12.30am, New Hampshire time. Counting has slowed right down, with still only 84% of precincts reporting. Given the lack of suspense, it may be that a lot of people have decided to go home for the night and finish it in the morning. Those outstanding seem to be reasonably spread around the state.
So unless something unexpected comes up I’m going to call it a day at that point. The order hasn’t changed in the last three hours: Trump 35.2%, Kasich 15.9%, Cruz 11.5%, Bush 11.1%, Rubio 10.5%, Christie 7.6%. And for the Democrats, it’s Sanders 59.7% against Clinton 38.6%.
11.55pm. I should mention that in addition to the (now very unlikely) chance of overtaking Bush for fourth place, it also matters to Rubio that he stay above 10% – he’s currently at 10.5%, with 81% in – because that’s the threshold for getting delegates. There are 20 delegates allocated proportionally (plus three superdelegates), so if Rubio can hold where he is he’ll get two, as will Cruz and Bush.
But those numbers are so small in relation to the 2,472 total delegates at stake that it really only matters for bragging rights.
11.40pm. With 78% of precincts in, there’s very little else to report. You can see how homogeneous New Hampshire is by comparing it with the results at the 3% mark, more than three and a half hours ago. Trump is up slightly to 34.5%, Kasich is exactly where he was on 16.4%. Cruz, Bush and Rubio have shuffled around within a very narrow band – there’s still only a percentage point separating third and fifth.
Christie is the only one who’s dropped significantly: having started at 8.9% he’s now down to 7.6%. According to the Times, he’s “heading home … to weigh his options for the future of his campaign.” I’d say it doesn’t have one.
10.45pm. Now up at 68% reporting, and nothing has broken the pattern. Trump 34.3%, Kasich 16.4%, Cruz 11.5%, Bush 11.2%, Rubio 10.5%, Christie 7.7%. I’m guessing that order won’t change. On the other side, it’s Sanders 59.7% to Clinton 38.5%.
One of the frustrating things about the campaign so far has been the media’s love of the Trump-Sanders symmetry, portraying both of them as angry outsiders, as if their positions were comparably extreme. But there’s another asymmetry that’s important here: even though they’ve both scored big wins, New Hampshire is home turf for Sanders. It’s in no way surprising that he can win well here. Of course that might translate to the rest of the country, but so far there’s no evidence that it will.
On the other hand, there’s nothing especially favorable about New Hampshire for Trump. If anything, you’d expect it to be a bit worse than average for him. If he can win a third of the vote here, he can probably do so just about anywhere. That’s what’s got the Republican establishment very worried.
10.15pm. Despite his quite decent second place finish (now 16.0% with 54% reporting), the betting market still only gives Kasich a 3.3% chance at the nomination, compared to 19.3% for Rubio and 16.1% for Bush. I agree that’s probably the right order, but there’s no way Kasich should be that far back. For that matter, 15.2% is probably understating Cruz a bit, particularly if he holds onto third place.
And over at the Democrats, Sanders is claimed to have a 10.0% chance of winning the presidency. I think not.
9.55pm. Now with 45% reporting there’s very little change. The only place where there’s any chance of the order changing is third-fourth-fifth, currently Cruz-Bush-Rubio. Rubio is almost a thousand votes behind, which is going to be hard to make up, but there’s only 282 votes between Cruz and Bush. Kasich will be very much hoping that Cruz holds onto that lead.
9.25pm. Looking at the map you might guess New Hampshire is a pretty homogeneous state, and you’d be right. Trump is scoring between 25% and 40% just about everywhere; Kasich has beaten him in just a handful of small townships, and Cruz and Bush have got one each. Ditto for the Democrats; Clinton has won just two hamlets plus a very narrow win in Bedford.
With 92 precincts (or 32%) reporting, Trump is on 33.9% to Kasich’s 15.5%. Cruz has re-taken third place with 11.8%, Bush has 11.5%, and Rubio now seems stuck in fifth, with 10.3%.
At the bottom of the table, Christie now looks finished; his 8.2% is respectable (yesterday’s polling aggregate had him on only 5.8%), but he needed to beat at least one of the other mainstreamers. Carly Fiorina (4.4%) and Ben Carson (2.2%) should also fold their tents at this point.
9.00pm. Just as I said things were going well for Jeb Bush he slipped briefly into fourth place, but he’s now back to third, on 11.7%, 102 votes ahead of Cruz. Rubio is a further percentage point behind. Trump still comfortable on 33.6% to Kasich’s 15.5%, now with 25% of precincts reporting.
Over at Election Betting Odds, which extracts Betfair’s odds as percentages, you can see what the market thinks of the results. Trump’s chance of winning the nomination has jumped to 39.5% and Rubio’s has crashed to 18.9% – although that still leaves him in second place, with Bush on 15.4% and Cruz on 14.5%. More remarkably, punters give Trump a 15.9% chance of winning the presidency (second only to Clinton’s 49.0%), which suggests some of them have drunk too much of the Kool-Aid.
8.40pm. The most mesmerising thing here is the Cruz/Rubio contest for fourth place; with 15% reporting, Cruz has 11.1% to Rubio’s 9.8%. No Republican has ever won the nomination without at least finishing in the top two in New Hampshire, so to come back from fifth would be a real outlier. But it’s equally hard to imagine Republican voters rallying behind Kasich, or the establishment letting either Trump or Cruz through if there’s any way they can avoid it.
So, process of elimination, maybe still a chance for Jeb Bush, whom I’d written off back in October.
8.25pm (remember, all times New Hampshire time). Cruz is now back ahead of Rubio, 11.1% to 10.1%, with the order otherwise unchanged. If Rubio can’t improve on fifth place he’s clearly in some trouble; as Nate Silver says, “the ‘establishment lane’ of the GOP looks more and more like a multicar pileup.” Trump holding pretty steady on 33.9% to Kasich’s 16.3% with 12% in.
8.05pm. As the last straggling polling places have now closed, AP has called it (on the basis of exit polls, as usual) for Trump and Sanders. No surprise there; the interest is in the margins and in the ordering of the lesser Republicans. On that latter score, the order is unchanged but Kasich continues to improve, now on 17.0%, while at the other end Christie has dropped back to 8.6%.
8.00pm. Now with 3% of precincts in, almost all from Manchester and Concord, the order has barely changed: Trump 32.9%, Kasich 16.4%, Bush 11.8%, Rubio 10.4%, Cruz 10.2%, Christie 8.9%. With Trump doing well and the non-Trump candidates bunching up badly it’s looking like it might be a bad night for the GOP establishment.
I won’t be paying much attention to the Democrats, but for what it’s worth Sanders has a stable but far from overwhelming lead, 53.6% to 44.2%.
7.50pm. Looking OK so far for the opinion polls. With three precincts in from Manchester, Trump has 34.5%, Kasich 14.2%, Bush 11.2%, Cruz 10.0%, Rubio 9.9% and Christie 9.5%.
7.45pm. Now one Manchester precinct for the Republicans, with Trump outscoring Cruz exactly four to one, and Kasich a very close third.
7.40pm. Two Manchester precincts have now reported Democrat results, with Sanders beating Clinton 1,307 to 910. Very much in line with the polls.
7.35pm, New Hampshire time. No figures yet, except for the three hamlets that report in the early hours of the morning, with a total of 37 votes between them. (As usual, I’m relying on the New York Times results page.) They show a three-way tie among the Republicans, with Cruz, Trump and Kasich on nine votes each. Sanders leads 17 to nine among Democrats.
Start by reading my preview from earlier this morning, then read Nate Silver at FiveThirtyEight, who, I’m pleased to say, makes many of the same points as I had, but with more detail of the polling and his forecasting models.
The interesting news so far is that Ben Carson, who scored a credible fourth in Iowa, has made it clear that he’s staying in the race at least until South Carolina on Saturday week, even if (as expected) he does badly today. That means he’ll continue to take some votes from Cruz, but from Cruz’s point of view that doesn’t really matter – he’s staying in anyway, and long-term Carson is no threat.
Since Carson’s support will eventually flow mostly to him anyway (although some may go to Trump), it means if anything that the current results are understating Cruz’s strength: Carson’s voters will provide a small extra reservoir of support for him at the business end of the season in a month or two.