The outsiders come to the fore in New Hampshire

Trump builds a powerful foundation while Sanders takes a stonking 60 per cent of the Democratic vote

 

The outsiders, anti-establishment twins Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders are back, Iowa forgotten, storming to victories on a scale in New Hampshire they could hardly have dreamt of. Trump’s win, with a third of the vote, is the biggest victory in the state’s Republican primaries since 2000. Sanders took a stonking 60 per cent of the Democratic vote, a warning to Hillary Clinton that while she can expect to hoover up in the south, this race is still open.

Still far from resolved is the challenge for mainstream Republicans to find an alternative to Trump. One option is Governor John Kasich of Ohio who has so far failed to shine but who took second place, eclipsing Senator Marco Rubio whose Iowa surge was overshadowed by a dreadful, rehearsed TV debate. But Kasich, a centrist and a pragmatist, will not play well in the more conservative, evangelical states to come. The bandwagon rolls on to the next Republican primary in South Carolina on February 20th.

Then there is still Senator Ted Cruz, in third place, vying for the hard-right vote with a storming South Carolina operation already underway and determined to capture the evangelicals – 9,800 volunteers including 300 pastors in its 46 counties. Governors Jeb Bush and Chris Christie must be close to throwing in the towel.

Exit polls show Trump won in all age groups and education and income levels as well as with moderates, conservatives and independents – a powerful foundation. He is leading polls in South Carolina and will delight in the reluctance of his poorly performing mainstream opponents to get off the field to allow a straight, united run against ‘the Donald’ and the equally unacceptable Cruz.

An election full of surprises may have another in store. Billionaire ex-mayor of New York Michael Bloomberg, infuriated by the turmoil in the Republican camp, may yet throw his hat in the ring as an Independent, particularly if Trump wins the nomination. Assuming he takes more votes from Republicans than Democrats, however, his candidacy, far from helping the former out of a hole, could guarantee Clinton’s election.

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