What We Learned in New Hampshire

Expectations going in to the New Hampshire primary were that Trump and Sanders would win. That is exactly what happened.

But beyond that, we learned a few things. For the Democrats, it was the margin of victory for Sanders. Right now (with 91% precincts reporting) the results stand at 60%-38%. That’s a major win for Sanders. In terms of raw vote totals, Sanders bested the performance of both Clinton and Obama in 2008 by about 30,000 votes. But overall turnout was down from that year by about 50,000. So we’ll have to wait and see if the revolution has actually been ignited.

In the exit polls (which are not terribly reliable), Sanders won almost every group identified – including young voters by about the same margin we saw in Iowa, as well as women. Because New Hampshire is an open primary, 39% of voters on the Democratic side were self-identified Independents. Sanders won that group 72-27. Other than that, primary voters were younger (7 in 10 younger than 30), more educated (6 in 10 were college grads and 3 in 10 have post-graduate degrees) and overwhelmingly white (90%).

A few weeks ago I pointed to this analysis by David Wasserman on what Sanders needed from Iowa and New Hampshire to stay even with Clinton in the projected delegate count.

The key takeaway from our model below: in order for Sanders to be “on track” to break even in pledged delegates nationally, he wouldn’t just need to win Iowa and New Hampshire by a hair. He would need to win 70 percent of Iowa’s delegates and 63 percent of New Hampshire’s delegates.

Based on the results, Sanders got 50% of Iowa’s delegates and 46% of those that have been allocated so far in New Hampshire. So unless these results change the trajectory of the race going forward, even with this overwhelming victory in New Hampshire, he didn’t meet that test.

On the Republican side, the news is that this primary did nothing to sort out the contest between the “establishment” candidates. Kasich came in second to Trump followed closely by Cruz, Bush and then Rubio. This tweet from Al Giordano sums up how they’ll play those results.

The one thing that might help sort some of this out would be if Christie, Fiorina and Carson would drop out. But so far we haven’t seen any of them make such an announcement.

Clearly, Rubio’s performance in the last debate probably knocked him out of contention. Whether Bush or Kasich can step into the breach and mount any kind of challenge to Trump/Cruz remains to be seen.

Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly.