Donald Trump served notice on Tuesday to those who have refused to take his 2016 White House campaign seriously: The celebrity real-estate developer and former reality show host is no joke.
While Trump had been expected to win New Hampshire's nominating contest, he swamped the Republican field by almost 20 points, demonstrating that his passionate, anti-establishment supporters could be relied on to show up and vote when it counts.
Trump still has a long road ahead. He suffers from high unfavorability ratings and is often an undisciplined candidate who invites controversy with his policies and insults, going so far this week as to repeat an audience member’s assertion that U.S. Senator Ted Cruz was a “pussy.”
Yet after finishing second in the Iowa caucuses last week and now first in New Hampshire, Trump can take solace in the fact that rarely is the ultimate nominee from either party not one of the top two finishers in Iowa or New Hampshire.
His immediate prospects were further helped by the failure of any of the establishment candidates to emerge as a clear challenger. Taken together, the mainstream candidates pulled in enough votes to overcome Trump. But no single one came close to him and there are few signs of a major consolidation anytime soon.
“The victory by Trump here has the makings of a major disaster for the establishment,” said Ford O’Connell, a Republican strategist.