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#USElections: Trump & Sanders win New Hampshire primaries. Biggest losers? The parties.

Niha Masih | Updated on: 14 February 2017, 5:38 IST
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The result

  • The New Hampshire primaries are often a good early indicator of who the US Presidential nominees will be
  • Donald Trump won the Republican primary while Bernie Sanders won the Democratic primary handsomely

The significance

  • Establishment candidates Jeb Bush (R) and Hillary Clinton (D) fared poorly
  • Both the winners are non-establishment candidates who have raised funds differently to their opponents

More in the story

  • Who are the other winners and losers from the primaries?
  • Why is one-time favourite Clinton trailing Sanders?

Within minutes of the polls coming to a close in New Hampshire, there was near unanimity in the exit polls over who the winners would be.

Businessman Donald Trump won the Republican primary handsomely, with over 35% of the vote, trouncing heavyweights like Texas Senator Ted Cruz and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush.

Read- US Elections: What message do the results of the New Hampshire primary send?

The win was even bigger for Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, who beat former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, winning 60% of the vote in the Democratic primary. Clinton had won the New Hampshire primary in 2008 against the then-Senator Barack Obama.

While the list of losers is long, there are two which stand out - the Republican and Democratic party establishments. The parties have suddenly lost control of this election as their preferred candidates continue to slide. This has taken aback both parties, who were banking on the experience of Bush and Clinton to get them through.

Polar opposites with a common thread

Trump and Sanders may stand on opposite ends of the political spectrum, but the one common thing among them is their non-establishment tag, which plays out completely differently for the two.

Trump has often trumpeted self-financing his campaign (unlike his rivals, who bank on wealthy donors). But like most things he says, it isn't entirely true.

Last year in its filing with the Federal Election Commission, his campaign showed expenditure worth $3.9 million from 'online donations'.

He posits his hateful, vitriolic statements as a respite from 'political correctness' when it is just pure bile. He has also not shied from praising himself profusely. "I will be the greatest jobs President God ever created," he shouted into the microphone, getting pink with excitement shortly after his win.

Trump won 35% of the Republican vote while Sanders bagged 60% of the Democratic voters' support

The 74-year-old Sanders is the more conventional outsider. He proudly claims to be a socialist, which is not a term used often with kindness in the American political lexicon.

In his winning speech on Tuesday, he reiterated that his campaign was financed through individual contributions, with the average being $27.

Also read- #DemTownHall: It's Clinton vs Sanders in the run-up to New Hampshire primary

He has constantly railed against the top 1%, who are depriving the middle classes and the poor with their greed. "The American public bailed out Wall Street, now it is Wall Street's time to help the American public," he boomed amidst a sea of supporters holding 'A future to believe in' placards.

According to the CNN exit poll, Sanders overwhelmingly won the support of young people under 29 years of age, first-time voters and, somewhat surprisingly, more women voters than Clinton.

Republican mess

The Republican establishment has stood behind Bush despite his poor ratings amongst voters and lacklustre debate performances.

But after this primary, the field only got messier. Ohio Governor John Kasich, a non-starter until recently, surged to the second spot in today's result. Cruz and Bush were locked in a tight race for the third spot.

The Republican establishment has been backing Jeb Bush. Ditto for the Democrats and Hillary Clinton

After a strong third position in Iowa, Florida Senator Marco Rubio was trying to galvanise the party in his favour as a viable alternative to both Trump and Cruz.

While Cruz had a good run, winning the Iowa caucus, it is common knowledge that he is disliked by all within the party.

Democratic dilemma

The Democrats have a similar problem. Clinton started off expecting to win the nomination easily with a strong chance of winning the Presidency against a disorderly Republican party. But she is fast losing support to her opponent, Sanders. And the way ahead doesn't look easy.

Clinton, who technically won the last Iowa caucus with a handful of votes, has somewhat altered her tenor over the last few weeks.

Having been forced into a corner by Sanders over her ties to Wall Street, she has repeated her commitment to campaign reform and high taxes.

Read more- US Elections: Ted Cruz trumps Donald; Hillary Clinton defeats Bernie Sanders by a narrow margin

The big issue remains her disconnect with party voters, who have not found her convincing in front of the unassuming Sanders.

"I know I have work to do, particularly with the young people. Even if they are not supporting me, I still support them," she said in her concession speech.

The good news for the parties is - the two states to have voted till now, Iowa and New Hampshire, maybe small and insignificant in the larger picture. But the bad news is - in the last election in 2012, the two candidates who won the primaries in New Hampshire (Mitt Romney and Barack Obama) went onto win the Presidential nomination.

Edited by Shreyas Sharma

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First published: 10 February 2016, 2:05 IST
 
Niha Masih @NihaMasih

Niha Masih is a journalist and documentary photographer, currently doing a Masters in Politics and Global Affairs at the Columbia Journalism School in New York.

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