In the week Donald Trump carried New Hampshire, Harrison Jones looks at the historic relevance of his win, and the exalted company he now stands with.
On Tuesday, New Hampshire residents were the first in the country to cast their votes in a primary election (as opposed to the Iowa caucus which is a different system). Their voices, on both sides of politics, were heard loud and clear. Bernie Sanders clinched 60 percent of the vote, receiving thirteen delegates to Hillary Clinton’s nine. Trump, after losing to Senator Ted Cruz in Iowa just last week, won 35 percent of the New Hampshire vote, more than double the man who ran second, Governor John Kasich.
In June last year, Donald Trump paid actors $50 to cheer for him as he announced his candidacy for President of the United States. Yesterday, he resoundingly won the support of New Hampshire voters to be the Republican nominee.
To paraphrase Vito Corleone: “How did we get this far?”
Announcing his candidacy in the middle of last year, almost everyone wrote Trump off, labelling his run for the White House a “joke.” The Huffington Post declared that they would be covering Trump’s campaign in their entertainment section and it seemed to many, myself included, that that was all it was going to be: entertainment. How could someone as brazenly outspoken and inappropriate ever command the respect of the electorate of America?
Hindsight is a powerful thing. Today, I’m no longer entertained.
Today, Trump is either the political messiah, or the devil incarnate. Since that fateful day in June, Trump has called for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States,” he has labelled immigrants as rapists, and has perpetuated misogynistic sentiment on a scale so large that Julia Gillard and her impassioned rhetoric have no hope of solving it. It was for reasons like this that so many were claiming (or maybe just hoping) that voters would get cold feet, or come to their senses on election day. Clearly, they were wrong.
New Hampshire is undeniably an important state. Naturally, the early states such as Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina hold large sway over the overall outcome of the primary election, as they can either legitimise or destroy a candidate. Following his second-place finish in Iowa last week, Trump needed to carry a win in New Hampshire in order to maintain his position as the front-runner and give cause to his cocky “I’m a winner” attitude. And carry he did.
Historically, the granite state has also been predictive of the overall winner of the party nomination, particularly for Republicans. In 2012, Mitt Romney convincingly won the New Hampshire primary with 39 percent of the vote. He went on to claim 36 other states and four territories, convincingly winning the Republican nomination. In 2008, John McCain, despite struggling polls and raising just a third of what Romney had, carried New Hampshire and went on to win the nomination. George W Bush, Ronald Reagan, Gerald Ford and Richard Nixon all won New Hampshire and won the Republican nomination; as the chart below displays below, since 1972 it has been (for the most part) a reliable barometer.
Since mid-2015, America, and the world who watches her, has been slowly seeing the formation of a new political order. The disgruntled middle class has become fed up with the political establishment and the never ending cycle of deadlock. Yesterday was our rudest awakening yet as we realised that this discontent is strong enough to compel voters to tick the box next to someone who has been described as “a sexist, racist demagogue.”
How? Well, many argue that Trump is so popular because he has never been elected to office and is definitely not afraid to fly in the face of political correctness. On the other side of the fence, Bernie Sanders is essentially running on the platform of a revolution, the scale of which America hasn’t seen since 1776. Despite serving as a Vermont representative since 1991, Sanders always stood as an independent (until now) and is now running without any super PACs and advocating for universal healthcare, free university and massive regulation on Wall Street. Watching just minutes into any debate that has occurred this election cycle, it becomes immediately clear that each candidate is attempting to be seen as an outsider; Ben Carson is a neurosurgeon, not a politician, Carly Fiorina was a CEO, not an elected representative, Ted Cruz is an evangelical Christian.
Is Donald Trump enough of an insider to land the Republican ticket? Well, time would tell, but it is now spooning history, as they sleep together at the foot of the bed named Trump, as he snores soundly, warm under the blanket of majority public favour.