The voters of New Hampshire went to the polls on Tuesday to cast their ballots for the Democratic and Republican presidential candidates, and the results surprised many.

Bernie Sanders, the self-described democratic socialist, captured over 60% of the vote to Hillary Clinton’s 38%, winning by a historic 22-point margin. It was the biggest win for a non-incumbent since 1960 and was bigger than those two incumbents, as well. Sanders massively outperformed polling data. The typically reliable RealClearPolitics estimated a Sanders win of about 13 points; Fivethirtyeight predicted a margin of 14. 75% of voters had already made up their minds at least a week ahead of time, and those who decided more recently split about half and half for Sanders and Clinton. This indicates that the reason the polls were so off was turnout. Just like Iowa, large Democratic turnout was surpassed only by 2008 and skewed heavily to Sanders, with 78% of first-time voters apparently feeling the Bern.

Exit polls showed Sanders winning a majority of voters in each of the “very liberal,” “liberal,” and, in a reversal of Iowa, “moderate” categories. But while the Vermont Senator made inroads with the moderates in his party, the 93% white New Hampshire results provided no information on how he fared with non-white voters. Sanders met with Rev. Al Sharpton on Wednesday morning looking to address the deficit he faces among black voters, and he also picked up the endorsement of Ta-Nehisi Coates. After Iowa, it seemed like Bernie did not have the turnout, moderates, and non-white voters that he needs to compete nationally. After New Hampshire, he appears to have, at least temporarily, succeeded with the first two, and is now beginning to turn his attention to the third.

On the Republican side, Donald Trump also surpassed expectations by winning 35% of the vote, followed by John Kasich with 16%, Ted Cruz with 12%, and Jeb Bush with 11%. Trump improved his numbers with virtually all demographics in comparison to Iowa, probably due to the collapse of the first-place and third-place finishers of the caucus. Cruz faced an electorate containing far fewer evangelicals, the group that carried him to victory one week ago, and Rubio had a disastrous debate performance that undoubtedly influenced his standing with the 47% of voters who decided on a candidate in the few days before the election. Two-thirds of voters responded that the debates were important in their decision and meant that Rubio lost 13 points from Iowa; these voters may have flocked to Kasich, another establishment candidate, who received 21% support among those who decided in the last few days.

Turnout was enormous on the Republican side again, but this time it did not appear to hurt Trump as it did in Iowa. Over 280,000 ballots were cast for GOP candidates, reflecting the historically early interest paid to this campaign cycle. First-time voters provided a modest bump for Kasich and Trump.

The upshot: Bernie dominated the night by solving turnout and moderates and is now looking to woo minority voters; Trump reestablished himself as the man to beat; Kasich emerged as a possible moderate alternative; Rubio’s unforeseen debate errors cut his support by more than half.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *