Henry Enten at FiveThirtyEight writes:
If you’re trying to read the tea leaves in the early results, you can already see how tonight could be a good one for John Kasich. He’s doing about as well as Jon Huntsman did in Lebanon in the western part of the state. If he can match Huntsman’s numbers in other places, it will probably be good enough for 17 percent statewide and second place.
I get what Enten is saying. But how much good did Huntsman’s New Hampshire do him in 2012?
I don’t want Kasich to be nominated, but the more votes he gets tonight, the happier I am likely to be. A strong Kasich showing probably means fewer votes for Trump (they are the two least conservative candidates and both apparently are popular with independents) and a smaller margin of victory for Trump.
It’s hard to see a path to the nomination for Kasich no matter how well he does in New Hampshire.
There is this difference between Kasich and Huntsman, though. Huntsman had no shot at being the “establishment” candidate because Romney was in the race and running strong.
Conceivably, Kasich could become the establishment candidate because no other establishment-friendly figure is running well. But I’d be very surprised if things play out that way.