Whether you support Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton, or Dog help us all, a Republican in the 2016 presidential election, one thing was made abundantly clear in the New Hampshire primaries: Your votes still count.
It’s become a mantra of the anti-government crowd, that your votes don’t really count. It’s usually because they don’t actually understand how the Electoral College functions, but on some level you do have to agree with them, that when it comes to electing a president, we don’t actually directly vote for any candidate, at least not in the General Election. But we sure as hell do in the primaries, and Sanders’ historic landslide win as the first Jewish victor in the Granite State shows us that turnout is indeed everything.
Bernie won the primary with 146,680 votes (at the time of initial publication), taking 60% of the available votes that were cast in either his or Hillary Clinton’s direction. Clinton mustered about 93,000 votes, and Donald J. Trump for the Republicans picked up 98,589 votes. For one thing, while New Hampshire certainly isn’t the rest of the country by any means, this result shows conclusively that Sanders can not only beat Clinton, he can beat everyone on the GOP’s side. In fact Sanders got more votes than Trump’s next four competitors combined.
It’s easy to see in New Hampshire how if Sanders were to get the kind of turnout he saw there in other key states that all the hand wringing over how electable he is would suddenly grow quieter than a Patriots fan watching their beloved cheaters — I mean football franchise — lose a game they were just sure they’d win. Cynics of course will have all kinds of reasons why New Hampshire doesn’t mean as much as we think it does, but if people truly don’t think an openly espoused democratic socialist winning a major party’s primary election in any state, it doesn’t matter which one, isn’t huge news, then I can’t help you tie your shoes, let alone see reality for what it is.
Breaking down the demographics of Bernie’s landslide really gives you an idea of how strong his movement could be. As Vox reported, he locked down every single demo that Hillary might have otherwise presumed would be hers for the taking.
In New Hampshire, Sanders won 83 percent of young voters ages 18 to 29, a virtually identical showing to his support among young voters in Iowa. Perhaps even more significantly, Sanders won 55 percent of women, to Clinton’s 45 percent. But he also won the next two age brackets, finishing 8 points ahead of Clinton among voters ages 45 to 64. This age range is Clinton’s sweet spot, and losing it really bruises her mantle of popularity. Clinton did win among one generation, though – voters ages 65 and up swung 11 points in her favor. (source)
It’s no secret that the established Democratic power structure wants Hillary Clinton and not Bernie Sanders as its nominee. Sanders still has one hell of a slog ahead of him through Super Tuesday. There’s no telling yet whether a huge turnout that day will spell another victory for him, but what New Hampshire proves is that whether it’s Sanders, Clinton, or someone else you are hoping wins, your best bet for election day success is to show up with as many like-minded citizens as possible.
Clearly it’s not rocket scientist because a schleppy comedian like me could see this factoid a mile away in a cab last night. But I really hope the turnout doesn’t get lost in the shuffle. Bernie damn-near doubled both Hillary and Trump’s vote counts and made a mockery of every other Republican still desperate enough to be clinging to the fantasy that they’ll be president one day. If I can see it, hopefully others can and come November it’s a repeat of 2012 and 2014, but only time will tell.