After N.H.: Candidates jostle for advantage
Washington — Time to trade in those boots and head south and west. After Sen. Bernie Sanders and businessman Donald Trump cruised to victory in snowy New Hampshire, the presidential race sprints on to South Carolina and Nevada — perhaps with a smaller cast of characters.
A guide to what to watch for on Wednesday, the day after New Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation primary:
DEPARTURE LOUNGE: Iowa turned out to be the end of the line for four candidates: Republican Mike Huckabee and Democrat Martin O’Malley had dropped out by midnight on caucus night, and Rand Paul and Rick Santorum weren’t far behind. Additional Republican candidates could well head for the exits after New Hampshire. The state was seen as particularly important for Jeb Bush and Chris Christie, who did not finish in the top two.
CHA-CHING: Look for a surge in campaign cash for those with strong finishes. Bernie Sanders, who finished a close second to Clinton in Iowa, had his best fundraising day of the race after the Iowa caucuses. Cruz, too, had a post-Iowa bonanza. Now it may be John Kasich’s turn. “We have a lot of people who have been promising money if we perform,” said Tom Rath, a senior national adviser to the Ohio governor, who finished second among Republicans. “Tonight, we performed.”
CREATIVE WRITING: Candidate Bill Clinton masterfully framed his second-place finish in New Hampshire in 1992 as a big victory for the “Comeback Kid.” Look for the 2016 runners-up in New Hampshire — notably Kasich — to use similar creative writing techniques to try to put a happy spin on lesser vote tallies.
NEW HAMPSHIRE HANGOVER? Plenty of Republicans kvetched after Iowa. Ben Carson complained that false rumors that he was quitting the race, spread by Ted Cruz’s campaign, had cost him support. Donald Trump agreed, and claimed he might have beaten Cruz otherwise. Who will harrumph after New Hampshire?
PILING ON: Lower-finishing GOP candidates can be expected to gang up on the New Hampshire success stories. That’s what happened to the GOP’s Marco Rubio after he exceeded expectations with a strong third-place finish in Iowa.
WHERE NEXT? South Carolina and Nevada are coming up in the next two weeks. Republican candidates were bound Wednesday for South Carolina, which holds its GOP primary Feb. 20, and Democrats to Nevada ahead of that state’s Democratic caucus the same day. Those two states offer candidates their first opportunities to compete for a large and diverse electorate. But first, Sanders’ heads to New York City, where he plans to have breakfast with the Rev. Al Sharpton.
AD NAUSEAM: The presidential hopefuls and their supporters already are planning to spend $35 million in South Carolina and $7 million in Nevada on TV and radio commercials, amounts that will rise significantly as voting approaches. Big spenders in South Carolina so far are Rubio and his allies, Cruz and his supporters and a super PAC backing Bush, advertising tracker Kantar Media’s CMAG shows. Trump also burst back onto TV there beginning Tuesday.
ENDORSEMENTS: More will pop after New Hampshire. The Republicans who hang in there will try to snag endorsements from those who bug out. And others may weigh in. Among them: The Congressional Black Caucus political action committee promised to make its endorsement after New Hampshire. Republicans are wondering if South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley will pick a favorite.