Bernie Sanders won the nation’s first Democratic primary in a landslide while Donald Trump easily topped Republican rivals Tuesday as rebellious voters sent a strong message demanding dramatic change in Washington.
Sanders, a senator from Vermont, crushed former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. He led 60 to 38 percent with all precincts reporting. Clinton had narrowly won last week’s Iowa caucus and a victory here, or even a close second, would have given her important momentum. Instead, she suffered a lopsided defeat, creating new pressure to win the upcoming Nevada caucus and South Carolina primary.
Sanders dominated the race, winning among women, young voters, men and independents. Claiming victory and thanking cheering supporters, Sanders said his victory sent a powerful signal to the political establishment.
“The people of New Hampshire have sent a profound message to the political establishment, the economic establishment, and by the way, to the media establishment,” Sanders told cheering supporters. “What the people here have said is that given the enormous crises facing our country, it is just too late for the same-old, same-old establishment politics and establishment economics.”
Clinton conceded defeat and congratulated Sanders shortly after 9 pm EST.
“I still love New Hampshire, and I always will,” she said, with her husband and daughter standing nearby. “Now we take this campaign to the entire country. We’re going to fight for every vote in every state.”
She emphasized areas where she agreed with Sanders, and sought to share some of his appeal to those angry at the influence of big money in politics.
“I will fight to rein in Wall Street,” she said. “And you know what? I know how to do it.”
Trump, a New York City real estate magnate, coasted to his first election win. With all precincts reporting, he had 35 percent in the multi-candidate field, more than double his closest rival
Entering a victory rally to the Beatles’ song “Revolution,” Trump thanked his late parents and his family and paid fast respects to his rivals. He noted that Wednesday they all will go back to the rough and tumble of “boom, boom, boom” against one another, and he said he’d go on to win in South Carolina next.
New Hampshire Republicans also anointed, at least for a week, an upbeat alternative to the outspoken outsider: Gov. John Kasich of Ohio ran second, with 16 percent.
Kasich, who’d conducted more than 100 town hall meetings in the state, did well among late deciders, a huge bloc of voters. He emphasized his ability to build coalitions and challenge conservative orthodoxy. Kasich plans to campaign in Michigan early next week, as he eyes a string of Midwestern primaries next month.
“There’s magic in the air with this campaign,” Kasich told supporters.
He faces fresh competition for the mainstream GOP vote from Jeb Bush, a former governor of Florida, who came in a surprising fourth with 11 percent, just behind Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas’ 11.7 percent. Bush’s family has done well in South Carolina’s primary, and his sizable campaign treasury makes him a serious contender in next month’s string of primaries.
“You all have reset the race,” Bush told supporters.
The night’s biggest loser appeared to be Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla. Eight days earlier, he’d claimed victory with a close third-place finish in Iowa, and was counting on at least a solid runner-up showing here. But his robotic debate performance Saturday triggered doubts about his ability to think on his feet and clearly hurt him. He was in fifth place with 10.5 percent.
He said he was disappointed, and conceded, “I did not do well on Saturday night. So listen to this: That will never happen again.”
Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey, with 7.4 percent of the vote, could see his campaign end. He was heading back home rather than to South Carolina and was reportedly ready to suspend his bid. He had bet heavily on doing well in a state with a center-right electorate similar to his own.
Trump and Sanders finished second in their parties’ Iowa caucuses last week
Voters, though, wanted something other than veteran politicians. For Trump and for Sanders, a self-described democratic socialist and Congress’ longest serving independent, the victories were resounding triumphs over business-as-usual politics. They beat some of the biggest, best-funded names in 2016 and they did it in unconventional ways.
Though Trump’s pitch was conservative and Sanders’ was liberal, both vowed to end the influence of big money in politics. They financed their campaigns without cash from corporate donors or wealthy friends. Both mobilized “undeclared” voters not aligned with either political party.
Republican voters were unified in their anger, according to network exit polls. Ninety-one percent said they were dissatisfied with the federal government. About 40 percent were angry about how it was operating.
Helping to fuel Trump’s rise was widespread Republican dissatisfaction with the party, as half of the voters said GOP politicians had betrayed them. Voters throughout the week since the Iowa caucuses had said they were disappointed with the Republican-led Congress, complaining that it had failed to undo Obama administration initiatives such as the Affordable Care Act.
As a result, roughly half the voters Tuesday wanted someone from outside the usual political circles. Trump has never been active in GOP politics, and he promised to bring his business acumen and hardball style to gridlocked Washington.
Trump also benefited by voters’ accepting a shift away from campaigning as usual. The way to win New Hampshire is supposed to be person-to-person campaigning through the bitter cold and snow, but Trump usually limited his efforts to a mass rally or two a day.
His ground game lagged. About 1 in 5 Republican voters was contacted by a Trump supporter, far below contacts by most other candidates, according to a Monmouth University survey.
About half of Republican voters said they’d be satisfied if Trump is the nominee, exit polls found
But Trump’s brashness seemed only to help him. Two-thirds of Republicans said they backed temporarily banning Muslims from entering the United States, as Trump has suggested.
Democrats didn’t want that sort of radical change, but they were eager for a candidate who is honest and trustworthy. Sanders scored far better among those voters than Clinton, who’s been dogged by an FBI investigation of her use of a private email server while secretary of state. In the campaign’s closing days, she also was criticized for accepting big money for speeches to corporate interests, and she wouldn’t release transcripts of the closed-door remarks.
Women Democrats aged 18-29 went for Sanders over Clinton by 4-1
Sanders was well-known here, since he’s represented neighboring Vermont since 1991. He caucused with the Democrats in Congress but insisted on keeping the independent label. His liberal views, notably support for universal health care and an estimated $13.2 trillion in higher taxes over the next decade, put him outside the party mainstream.
But in a year when voters sought to shake up the political system, Sanders’ refusal to take corporate money reverberated, and younger voters found his ideas appealing.
New Hampshire’s independent-minded voters historically are predictors of future nominees, or at least trends. But Trump and Sanders will face tougher challenges in the next few weeks. Next up for Republicans is the South Carolina primary Feb. 20.
The state’s GOP electorate resembles Iowa’s, where Cruz won last week’s caucus and Trump finished second. Conservative Christians might make up as much as two-thirds of the South Carolina Republican electorate, and Cruz’s Bible-quoting message has the potential to resonate.
Cruz on Tuesday stressed his strength there, telling backers, “We are just 11 days away from the tipping point, the South Carolina primary.”
The Democrats’ next test is Nevada’s caucus the same day. Clvote totalsinton is seen as having an edge, since a sizable bloc of Hispanics and African-Americans, thought to be loyal to her, will vote.
This version updates the vote totals