Takeaways From the New Hampshire Primary
Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders had resounding victories in the New Hampshire primaries. But beyond their wins, the results also tell much about the electorate and the challenges the contenders face going forward.
- •Hillary Clinton has a trust problemClinton's advisers have long hoped that even if people did not trust her personally, they would come to trust that she would fight for their needs. She clearly still has work to do on that front. Among voters who cared most about honesty and trustworthiness, 91% chose Bernie Sanders and only 5% chose Clinton, according to exit polls. And the younger the voters, the more skeptical they were of her.
- •Experience does matterTrump and Sanders positioned themselves as political outsiders and won big, but the establishment was not entirely demolished. 69% percent of Democratic voters said they wanted the next president to have experience in politics, and they narrowly favored Clinton, according to exit polls. 45% percent of Republicans said they preferred a president with political experience, and those voters favored John Kasich, followed by Jeb Bush.
- •New Hampshire abandoned the ClintonsIt is hard to overstate the magnitude of the New Hampshire loss for Hillary Clinton and former President Bill Clinton. The state was a political bellwether for Mr. Clinton, putting him on the path toward the Democratic nomination in 1992 and backing him in the general elections that year and in 1996. And in 2008, Mrs. Clinton revived her campaign with a win in New Hampshire after losing in Iowa. But on Tuesday night, she lost New Hampshire’s big cities and most of the small towns.
- •Debates can be game changersThe presidential debates have been high-octane, high-ratings and highly entertaining affairs, but they were not seriously damaging to a candidate until Marco Rubio's performance on Saturday. After an attack by Chris Christie, it suddenly seemed as if Rubio did not have an original thought in the world. He had been rising in polls before the debate, but he slid to a fifth-place finish in the New Hampshire primary.
- •Working-class white voters are up for grabs68% of white noncollege graduates supported Bernie Sanders, as did 65% of people from families earning less than $50,000. On the Republican side, those voters broke strongly for Donald Trump.
- •Trump voters are realOn Tuesday night, Trump’s supporters proved that they were committed and enthusiastic enough to turn out for their candidate. He won among first-time voters in a Republican primary, as expected. But he also won among Republicans, independents and people who have voted in past party primaries.
- •Democratic women aren't rallying behind ClintonSomething went wrong between Hillary Clinton and the women of New Hampshire. Sanders won 55% of their votes compared with Mrs. Clinton’s 44%, according to exit polls. Those results rocked Clinton's campaign, given that she is running to become the first female president and enjoyed the support of many of the most powerful women in the state.
- •Muslims and immigrantsTrump struck a chord with Republican primary voters on many issues, but particularly where Muslims and illegal immigrants were concerned. 64% of voters said they supported temporarily barring Muslims from entering the country if they are not citizens. 41% of voters said that illegal immigrants should be deported to the countries where they came from.
- •A consistent message helpsThe candidates who fared best in New Hampshire — Sanders, Trump and Kasich — all offered easily understood, well-communicated messages. It helped that the messengers, in all three cases, came across as authentic advocates of their positions.