The voters of New Hampshire sent a crystal clear message to Washington’s political establishment last Tuesday: We’re mad as hell and we’re not going to take it anymore. Good for them!
I hope Nevada voters will repeat the same message to Washington later this month. In New Hampshire two maverick political outsiders, billionaire New York businessman Donald Trump, a Republican, and 74-year-old Democrat/Socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, achieved impressive victories over more traditional candidates. Trump beat the surprise second-place finisher, Ohio Gov. John Kasich, by more than 20 points and Sanders crushed Democrat front-runner, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the ultimate Wall Street/Washington insider, by the same huge margin. Both races were landslides.
Let’s look at New Hampshire winners and losers. Obviously, Trump and Sanders were the big winners, but “nice guy” Kasich surprised himself and his supporters by finishing second. He deserves another look because he has been a low-key but effective congressman and is the popular governor of a state, Ohio, candidates must carry in order to win the presidency. So Trump, Sanders and Kasich are my winners.
On the GOP side of the ledger Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio garnered enough votes to remain in the race. Cruz finished third while Bush and Rubio essentially tied for fourth place. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who savaged Rubio in last weekend’s GOP debate, placed sixth and businesswoman Carly Fiorina was even further behind; both dropped out of the race on Wednesday. Retired neurosurgeon Dr. Ben Carson finished last and is likely to soon suspend his campaign.
It was no-contest between Sanders and Mrs. Clinton, who ran as a women’s rights champion even though she’s married to a serial womanizer, impeached and disbarred ex-President Bill Clinton. New Hampshire women, especially young women, preferred Sanders by a 3-1 margin although former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright told Granite State ladies they’d go to hell if they didn’t vote for Hillary.
Mrs. Clinton tried to put a happy face on her humiliating defeat, vowing to take her campaign to the rest of the nation, beginning with Nevada and South Carolina later this month. Nevada Democrats will caucus Saturday, and Republicans on Tuesday, Feb. 23, while South Carolina Republicans will go to the polls Saturday followed by Democrats on Saturday, Feb. 27.
New Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation primary came shortly after the Feb. 9 Iowa caucuses, which were won by Cruz and Clinton (barely). Sanders would have won Iowa if a couple of coin-flips had gone the other way. Evangelical Republicans put Cruz over the top in Iowa, with Trump second and Rubio with a strong third-place finish. Previous Iowa winners ex-Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee dropped out after this year’s caucus.
Trump last week repeated his pledge “to make America great again” and Sanders labeled Mrs. Clinton, who has collected millions of dollars worth of speaking fees from Wall Street financial firms, as the candidate of the Democrat establishment, which she is. She replied she’s “fighting for you,” whoever “you” is. When dealing with the Clintons, we must define our terms carefully.
Meanwhile, there’s an FBI investigation involving Mrs. Clinton mishandling classified national security emails. It will be interesting to see what happens if the FBI recommends a criminal indictment, a decision that will be made by President Obama’s attorney general, Loretta Lynch. That delicate situation might be more fun than Watergate.
We’ll have a better idea of which candidates will prevail after Nevada, South Carolina and the so-called “SEC Primary” on Tuesday, March 1. Stay tuned.
Guy W. Farmer is the Appeal’s senior political columnist.