Add this to the list of election-year proverbs to dismiss: John Sununu’s snarky missive that “Iowa picks corn and New Hampshire picks presidents”.
The last presidential hopeful to make good on Sununu’s words: his old boss, George H.W. Bush. That was all the way back in 1988 – three years before Peyton Manning first took the field . . . for his high-school team.
Maybe Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders, New Hampshire’s two big winners, will make Sununu look good. Time will tell.
In theory, the first two stops on the campaign trail embody two traits: clarity and attrition. In that regard, Iowa’s GOP caucuses didn’t disappoint. Three Republican candidates left the race not long after the votes were counted; the contest moving forward suggested a three-man war of attrition between Donald Trump, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio.
And then New Hampshire went to the polls.
Three “cards” coming out of the primary? Try 52-card pickup, with the race as muddled as it was pre-Iowa. And as many as five Republicans still with a pulse: Trump, Cruz and Rubio, plus John Kasich and Jeb Bush.
Consider what the Granite State results meant to the Still-Alive Five:
Trump. The Donald held only 11 town hall meetings and spent but 23 days in the state – it would have been 24 if he hadn’t been snowed out last week due to his insistence upon sleeping in his Manhattan bed. You won’t find a more economical victory this early in the process.
Before Iowa, Trump’s message was words to the effect that “I’m ahead because I’m great and I’m great because I’m ahead”. Trump can now credibly repeat that mantra (as he surely will). Soon, South Carolina will break the tie as to whether Trump is more of a concept or a reality.
There is this one cloud on the horizon for Trump: as sweeping as his victory was(he scored particularly well with voters concerned about the economy and terrorism), Trump finished only one point above the final pre-primary poll. He emerges from New Hampshire with momentum, but it’s not an unstoppable train.
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