MANCHESTER, N.H. (TNS) — With a roar of discontent toward the political establishment, New Hampshire voters sent the presidential contest into what seems likely to be an extended march that will quickly move to territory far less hospitable to Tuesday night’s big winners, Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump.
After a riotous eight days that ended with the first successful Democratic insurgent win here since 1984 and the first Republican win ever by a TV host and real estate entrepreneur, the races now diverge. Tuesday marked the end of regional contests and the beginning of a national campaign, with all the financial and logistical demands that entails.
On Feb. 20, Democrats in Nevada and Republicans in South Carolina will vote. On Feb. 23, Nevada Republicans will make their picks, and four days later Democrats will compete in South Carolina. Then the race widens to more than a dozen states, many in the South, that vote on March 1.
“And here’s what we’re gonna do,” Hillary Clinton said after her loss in New Hampshire, speaking for all the candidates Tuesday night. “Now we take this campaign to the entire country.”
The Republican electorate ahead will be mostly white, as it was in New Hampshire, but different from the suburban Northeasterners who controlled Tuesday’s vote. Southern voters care about social issues, meaning the next rounds will mostly be fought on favorable ground for Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, the Iowa caucuses winner, and, perhaps, Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida.
In Nevada, about half the Republican voters are Mormons or evangelicals, a different face of religion than in the South and the opposite of New Hampshire’s extremely secular electorate.
Trump has led convincingly in early polls in both South Carolina and Nevada, although arguably it is only in the last two weeks that most of the other candidates in the race became more broadly known.
Surprisingly, given that his vote tally in Iowa was significantly lower than polls had projected, Trump if anything overperformed on Tuesday, suggesting that he won last-minute converts.
Trump has shown considerable strength in some parts of the South. The question for him will be whether he can expand his support beyond his core supporters. He won in New Hampshire by gaining about one-third of the GOP vote. That works well in a field with many candidates, not so well as the list grows shorter.
Often, New Hampshire serves as the contest that causes the list to shrink. Not this time, however. That “should concern the establishment,” nonpartisan analyst Charlie Cook said. “While the results were great for (Ohio Gov. John) Kasich, they weren’t that great for the establishment that badly needed resolution.”
Indeed, the biggest problem for all of the non-Trump candidates is all of the non-Trump candidates. With three — Cruz, Rubio and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush — bunched just a few points behind second-place finisher Kasich, none has an incentive to get out now.