ground game

N.H. rejects America’s two foremost political dynasties

New Hampshire is supposed to be the sensible nominating contest. Its voters have a track record of correcting extremist tides ready to wash over the parties. Or as the locals like to say, “Iowa picks corn, and we pick presidents.”

But every once in a while, New Hampshire voters like to deliver a message instead. And that’s what they did Tuesday night by rejecting the two foremost political dynasties in modern American politics in favor of two anti-establishment candidates.

By picking Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders, New Hampshire has sent voters in South Carolina and other upcoming primary states a pair of outside-the-mainstream politicians with vastly differing ideologies, whose messages will now be tested in unfamiliar territory, in an increasingly fast-paced political calendar.


Next, Republicans head to South Carolina to compete in the state’s Feb. 20 primary, where Trump also leads in polls, followed by Senators Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio. Ohio Governor John Kasich, who won respectability placing second, has barely spent any time in the Palmetto State.

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If anything, South Carolina is just as primed for Trump’s continued success as New Hampshire.

New Hampshire has sent a startling message like this before.

In the 1968 primary, New Hampshire Democrats rejected an unpopular war by putting US Senator Eugene McCarthy within striking range of President Johnson. Eight years later, they sent another message — contempt for political corruption — by making a peanut farmer, Georgia governor Jimmy Carter, a New Hampshire primary winner.

In 1992, state Republicans had also had enough, giving Pat Buchanan enough juice to scare a sitting president, George H.W. Bush.


This year, New Hampshire issued a full-throttled rejection of the political elite. A year ago, Sanders and Trump barely scored on state primary polls.

But much like those previous contests, their candidacies have been in the making for years. Trump’s victory is the next iteration of the Tea Party movement; Sanders represents the popularization of the Occupy Wall Street movement.

They are both the product of continued economic anxiety — even in New Hampshire, a state with one of the best economies in the country.

Read more.

Note: Many of you have asked recently about the future of this newsletter following the New Hampshire primary. The answer: This newsletter has won the expectations game (Ground Game was named the best of its kind nationwide by Editor & Publisher Magazine!), and we will continue to South Carolina, Nevada and beyond!

New Hampshire wrap-up

Donald Trump crushes his GOP rivals in N.H., from Matt Viser: “Businessman Donald Trump on Tuesday easily seized the New Hampshire primary from a host of more traditional candidates, notching his first victory and proving that he can rally an angry coalition around his call for change and convert the energy of his large rallies into actual votes.

Trump captured 35.2 percent of the vote, with about 86.7 percent of the precincts reporting. The resounding victory provides strong validation to Trump’s effort to upend the Republican status quo. He now takes his swaggering, controversial campaign into more socially conservative states on the primary calendar, where he will face stronger headwinds.


The closely watched battle for second place remained tight, as a pileup of establishment candidates fought to become the alternative to Trump heading out of New Hampshire.

Bernie Sanders defeats Hillary Clinton in N.H. primary, from Annie Linskey and Akliah Johnson in The Boston Globe: “Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont trounced Hillary Clinton in the New Hampshire presidential primary Tuesday, issuing a sharp rebuke to establishment politics that will likely set off warning bells among the Democratic elite.

The win, coming on the heels of his razor-thin loss in Iowa, officially establishes Sanders as a major threat to Clinton and one her campaign is taking far more seriously than it did just weeks ago.

Sanders received 59.9 percent of the vote with 87 percent of precincts reporting, to Clinton’s 38.4 percent.”

Follow up: Laconia may live up to its rep as a bellwether, from Andy Rosen in The Boston Globe: “Laconia, the small New Hampshire city that has in recent decades been a reliable bellwether for the state’s broader primary results, may well nail it again this year.

The lakeside community of 16,000 chose Bernie Sanders over Hillary Clinton in the Democratic race, and had Donald Trump and John Kasich finishing first and second in the Republican contest.”

Polls show terror fears aided Trump, youth helped propel Sanders, from the New York Times: “Two-thirds of New Hampshire Republican primary voters agree with Donald Trump’s proposal to temporarily bar Muslims from entering the United States. And they overwhelmingly express fear of another terrorist attack. On the Democratic side, young voters and those most concerned about inequality and political integrity gave Sen. Bernie Sanders a convincing victory.

Those concerns helped drive Trump and Sanders to victory in New Hampshire on Tuesday night. Exit polls offered a portrait of the first wave of American voters to cast ballots in a 2016 election that has already defied expectations and posed a sharp challenge to leading political dynasties.

Democratic voters valuing honesty or empathy over experience or electability propelled Sanders to a solid victory. As in Iowa a week ago, the Vermont senator trounced Hillary Clinton among young voters and among those who said trustworthiness and “caring about people like me” were critical to their votes.

A quarter of Democratic voters said the right experience was most important to them, while slightly more than 1 in 10 said it was someone who can win in November. They strongly backed Clinton.”

Michael Bloomberg is the real winner in N.H., from Alex Kinsgbury in The Boston Globe: “After a solid 100-year effort, the New Hampshire primaries have finally jumped the shark. Members of that wise, often taciturn tribe of New England Yankees were long renowned for their uncanny ability to sort the presidential wheat from the chaff, to pick the pretenders from the contenders. Credit where it’s due, it was an extraordinary run.

But when the ideologically rudderless Donald Trump and democratic socialist Bernie Sanders run away with the top prizes, and lifelong pols get sent home with trophies for participation, the contest has finally lost whatever political gravitas it may once have had.

Indeed, the biggest winner from the first-in-the-nation fracas this year wasn’t even on the ballot: Michael Bloomberg.

Will Americans from Mississippi to Maine join hands to applaud a candidate who wants to ban Big Gulps, lauds ‘stop and frisk,’ and built both his name and his fortune on Wall Street? Only if the other options on the ballot are as noxious as they are unqualified to assume the most powerful and consequential job on the planet.”

For Marco Rubio, what a difference a week makes, from Andrew Ryan in The Boston Globe: “Senator Marco Rubio appeared to be heading for a distant fifth-place finish Tuesday in New Hampshire’s Republican presidential primary, a stinging disappointment for a candidate who brimmed with momentum after his strong finish in Iowa.

Rubio had increasingly pitched himself as the most electable member of the splintered GOP field, but the Florida senator stumbled badly in a debate Saturday after a withering attack from Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey. Since the missteps, Rubio had tamped down expectations for his performance in New Hampshire and alluded to a long grind ahead for delegates en route to the Republican National Convention in July.

‘I’m disappointed,’ Rubio told supporters at his primary night rally. ‘It’s on me. I [did] not do well on Saturday night, so listen to this: That will never happen again.’”

Jeb Bush faces mixed prospects after N.H., from Jim O’Sullivan in The Boston Globe: “Jeb Bush, who launched his campaign as his party’s odds-on favorite for the nomination, declared a measure of victory Tuesday as he battled for third place while primary votes were still being counted.

Bush outperformed many handicappers’ late-stage expectations, according to preliminary results late Tuesday, which put Bush squarely in a fight for third place behind billionaire Donald Trump and Governor John Kasich of Ohio.

Needling pundits who had all but declared his bid doomed, Bush told a cheering crowd at Manchester Community College, ‘While the reality TV star’s still doing well, it looks like you all have reset the race.’

Bush added, ‘This campaign is not dead; we’re going on to South Carolina.’

Bush’s avoidance of a back-of-the-pack finish helped sustain a campaign that has been supported by a high-dollar super PAC but, almost since its launch, has failed to meet expectations.”

Wayward pig shows up at New Hampshire polling place, from Steve Annear in The Boston Globe: “Call it the ‘Pelham primary pig.’

A 600-pound sow sauntered toward a polling place in the town of Pelham, N.H., Tuesday morning as voters turned out to cast their ballots in the New Hampshire primary.

‘There was a hub-bub outside, and when I looked, there was this huge pig walking around in the parking lot,’ said Matthew Reiter, 50, who was working a construction job at the high school where voting was taking place. ‘It caused a bit of a stir.’

At first, Reiter said, he thought the pig’s presence was part of a gag, given the escapades that have led up to the primaries. Or maybe, he thought, its owner was inside, exercising his or her constitutional right to vote.

But Reiter soon realized the pig had arrived on its own.”

Long lines, traffic jams plague Merrimack polling place, from Eric Moskowitz in The Boston Globe: “What happens when an entire town of 19,000 voters tries to funnel into one polling place? Long lines of snarled traffic, with cars inching toward the polls at less than 1 mile an hour.

And that’s with a new system of temporary traffic changes that was supposed to improve flow to the polls but clearly backfired, Merrimack town officials acknowledged. The back-up was so long that town officials extended voting hours after the polls were scheduled to close Tuesday evening.

Richard Josephson tried to approach the polls this morning, saw the line, gave up, and tried again around 3:30 — only to wait 90 minutes to move less than a mile from Daniel Webster Highway and Baboosic Lake Road to the town’s polling location at Merrimack High School.”

James Pindell can be reached at james.pindell@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @jamespindell. Click here to subscribe to his daily e-mail update on the 2016 campaign.