Yesterday saw Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump come out on top in the New Hampshire primary. US Centre Director, Peter Trubowitz has three takeaways from yesterday’s vote in the snowy Granite State, including that the chance that we will see a brokered GOP convention in the summer may have just gone up.
In the lead up to yesterday’s New Hampshire primary, the smart money was on Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders, and they both came through as expected. Anti-establishment sentiment remains strong, on both sides. Republicans voting for Trump are looking for an alternative to the Republican leadership in Washington. Republican voters don’t like Obama, but they also don’t like their own leaders. Trump has tapped into that anger and resentment and it’s hard to see that subsiding any time soon. Meanwhile, on the Democratic side, the vote for Sanders is also a vote against business as usual, especially by younger voters who voted for Sanders by 83 percent to 16 percent.
Despite the winners reaching expectations, things are not going to shake out soon for the Democrats or for the GOP. On the Republican side, Ohio Governor John Kasich’s solid second place finish means he will go on. So will Cruz, Bush, and Rubio. Importantly, this means that Kasich, Bush, and Rubio will continue to divide the so-called moderate Republican vote, making it hard to assemble a winning bloc of voters to take down Trump. On the Democratic side, it is hard to see how Bernie Sanders wins the Democratic nomination in the end. But he has exposed some real vulnerabilities in Clinton’s campaign, especially among younger voters and this will raise doubts about her viability in the general election. The main thing Clinton has going for her right now is that the Republicans are in such disarray.
Yesterday’s results increase the likelihood that we will see a brokered convention on the Republican side come July. I’m not predicting that outcome — there’s a lot of politics and voting between now and then. But unless Trump is able to significantly expand on his lead and starts winning primaries with 40 plus percent of the vote, it’s hard to see how anyone on that side puts together enough delegates to win the nomination on a first ballot in Cleveland. Indeed, preventing anyone from winning on the first ballot outcome may become the only strategy that establishment Republicans can rally around.
Note: This article gives the views of the author, and not the position of USAPP – American Politics and Policy, nor the London School of Economics.
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Peter Trubowitz – LSE US Centre
Peter Trubowitz is Professor of International Relations, and Director of the LSE’s US Centre. His main research interests are in the fields of international security and comparative foreign policy, with special focus on American grand strategy and foreign policy. He also writes and comments frequently on U.S. party politics and elections and how they shape and are shaped by America’s changing place in the world.