What New Hampshire Tells Us

Feb. 11, 2016 — The New Hampshire polling proved correct. Donald Trump and Sen. Bernie Sanders were the easy victors in their respective Republican and Democratic primaries Tuesday, but what does that tell us?

First, the Sanders’ victory, as impressive as it was (projected to finish at a 60-38 percent spread), will be short lived. Despite his large victory at the polls, Sanders still trails badly in committed delegate votes. According to the best available delegate projection calculations, Sanders won the New Hampshire delegate count by a 15-9 margin from the committed pool.

Combined with Iowa, Hillary Clinton trails among the regular delegate group, 36-32, but reportedly has another 362 committed Super Delegates as compared to Sanders committing only six of the at-large votes. Thus, the unofficial delegate count is 394-42 in favor of Clinton, but her support number is only 16.5 percent of the total that she needs to clinch the nomination.

The Democrats’ next stop is the Nevada Caucus on Tuesday, Feb. 23, followed by the South Carolina Democratic primary on Saturday, Feb. 27. In both places, Clinton is expected to rebound with strong performances. Sen. Sanders will have trouble outpacing her in any state south or west of the Mason-Dixon Line. Despite last night’s setback, Hillary Clinton’s prospects of winning the Democratic presidential nomination remain bright.

For the Republicans, Trump’s win was as big as expected, scoring 35 percent of the New Hampshire preference vote to Ohio Gov. John Kasich‘s (R-OH) 16 percent. Sen. Ted Cruz, ex-Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, and Sen. Marco Rubio followed, all closely bunched within one percentage point. Since each broke the 10 percent threshold necessary to obtain delegate support, this group of five contenders will divide the 20 available GOP delegates.

Trump, obtaining what appears to be 11 delegate votes here in the state’s complicated proportional formula, secures first place for the race with a grand total of just 18 committed votes. This means Trump needs to secure the remaining 98.6 percent of the delegate support he needs to win the nomination, and all the others need even more. Therefore, after the first two voting events, the chances of this nomination fight progressing to a contested convention is becoming more of a potential now that actual votes are being cast.

Projections suggest that Gov. Kasich will record three delegate votes from New Hampshire, with Cruz, Bush, and Rubio each gaining two delegates apiece. Though the media analysis were declaring Rubio the big loser last night, he finished just one point behind third-place finisher Ted Cruz, and tied he and Bush in the number of allocated delegates.

Republicans’ next vote is Saturday, Feb. 20 in the South Carolina primary. Here, 50 delegates are at stake. Twenty-one come from the seven congressional districts (three delegates per CD), and the remaining 29 at-large delegates are awarded to the statewide winner. The three congressional district delegates all go to the candidate who places first in the individual CD.

The South Carolina set-up greatly favors the statewide first place finisher because it is likely he will win at least three congressional districts in addition to the at-large allocation. Thus, the Palmetto State will be in the “Winner Take Most” category, as it is probable that one candidate will come away committing approximately 38 of the 50 available delegates, but could conceivably grab all 50.

Gov. John Kasich’s strong New Hampshire performance, something he needed, will carry him to South Carolina but it is still an open question as to whether he can remain viable until the calendar arrives at the Winner-Take-All Ohio primary on March 15.

Bush also needed at least a top four finish, and he received one. Therefore, the South Carolina primary could prove determinative for several of the candidates like Dr. Ben Carson who are currently lagging behind the early front runners.

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