New Hampshire, the so-called Granite State, was rocked to its political core Tuesday with outsiders Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders trampling all around them to win the latest hurdle in the long battle for the job of Leader of the Free World. A scary thought indeed.
In the biggest night of their political careers outsiders Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders swept aside the ‘insiders’ and nailed the New Hampshire primary.
Lauded by adoring fans for their apparent authenticity - displayed at opposite ends of every spectrum - they won the hearts, minds, wallets and of course the votes of the people of New Hampshire.
Narcissist billionaire Donald Trump and rumpled socialist Bernie Sanders scored in every voter category - women, men, young, old, first time, long time, college educated, not college educated, earning under $100,000, earning over $100,000, evangelicals, war vets, gun owners, gun law reformers, urban, suburban, rural, conservatives and self described moderates.
They more than won. They obliterated their competition. Trump by more than double his next rival, and Sanders by 60% to Hillary Clinton’s 38%.
Actually pretty close to poll predictions, fluke or not.
The record breaking turnout - whether or not attracted to the reality tv road show that is Trump, aided both men significantly.
Their delight however is likely to have sent the Republican and Democratic party establishments reeling, and that’s just fine with the voters...so far.
The rules of establishment politics have been thrown out the window and underestimating either Trump or Sanders, let alone an electorate that is starting to hit back, is done at party peril.
Last year the much lauded pollster Nate Silver told us all to stop freaking out about Trump’s poll numbers because at 25 to 30% of the vote (November 2015) in polls among the roughly 25% who identify as Republicans, that’s a measly 6-8% of the overall electorate.
To illustrate the absurdity of thinking Trump was trumping all, Silver added Trump has as much support as those who think the Apollo moon landings were faked.
What’s surfaced since those confident days before Christmas, is that no matter how vulgar, how sexist, how racist, how at odds with the truth, how angry, unpredictable, insincere, boastful, bullying, mocking, ill tempered and downright noxious he is, Trump appeals.
Perhaps the moon landings were faked after all.
The entire scenario should scare the living daylights out of us all.
Demagogue-in-chief is not what America or anyone else needs. There are enough demagogues stomping around the world already.
Trump would usher in a dystopian nightmare for anyone he did not like - Muslims and Mexicans being on top of the list.
As for Sanders, he appeals because, unlike Clinton, he is seen as trustworthy.
(Strangely so is Trump despite being a policy free zone).
Bernie “feel-the-Bern” Sanders has genuine policies including scrapping the law that allows the wealthy to buy elections and of course taxing the very wealthy.
He also makes huge promises of free college education and free health care.
Easy to see his appeal and the reasons he has amassed such a highly motivated youthful support team.
Unfortunately, neither the policies nor the promises stand a chance of getting through the Republican dominated Congress, and at some stage Americans need to visualise their preferred candidate as a President achieving the change promised.
(Of course voters saw that with Obama. What they didn’t imagine was a Republican opposition with a single priority - to make the first black President a one term failure.)
On the crowded Republican front, Chris Christie, fresh from his debate knockout of establishment favourite Marco Rubio, has himself been knocked out in the polls and has now suspended his campaign.
Rubio has also been severely bruised by the massive amounts of money the campaign rich, and once presumptive Republican candidate Jeb Bush, has poured into attack ads against his former protege.
Even with a vote of 11% - tied with Ted Cruz, Bush seems to think he has at long last found his stride.
In this fight, who knows. What is for sure is that Trump will double down on the candidate who he mocks for calling on “Mummy” to help him out.
That is the very same Barbara Bush on record saying there have already been enough Bushes as President.
And almost to prove the matriarch’s point, there is the unsettling sight of George W. climbing into the adsphere to tell voters his brother Jeb will be the experienced Commander in Chief they need.
And so the circus continues to its next venue - the very important South Carolina.
Clinton, who showed signs of panic as the NH primary she won in 2008 slipped from her hands is still favoured to ultimately win the Democratic nomination.
She is way ahead in South Carolina polls...but Sanders is not buying that. Not now.
Clinton’s problem is she is going to have to fight for it and at the same time be mindful of the damaging effect of dirty play against an honourable old man who has become a legend in more than just his lunchtime.
It is going to be a long and bruising battle for the candidates on both sides - Sanders already predicting he will this time have the kitchen sink hurled at him. For the Republicans it will likely be more entertaining although not necessarily in a good way!
Meanwhile the party hierarchies should by now be very very busy coming to grips with the new reality of the attraction of that heretofore most unimaginable candidate quality - authenticity.