New Hampshire’s key takeaways
The results revealed much about the challenges the contenders face going forward:
Clinton has a trust problem
Among Democratic voters who cared most about honesty and trustworthiness, 91 percent chose Sen. Bernie Sanders and only 5 percent chose Hillary Clinton, according to exit polls.
While pollsters have repeatedly identified Clinton’s trustworthiness as a concern of voters, Clinton 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.
Experience does matter
While Donald Trump and Sanders positioned themselves as political outsiders and won big, the establishment was not entirely demolished. Sixty-nine percent of Democratic voters said they wanted the next president to have experience in politics, and they narrowly favored Clinton. Forty-five percent of Republicans said they preferred a president with political experience, and those voters favored Ohio Gov. John Kasich, followed by former Gov. Jeb Bush of Florida.
Clinton, according to advisers, thinks her experience will start working to her advantage in the coming contests in states where many voters know little about Sanders. Kasich and Bush are likely to hold up their records as governors to draw contrasts with Trump in South Carolina.
N.H. abandoned the Clintons
It is hard to overstate the magnitude of the New Hampshire loss for Clinton and former President Bill Clinton. The state put Bill Clinton on the path toward the Democratic nomination in 1992 and backed him in the general elections then and in 1996.
Voters again came through in a big way in 2008, when Hillary Clinton won in the state and revived her candidacy after losing the Iowa caucuses to Barack Obama and John Edwards. But on Tuesday, Clinton lost New Hampshire’s big cities: Concord, Manchester and Nashua. She lost most of the small towns and almost everywhere else.
Debates really matter
The presidential debates have been highly entertaining affairs, but they were not seriously damaging to a candidate until a revelatory performance by Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida on Saturday. As Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey attacked Rubio as a typical Washington politician who spoke in scripted sound bites, Rubio reinforced that image by repeating the same lines about Obama’s determination to change the United States.
It suddenly seemed as if Rubio, a first-term, 44-year-old senator, did not have an original thought in the world. Rubio, who had been rising in polls before the debate, finished fifth in New Hampshire.
White voters are in play
In the 2008 Democratic primaries, Clinton beat Obama in Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and other states partly because of solid support from working-class white voters. But Sanders prevailed with these voters in New Hampshire Tuesday. Sixty-eight percent of white noncollege graduates supported him, as did 65 percent of people from families earning less than $50,000. On the Republican side, the same groups of voters broke strongly for Trump.
Trump voters are for real
Trump led in many Iowa polls before the Feb. 1 caucuses, but he came in second place when it came time for the actual voting. That result raised questions about whether all the people crowding into Trump rallies were true-blue supporters or celebrity worshipers.
But on Tuesday, Trump’s supporters proved that they were committed enough to turn out for their candidate.
New York Times