Tuesday night was not a good evening if you were a member of a political family seeking the White House.
In an act of unprecedented political leveling, the cantankerous voters of the Granite State on both sides of the political spectrum dealt dual humiliations to the wife of a former president and the son and brother of another.
Jeb Bush was once considered the favorite for the GOP presidential nomination, and despite the crushing landslide she just experienced in New Hampshire, Hillary Rodham Clinton remains the favorite on the Democratic end.
And though it would be easy to paint the Democratic results as New Hampshire voters taking care of neighboring politicians, as they did in 1988, 1992, and 2004, the enormity of the Clinton loss cannot be spun as parochial politics.
There was talk of Clinton Fatigue when Hillary struggled to put away a young upstart politician named Barack Obama in 2008, yet the 20 points + margin could point to something more severe: Clinton Disgust.
Though we live in a hyperpartisan political age, where political questions are no longer viewed in terms of right or wrong bur red or blue, one has to believe there is more going on here than onesie wearing millennials buying into socialism and a tax rate Superman would have trouble leaping over in a single bound.
There is well deserved deep distrust in the Clintons, from the email server matter to their questionable foundation and their links to foreign governments. Democrats are not buying that there’s nothing to these scandals. For some, they see them as deadweight that will undermine the ticket in November, to others these moral failings could undermine the nation.
New Hampshire is certainly not the end of the line for Hillary Clinton’s White House ambitions. Due to the Clinton family’s popularity with the black community, South Carolina will break her way and Nevada should be winnable. However, New Hampshire was a referendum on Hillary as Democrats there do not trust her to win or even govern.
As for Jeb Bush, getting beaten in his second straight state after he and his Super PAC had burned through enormous sums of money had to be disheartening. However to lose to his tormentor Donald Trump, Ohio governor John Kasich, and TEA Party advocate Ted Cruz has to be utterly demoralizing.
In 1980 his father George H.W. Bush won Iowa and lost New Hampshire before flipping his early state victories in 1988. Jeb’s older brother won Iowa convincingly in 2000 before being stunned in New Hampshire.
However to finish in 6th place with 3% in Iowa combined with an expected 4th place in New Hampshire with 11% after spending tens of millions of dollars is not progress but the point of political diminishing returns for the Bush camp.
While having his popular mother stump for him in New Hampshire diners was a nice touch, that and the endorsement of his brother in a Super Bowl ad paid for by the pro-Jeb Super PAC did not move the needle.
If the first two contests are an indication that the Democrats are ready to move past the Clintons, then the results of Iowa and New Hampshire signal that both the establishment/centrist wing and the conservatives have already abandoned the Bush brand and are pursuing their respective agendas through other candidates.
Unless he is determined to remain in the race to deny his one-time protégé US Senator Marco Rubio access to Florida’s money and delegates, there’s no sane reason for Jen to remain in the race. And his donors are not going to invest more money in a political vendetta dressed as a failing presidential campaign.
For Trump, the New Hampshire victory had to be a sigh of relief. After watching his Iowa lead collapse, even the uber confident Trump must have wondered if the support his candidacy registered in polls was real.
Trump now heads into South Carolina with additional swagger and the mantle of once again being the frontrunner for the Republican nomination.
Kasich proved the wisdom of skipping out on Iowa and doubling down on New Hampshire, with his over 100 town hall meetings paying big dividends. The Ohio governor will reap a donation and vote windfall from his strong showing and the demise of the two other centrist governors.
Cruz did not pin much hope in winning New Hampshire and slipping past Bush for third was a strategic victory. Fourth behind Jeb would have even been acceptable as it was more important to place ahead of Rubio, who learned the hard way that debates matter. Perhaps he should add Public Enemy’s “Don’t Believe the Hype” to the iPod he was listening to prior to a debate that transformed his MarcoMentum into a MarcoMeltdown.
Dr. Ben Carson won’t be able to blame Team Cruz dirty tricks on his terrible New Hampshire numbers while former HP executive Carly Fiorina can claim some solace in that by doubling Carson’s total that she should have been invited to the lone televised New Hampshire debate, though that won’t necessarily help her gain entry to the upcoming South Carolina debate.