February 10, 2016
Voters Not Taking Primary for Granite

Voters Not Taking Primary for Granite

It's tough to find two states with less in common than Iowa and New Hampshire -- and in last night's presidential primary, voters showed why. The candidates didn't just swap farms for forests, they moved from values-motivated conservatives to fiercely independent moderates. But that didn't mean the results were any easier to predict (just ask Hillary Clinton).

Apart from Donald Trump, who's enjoyed a cushy lead for weeks, the GOP's top five finishers gave pundits plenty to chew on heading into South Carolina on February 20. For Governor Chris Christie (R-N.J.), Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), and Gov. Jeb Bush (R-Fla.) it was a disappointing -- and for Bush, costly -- night. George W.'s younger brother gambled big money on the Granite State, sinking a whopping $36.1 million into ads (double the next largest spender) for a mediocre fourth place finish. At $1,200 per vote, Bush's two delegates cost a whole lot more than Senator Ted Cruz's (R-Texas), who underspent everyone at $18 a vote and still came in third. Governor Christie splurged with $852 per vote, only to finish sixth and announce the suspension of his campaign. Senator Rubio was a little more frugal at $508 a vote, but even that couldn't erase people's memories of last Saturday's debate, which many -- including the senator -- blamed for his fifth-place effort.

For Trump, who lapped the competition with 35 percent of the vote (more than double Governor John Kasich's 15 percent), it was a gratifying night. He won soundly, in every age group, every gender, income group, and issue group. Of course, what most people don't know is that almost half of New Hampshire GOP primary voters aren't Republican (which may help explain Governor Kasich's runner-up finish). In a state where voters can cast ballots in any party's primary, only 55 percent of the Republican primary voters in the Granite State told pollsters they were actually Republican, while 42 percent identified as Independent (and three percent said they were Democrats). Of those Republicans, only 27 percent said they were "very conservative" -- a 13-point drop from last week's contest in Iowa.

That's not surprising to pollsters at Gallup, who ranked it the second least religious state in America. With church attendance in the basement, it stands to reason that only 25 percent of voters Tuesday were evangelicals. But here's what is surprising analysts: despite 40 percent fewer evangelicals in Iowa, a nominal investment, and zero visits between November 12 and January 12, Ted Cruz still came in third. He spent less time, money ($1,182 less per vote than Jeb!), and energy in New Hampshire, and yet his principled stance still carried him past other candidates and won him the second largest share of Millennials. And his message didn't just resonate with voters. Even the Huffington Post declared, "If Marco Rubio won the Iowa caucus by finishing third last week, Ted Cruz just won New Hampshire."

Americans are hungry for an uncompromising, bold, politically incorrect candidate who will swim against the tide to get things done. That fighter mentality is what people like about Trump and respect about Cruz. The media may not understand it ("Ted Cruz Will Get Crushed in New Hampshire," the Daily Beast prophesied), but with more results like New Hampshire's, it will be the liberal press's credibility that's crushed.

Tony Perkins has provided this endorsement in his individual and personal capacity only, and it should not be construed or interpreted in any way as the endorsement of FRC, FRC Action, or any affiliated entity.