“Wow, wow, wow, wow,” Trump declared, savoring his victory at a campaign rally before promising swift action as president on the economy, trade, health care, drug abuse and more. “We are going to do something so good and so fast and so strong and the world is going to respect us again. Believe me.”
New Hampshire showed voter anger is for real, but it seemed unlikely to give much clarity to the search for a strong establishment alternative to Trump.
Right behind Kasich: a cluster including Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, all looking for a strong showing that would produce an influx of new donor money and attention as the election moves on to South Carolina.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who had dedicated a significant amount of time to New Hampshire, lagged behind early in the vote count.
Trump, stung by his second-place showing in Iowa last week, had been determined to make New Hampshire his proving ground for a campaign that has defied convention wisdom from the start. Early exit polls showed he drew support from voters looking for an outsider and from those who made up their minds a while ago.
Count car salesman Val Goldenberg as a Trump voter. At a Nashua polling place, Goldenberg said he voted for the billionaire because he likes the business mogul’s “non-politician” credentials.
“I think America really needs a good shake-up,” Goldenberg said.
With about half the vote counted, Trump was outpacing Kasich, his closest competitor, by better than a 2-to-1 margin, as the rest of the field scrambled for a breakout moment.
Cruz had claimed a strong victory in Iowa, but his rivals set out to slow his momentum in the second nomination contest. New Hampshire proved a disappointment for Rubio. He had arrived in New Hampshire with a burst of momentum following his better-than-expected third-place finish in Iowa last week, but a shaky debate performance Saturday sparked criticism from his rivals that the 44-year old freshman senator lacks the experience to lead the nation
A strong performance in New Hampshire was critical for Kasich, who all but skipped Iowa’s caucuses to grind out town hall after town hall in New Hampshire. During a visit to a Concord polling place Tuesday, the Ohio governor said a Kasich win with a positive message could open up a “new chapter” in American politics.
He closed the deal with voter Miranda Yeaton, a mother of two young daughters in Concord who said that Trump scared her and that she liked Kasich’s record as governor.
“If he can do it for Ohio he can probably do it for the rest of America,” she said.
Overall, Republican voters were very negative about how things are going in Washington these days, according to early results from an exit poll conducted by Edison Research for the Associated Press and the television networks. Nearly half of Republicans said they were dissatisfied and 4 in 10 were angry. Trump did best with voters who were angry; dissatisfied voters were somewhat less likely to break for Trump.
By winning New Hampshire, Donald Trump will take the lead in the race for delegates for the Republican National Convention. But it won’t be much of a lead.
There were just 23 GOP delegates at stake, and they are awarded proportionally, based on the statewide vote. Trump will win at least nine.