The first few voters have already cast their ballots in the New Hampshire primary, an early-season contest that could bode well for two outsider candidates.
Polls heading into today’s primary—the first such election in the nation—favored Bernie Sanders on the Democrats’ side and Donald Trump on the Republicans’ side. Voting stations throughout the state opened at 8 a.m. local time.
In Dixville Notch, a tiny hamlet close to the border with Canada, polls opened just after midnight in following a long-standing tradition. There five Republicans and four Democrats voted. Kasich beat Trump 3-2, while Sanders won with a clean sweep.
Today’s New Hampshire primary follows last week’s Iowa caucuses in which Trump, Ted Cruz, and Marco Rubio did very well on the GOP side. Crux was the clear victor. On the other side of the aisle, Sanders and Hillary Clinton finished in a virtual tie.
One of the biggest stories coming out of the Iowa caucuses was the fact that Trump did’t dominate as many people expected he would. Rubio recorded a strong third-place finish, but followed it up with a rough night on stage at last Saturday’s Republican debate. If Rubio struggles in the New Hampshire primary, it may be tough for him to recover.
Right now, it appears to be a tight two-candidate race for the Democratic side. It may be several weeks before either Clinton or Sanders pulls away form the other.
The GOP field of candidates is still quite crowded, but John Kasich, Jeb Bush, Ben Carter, and Carly Fiorina are desperate for any momentum. If they can’t gain traction, and if Rubio struggles in the New Hampshire primary, the Republican race may come down to two candidates—Cruz and Trump—as well.
However, Rubio should not be written off yet. The Nevada primary is just around the corner, and Rubio grew up for a time in Nevada. A strong showing there could put him right back in the mix of favorites.