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Donald Trump (left) and Bernie Sanders (right) celebrating in New Hampshire on Tuesday night

CREDIT: Joe Raedle/Getty Images (Trump); AP Photo/J. David Ake (Sanders)

Trump & Sanders Win New Hampshire

Voters in the nation’s first primary of 2016 sent a loud message that they’re fed up with politics-as-usual

The insurgent candidates, Republican Donald J. Trump and Democrat Bernie Sanders, both scored commanding victories in yesterday’s New Hampshire primary.

Their success in a contest that drew a huge turnout sends a resounding message to the political establishment, and all but guarantees a long, drawn-out fight for each party’s presidential nomination.

Trump, the wealthy businessman whose blunt language and outsider image have electrified many Republicans and horrified others, benefited from a large field of candidates. That led to a split vote among traditional politicians like Governor John Kasich of Ohio, who finished second, and former Governor Jeb Bush of Florida, who came in fourth.

But Trump also tapped into a deep well of anxiety among Republicans and independents in New Hampshire, according to exit polling data, and he did best among voters who were worried about illegal immigrants, the economy, and the threat of a terrorist attack in the United States.

With more than 90 percent of precincts reporting as of late Wednesday morning, Trump had 35 percent of the Republican vote, and Sanders won a decisive 60 percent of the Democratic vote, with former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton winning 38 percent.

“I am going to be the greatest jobs president that God ever created,” Trump told his supporters, adding that he would “knock the hell out of ISIS,” or the Islamic State.

For Sanders, a Senator from Vermont, last night’s decisive win was a blow to Clinton, who won the New Hampshire primary in 2008 and is seen as the more pragmatic and electable candidate.  But Sanders, who has proposed a solidly liberal agenda to raise taxes and impose regulations on Wall Street, drew support from a wide cross-section of voters. Boosted by his appeal among the young, he even edged Clinton out among women.

At his victory party, Sanders pointed to the large voter turnout as evidence that only he could energize the Democratic electorate to defeat the Republicans in November.

“Together we have sent a message that will echo from Wall Street to Washington, from Maine to California,” Sanders said. “And that is that the government of our great country belongs to all of the people, and not just a handful of wealthy campaign contributors and their super PACs.”

While Sanders led New Hampshire polls for the last month, and Trump was ahead in the state since July, the wave of support for both men was nonetheless stunning to leaders of both parties, who believed that in the end, voters would embrace more-experienced candidates like Clinton or one of the Republican governors in the race. Yet Sanders and Trump won significant support from voters who felt betrayed by their parties and were dissatisfied or angry with the federal government.

Sanders & Young People

Beyond Trump, four Republicans were clustered together, each receiving less than 20 percent of the vote. Kasich’s surprise second-place finish was driven by voters who described themselves as moderates and independents and were attracted to his pragmatism and his upbeat campaign. Effectively skipping Iowa, Kasich spent 62 days in New Hampshire, holding 106 town-hall-style events.

“We never went negative because we have more good to sell than to spend our time being critical of somebody else,” Kasich told supporters, vowing “to reshine America, to restore the spirit of America, and to leave no one behind.”

But as striking as Kasich’s surge in New Hampshire may be, the fall of Senator Marco Rubio of Florida may be more significant. Rubio, who finished a strong third in Iowa last week, had hoped to build on that performance and present himself as the logical alternative to Trump. But his disastrous debate performance on Saturday halted his momentum, and he finished a disappointing fifth. Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, who won the Iowa caucuses last week, came in third with about 12 percent of the vote. He was closely followed by Bush and Rubio, who were clustered together, each with about 11 percent of the vote.

Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey finished in sixth after staking his campaign here. With little money left and a slim chance of being eligible for a Republican debate on Saturday, Christie said he was going back to New Jersey on Wednesday “to take a deep breath.” In other words, he’s trying to decide whether to bow out. Finishing near the bottom of the crowded Republican field were Carly Fiorina and Ben Carson. The pressure on them to drop out of the race will now increase.

Trump’s win, coming on the heels of Cruz’s victory in Iowa, has left the Republican Party establishment with two leading candidates who party leaders believe can’t win a November general election. And with Rubio unable to establish himself as the clear alternative, the Republican race moves to South Carolina with little more clarity than before New Hampshire voted.

If any strong alternative to Trump is to emerge, senior Republicans say, it will most likely come only after a long nomination fight, spanning dozens of states and costing many millions of dollars.

“There are a lot of candidates that have staying power,” says Michael Leavitt, a former governor of Utah and a top adviser to Mitt Romney’s 2012 campaign.

For the Democrats, Sanders’s popularity with young people, liberals, and working-class white men has underscored potential vulnerabilities for Clinton in the nominating contests ahead. She is now under enormous pressure to prove that her message can inspire and rally voters.

Addressing supporters last night, Clinton tried to look beyond New Hampshire and pledged to fight for the needs of black, Hispanic, and female voters—members of the coalition that she believes will ultimately allow her to win the nomination.

“Now we take this campaign to the entire country,” Clinton said. “We’re going to fight for every vote in every state,” she added, continuing, “I know I have some work to do, particularly with young people.”

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