Early in primary season, people tend to make broad assumptions about party nominations and the general election based on a small amount of less than reliable data. To help characterize where the candidates stand after Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders claimed victory in New Hampshire, I’ve enlisted the help of renowned political operator and philosopher of human nature, Michael Gary Scott.
Winner: Bernie Sanders
Michael Scott Quote: “It’s simply beyond words. It’s incalcucable.”
Misspelled on purpose
Bernie would say it is huge! Winning New Hampshire after a very close loss in Iowa has to make the Sanders campaign believe that more and more people are beginning to feel the Bern. But just how significant is winning New Hampshire for Bernie? New Hampshire borders Sanders’ home state of Vermont, making his victory somewhat unsurprising. Additionally, the Clinton campaign is unlikely to be too devastated over the loss of a relatively small, but nonetheless significant state.
Second Place: Hillary Clinton
Michael Scott Quote: “I lost Ed Truck [New Hampshire] and it feels like somebody took my heart and dropped it into a bucket of boiling tears.
If there is one thing no one should doubt about Secretary Clinton, it is that she does not like to lose. The specter of her 2008 loss looms heavy on her carefully guarded campaign and after the narrowest win in the history of the Iowa caucuses, there has to be a bit of controlled panic within the Clinton campaign, despite their claims to the contrary. But still, even considering Sanders’ recent surge in support and the undeniably bitter sting of defeat in New Hampshire, Clinton remains the favorite for the Democratic nomination.
Winner: Donald Trump
Michael Scott Quote: “Do I need to be liked? Absolutely not. I like to be liked. I enjoy being liked. I have to be liked. But it’s not a like a compulsive need to be liked. Like my need to be praised.”
After coming in second in Iowa, Trump arguably needed to win New Hampshire in order to regain some of his lost confidence. No one would argue that Trump is running on substance; he’s running on anger and an overtly aggressive strain of nationalism that appeals to people who are dissatisfied with the current state of the country. But lacking substance, Trump is largely running on his own brand. His loss in Iowa dispelled his aura of invincibility and his less than graceful reaction to losing suggests he was personally affronted by Iowans decision to choose Ted Cruz over him.
Second Place (or first loser as Trump might say): John Kasich
Michael Scott Quote: “Another rule of business is being able to adapt in different situations…Adapt. React. Re-adapt. Apt.”
Kasich’s appeal is his willingness to reach across the aisle and compromise. In a race when many candidates are doing their best to appear more conservative, Kasich is an openly pragmatic conservative who refrains from attacking the left with the same vitriol as the other Republican candidates. Surprisingly, Kasich came in second to Trump and though the margin between the two was large, it is interesting that the Republican candidates in first place and second place are on almost polar opposite ends of the conservative spectrum.
Michael Scott Quote: “Would I rather be feared or loved? Easy. Both. I want people to be afraid of how much they love me.”
Cruz has to be disappointed with losing to Trump after beating him in Iowa, and Cruz’s third place finish could take away some much needed momentum. Cruz does have a very passionate base of supporters though (and an almost equally or more passionate group of detractors) so don’t expect him to go away anytime soon.
Michael Scott Quote: “You know sometimes to get perspective I like to think about a spaceman on a star incredibly far away. And our problems don’t matter to him because we’re just a distant point of light. But he feels sorry for me because he has an incredibly powerful microscope and he can see my face. I’m okay. No, I’m not.”
Though Jeb must be heartened by beating his upstart Padawan Marco Rubio, a fourth place finish is still far from ideal. One could argue that Bush came in second in the establishment vote after Kasich, but it is still pretty hard to spin a fourth place finish into anything remotely resembling a victory.