Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Donald Trump won twice in one night. In addition to clearly winning New Hampshire, Trump's stable of opponents are bunched together, making it harder for a single Establishment pick to break out-Nate Cohn, NY Times

2/9/16, "Why Donald Trump Won Twice in One Night," NY Times, Nate Cohn, The Upshot

"Donald Trump won New Hampshire on Tuesday night, and not just because he finished with the most votes.

The results extend his biggest advantage: a deeply divided opposition. They all but ensure that several mainstream Republicans will remain in the race — perhaps even long enough for Mr. Trump to take a big delegate lead on Super Tuesday, March 1.

As recently as a few days ago, New Hampshire seemed as if it could produce the opposite effect. Marco Rubio had just taken a strong third in the Iowa caucuses, and a handful of polls showed him moving into the upper teens and into a strong second place in New Hampshire.

Instead, Mr. Rubio fared poorly in the last debate. He is currently in fifth place in the New Hampshire returns, trailing John Kasich, who is currently in second place, Ted Cruz and even Jeb Bush by a meaningful margin. Mr. Trump could not have asked for much more. If you were ranking Republicans in terms of their chances to defeat Mr. Trump and Mr. Cruz, you would probably list Mr. Rubio, Mr. Bush and Mr. Kasich. Yet they appear likeliest to finish tonight in exactly the opposite order — maximizing the likelihood that all three stay in the race. .............

The presence of so many viable, mainstream Republican candidates poses a huge challenge to the party’s establishment. Most obviously, the three have split mainstream voters and donors, and will continue to do so. 

But it is even worse: They have used their donors’ money to viciously attack one another, instead of Mr. Trump.

The strong showing for Mr. Kasich is particularly inconvenient for the party. His appeal is narrowly concentrated among moderate voters, who are overrepresented in New Hampshire. He doesn’t have the broad appeal or organization necessary to turn his New Hampshire strength into a serious race.

But his showing in New Hampshire could be enough to prevent a Republican with broader appeal, like Mr. Rubio, from consolidating the coalition of mainstream conservatives and well-educated moderate voters who could eventually defeat Mr. Cruz or Mr. Trump.

Mr. Bush and particularly Mr. Rubio have the potential to build broader coalitions. But both have now failed to capitalize on huge opportunities; there are well-founded doubts about both candidates, which will make it harder for voters and party leaders to coalesce behind either.
All of this could change just as quickly as Mr. Rubio’s fortunes changed over the last week. But there’s no question that tonight’s result means it will take longer for the party to rally around one candidate — and raises the possibility that it will simply never happen. A continued split among the mainstream candidates would not only increase the possibility that Trump wins the nomination, but also the prospect that no candidate will amass a majority of delegates before the convention.

Mr. Cruz failed to demonstrate any meaningful appeal beyond the base of self-described “very conservative” and evangelical voters who helped him win Iowa. He holds just 12 percent of the vote. That’s modestly above past winners of Iowa who have gone on to lose this primary, like Mike Huckabee, who won 11 percent in New Hampshire, or Rick Santorum, who won 9 percent.

Mr. Cruz won just 4 percent of moderate voters and just 9 percent of “somewhat conservative” voters.

The weakness of Mr. Trump’s opposition should not detract from his own performance. He currently holds around 34 percent of the vote — above the 31 percent he held in pre-election polls.

After Mr. Trump’s disappointing showing in Iowa — he underperformed the polls by seven percentage points — it was reasonable to wonder whether he could maintain the support of voters as they headed to the ballot box, or whether he could turn out his supporters without a strong field organization. If he had finished poorly in New Hampshire, doubts would have risen about his chances elsewhere.

Whatever explained his underwhelming showing in Iowa certainly wasn’t at play in New Hampshire, and there’s no reason to be sure it will happen in the next Republican contest, South Carolina."


Ed. note: Please excuse wide gaps between paragraphs which I've been unable to correct. Links to the article should work. Google personnel dislike free speech. As a result, they vandalize even the smallest of blogs.


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