Ohio Gov. John Kasich bet nearly all his presidential campaign chips on New Hampshire — a gamble that paid off Tuesday when voters put him securely in second place behind GOP front runner, anti-establishment candidate Donald Trump.
Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders defeated Hillary Clinton by 17 points in the Democratic primary.
The strong showing is exactly what Kasich had been working for over the past year and it positions him to be the establishment candidate that can unite a fractured field.
PHOTOS: View from New Hampshire Tuesday
COVERAGE FROM NEW HAMPSHIRE: Greg Bluestein was in New Hampshire following the election for the Dayton Daily News and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Here’s his report from Tuesday night. Follow him on Twitter at @bluestein
“We will move from South Carolina and all across this country and we’ll end up in the Midwest and you just wait. Let me tell you, there is so much that is going to happen. If you don’t have a seat belt, go get one,” Kasich said.
In a 15 minute speech Tuesday night, he urged his supporters to be part of something bigger than themselves, told anecdotes about reaching out to lonely or downtrodden folks, and advised people to “heal the divisions” within their own families.
“We are all made to change the world. We are all made to be part of the healing in this world,” he said.
Kasich said his positive message resonated with New Hampshire voters. “We never went negative because we have more good to sell than to spend our time being critical of somebody else,” he said. New Day for America, a super PAC supporting Kasich, did sponsor attack ads that benefited him.
Former Centerville mayor Mark Kingseed, who campaigned for Kasich in New Hampshire for the past week, said: “His results here should bring significant amounts of money and significant amounts of support so he can carry the campaign forward.”
While Trump captured first place with 34 percent as polls predicted, Kasich came in second with 16 percent. Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush had 11 percent with 75 percent of the vote counted.
Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, who had a third place finish in Iowa, came in fifth in New Hampshire with 10 percent.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, business executive Carly Fiorina and retired brain surgeon Ben Carson each captured less than 10 percent of the vote, according to the early returns.
Christie says he’s heading home to New Jersey to “take a deep breath” and take stock of his struggling presidential bid.
The New Jersey governor had banked on a strong finish in Tuesday’s New Hampshire primary, but he’s on track to end up far off the pace despite holding more than 70 town halls events over the past few months.
Trump told supporter that he’ll be the “greatest jobs president God ever created.”
He’s promising that if he’s commander in chief, he’ll “knock the hell” out of the Islamic State group and negotiate what he says would be better trade deals.
A Trump presidency, he says, would mean “nobody is going to mess with us.”
Trump received about one-third of the vote in a crowded field, which shows an appetite for change in the electorate, said Mark Caleb Smith, director of the Center for Political Studies at Cedarville University. But he added: “I think it is way too early to determine whether this will result in an anti-establishment outcome. These results might feed the narrative, but we have to wait for more contests to see what’s going to happen.”
On the Democratic side, Sanders of Vermont rolled over Clinton, beating her by 17 percentage points, according to unofficial early returns. The solid win gives Sanders momentum as the presidential contest moves on to South Carolina and Nevada, two states that are more diverse than Iowa and New Hampshire.
“Together we have sent a message that will echo from Wall Street to Washington, from Maine to California,” Sanders said. “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.”
Sanders will win at least 13 of the Democratic delegates in New Hampshire and Hillary Clinton will win at least nine. Two delegates haven’t yet been allocated.
In the overall race for delegates, Clinton has 394, thanks in large part to endorsements from superdelegates — party officials who can support the candidate of their choice.
Sanders has 42 delegates.
It takes 2,382 delegates to win the Democratic nomination for president.
Former Ohio state senator Nina Turner, who endorsed Sanders, said voters backed him because his vision for the country is in line with their values. “They see him as an authentic and trustworthy leader,” the Cleveland Democrat said. “His core message speaks to them: fighting for the working and middle class to ensure that they have living wages, universal health care as a right and disrupting a rigged political system.”
Wright State University political scientist Paul Leonard and University of Dayton political science lecturer Dan Birdsong both believe Clinton will ultimately prevail in winning the Democratic nomination.
“There’s something I’m coining - ‘the Blessing of Bernie’,” said Birdsong. “The Clinton coronation narrative is broken by having this insurgent campaign challenge her through this process. Clinton and her campaign will be better prepared for the general election because the Sanders’ campaign exposed the weaknesses now rather than having them exposed in September.”
Leonard said Clinton is formidable.
“She’s Hillary Clinton. She’ll have money and some of the best people in her party around her. I think she goes on,” said Leonard. “I don’t see her waving the white flag at all.”
Leonard said a good showing by Kasich in New Hampshire delivers a larger message.
“It would do something for sanity and professionalism in politics. Being a nice guy and staying above it all works in America in some places,” said Leonard, an adjunct professor and a Democrat who served as Dayton mayor and Ohio lieutenant governor.
While Kasich and his team tell the Ohio Comeback story, Ohio Democratic Party Chairman David Pepper said wages are stagnant, the state trails the nation’s economic recovery, and the public education system is “melting down” as for-profit charter schools face scandals.
Up for grabs in New Hampshire were 20 Republican delegates that are awarded proportionally, plus three that are uncommitted until the convention, and 24 Democratic delegates.
Trump and Sanders both rode a populist wave of voter disgust with the establishment in Washington by promising to smash the status quo. And their victories were a repudiation of party leaders who have failed at every turn to thwart their campaigns.
Atlanta-Journal Constitution Reporter Greg Bluestein contributed to this report from New Hampshire.