The Blast That Swept Him Came Off New Hampshire Snowfields and Ice-Hung Forests

Bernie Sanders won the New Hampshire Democratic primary tonight. Edith Wharton described it best:

The blast that swept him came off New Hampshire snow-fields and ice-hung forests. It seemed to have traversed interminable leagues of frozen silence, filling them with the same cold roar and sharpening its edge against the same bitter black-and-white landscape.

Some fascinating tidbits about the Democratic primary voters from the New York Times exit poll:

  • 72% of the voters said that the candidates’ issues were more important to them than the candidates’ leadership or personal qualities; only 25% of the voters said that the latter was more important to them. This confirms what Jedediah Purdy argued in this excellent piece contrasting the Sanders’s candidacy with Obama’s candidacy. Obama’s campaign was about him; Sanders’s campaign is about the issues.
  • 68% of the voters described their philosophy as either “very liberal” or “somewhat liberal.” 31% said it was “moderate” or “conservative.” What’s interesting about this data—beyond the leftward shift it marks—is that independents are allowed to vote in Democratic primaries in New Hampshire. In this primary, 41% of the voters were either independents or undeclared. That we get that kind of ideological skew in a primary that includes independents, who are often reputed to be moderates, is telling.
  • 63% of the voters want to replace the current health care system with a single-payer plan.
  • Only 16% of the voters said they were getting ahead financially (as opposed to keeping steady or falling behind); Clinton did her best among those voters.
  • 80% of the voters said they were very or somewhat worried about the economy; Sanders won nearly 2/3 of those voters. 20% of the voters said they were not too worried or not worried at all about it. Clinton won 57% of those voters.
  • Only 10% of the voters said terrorism was the most important issue for them.
  • 48% of the voters decided upon their candidate in the last month. That suggests that the race is still very fluid and it is not until the campaigns come to the different states that voters really settle upon their choices.

The best comment of the evening, though, goes to my CUNY colleague David Jones, who is providing commentary to the New York Times:

Even so, there were a few silver linings for Mrs. Clinton….And, though Mrs. Clinton lost nearly every income group, she did carry voters in families earning over $200,000 per year.

Remember, back in 1992, Bill Clinton placed 2nd in the New Hampshire primary, and he declared, “New Hampshire tonight has made Bill Clinton the Comeback Kid.” 24 years later, Hillary Clinton places 2nd in the New Hampshire, and her campaign declares, New Hampshire doesn’t matter. Spinners are going to spin.

On a related topic, Rutgers historian Donna Murch has an epic piece in The New Republic about the Clintons’ tough-on-crime policies in the 1990s. Policies that Hillary Clinton heartedly endorsed and championed. It’s a gothic tale of shamelessness and cruelty, but through it, Murch gives us a master class in political history. You don’t want to miss it.

Speaking of spinners and shame…


  1. Frank February 9, 2016 at 10:20 pm | #

    I look forward to comments during this election cycle, well done sir!

  2. Ra February 9, 2016 at 10:58 pm | #

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