Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Bernie Sanders coasted to victory on a wave of voter anger in the New Hampshire presidential nominating contest, thrashing traditional U.S. politicians in a display of anti-establishment power.
Sweeping wins by Trump, a New York billionaire, and Sanders, a democratic socialist, on Tuesday testified to the sizable share of American voters upset at U.S. economic conditions and willing to send a shockwave to Washington in the Nov. 8 presidential election.
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New Hampshire's verdict sets up a tough fight for Republicans in South Carolina on Feb. 20 and for Democrats there on Feb. 27. Some of the most monumental campaign battles in elections past have been fought in the state that holds the first primary election of the American South.
For Trump, New Hampshire showed he has staying power and can take a punch after losing on Feb. 1 to Texas Sen. Ted Cruz in the first contest, the Iowa caucuses. His win showed pundits were wrong to think he would ultimately self-destruct based on his penchant for insults and imprecise plans for the presidency.
Democrat Hillary Clinton, the former U.S. secretary of state and former U.S. senator, now looks wounded, trailing Sanders by 60 to 39 percent based on 86 percent of the returns.The wife of former President Bill Clinton, Clinton barely won Iowa and now has been trounced in New Hampshire, where young voters liked Sanders' populist proposals to break up big banks and have the government pay for free college tuition.
“People have every right to be angry but they’re also hungry, they’re hungry for solutions,” Clinton, 68, said after congratulating the 74-year-old Sanders. "I will work harder than anyone to actually make the changes that make your lives better."
Clinton was headed to New York, home to her campaign headquarters, to regroup with top aides and prepare for Thursday’s Democratic debate. Her campaign has denied reports it is considering a shakeup but acknowledged it would be natural to add members to their team as the campaign progresses.
Sanders said his victory showed "we have sent the message that will echo from Wall Street to Washington, from Maine to California, and that is that the government of our great country belongs to all of the people and not just a handful of wealthy campaign contributors."
Some 73 percent of voters say they think the United States is on the wrong track, and these disaffected people make up a majority of the support bases for Trump and Sanders, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll.
Trump, 69, who has campaigned to deport illegal immigrants and temporarily ban Muslims from entering the United States, was in first place with 35 percent of the vote on the Republican side based on 88 percent of returns.
At his victory rally, Trump dispensed with niceties. He congratulated other candidates in the race but promised to soon return to his pugnacious approach.
"Tomorrow: boom, boom," he said, shadow boxing while his supporters cheered.