had a decisive victory last night, besting Hillary Clinton 60%-38% with 89% of the vote counted. He won all age categories, income categories and he even won the women’s vote.
There are two big takeaways from this win. First was seen in the speeches given by the two candidates. Hillary Clinton used her time to replay her biography, and use the word “I” throughout her speech, explaining things she had done, and what she stood for. In contrast, Bernie Sanders used the word “we” over and over, and talked to the issues he was running on. Most notably, while Sanders spoke in terms of the need to undo income equality, to stop the 1% from buying elections, making college free, and shoring up Social Security, Clinton spoke in far more broad terms, like “fighting for women and girls”. It was a striking difference. The message difference is absolute: Sanders has a succinct message that is repeated, the campaign is completely on message at all times. Clinton has trouble with messaging, sticking to the experience model which did not serve her well in 2008. It should be noted that both took time to congratulate the other and showed great respect for the other candidate and his/her supporters. A level of decency and honour not seen on the GOP side.
For a couple more weeks, the primaries are still in the one or two states per week mode. With one or two states, it is possible to do a detailed discussion of the rules for delegate allocation and to clarify the “math” of winning delegates. Once March 1 hits, with double digit contests on both sides, the battle for delegates will become a multi-front war in which even the campaigns will be trying to figure out where the battlegrounds are.
The first thing that struck me about last night’s Democratic debate in Durham, NH was how different is was from any of the Republican debates. First and foremost was the respect that the competitors showed to one another. Sanders called her “Madame Secretary”, and Clinton called him “Senator Sanders”. It bespoke professionalism and decency.
The questions were serious. Things like criminal justice, the Flint water crisis and other topics are never asked of the Republicans. (Probably because the moderators would have to explain what the question was about.) There were legitimate differences in both approach and substance but whenever possible, both Sanders and Clinton looked for, and noted common ground. Further, when given the opportunity to go after one another (Sanders about Clinton’s emails, Clinton about Sanders ads) they declined. At the very end, when asked whether each would choose the other for a running mate, both demurred and pledged to work together and said that either of them was a far better choice than any of the GOP contenders.
So who won? In my estimation, they both did. Both showcased their positions and presented themselves to the American public in ways that many low-information voters hadn’t seen before. An interesting aside: both have plans for what they’d like to get through Congress, but the truth is that Paul Ryan is likely to hold on as Speaker, and thus nothing gets to the floor of the House, even as we regain the Senate. Doesn’t matter who is elected president, until the intransigent leave Congress, it’s all gridlock.
While the parties did not have much choice about including Iowa and New Hampshire in the window of early states, the theory behind the early states is that all four are small enough and different enough to help narrow the field. While winning is nice, the real goals of the campaigns are: 1) to seem viable enough that supporters (both voters and donors) don’t go looking elsewhere; and 2) to meet targets for delegates. Candidates who are unable to show signs of life quickly find that their campaigns have no life.
So the caucuses are over and it’s off to New Hampshire for the whole crew, less those who are done. On the Democratic side, O’Malley wasn’t really a contender this cycle, and neither Clinton nor Sanders needs to change to run in the Granite State. As an aside, when people run and lose, they have a much better chance when they run again: Marty, we hardly knew ye’ but we’ll be looking forward to you in 8 years.
It seems that Bernie will win New Hampshire, but there have been other races where someone was a foregone conclusion, and it didn’t work out. Still, the state is very favourable to him, he’s got a great organization on the ground, he’s well known, and the primary process is much easier than the incredibly anti-democratic (small d) system.
The Republican side is very different. It’s a whole disparate audience for them. Religion and guns are not going to play in New Hampshire the way that they, and ethanol, play in Iowa. Plus, the gloves are off. Fascinating hearing Chris Christie referring to Marco Rubio as “The Boy in the Bubble“. Amazing that Ben Carson didn’t see it coming last night the the Cruz campaign texted that Carson was done after Iowa. (He accepted their apology today.) The Republican dirty tricks are just starting, and should be really fun to watch. Perhaps we’ll see more fraud mailers, as the Cruz campaign sent out in Iowa. Depending on how you calculate it, Jeb! spent between $2,600 and $12,000 for each vote he received at the caucuses. WHAT will they spend on in the next week? Trump was contrite last night; his speech concise and good, right up until he said he’d probably buy a farm in Iowa.
In less than four days, voters in Iowa will head to some location in their precincts and cast the first official votes of the 2016 presidential campaign. Both because of its small size and because of the unique compositions of the respective parties in Iowa (compared to the national parties), winning in Iowa is not essential to winning either party’s nomination. What does matter is how Iowa sets up the rest of the race.
Bernie Sanders is doing very well in New Hampshire. The latest poll has him down by only 8 points, plus or minus 5.2, meaning the spread is really 3 – 13 points. The RCP average has him down by 15, which is not bad this far out. If he keeps pulling in the kind of numbers he’s been getting both for speeches and dollars, he could really win the New Hampshire primary, if it wasn’t for a little problem with their candidacy statement.
After the jump, the legalese, some commentary and a poll.