Trump wins and probably wins big [updated continuously]

The networks have called Donald Trump the winner on the Republican side, and it looks like the margin of victory will be large. Currently, John Kasich, who is in second place, has only half of Trump’s vote total.

It’s a good win for Trump, but how good?

Around the time of the Iowa primary, I speculated that Trump needs at least one-third of the vote in the early contests to establish himself as having a good shot at the nomination. That’s because (1) he’ll probably need to clear 40 percent once the field shrinks substantially and (2) he is widely disliked enough that he may be able to build significantly off of his early primary totals.

In New Hampshire, where so many independents participate, I think Trump certainly needs 33 percent realistically to feel very good about his night. Right now, he seems to be right around that mark.

In any event, after Iowa, I’m sure he’ll take a win.

UPDATE: Chris Christie’s suicide mission looks like a success. Currently, the target, Marco Rubio, is in fifth place with around 10 percent. Christie is in sixth place with less than eight percent.

When Christie seemed to surge in New Hampshire two months or so ago, he said Republicans were remembering why they had liked him in the first place. Unfortunately, for Christie, the more they saw of him in New Hampshire, the more they remembered why they had then grown to dislike him.

THE BATTLE IS FOR THIRD PLACE (but does it really matter): John Kasich is going to finish second, though probably with only around 16 percent of the vote. The battle is for third place.

As I write this, Ted Cruz leads Jeb Bush by about 200 votes. Fox News describes this as a three-way race. Maybe it is, but Marco Rubio is more than 1,000 votes behind Cruz and reportedly not doing well in any area of the state.

I think there’s less to the race for third than meets the eye. Cruz doesn’t need to finish third. His ticket is punched to South Carolina, where he should do well. He has had a decent night whether he finishes third or fourth.

Jeb Bush will fervently desire a third place finish, but will almost certainly will stay in the race even if he’s fourth or fifth.

He can try to spin a third place finish as a good result. Yet, he spent incredible amounts of money on New Hampshire and captured only between 11 and 12 percent of the vote (as things stand now). In Iowa, he captured only 3 percent.

Will this record impress GOP donors? I don’t know. It doesn’t impress me.

THE SPEECHES: Donald Trump’s victory speech was the usual Trumphalism. We are going to solve all of our problems and do it the right way.

John Kasich was pleased as punch with his second place finish (though apparently he didn’t equal Jon Huntsman’s 2012 percentage). He congratulated Trump but joked that he did beat Donald in Dixville Notch (3 votes to 2). The man has been nothing if not good-natured in New Hampshire.

Marco Rubio took the blame for his poor showing, citing his debate performance. He vowed that it will never happen again. I’m pretty sure it won’t. The question is whether he will be able to dazzle once again in debates or whether voters will refuse to be dazzled because they now think he’s too canned.

Ted Cruz was almost as pleased as Kasich. He said that no one thought he would do this well in New Hampshire. Cruz is wrong. I predicted in a January podcast that Cruz would finish third because there are enough hard core conservatives in the state to push him that high. In truth, however, Cruz probably wouldn’t have finished third without Rubio’s debate repetition. (Also, Cruz hasn’t locked down third place yet.)

Jeb Bush was trumped when Donald gave his speech at the same time Jeb was giving his. Thus, I didn’t hear what Bush had to say.

Chris Christie’s camp says their man is going back to New Jersey (where, I’m told, his approval rating is down to 31 percent) to decide whether to carry on with his presidential campaign. If he does, he won’t be on the stage for the next presidential debate, given his sixth place finish.

With that, I’m going to end this thread.

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