Sweet: Sanders, Trump triumph; electability not a factor

SHARE Sweet: Sanders, Trump triumph; electability not a factor

A voter receives her ballot as she prepares to vote at Belmont High School on Feb. 9, 2016, in Belmont, New Hampshire. | Don EmmertAFP/Getty Images

WASHINGTON — Take that, establishment.

On Tuesday night, New Hampshire handed solid, decisive victories to the outsiders — Democrat Bernie Sanders and Republican Donald Trump.

While Hillary Clinton had been braced for the thumping, the rejection was deep. She scraped together only 39 percent; Sanders got 60 percent.

Trump’s 34 percent was more than double that of Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who clinched second place with 16 percent, reviving what had been a stalled bid. Trump paid more attention to his ground game after Iowa — learning quickly that big rallies alone do not translate to victories.

Kasich won the perception primary by coming in ahead of Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, who won the Iowa caucus last week. A fourth place win keeps former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush in the next debate on Saturday in South Carolina.

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., who came in third in the Hawkeye State, dropped to fifth in New Hampshire. He told backers he blew it at the GOP debate last Saturday and won’t do it again.

What was going on that the New Hampshire voters picked Sanders, the Vermont senator, who is a democratic socialist, and Trump, the billionaire reality show star?


U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, D-Vt., waves during the primary night rally in Concord, New Hampshire, on February 9, 2016. |

Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images

And why did Bush stop flat-lining, and Kasich, who didn’t even bother to campaign much in Iowa — but did more than 100 town halls in New Hampshire — survive for another day?

We have some idea, based on exit polls.

The Clinton team has to ponder what is going on — not only with the youth vote, which propelled Sanders to a win in New Hampshire — but now the women are deserting her.

A CNN exit poll found that Sanders won 55 percent of the female vote to 44 percent for Clinton. That’s horrible for Clinton, who would be the first female president.

Unlike her 2008 bid for the White House, this time Clinton has put more emphasis on the historic nature of her candidacy — but not enough to jazz up younger women.

Among Democrats, 71 percent said in a CBS exit poll that positions on issues were more important than leadership qualities. That hurt Clinton.

For Republicans, 60 percent said issues on positions were more important than other things, such as leadership qualities.

Sanders has been centered on a focused message on the rigged economy, income inequality, an obscene campaign finance system and free college. Clinton’s message just was not as clear.

Asked about importance of issues, only 8 percent of Democrats cited terrorism, and 33 percent said income inequality.

Among Republicans asked about the most important issue, 15 percent said immigration and 30 percent said the economy and jobs.


Republican presidential candidate, businessman Donald Trump, speaks to supporters during a primary night rally on Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2016, in Manchester, N.H. At his side are his wife Melania Trump (left) and daughter Ivanka Trump, right. | David Goldman/AP

Also working in favor of Sanders and Trump: Asked about a top candidate quality in a CNN exit poll, 13 percent of Democrats said electability.

On the GOP side, asked about top candidate quality, 11 percent said electability; 34 percent said shares my values; 21 percent said tells it like it is and 30 percent said can bring change.

In the Iowa caucus, Cruz and Rubio did well because of conservative evangelical voters.

New Hampshire GOP voters are just not as conservative as their Iowa counterparts. Only 30 percent said they were “very conservative. In the New Hampshire primary, according to the CNN exit poll, only one-quarter of GOP voters identified themselves as born-again or evangelical Christians. Compare that to Iowa, where about half of the voters said they were born-again or evangelical.

Did debates matter? According to a CBS exit poll, 53 percent of the Democrats said the last debate influenced their votes, compared to 65 percent of GOP voters who said the most recent debate was a factor.

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