Wednesday, February 10, 2016

THE PRAIRIE EDITOR: Now It Gets Really Interesting

The New Hampshire primary vote results are in, and they
provided some useful insights into the 2016 cycle in both

Bernie Sanders did not just defeat Hillary Clinton (as
expected), he demolished her Granite State effort by a bigger
margin than anyone expected. Sanders is the senator of a
neighboring state, but he is a Brooklyn-born 74 year-old socialist.
New Hampshire is not as left-liberal as Vermont is, and Mrs.
Clinton is well-known in the state, having campaigned there in
1992 and 1996 for her husband, and in 2008 for herself (when she
won the primary).

The Donald Trump “phenomenon” was thought to be partially
illusory when the Iowa caucus results came in, and the New
York businessman finished in second place. In New Hampshire,
however, he not only finished first, but he beat John Kasich (who
came in second) by more than a two-to-one margin.

Mr. Kasich had put all his resources  in New Hampshire, and his
runner-up result keeps his campaign alive. Ted Cruz and Jeb
Bush closely followed, and their campaigns are likely to go on to
future caucuses and primaries. Marco Rubio, whose most recent
debate performance clearly hurt him in New Hampshire, remains
a formidable candidate, and is expected to do well in South
Carolina and on Super Tuesday.

Both Ben Carson and Carly Fiorina did poorly in the first primary.
Prior to the voting, each of them vowed to continue, but it is
difficult to see how they might suddenly surge in later primaries.

The biggest question mark after New Hampshire is whether or not
Chris Christie will remain in the race. He came in sixth on Tuesday,
not that far behind Rubio, but it was not a positive result for
someone who had spent so much time and money in the state.
If Christie is excluded from the South Carolina televised debate,
that would be a very serious blow. Christie has excelled in all of
the previous debates. For all his political talent and
communication skills, Mr Christie has not had much “luck” in
this cycle, and it might turn out that this just wasn’t his moment
on the national stage.

The next several days in the 2016 presidential campaign will be ones
of reassessment in both major parties. After New Hampshire, a
third party campaign by former New York City Mayor Michael
Bloomberg, still not probable, is nevertheless more likely than before.

So far, this cycle has been dominated by the unease on the left in
the Democratic Party, and on the right in the Republican Party.
The centers of each party have been largely “silent.” Lacking
standout center-left and center-right candidates to this point has
also drawn many independent voters to Sanders, Trump and

The 2016 nomination contests, however, are far from over. The
initial four caucuses/primaries will have provided an overture, but
several acts of serious drama lie ahead.

Copyright (c) 2016 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.

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