Release Date: February 10, 2016
BUFFALO, N.Y. — The anti-establishment candidates of both parties had a big night in New Hampshire, says James Campbell, University at Buffalo Distinguished Professor of Political Science.
And no one is benefitting more than, you guessed it, Donald Trump.
Trump won the Granite State overwhelmingly. In addition, the only serious GOP candidate that is likely to drop out after New Hampshire is Chris Christie, says Campbell. That means mainstream conservatives are left with a divided and crowded field, which benefits the businessman.
“Take John Kasich for example,” says Campbell, a nationally known political forecaster. “He is still a long shot to mount a serious challenge in later primaries, but will be on the ballots to siphon votes that might have gone to a more viable mainstream conservative.”
What about Jeb Bush and his solid showing in New Hampshire? Might he threaten Trump?
“Bush finished slightly ahead of Rubio and will read this as a sign of renewed viability, but I think Bush-fatigue is real and will eventually doom his candidacy,” he says. “In the meantime, he, too, will siphon votes from a mainstream conservative.”
Marco Rubio, who had a major let down in New Hampshire after struggling in the Republican debate over the weekend, is still the most viable and electable alternative for Republican conservatives, Campbell says.
“I suspect Rubio will bounce back to be the candidate most likely to unify the party and win in November, but New Hampshire has been a significant speed bump in that effort,” he says. “It delayed the mainstream conservative candidates coalescing around a single opponent to Trump.”
When it comes to the Democrats, things are far from clear on that side, either, says Campbell.
Bernie Sanders’ defeat of Hillary Clinton by more than 20 percentage points in a state where Clinton beat Barack Obama eight years ago was “devastating,” he says.
“This has to send shock waves through the Democratic Party establishment. What is most important about the resounding Clinton defeat is that it again showed that young voters, including young women voters, are very reluctant to vote for her,” Campbell says.
Clinton’s obvious issue with young voters is likely to plague her candidacy in later primaries and caucuses, he says, and without a convincing win in South Carolina and Nevada, her candidacy might be in real trouble.
“It would seem that younger Democrats see Hillary Clinton as the establishment candidate, and this is a particularly bad year in either party to be seen in that light,” Campbell says. “Clinton has many other advantages that may help her capture her party’s nomination, but her weakness among young voters does not look like it is going away any time soon.”