Donald Trump, the boisterous billionaire who has made restrictive immigration policies the centerpiece of his campaign, is projected to handily win the New Hampshire primary and in doing so, gave the Republican establishment a collective heart attack.
His win was called immediately after polls were closed at 8 p.m. EST.
The voters of New Hampshire have sent Washington a clear message: we are tired of the status quo and ready for a major political shakeup.
After Trump entered the race in June, his quick rise in the polls was dismissed as a fluke akin to the volatile Republican primary of 2012. However, Trump’s anti-Islamic and tough-on-Mexico rhetoric has had staying power and catapulted him ahead of a wildly divided establishment-lane race, where establishment candidates like former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Ohio Gov. John Kasich and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie have each been betting a good showing in New Hampshire would let them break through.
The order of finish after Trump was expected to be tight and not known potentially for several hours.
Even after a disappointing second place finish in Iowa, Trump’s win in New Hampshire puts him back in the the driver’s seat as the race moves to South Carolina and then the Southern-focused Super Tuesday elections.
Trump’s jet-setting strategy in New Hampshire–holding large rallies rather than meeting in more intimate settings–redefined the conventional wisdom in New Hampshire that a candidate’s ground game must include diner flybys and baby kissing.
Many view Trump as a liability for the party with his off-the-cuff pontificating and policies to bar any Muslims from entering the country.
The major question for Trump is if he can keep up his lead as he heads into the South Carolina primary where Cruz is expected to resonate with evangelical voters like he did in Iowa. Cruz has also been spending quite a bit of time down south in anticipation of Super Tuesday.