By Jonathan Easley - 02/10/16 12:27 AM EST
MANCHESTER, N.H. — Donald TrumpDonald TrumpReport: Clinton ordered operative to troll Trump with duck, in possible FEC violation Report: Bar Association declined to publish report calling Trump 'libel bully' Breitbart, liberal activist cooperated on GOP primary disruptions MORE and Bernie SandersBernie SandersThe Trail 2016: Who is really winning? The evidence backs Trump: We have a duty to doubt election results A Good Year to Go Green (Party) MORE cruised to wins in the New Hampshire primary on Tuesday, delivering big victories for the anti-establishment candidates who have dominated the 2016 White House race.
Neither result was a surprise, though, because both men held large leads in polling ahead of election day.
At the same time, the results shook up the presidential race in both parties.
The real estate mogul's win left Republicans wondering if any establishment candidate would be able to take on the outsider candidates who have won the party’s first two contests: Trump and Sen. Ted CruzTed CruzBreitbart, liberal activist cooperated on GOP primary disruptions Juan Williams: When WikiLeaks leaked my cell number 56 memorable moments from a wild presidential race MORE (R-Texas), the winner of the Iowa caucuses.
For Trump, it was a resounding victory in which he fully delivered on his promise. With 82 percent of precincts reporting, he had more than twice as many votes as the next-closest candidate, and exit polls showed he won among every voter demographic.
“It was right across the board, with men, with women, with young, with old, you know, everything,” Trump said after his victory speech in an interview on CNN. “To win every single category was perhaps the greatest honor of all.”
It was a critical first victory for Trump, who moved past the lingering memory of his weaker-than-expected showing at last week's Iowa caucuses.
The GOP race now moves to South Carolina, where Trump and Cruz will be the favorites to win the critical Feb. 20 primary.
For Democrats, Sanders's win raises questions for Hillary ClintonHillary Rodham ClintonReport: Clinton ordered operative to troll Trump with duck, in possible FEC violation Trump will cut ribbon on DC hotel Wednesday Obama reads round two of ‘mean tweets’ on Kimmel MORE, whom the Vermont senator left in the dust.
Clinton won the New Hampshire primary in a huge comeback during her 2008 primary fight against Barack ObamaBarack ObamaObama reads round two of ‘mean tweets’ on Kimmel Trump links WikiLeaks to media ‘voter suppression’ What will be in Obama’s Presidential Library MORE, but she could not deliver a repeat on Tuesday.
Talk of a campaign shake-up and questions about her skills as a candidate are likely to dominate political discourse until she has a chance to pick up a likely win in Nevada’s caucuses on Feb. 20.
With 82 percent of precincts reporting, Sanders was flirting with 60 percent of the vote in New Hampshire. The emboldened candidate addressed his supporters at a victory rally, declaring that the political movement behind his campaign was kicking into high gear.
“What happened here in New Hampshire in terms of the enthusiastic and aroused electorate ... that is what will happen all over this country," he said.
Ohio Gov. John Kasich scored with a second-place showing in the GOP contest, beating Cruz and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.
Kasich went all in on winning New Hampshire, and buzz about his candidacy had been building on the ground.
Kasich had more newspaper endorsements in the state than anyone else, and the most public appearances, and Granite State voters rewarded him for the positive tone of his campaign. Kasich steadfastly refused to attack his rivals, even has he came under heavy fire from Bush in the final days before the primary.
“Gov. Kasich is now the leading governor in the race and the only one with a realistic chance at the nomination,” senior strategist John Weaver said.
Still, it remains to be seen whether Kasich, seen as a centrist in the large GOP field, can build on his success when he gets to South Carolina.
Bush, Cruz and Sen. Marco RubioMarco RubioBreitbart, liberal activist cooperated on GOP primary disruptions Obama seeks down-ballot gains after being midterm loser Chamber endorses bill to block proposed estate tax rules MORE (R-Fla.) were tightly bunched behind Kasich in third, fourth and fifth place, raising questions about how much New Hampshire would clear the field.
At least one candidate appeared to be on the ropes. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie had staked his hopes on a strong showing in New Hampshire but finished in sixth place. Christie said he would head back to New Jersey on Wednesday to contemplate the future of his campaign.
Bush was said to have the best ground game in New Hampshire and may be positioned to fight on in South Carolina, where he also reportedly has a strong organization.
A NBC News analysis found that Bush’s supporting super-PAC, Right to Rise, has already spent $10.3 million in the Palmetto State, dwarfing his competitors' ad campaigns.
Bush was spinning his finish ahead of Rubio in New Hampshire as a victory that had changed the dynamics of the race.
“Last Monday night, when the Iowa caucuses were complete, they said the race was now a three-person race between two present senators and a reality TV star,” he told a group of supporters at his primary watch party. “And while the reality TV star is still doing well, it looks like you all have reset things.”
Rubio had emerged as a big winner in Iowa after finishing in an impressive third place, just behind Trump. But his disastrous Saturday debate performance and projected fifth-place finish had prognosticators predicting doom for his campaign.
“The practical effect of it is that it’s ended Marco Rubio’s chance to be the Republican nominee, in my estimation,” Steve Schmidt, who oversaw John McCainJohn McCainLots of (just) talk about 'draining the swamp' 56 memorable moments from a wild presidential race Is Georgia turning blue? MORE’s 2008 presidential campaign, said on MSNBC.
Rubio sought to address his poor debate performance head-on at post-primary rally.
“I’m disappointed,” he told supporters in Manchester. “But I want to tell you that disappointment is on me, not you. I did not do well on Saturday night, so listen to this: That will never happen again!”
Sanders’s victory further legitimizes his long-shot challenge against Clinton, who led by 40 points in polls of the state before the independent senator and avowed democratic socialist came out of nowhere to galvanize the progressive base.
The Clinton campaign has buffered itself against the prospect of losing New Hampshire, arguing that Sanders, who hails from neighboring Vermont, was the hometown favorite and always expected to win.
Clinton conceded the race early in the night, and in a post-primary memo, the campaign signaled it was already looking forward to the upcoming contests in Nevada and South Carolina, where Clinton’s huge lead among minority voters is expected to give her an advantage.
That’s the message Clinton gave in a fiery concession speech.
"I want to say I still love New Hampshire and I always will," she said to an enthusiastic crowd. "Now we take this campaign to the entire country. We will fight for every vote in every state."
Still, only six months ago, nobody expected anything resembling a close race for Clinton.
Now, Democrats are bracing for a protracted primary.