NASHUA, N.H. – Donald Trump nailed down a decisive first victory in New Hampshire’s presidential primary Tuesday, proving his unorthodox campaign can translate the large crowds at his rambunctious rallies into the votes that determine delegates. Ohio Gov. John Kasich, an afterthought in Iowa, popped up in second.
“Wow, wow, wow, wow,” Trump declared, savoring his victory at a campaign rally before promising swift action as president on the economy, trade, health care and more. “We are going to do something so good and so fast and so strong and the world is going to respect us again.”
New Hampshire showed voter anger is for real, but it seemed unlikely to give much clarity to the search for a strong establishment alternative to Trump.
Right behind Kasich: a cluster including Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, who’d all been hoping for a strong showing that would produce an influx of new donor money and attention as the election moves on to South Carolina. A somber New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who had dedicated a significant amount of time to New Hampshire, lagged behind and said it was time to “take a deep breath.”
Trump, stung by his second-place showing in Iowa last week, had been determined to make New Hampshire his proving ground for a campaign that has defied convention wisdom from the start. With more than two-thirds of the vote counted, Trump was outpacing Kasich, his closest competitor, by a 2-to-1 margin.
Exit polls showed Trump drew support from voters looking for an outsider and from those who made up their minds a while ago.
Count Nashua car salesman Val Goldenberg as a Trump voter: “I think America really needs a good shake-up,” he said.
A strong performance in New Hampshire was critical for Kasich, who all but skipped Iowa’s caucuses to grind out town hall after town hall in New Hampshire.
Stressing his campaign’s positive focus, Kasich told his supporters his second-place finish suggested that “at a time when clearly change is in the air, maybe, just maybe, we are turning the page on the dark part of American politics.”
Among the also-rans:
–Cruz, who claimed a strong victory in Iowa, cast the New Hampshire results as a victory for the “conservative grassroots.”
–Rubio, who had arrived in New Hampshire with a burst of momentum after placing a strong third in Iowa, acknowledged New Hampshire was a setback for him.
“Our disappointment tonight is not on you. It’s on me,” he told supporters. A shaky debate performance Saturday sparked criticism from his rivals that the 44-year old freshman senator lacks the experience to lead the nation.
–Bush, grateful to be in the mix, said New Hampshire voters had “reset” the race, adding that his campaign “is not dead” and will move on to South Carolina.
–Christie told supporters: “We’re going to take a deep breath and see what the final results are tonight. There’s no reason to go to South Carolina and sit in a hotel room and do that.”
Overall, Republican voters were very negative about how things are going in Washington these days, according to early results from an exit poll conducted by Edison Research for the Associated Press and the television networks. Nearly half of Republicans said they were dissatisfied and 4 in 10 were angry. Trump did best with voters who were angry; dissatisfied voters were somewhat less likely to break for Trump.
Trump picked up at least 10 delegates and Kasich will get at least three. Cruz and Bush both get at least two, with six still to be allocated.
Associated Press writers Nancy Benac in Washington, and Kathleen Ronayne and Holly Ramer contributed to this report from Manchester, New Hampshire.- - - -Updates with comment from the second tier candidates.
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