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Feb. 9 2016 11:03 PM

Slate’s New Hampshire Primary Live-Blog

11:30 p.m.: Trump and Sanders take New Hampshire, and that's a wrap.

Thanks for following along with our live blog Tuesday night. We’ll let the respective winners of the New Hampshire primaries, who are also the two main anti-establishment figures in the race, have the last word.

Republican winner Donald Trump on his victory: “Oh wow, wow, wow, wow. So beautiful. So beautiful. We are going to make America great again.”

And Democratic winner Bernie Sanders: “Together, 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 and their Super PACs."

11:15 p.m.: Marco Rubio concedes his terrible debate performance was costly.

We still don’t know exactly where Sen. Marco Rubio will place in New Hampshire, but we know Tuesday’s first-in-the nation primary was a major blow to his candidacy for the Republican nomination. Rubio himself conceded that Saturday night’s debate performance, in which he kept repeating the same portion of his stump speech over and over again as an answer to totally unrelated questions, cost him dearly. “Our disappointment tonight is not on you,” Rubio told his supporters in his concession speech. “It’s on me. I did not do well on Saturday night, so listen to this: That will never happen again.”

The question now becomes whether it’s too late for any future debate performances to make up for Saturday’s debacle. Rubio had been one of the strongest performers at previous debates, but that polished persona devolved into what came off as a complete lack of authenticity and spontaneity. Rubio was stuck in fifth-place in New Hampshire for much of the night behind rivals Ted Cruz in third and Jeb Bush in fourth. With 68 percent of the precincts reporting, Cruz had just a little more than a 500-vote edge over Bush, who held a more than 1,000-vote lead over Rubio. The Florida senator was in third in the last major South Carolina poll taken last month. Bush was only 5 points behind him in that poll, though, and he is doing an ad push in the Palmetto state featuring the last Republican president, who also happens to be his brother and a former victor in the state's priamary. If Bush is able to take that momentum and capitalize on his brother's remaining goodwill in the state and surpass Rubio in South Carolina, Rubio might not recover.

Meanwhile, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who bet everything on New Hampshire, looks likely to finish well behind the field in sixth. The Hill reports that he’s returning to his home state to weigh his options, which seem likely to involve ending his campaign at some perhaps not-too-future date.

Kasich meanwhile, will go onto South Carolina and potentially cause major headaches for the other establishment candidates in the GOP field without necessarily doing much more than that for himself. 

In his own concession speech—which sounded more like a victory speech at times—Ted Cruz seemed to specifically nod to the uphill climb facing his more moderate rivals, like Kasich, in South Carolina. “The real winner is the conservative grassroots, who propelled us to an outright victory in Iowa and to a far stronger result and outcome in New Hampshire than anyone had predicted,” he boasted about maybe finishing third-place. “Now we go on to South Carolina. The Palmetto State. And, you know, Washington liberals may find South Carolina far less hospitable environs.” Cruz was in second in that NBC/Wall Street Journal South Carolina poll last month with 20 percent of the vote behind Donald Trump's leading 36 percent.

10:00 p.m.: Kasich claims crucial second-place.

A big call in the Republican race: The Associated Press, Fox News, CNN, and the Washington Post have called second-place for John Kasich. With 44 percent of the precincts reporting, the Ohio Gov. was at 16 percent of the vote, well behind Donald Trump’s 34 percent of the vote. It was a three-way battle for third-place, with Ted Cruz maintaining that critical position with 12 percent, Jeb Bush in fourth with 11 percent, and Marco Rubio in the potentially catastrophic fifth-place position with 10 percent. Kasich bet everything on New Hampshire, a la Jon Huntsman in 2012. But for Kasich, the bet actually paid off and he will leave New Hampshire almost as if he had won it. The problem for Kasich and his centrist reputation, though, is the next contest is in conservative South Carolina, where the last NBC/Wall Street Journal polling as of Jan. 23 had him in ninth-place at 1 percent (behind two candidates who have since dropped out of the race). Tuesday was a good night for Kasich and one that will allow him to stay in the race, but it’s hard to imagine that it was a good enough night to overcome those odds.

9:30 p.m.: Hillary gives pointed concession speech.

Hillary Clinton just gave an impassioned concession speech after losing the New Hampshire primary to Bernie Sanders, promising to fight for every vote in future Democratic contests and already seeming to lay the groundwork for a potential general election race. She continued to present herself as the pragmatic option as compared to her challenger, who she implied has inspired voters who feel resentment towards the political establishment.

"People have every right to be angry. But they're also hungry. They're hungry for solutions. What are we going to do?" Clinton offered. "That is the fight we're taking to the country."

Clinton also made a plea to the youth vote that appeared to carry the socialist candidate to victory in the first in the nation Democratic primary. She will need these voters' support if she does make it to the general election, and part of her message was directly to them. "I know I have some work to do, particularly with young people, but I will repeat again what I have said this week: Even if they are not supporting me now, I support them," Clinton said. 

The most fiery part of a fiery speech came when Clinton listed injustices she described as still facing key Democratic constituencies: 

African-American parents shouldn't have to worry that their children will be harassed, humiliated, even shot because of the color of their skin. Immigrant families shouldn't have to lie awake at night listening for a knock on the door. LGBT Americans shouldn't be fired from their jobs because of who they are or who they love. And let's finally deliver something long overdo, equal pay for women in this economy.

It was a pretty effective speech, but the results on Tuesday probably spoke more loudly.

9:00 p.m.: Bernie's win is going to be a big one.

With 25 percent of the results in, Bernie Sanders is at a whopping 58 percent of the vote to 40 percent for Clinton. (Where is that final 2 percent going? Martin O'Malley, write-ins, and lesser-known candidates. Vermin Supreme has 65 votes and counting.) If those numbers hold, or if the lead expands for Sanders, it would be fair to call this win a shellacking. Read more about what Bernie’s big win means here. Cook Political Report's Dave Wasserman also had a very good point about what these results might mean going forward if they hold up.

8:30 p.m.: Trump runs away with win, Rubio's numbers look bad.

Trump is scoring a runaway victory—with 10 percent of the precincts reporting, he has 34 percent of the vote. Trump’s final RealClearPolitics polling average in New Hampshire was 31.2 percent and he’s running ahead of that at the moment. The race for second is very tight and early on does not look good for Marco Rubio and Chris Christie, the two men whose sparring in the final GOP debate before this contest looked like they might do damage to Rubio.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich was holding on to second-place early on with 16 percent. Jeb Bush, meanwhile was sitting at third with 12 percent, Ted Cruz was at fourth with 11 percent, and Rubio was languishing in fifth with 10 percent and Christie was behind him with 8 percent. If there’s one consolation for Rubio, who was until last weekend the clear establishment favorite in the race, in potentially finishing in fifth it is that at least that it appears it won’t be by that big of a margin. That’s not much of a consolation, though.

8:03 p.m.: Bernie and Donald win already.

The exit polling was enough for the networks to confidently make the very early call for Bernie Sanders, and more surprisingly for Donald Trump. The moment the polls closed, CNN projected victories for Trump in the Republican race and for Sanders in the Democratic one. The early Sanders win was expected, but the early Trump win was not necessarily a given. We’ll have updates from both victory speeches and from Hillary Clinton’s concession speech, along with more raw numbers and the all-important placings in the GOP race as soon as those become available. But this early a call can only mean good things for Trump and Sanders’ respective vote totals in New Hampshire. Sanders will ride a giant-slayer narrative into the Nevada caucus a week from Saturday, while Trump heads into that Saturday's crucial South Carolina primary solidifying his position as the favorite.

6:32 p.m.: Early exit poll results are in.

The early exit polls appear to look good for the favorites on both sides, namely Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump.

MSNBC is reporting that, according to its early exit polls, Sanders was beating Hillary Clinton 83-16 among voters under 30 and only trailing her 58-41 among voters 65-and-over, who should make up a hunk of Clinton’s base. In another good sign for Sanders, ABC News reported that 7 in 10 Democratic voters in its exit poll described themselves as liberal, up from 56 percent in 2008 when Hillary pulled out a surprise come-from-behind victory over Barack Obama.

On the Republican side, the early exit polls from a couple of networks look good for the Donald. Among first-time primary goers, MSNBC is reporting that Trump had a commanding lead with 36 percent in its exit polls, with John Kasich in second at 18 percent, and Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz sharing third at 13 percent. Another bad sign for Rubio: 64 percent of GOP New Hampshire voters in MSNBC’s early exit polling said that the recent GOP debates—in the last of which the Florida Senator had an epic malfunction—were either the most important or an important factor in their votes (10 percent answered most important). Also potentially bad for Rubio: ABC News reports that nearly half of the GOP voters in its exit poll only made up their minds in the last few days.

In further positive news for Trump and bad news for society, though, MSNBC reported that 66 percent of New Hampshire Republican voters in its early exit polls agreed with the mogul’s vile “ban all Muslims from entering the country” plan to 31 percent who would oppose such a plan. That number was in line with ABC News’ own exit polling.

2:26 p.m.: The GOP Delegate Game

The state party awards delegates on a proportional basis to presidential candidates based on their vote statewide and by congressional district. But it also has a 10 percent threshold. What does that mean? It means that if a candidate does not get 10 percent of the vote, he gets no delegates. (And this is a hard threshold — no rounding.) What's more, not only do those underperforming candidates get no delegates, but whatever delegates they could have gotten based on their vote share go to the winner of the primary.

We'll have to wait for the final tallies but the latest RCP polling average suggest things will be tight for anyone not named Donald J. Trump. Marco Rubio's polling at 14.0 percent, John Kasich is at 13.5 percent, Ted Cruz's at 11.8 percent, Jeb Bush's at 11.5 percent, and Chris Christie's at 5.8 percent. There are only 23 GOP delegates at stake, though, so much like the Democratic contest, the narrative-shaping final standings will matter more in the near term than the delegate math will.

1:55 p.m.: Trump Learns to Play the Expectations Game

Slate's Jim Newell reports from the Granite State:

[Trump] now says that it “doesn’t matter” whether he wins New Hampshire or not. Of course, it does, as he knows. Blowing Iowa and then blowing New Hampshire would send a strong signal that Trump is blowing—or already has blown—his campaign for president. But Trump on Monday excised the usual segment of his program where he brags about poll results for several minutes. Instead, he just celebrated what he had built, brought his wife Melania and daughter Ivanka onstage to say a few words, and offered an endearingly macabre pep talk for supporters on a snowy night with slippery roads.
“I don’t really care if you get hurt or not, but I want you to last until tomorrow,” he told everyone. “If you’re going to get hurt and you’re going to drive like a maniac, do it tomorrow after you vote. And I promise I will come and visit you in the hospital.”

12:55 p.m: Why They Count the Votes

Assuming the polls aren't wildly off the mark, Sanders should post a rather easy victory tonight (see update below). Still, while Sanders is the clear favorite, I will note that eight years ago state surveys showed Barack Obama with an 8-point lead on Hillary in the days before the New Hampshire primary. When the counting was over, though, Clinton came out on top by 2.6 points. I’ve seen no evidence that Hillary is due for a repeat performance this year, but if she does pull the victory out of nowhere, it could be a fatal blow to Bernie’s candidacy. If Sanders can’t win in Iowa or New Hampshire—where the Democratic electorate skews white and liberal—it’s unclear where he can. Sanders can, and would, fight on—but it would be hard to see him as a legitimate threat to Clinton.

12:45 p.m.: Where Margin of Victory Matters

The numbers suggest that Bernie Sanders is lock to win today's Democratic primary. He entered today with an average lead of more than 13 points in state polls, and Nate Silver and his FiveThirtyEight team estimate that the Vermont senator's chances of victory are greater than 99 percent. The question, then, isn't whether he will win, but by how much. New York magazine's Eric Levitz explains why that matters beyond momentum and the media narrative:

[I]f Sanders wins by a margin of 55 to 45 percent, Hillary Clinton will walk away with an even share of New Hampshire’s delegates. ... New Hampshire’s 24 delegates are broken down into an eight-eight-eight split between the state's two congressional delegates and its statewide allocation. If Sanders wins 56.3 percent of the vote in one district, he’ll take home five of that district’s eight delegates — if he does this in both districts, and thus achieves that margin in the statewide vote, he’ll best Clinton 15 to 9 in total delegates. (If he wins that margin in only one district and doesn’t achieve it in the statewide count, he’d end up with 13 to Clinton’s 11.)

Given Clinton's lead in the super-delegate race, Sanders will likely need every delegate he can if he's going to claim the nomination this summer. Still, Bernie's margin of victory in New Hampshire is likely to matter far less than the victory itself given how it will shape the next 11 days before the Nevada caucus. There will be time for counting delegates later; Sanders needs a win tonight to help ensure he's still around when that time comes.

12:35 p.m.: The Resources to Fight On

New Hampshire is shaping up to be a do-or-die moment for a number of Republican candidates, if for no other reason than many are running out of the cash they need to run an actual campaign. Here are the GOP fundraising numbers from the final three months of 2015, sorted by how much money each had on hand to start the year:

  1. Ted Cruz: $20.5 million raised; $18.7 million cash on hand
  2. Marco Rubio: $14.2 million raised; $10.4 million cash on hand
  3. Jeb Bush: $7.1 million raised; $7.6 million cash on hand
  4. Donald Trump: $13.6 million raised; $7.0 million cash on hand
  5. Ben Carson: $22.6 million raised; $6.6 million cash on hand
  6. Carly Fiorina: $2.9 million raised; $4.5 million cash on hand
  7. John Kasich: $3.2 million raised; $2.5 million cash on hand
  8. Chris Christie: $3.0 million raised; $1.1 million cash on hand
  9. Jim Gilmore: $0.1 million raised; $0.03 million cash on hand

Kasich and Christie are both hoping to top Rubio, Bush, and each other in the final standings tonight. But it they fail to put enough distance between themselves and their establishment-approved rivals, all the motivation in the world will mean little if they can't find the money to pair with it.

12:20 p.m.: The Midnight Vote

Most of the Granite State had to wait until 7 a.m. for their polling locations to open but, under state law, communities with fewer than 100 voters can get permission to start the voting at midnight and then close up shop as soon as all registered voters have cast their ballots. And so, we have our first returns of the day, via the Wall Street Journal:

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, Ohio Gov. John Kasich and New York businessman Donald Trump have nine votes each from the three early-voting towns — Dixville Notch, Hart’s Location and Millsfield. Mr. Sanders, the Vermont senator, has 17 votes to Mrs. Clinton’s nine.

Original post: Is Donald Trump a paper tiger or a primary force? Will Marco Rubio make everyone forget about his glitchy debate performance on Saturday? Can Bernie Sanders notch the race-altering victory he needs to stay on his narrow path to the nomination? We’re about to find out.

Voting is already underway in New Hampshire, where most polls will remain open until 7 p.m., and a few more will keep the lights on until 8 p.m. Slate will be live-blogging the action all day and into the night. Here you’ll find running updates of news, analysis, and results.

Additional Slate coverage of the New Hampshire primary:

Feb. 9 2016 11:01 PM

Flint Special Counsel: Officials Face Possible Manslaughter Charges for Water Contamination

The investigation into the contamination of the drinking water in Flint, Michigan could result in criminal charges for those responsible, including potential involuntary manslaughter charges that are punishable by up to 15 years in prison. That’s according to the state’s Attorney General-appointed special counsel, Todd Flood, who addressed the media on Tuesday alongside state investigators, who are still trying to untangle who knew what and when, in an effort to get to the bottom of water crisis in the city. There are also civil actions that could be undertaken, Flood said.

Here’s more on potential next steps from Flood via the Detroit News:

“It’s not far-fetched” to imagine involuntary manslaughter charges in the case, Flood told reporters, if the investigation links “gross negligence” or a “breach of duty” to a death in Flint, where at least nine people have died of Legionnaires’ disease after the city switched to Flint River water in April 2014. Flood could also pursue restitution for Flint residents affected by the water contamination crisis, he said, suggesting he could target private companies or governments involved in the man-made disaster.

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette appointed Flood as special counsel because Schuette’s office is representing the state in any potential criminal and civil proceedings. Schuette said it is still unclear how much the investigation will cost and how long it will take.

Feb. 9 2016 10:45 PM

John Kasich’s Second-Place Finish in New Hampshire Is a Nightmare for the GOP

In the runup to Tuesday’s Republican primary, John Kasich conceded that a poor performance in New Hampshire would mean an end to his campaign. “If we get smoked here,” the Ohio governor told reporters last week, “I’m going home.” But after finishing second place in the Granite State—ahead of Marco Rubio and his two other party-approved rivals—it’s clear Kasich isn’t going home. He’s going on to South Carolina.

The problem for the Republican Party, though, is that Kasich is unlikely to go much further than that. In the meantime, he’ll siphon off momentum, media attention, and money from his fellow party-approved rivals who are actually in a position to capitalize on a post-primary bump. Kasich’s surprise showing actually turns the GOP’s Trump-themed headache into a migraine.

There were always going to be two narratives coming out of New Hampshire: the major one about Donald Trump, who has been leading in state polls for months, and the minor one about whichever of the establishment-friendly foursome came out on top in the contest within a contest between Rubio, Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, and Kasich. Someone like Marco, or even Jeb, was well positioned to use the second-place spotlight to finally begin consolidating establishment-minded voters, which remains the best and perhaps only path left for any of them to pass Trump and Iowa-winner Ted Cruz later this year. Kasich, though, is almost comically ill equipped to travel that difficult path.

For starters, there’s the very real problem that his bank account is running low. He raised only $3.2 million in the final three months of last year and began 2016 with only $2.5 million on hand—about a fourth of what Rubio had in the bank and a third of what Bush did. Yes, Kasich’s performance in New Hampshire will likely come with an uptick in fundraising, but the odds are that he’s still going to have significantly less than Rubio and Bush, not to mention Trump and Cruz. Much of the money he does bring in this week, meanwhile, will be canceled out by the millions Rubio and Bush will now spend via their super PACs to torpedo Kasich’s campaign.

Kasich’s bigger problem is just how out of line his (relatively!) moderate worldview appears to be with that of the Republican voters he’ll need to unite. He doesn’t just have a history of going against the conservative line—he has a history of unapologetic conservative apostasy, often seeming to take great joy in telling conservative voters that they’re wrong. In a world where a former reality TV star can win New Hampshire, anything is possible. But in a world where Donald J. Trump does win New Hampshire, it’s hard to imagine a critical mass of Republican voters will be excited about Kasich’s positions on hot-button topics like immigration, Common Core, Medicaid expansion, and marriage equality.

The Ohio Republican’s already difficult job will get that much more so now that the race is leaving New Hampshire, a state where the candidate he’s most often compared with, Jon Huntsman, won roughly the same share of the GOP vote four years ago as Kasich did on Tuesday. (Huntsman, you probably won’t remember, dropped out shortly after.) Next comes South Carolina and then Nevada, neither of which will be anywhere near as friendly to Kasich’s particular brand of politics. If he is still standing come March, he’ll then need to survive a Super Tuesday dominated by delegate-rich southern states like Texas, Georgia, and Alabama. In other words, Kasich will leave New Hampshire as a winner—but a winner the race will soon forget.

Additional Slate coverage of the New Hampshire primary:

Feb. 9 2016 10:13 PM

Hillary to Voters After Losing New Hampshire: Let’s Get Real, America

Hillary Clinton’s impressive concession speech Tuesday night, which followed Bernie Sanders’ even more impressive win in the New Hampshire primary, was a bracing call for getting real. Clinton is making a version of the case she made against Barack Obama in 2008: Voters may be inspired by her opponent, but they should vote for her if they actually want change to occur. The argument didn’t quite succeed in 2008, although Clinton and Obama battled to what was nearly a tie. Against a weaker (if surprisingly formidable) opponent this time, will it be enough?

In her speech, Clinton mentioned Flint, Michigan, and health care, along with a couple other old standbys, and acknowledged that voters were right to be angry. But rather than appeal emotionally to that anger, she urged them to be pragmatic, saying that people should be “hungry for solutions” and labeling herself the “best change-maker.” It was a clever use of a key Obama word, and it highlighted her argument: If you want change, don’t rely on hope.

What made the speech better than many of her previous efforts—I’m not including her Goldman Sachs speeches, since we haven’t seen those—was that she mixed this practical approach to leadership with a surprising amount of heart. “I know I have some work to do, particularly with young people,” she intoned. “Even if they are not supporting me now, I support them.” This reference to her low levels of support from Kids These Days led to several other relatively heartfelt lines about her awareness of “what it’s like to stumble and fall.” (Against Obama, Clinton had her best moments when under attack or when voters were reminded of her past troubles.) Clinton also mixed in a passionate appeal for racial justice of the sort that neither she nor any candidate would have included eight years ago.

In all, it was a strong performance, but it failed to resolve doubts. Clinton has had several strong debates, she has given several impressive speeches, and she has released an impressive set of policy proposals. She occasionally seems to have transcended her previous flaws as a candidate and public figure. But then there is the constant stream of stories about possible staff shakeups; about Bill misbehaving, or speaking out of turn; about a coziness with Wall Street that rightly makes Democrats squirm; about emails. Her argument for experience and pragmatism should be enough to get her past Bernie Sanders, but mainly by default. 

Feb. 9 2016 8:13 PM

Donald Trump Just Won New Hampshire. Sad!

CNN just called it: Donald Trump has won New Hampshire’s 2016 Republican presidential primary. This is not a drill. I repeat: This is not a drill.

We’ll have to wait until all the votes are tallied to see whether this is a disaster for the Republican Party or just a massive debacle. But regardless of how the final standings shake out for the establishment-backed foursome of Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush, John Kasich, and Chris Christie, the big story leaving New Hampshire will be Trump. He just won a presidential nominating contest run by one of the two major political parties in the United States—an outcome that seemed unthinkable this past summer when many political observers didn’t expect his campaign to last into the fall.

The victory will legitimize Trump’s candidacy in ways that his polling performances and crowd sizes have been unable to. He just bested the best the Republican Party has to offer in a state where his establishment rivals have no excuses, given primary voters there are considerably more moderate than Iowa’s GOP caucus-goers. Trump still has his work cut out for him in future contests, but it’s now impossible to dismiss him as a paper tiger, as many of his rivals were eager to do after he failed to win the Iowa caucus last week.

The real estate tycoon has now gone from polling front-runner to real-life winner of a state where primary voters have backed the past two GOP nominees and four of the past six in contests without an incumbent. Trump has an uncanny ability to steal the media spotlight, but in New Hampshire on Tuesday, he earned it.

Additional Slate coverage of the New Hampshire primary:

Feb. 9 2016 8:08 PM

Supreme Court Deals Blow to Obama Plan to Curb Carbon Emissions From Coal

The Supreme Court ruled Tuesday to temporarily halt the Obama administration plan to impose federal regulations on coal emissions from power plants, which is part of a broader effort to combat climate change. The 5-to-4 vote, along partisan lines, means that the Environmental Protection Agency regulations, part of a transformative plan to shift the American power grid to cleaner sources, will be put on hold until legal challenges to the Clean Power Plan can make their way through the courts.

“The plan was designed to lower carbon emissions from U.S. power plants by 2030 to 32 percent below 2005 levels,” according to Reuters. “It is the main tool for the United States to meet the emissions reduction target it pledged at U.N. climate talks in Paris in December.” A coalition of coal-producing states and the coal industry is opposing the deal as federal overreach. Here’s more from the New York Times:

The states challenging the regulation, led mostly by Republicans and many with economies that rely on coal mining or coal-fired power, sued to stop what they called “the most far-reaching and burdensome rule the E.P.A. has ever forced onto the states.” A three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in January unanimously refused to grant a stay… The states urged the Supreme Court to take immediate action to block what they called a “power grab” under which “the federal environmental regulator seeks to reorganize the energy grids in nearly every state in the nation.” Though the plan’s first emission reduction obligations do not take effect until 2022, the states said they had already started to spend money and shift resources to get ready. Eighteen states, mostly led by Democrats, opposed the request for a stay, saying they were “continuing to experience climate-change harms firsthand — including increased flooding, more severe storms, wildfires and droughts.”

The Supreme Court’s willingness to intervene in the case is an ominous sign for supporters of the plan as it suggests there are significant doubts about its legality among the conservative majority of the justices.

Feb. 9 2016 8:03 PM

Bernie Sanders Wins New Hampshire

CNN is calling it: Sen. Bernie Sanders has won New Hampshire’s 2016 Democratic presidential primary.  

Sanders entered the day up big in the polls, which may knock the smallest amount of luster off his victory given the absurd day-of expectations game that most politicos, pundits, and political journalists engage in. But make no mistake: Bernie’s win is a significant achievement for a candidate who was widely dismissed as a Doc Brown–haired sideshow when he launched his challenge to the most dominant nonincumbent in history less than one year ago.

Yes, the demographics of New Hampshire’s Democratic electorate skewed in Sanders' favor. And, yes, the Vermont senator enjoyed near–native son status in the Granite State, where voters have a history of favoring their fellow New Englanders in primaries. But none of that changes the fact that Bernie has now battled Hillary to a near-draw in the first nominating contest of the year and handed her a convincing defeat in the second. As recently as this past summer, Sanders was still struggling to be treated as a legitimate candidate for the Democratic nomination; after New Hampshire, there’s no denying he’s a bonafide contender.

To be clear: Clinton remains the overwhelming favorite to win the nomination. The former secretary of state still has the same advantages she did before voting began: the campaign and super PAC war chest, the ground game, the endorsements, the pledged superdelegates, and the general support of a party establishment that hasn’t hesitated to tilt the scales in her favor. She can see brighter days are on the horizon, too, in the form of the Nevada caucus on Feb. 20, the South Carolina primary on Feb. 27, and a March 1 Super Tuesday slate full of Southern states likely to provide her with a warm welcome. The next week or two will be rough for her, but she wouldn’t trade places with Sanders if given the chance.

Yet she now has a very real reason to worry. Her team tried its hardest to tamp down expectations in the lead-up to Tuesday’s primary and will continue to do everything it can to spin the loss into something resembling an inconsequential footnote, a challenge that becomes more difficult the further she finishes from Sanders in the final New Hampshire count. But while Tuesday’s results won’t decide the nomination, the results can be discounted only so much. Sanders had the wind at his back in New Hampshire over the past few months, but the state can’t be mistaken as hostile territory for Clinton. Bill Clinton used a surprise second-place finish in the 1992 primary as a springboard to the nomination that year and went on to win the state in the general election both that fall and four years later. In 2008, Hillary beat then–Sen. Barack Obama by nearly 3 points in New Hampshire, surprising pollsters in the process. This year, she had the backing of the state’s Democratic governor, Maggie Hassan, and the state’s sole Democratic senator, Jeanne Shaheen. She led Bernie by roughly 40 points this past summer and had regained a polling lead as recently as December. Tuesday's results should sting.

Sanders and his supporters, meanwhile, should be ecstatic. Last May, Bernie launched his campaign in New Hampshire with calls for a “political revolution.” But while talking to reporters later that same day, the self-styled democratic socialist’s rhetoric soared closer to earth. “I fully concede that I get into this race as a major underdog,” Sanders said then, before adding: “We’re going to do better than people think, and I think we’ve got a shot to win this thing.” Less than a year later, Bernie’s already proved himself right on both counts.

Additional Slate coverage of the New Hampshire primary:

Feb. 9 2016 5:18 PM

Trump Is Beating Cruz in the War Crimes Primary

Among many other landmarks, the 2016 GOP primary may be remembered as the contest that made it not only acceptable, but politically advantageous, to advocate for committing war crimes.

The most recent example came in Saturday’s debate, when front-runner Donald Trump argued that because “In the Middle East, we have people chopping the heads off Christians” and other “things that we have never seen before,” it is necessary to “bring back waterboarding” and “a hell of a lot worse than waterboarding.” No one’s denying ISIS’s cruelty, but why past American enemies—Nazi Germany, say—didn’t meet Trump’s torture threshold is a little unclear. Trump stood by his stance on the Sunday shows but declined to say what “a hell of a lot worse than waterboarding” meant or make clear how he would get around recent laws passed by Congress banning these techniques. On Monday, Trump’s son Eric usefully contributed his observation about waterboarding, which “quite frankly is no different than what happens on college campuses in frat houses every day.”

The common stance of Republican candidates is a variation on Dick Cheney’s argument that the U.S. does not torture prisoners and that techniques the U.S. has used in the war on terror, such as waterboarding, are not torture—they are enhanced interrogation techniques. We’ve heard versions of this argument from Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush. Trump, who says the U.S. must do “frankly unthinkable” things to defeat ISIS, is unbothered by such distinctions, though. In the past, he has openly, and positively, used the T-word to describe old U.S. interrogation techniques, arguing that, “As soon as the next attack happens, everyone’s going to want to go back to the torture.”

Trump is likely happy to be talking about torture again, because it’s the rare issue on which rival Ted Cruz is relatively moderate, compared even to “establishment” candidates like Rubio and Bush. The senator, who has talked about his father’s torture by Fidel Castro’s regime, has said that “Torture is wrong, unambiguously. Period. The end,” and something that only “bad guys” engage in. On Saturday, Cruz wiggled out of that position a little bit saying that waterboarding is “enhanced interrogation” rather than torture, but still said he “would not bring it back in any sort of widespread use” and pointed out that he had co-sponsored legislation with John McCain to restrict its use.

Of course, in an election where the foreign policy debate has often been a competition to espouse the most bloodthirsty rhetoric rather than bring any new ideas to the table, Cruz has found other over-the-top and probably illegal activities for which to advocate. His promise to “carpet-bomb ISIS into oblivion,” meaning to bomb an area without distinguishing between military and civilian targets, would violate both U.S. military guidelines and international humanitarian law. (To be fair, it is quite possible that Cruz doesn’t actually know, or care, what carpet bombing means.)

Further down in the polls, other candidates have tried to make clear to voters that they too are open to ideas that, in other settings, might earn a head of state a trip to the Hague. Jeb Bush has promised to “Get the lawyers off the damn backs of the military once and for all.” Ben Carson has described the killing of civilians, including children, as “merciful.” These statements might have garnered a lot of attention if these candidates weren’t running against a man who openly advocates for killing the families of ISIS members. Instead, they seem almost quaint.

Feb. 9 2016 4:48 PM

The Tuesday Slatest Newsletter

Today's New Hampshire primary day, and while we don't have results yet, it did occur to me that you could sing the words Welcome to New Hampshire to the tune of "Welcome to the Jungle," so there's that.

(Here's what various N.H. outcomes might mean to the Republican and Democratic races per our ace campaign blogger Josh Voorhees.)

In other news:

Have a good primary night out there!

Feb. 9 2016 3:33 PM

Republican Maine Governor Says “Black Dealers” Are at Fault in State’s Drug Epidemic

In early January, Republican Maine Gov. Paul LePage answered a question about Maine's addiction epidemic by complaining about drug dealers with names like "D-Money," "Smoothie," and "Shifty" who bring heroin in from out of state and often "impregnate a young white girl" before they leave. LePage and his spokesman then strenuously denied that the statement about "D-Money" getting a "white girl" pregnant had anything to do with race. LePage:

"I never said anything about white or black traffickers. ... What are they, black? I don't know. I just read the names," he said. 

And his spokesman:

“The governor is not making comments about race. Race is irrelevant,” Steele said in a statement he emailed in response to a request to have the governor explain his comments.

Well, now LePage says he was talking about black people. From the Huffington Post:

"I had to go scream at the top of my lungs about black dealers coming in and doing the things that they’re doing to our state," he said on his weekly radio appearance on WVOM.

So—the governor of Maine, whose party calls itself an advocate for "personal responsibility and accountability," thinks drug addiction is something "black dealers" are doing "to" his state.

Where do we go from here?