Concord, New Hampshire—The votes are already being counted, and we have an indication of what New Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation primary voters are telling the Democratic and Republican parties. Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders is leading by almost 2-1 with Democrats. Ohio Governor John Kasich, Texas Senator Ted Cruz, and billionaire Donald Trump are in a Republican tie.
The announcement of the results from Dixville Notch, Hart’s Location, and Millsfield were broadcast live—nationwide and around the world.
But they provided only a (very small) snapshot—not the full picture.
The tiny towns that start the New Hampshire primary voting cast only 65 votes in the minutes after midnight. On the Republican side, they gave Kasich 9 of those votes, Cruz got 9, Trump 9, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie 3, Florida Senator Marco Rubio 2, former Florida governor Jeb Bush 2. One each went to Dr. Ben Carson, former CEO Carly Fiorina and Kentucky Senator Rand Paul (who has suspended his campaign).
On the Democratic side, Sanders had 17 and Clinton had 9.
OK, so not a lot of votes. But, surely, we can extrapolate from that. Right? Minutes after it was announced that he had swept Dixville Notch, where he actually held a “town-hall meeting” with a handful of voters, Kasich tweeted, “Early momentum as @JohnKasich wins GOP vote in Dixville Notch! Let’s keep it going, New Hampshire.” Sanders tweeted, “Honored to have the unanimous support of the people of Dixville Notch.”
But Sanders, who appeared with Larry David on last week’s NBC’s Saturday Night Live, might want to curb his enthusiasm. Eight years ago, Barack Obama swept the voting in Dixville Notch, and his supporters saw confirmation that their poll leader in the run up to the the 2008 New Hampshire primary would easily defeat Hillary Clinton. Twenty-two hours later, Clinton was celebrating a solid win in New Hampshire that would renew her candidacy.
But wait! Though Clinton won the primary, Obama won as many delegates as Clinton and eventually collected a majority of the state’s delegates—as supporters of third-place finisher John Edwards moved his way.
What happened in 2008 is instructive. In this age of instant communication and impassioned commentary, there will be plenty of attempts to spin New Hampshire results as they come in—and as they are finally tabulated. Here are some tips for assessing the numbers tonight: