By Ianiz Patchedjiev
The results of the New Hampshire Primary last week have led to an escalation of attacks as well as a flurry of dropouts. As more candidates grow desperate to gain momentum before being forced to drop out, the debates are becoming increasingly fierce. For some, the South Carolina and Nevada Primaries next week will be their last chances to gain momentum or risk becoming history.
On the Republican side of the race, Donald Trump finally has results that reflect his popularity. The multi-billionaire outsider candidate grabbed his first political victory after winning the Republican Primary in New Hampshire last Tuesday night. Remarkably, Ohio Governor John Kasich came in second place at the primary, managing to beat the man who won Iowa (Ted Cruz). Rubio, who won a surprising 22 percent of the Iowa vote, came in a disappointing fifth place. To anyone unfamiliar with the latest news, these results seem surprising, especially when compared with the Iowa Primary. However, clues to these results lie in the Republican Debate conducted two days before the NH primary. There, Cruz apologized for incorrectly reporting Ben Carson had dropped out of the race, Kasich was able to present himself as a reasonable moderate without being attacked, and most notably, Chris Christie brutally criticized Marco Rubio as being too young and inexperienced to be President. Rubio’s response was perhaps the most shocking: he repeated the same line about President Obama a puzzling three times after Christie’s intense attacks in a vain effort to shift the attention away from himself. Without doubt, this led to his poor performance in NH. Lastly, Carly Fiorina and Chris Christie dropped out of the race after their poor performances in New Hampshire, a surprise for few people.
Meanwhile, the Bernie Sanders victory at the Democrat Primary in New Hampshire served as a wake-up call to the Clinton campaign. To Hillary, this loss is especially worrying since the state voted in favor of her husband Bill Clinton in 1992 and in favor of her campaign in 2008. To make matters worse, in a matter of days, Clinton’s national advantage over Sanders seemed to have disappeared, with Sanders polling only three percent behind Clinton in two national polls. Perhaps the reason Clinton has been bleeding support is the notion that she is not trustworthy: an exit poll following the NH Primary shows that 34 percent of NH voters found honesty to be the most important trait in their decision on who to support and that 92 percent of those voters chose Sanders over Clinton.
During the last Democratic Debate at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Clinton’s comeback strategy was made obvious: more aggressive attacks against Sanders. She wasted no time calling out Sanders over his “unrealistic” policy goals, his criticism of President Obama, and his vote against immigration reform in 2007. Sanders, full of pep from his victory in New Hampshire, shot back with witty remarks as well as a strong defense of his positions and record.