About six months ago I wrote an article titled “Who is Laughing Now? Side Show Candidates Trump and Sanders Take 2016 Campaign by Storm!”. When I penned that piece, I was specifically referring to the huge crowds that the two so called joke candidates for the 2016 presidential race were generating. I was also referencing both the lead which “Bernie” Bernard Sanders , the Independent Senator from Vermont, already had in the Democrat race in New Hampshire over the former Secretary of State, New York Senator and First Lady Hillary Clinton and the soaring national lead which billionaire business man Donald Trump had over a then- very crowded GOP pack. On February 9, the voters of the Granite State brought my words to life by awarding their votes to Trump and Sanders. Trump was the Republican Primary’s runaway winner with 35.3% of the vote and close to a 16 point lead over Ohio Governor John Kasich, who took second place with 15.8%. Texas Senator Ted Cruz took third place with 11.7%, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush placed fourth with 11%, and Florida Senator Marco Rubio rounded out the top five with 10.6%.
Bernie Sanders ended the evening with a crushing victory over Hillary Clinton with 60% of the vote to Clinton’s 38%. While the Sanders’ victory was fully expected, no one anticipated that he would beat Clinton by over 22 points. He also outperformed her in every demographic group except voters 65 and over and voters in families earning over $200,000 a year. However, despite Sanders’ dramatic win, Clinton will actually walk away with more New Hampshire delegates. Out of the state’s 24 pledged delegates, Sanders will receive 13, Clinton will receive 9 with the remaining 2 currently unassigned to either candidate. “But under Democratic National Committee rules, New Hampshire also has 8 “super delegates,” party officials who are free to commit to whomever they like, regardless of how their state votes. Their votes count the same as delegates won through the primary. New Hampshire has 8 super delegates, 6 of which are committed to Hillary Clinton, giving her a total of 15 delegates from New Hampshire as of Wednesday.”
So what does this all mean? Let’s start with the Republicans. Now that Trump has won New Hampshire, he has regained any ground that he may have lost for taking second in Iowa. Political analysts claim that no Republican candidate has secured the nomination without winning either Iowa or New Hampshire since the 1970’s. Trump already has a commanding lead in South Carolina with a Real Clear Politics Average of 36% vs. his nearest competitor Ted Cruz at 19.7%. The Kasich second place win in New Hampshire and the Bush fourth place wins are huge boons to Trump because these wins mean that these candidates will likely stay in the race until after South Carolina. Consequently, the “establishment” candidate vote will continue to be splintered which will minimize the likelihood of any single candidate acquiring a sufficient majority to knock Trump off of his perch.
For Cruz, South Carolina represents friendly territory in that the state includes a lot of evangelical voters. He also has a strong ground organization in the Palmetto State. But he will have to work hard to narrow the gap with Trump. As for Rubio, he lost some ground with his weak debate performance on the ABC February 6 Debate and his fifth place win in New Hampshire. But he also has strong support in South Carolina with his recent endorsements from South Carolina Senator Tim Scott and South Carolina House Representative Trey Gowdy. Again, the same adage applies, Rubio who is currently in third place in South Carolina is going to have to work hard to narrow the gap between himself and Trump and Cruz.
The Republicans also have a debate scheduled for February 13 which takes place one week before the February 20th South Carolina primary. Hosted by CBS, the debate which will take place in Greenville South Carolina will only include the top five candidates in the New Hampshire primary: Trump, Kasich, Cruz, Bush and Rubio. A strong performance in this debate will help create a headwind for the February 20th Republican South Carolina Primary. Following disappointing results in New Hampshire, former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie have suspended their campaigns. Dr. Ben Carson remains in the race despite generating only 2.3% of the vote in the New Hampshire Primary.
As for the Democrats, the Hillary Clinton Campaign claims that Clinton will do very well in the Democrat South Carolina Primary on February 27 as she has a firewall in South Carolina which includes a solid lock on the African-American vote. According to the most recent polling in the state, Clinton is still leading Sanders by close to 30 points with 62% of the vote vs. Sanders with 32.5%. However, the most recent polling data was taken in January prior to the Iowa Caucus and the New Hampshire Primary. So the polls do not account for the momentum which Sanders has received from his win in New Hampshire and his near tie with Hillary in Iowa. Hillary continues to be plagued by scandals including the looming potential criminal indictment for compromising national security by using an unsecured private email server to conduct state department business. In addition Gawker recently obtained several emails which demonstrated that Clinton and her spokespeople were dictating the content for the media covering the campaign in exchange for favors. For instance,the emails provided evidence that Clinton’s spokesperson Philippe Reines had given Marc Ambinder who was serving as The Atlantic’s politics editor with specific verbiage to describe one of Clinton’s policy speeches in exchange for early access to a transcript.
Finally, Clinton is also having a lot of trouble substantiating her narrative that she is going implement campaign finance reform as the most recent statistics from the Center for Responsive Politics revealed that the Clinton Campaign received more funding from the so-called fat cat bankers than any other candidate from either the right or the left.
One thing is sure — the heat is on as the campaign moves to the Palmetto State!
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