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What Does This Mean for Trump?

We're still not sure of the results. But it sure looks like Donald Trump will come in second place and not end up that far ahead of Marco Rubio. In other words, not only will he not win, it seems, but he's substantially underperforming his poll numbers. And remember that something like half his campaign message has been his poll numbers. As I've noted, strength is Donald Trump's whole message. So I'm very curious to see how he spins defeat, how he reconciles that with his message. Keep in mind that he's way, way ahead in New Hampshire at the moment. Does that hold up?

I think there's no question that he starts hitting Cruz and Rubio very, very hard. But how that will work when he's not a dominating force is not altogether clear to me.

If you're a 'winner', if you're the alpha, you have to win.

I'm Thinking It's Cruz

I'm trying to pick apart county by county numbers, not my specialty. But I think these mid-way-through results are starting to look like they're going to stick. I think Ted Cruz could well win this. The vote counters who I follow are saying the same thing (which makes me feel much more confident in my poor counting skills.)

What happened for Trump? Dave Wasserman, one of the guys who I always follow on these nights, sees more of a chance of Rubio moving ahead of Trump than Trump moving ahead of Cruz.

9:56 PM: Assuming this is Cruz, Trump, Rubio, I think a big question is going to be whether the caucus model was too big an obstacle for Trump or whether there's a bigger problem that will follow him into New Hampshire.

Getting Really Tight

The Dem side keeps getting tighter. Now at about 2 percent Clinton lead with about 65%. On the GOP

On the GOP side, we're now at about 50 percent reporting and when's Trump move into the lead? I'm really not sure he does.

Another thing to consider here is Ben Carson. He's down in 4th place. But about 10 percent is significantly over where the polls suggested he would be, especially since he's been trending down in the polls for weeks. When the story of the night was Cruz's underperformance, it seemed like a lot of Cruz evangelicals stuck with Carson. But now that Cruz looks like the winner, I'm not sure who that helped or hurt.

Hmmm

For all the talk of Rube-mentum and presumed Trump victory, when does Trump go into the lead exactly?

9:34 PM: On the Dem side, starting to hear a lot about 48% being an amazing accomplishment for Sanders', which of course it is, but ...

A Bit of Tightening

The margin is getting a bit tighter between Clinton and Sanders. Currently at Clinton 51.3% and Sanders at 48.1% with almost 50% of the precincts reporting. Full results here.

On the GOP side, we keep hearing about the momentum for Rubio and the assumption that Trump is winning. And I don't necessarily doubt those numbers. But 22% of the GOP results are in and Trump isn't in the lead yet. Full results.

They're only totally, totally anecdotal accounts but I've heard some examples of precincts where the Trump supporters were just terribly organized and did poorly. On the other hand, on the GOP side it's just a secret ballot. There's not much to organize. You just need to show up. Just a primary basically, only you have to stay longer.

Starting to Get a Picture

We have the live results over at the right of the page and then the detailed results here. The Democrats' results are coming in more quickly than the GOP's. At the moment, close to 30% of the precincts have reported on the Democratic side and the margin, pretty much from the beginning has been pretty close to exactly what the polls showed, a narrow margin for Hillary Clinton. At the moment it's Clinton 52%, Sanders 47%. Certainly too early to think it will necessarily end up that way. But the entrance poll numbers also pointed to a solid night for Clinton. The real answer is probably contained in the county by county breakdown which you can find here.

On the GOP side, still up the air but hints suggest a win for Trump, underperformance for Cruz and overperformance for Rubio. But here's the thing. The establishment enthusiasm for any signs of life from the Rubio campaign combined with the press desire for a new storyline already seems to producing a wave of Rube-mania. And expect it to continue, even if he's only in third place. There is likely sheer pandemonium at the Chamber of Commerce in DC as Rubio vies or second place with Cruz.

Sinking Feeling

Have a sinking feeling we may not have Ted Cruz to kick around anymore.

Don't Tell Us About Crowds

Lots of interesting details in the entrance poll data. It will likely turn out to point toward if not exactly tell us the eventually result. But here's one thing you can flat out ignore: the endless stream of reporter anecdotes about how they couldn't get inside the caucus venue because it was so packed, how new 'ballots' needed to be printed, extra caucusers being tossed out windows because there's so little room inside. All this stuff is nonsense. Same stuff gets said every time. Just disregard.

Early Meaningless Data

Okay, we're hearing the initial results from the so-called "entrance polls", about how it sounds - similar to exit polls only going in, not going out. The very early analysis suggests positive news for Trump and Clinton. But I wouldn't put a great deal of stock in either.

On the Dem side, people are pointing to the percentage of first time caucus goers and saying the numbers of them are not as high as in 2008. If true, that would suggest but by no means prove a more conventional Democratic turnout and good news for Clinton. Sanders needs to turnout out new and younger voters. Again, unless he doesn't.

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