So, the N.H. Primary's Over — What Can We Learn From the Outcome?

Feb 10, 2016

Credit Allegra Boverman for NHPR

  The campaign signs are being folded up. The candidates have flown on to the next nominating states or, in some cases, are heading home to reevaluate whether to call it quits.

The final results are still trickling in, and the outcome of last night’s New Hampshire primary will likely be dissected for weeks — maybe months — to come.

For now, here’s some of the takeaways, based on NHPR’s coverage throughout primary day.

  • For lots of New Hampshire voters, the decision came down to the wire. Across the state, residents told NHPR reporters they were still making up their minds as of yesterday morning — some, even up until the point that they were handed their ballots
  • Retail politics in New Hampshire is dying; long live retail politics. Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders defied conventional wisdom around the first-in-the-nation primary by winning the Republican and Democratic races despite favoring large rallies over the kind of small, intimate town halls that have been seen as absolutely essential in the past. At the same time, second-place GOP finisher John Kasich did do things “the New Hampshire way” — hosting some 100 town halls over the course of his campaign. But Trump’s and Sanders' decisive win suggests that these local forums are fading in significance as the primary becomes more nationalized. But First-in-the-Nation defenders are already pointing to Kasich as proof that they still matter. 
  • On both sides, high-profile endorsements didn’t help much. Hillary Clinton had the support of most of the state’s top Democrats, including Gov. Maggie Hassan and Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, but still lost to Bernie Sanders by more than 20 percentage points. Chris Christie, for example, enjoyed strong support among many current and former leaders of the New Hampshire Legislature. But Christie and other Republicans with the backing of the state’s political establishment still ultimately fell behind Trump , who was roundly criticized by officials here. These splits between officials’ preferences and voters’ choices, in both parties, would seem to underscore the discontent among the electorate with the existing political establishment. And it might suggest that, to stay relevant, the local party leaders could find themselves having to adjust their own messages.

While the national media’s moving on, NHPR isn’t going anywhere. Stick with us for ongoing coverage of politics and policy, primary-related or otherwise.

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