The New Hampshire primary results Tuesday both complicated and simplified the Republican race. Donald Trump won with a resounding 35 percent, winning his first state, followed by Ohio Gov. John Kasich at a surprising 16 percent. Rounding out the rest of the ballot was an essential three-way tie for the third-best loser, with Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio getting numbers ranging from 11.7 percent to 10.6 percent. These results have scuttled just about every Republican plan for the future and made the fate of the party look decidedly Trumpish.
All Hail Trump
Trump did everything short of moon the entire population of Iowa and ended up in second place with 24 percent of the overall vote in that state’s caucus last week. Team Trump put across slightly more effort in the New Hampshire primary, and he almost doubled his next-closest competitor. More important, Cruz, winner of Iowa, was a distant third in New Hampshire and hasn’t turned his Iowa success into a translatable bump in the next race, for South Carolina. Essentially, with Cruz failing to launch and the establishment candidates unable to break out, Trump looks poised to win the Republican Party nomination.
Carly Fiorina has dropped out of the Republican race for president, and Chris Christie has joined her. Ben Carson earned only 2 percent of the vote in New Hampshire and has all but admitted that he’s dropping out of the race after South Carolina’s primary Feb. 20. What was once a GOP field that looked like a very wealthy, very conservative pickup-basketball team will have dwindled to a spades pairing by the time the dust settles this week.
Power Rangers vs. Voltron
The Republican establishment had hoped for a while now that establishment candidates like Bush, Kasich and Christie would eventually drop out of the race and rally around Rubio like some sort of Republican Voltron who would be powerful enough to destroy Trump before he ruins the party. Nice plan, but wrong candidate. So far, the candidates who have dropped out or are likely to drop out will either support Trump or won’t have enough support to tip the race one way or another.
Loud, brawling and with a particular disdain for Rubio, Christie supposedly had a “long talk” with Trump, suggesting an eventual endorsement. Carson, with a penchant for racist, incorrect and just bizarre statements, has said that he’d be happy to be Trump’s vice presidential pick; and Fiorina, who tussled with Trump and extended her 15 minutes of political fame by promoting lies about Planned Parenthood, has no love for the establishment and will likely join Carson and Christie in supporting Trump. Rather than clean, organized, color-coded establishment candidates forming a Republican Voltron, the loudest, most vulgar and fringe Republicans are about to slap their wrists together like the Power Rangers to form a gigantic Trump political machine more powerful than ever.
On the Dem Side
The Democratic race hasn’t changed significantly after New Hampshire, with only two candidates, Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton, competing. Sanders crushed Clinton in every single demographic category except for New Hampshire’s essentially nonexistent Latino and African-American primary voters. This isn’t a surprise to anyone but simply puts Clinton on notice that Sanders has actually grown in strength since Iowa, as opposed to simply maintaining the same level of support and momentum.
Jason Johnson, political editor at The Root, is a professor of political science at Morgan State’s School of Global Journalism and Communication and is a frequent guest on MSNBC, CNN, Al-Jazeera International, Fox Business News and SiriusXM Satellite Radio. Follow him on Twitter.