Trump and Sanders claim major wins in New Hampshire

Insurgents trounce establishment in second nominating contes, writes Simon Carswell

Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump give victory speeches after winning the New Hampshire primary elections for their parties. Video: Reuters


Billionaire Donald Trump and socialist Bernie Sanders won their New Hampshire primary elections, the second contest in the US presidential race, in victories for outsiders over the establishment.

The two insurgent candidates were on course for major wins, trouncing mainstream politicians once considered unbeatable.

At a time of deep voter dissatisfaction, the anti-establishment contenders tapped Republican anger over America’s standing in the world and Democratic unease with a “rigged” economic system.

Mr Trump won the Republican primary in the New England state with a double-digit margin. He proved after his second place in Iowa’s inaugural contest that he could use his celebrity to harness a malaise amongst disgruntled voters and transform it into a political force.

The entertainment and property mogul topped the Republican race with 35 per cent after 90 per cent of the votes were counted, scoring a winning margin not seen since Senator John McCain’s win in 2000.

His closest rival, 19 points behind, was Ohio governor John Kasich who pulled off a stunning performance, soaring from eighth place in Iowa with less than 2 per cent to second last night with 16 per cent.

Mr Kasich’s focus on New Hampshire Republican moderates and independents paid off as he pitched a message of positivity and pragmatism, the antithesis of Mr Trump’s name-calling and vitriol.

“Maybe, just maybe, we are turning the page on a dark part of American politics. Tonight the light overcame the darkness,” he said.

Dismissed as a long-shot early in his campaign, Mr Sanders roundly defeated Hillary Clinton in a state where she won against Barack Obama during her failed 2008 presidential bid.

Mr Sanders was leading the former first lady by 60 per cent to 38 per cent after 92 per cent of the votes had been counted.

The US senator, with an advantage coming from neighbouring Vermont, beat the former secretary of state in every major demographic group, except among wealthy families and voters aged 65 and over.

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“Tonight with what appears to be a record-breaking voter turnout,” Mr Sanders said in his victory speech, before being interrupted by the cheers of his ecstatic supporters at a victory party in Concord.

The 74-year-old attributed his impressive win to “huge voter turnout,” delighting supporters by riffing on Mr Trump’s pronunciation – “and I say ‘yuge.’” The crowd echoed the word back with a shout.

“We won because we harnessed the energy and the excitement that the Democratic Party will need to succeed in November,” he said, referring to the final presidential ballot this year, to hoots and cheers.

Mr Sanders, an independent who votes with the Democrats in the Senate, is the first Jewish candidate to win a US presidential primary.

In her concession speech, Mrs Clinton offered an admission around where she has been outmanoeuvred by her upstart rival whom her campaign has seriously underestimated.

“I know I have some work to do, particularly with young people,” the former first lady said.

She acknowledged the frustration of voters that Mr Sanders has tapped more effectively, saying people have “every right to be angry”.

In reference to campaign issues at the core of Mr Sanders’s populist appeal, Mrs Clinton told supporters: “You’re not going to find anyone more committed to aggressive campaign finance reform than me.”

Touching on Mr Sanders’s popular attacks on the big banks and his criticism of her ties to big businesses, Mrs Clinton pledged to “rein in Wall Street” and assured her supporters: “I know how to do it.”

Mrs Clinton, a defiant loser, promised to take the fight “to the country and to emerge stronger from her defeat in New Hampshire.

“We’ve learned that it’s not whether you get knocked down that matters: it’s whether you get back up,” she said.

Mr Trump attributed his victory to a new election strategy in New Hampshire of speaking to voters in more intimate settings, avoiding the mistakes he made in Iowa by not engaging more directly with people.

He promised to be “the greatest jobs president God ever created,” building on his appeal among voters who see him as a man that can match his success in business with prosperity for the country.

The businessman’s commanding win was helped by three candidates clustered around the 10 to 12 per cent mark, fighting hard for third place: conservative Texas senator Ted Cruz, the winner in Iowa; former Florida governor Jeb Bush and Florida senator Marco Rubio.

“This campaign’s not dead,” Mr Bush told his supporters, turning around his chances and reinvigorating a lacklustre campaign.

Mr Rubio failed to capitalise on momentum from a strong third place in Iowa and was hurt by his poor performance in Saturday’s Republican debate when he was attacked for repeating scripted lines.

“Our disappointment tonight is not on you - it’s on me,” said the 44-year-old senator, offering his supporters a mea culpa. “I did not do well on Saturday night. So listen to this: that will never happen again.”

Finishing in sixth place with about 8 per cent, New Jersey governor Chris Christie, who led the attack on Mr Rubio in last weekend’s debate, said that he would return home to “take a deep breath” and talk to his family, stirring expectations that his race may soon be over.

The majority of votes spread among several Republicans means that no single establishment alternative emerged from New Hampshire to challenge Mr Trump or Mr Cruz, who will perform strongly as the race moves to the more conservative and religious southern states.

Up next for the Democrats is the Nevada “first in the west” caucus on February 20th and for Republicans South Carolina’s “first in the south” primary on the same date.