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New and broader terrain ahead for presidential campaign

Christie and Fiorina suspend their GOP campaigns

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Gazette wires

MANCHESTER, N.H. — With a roar of discontent toward the political establishment, New Hampshire voters sent the presidential contest into what seems likely to be an extended march that will quickly move to territory far less hospitable to Tuesday night’s big winners, Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump.

After a riotous eight days that ended with the first successful Democratic insurgent win here since 1984 and the first Republican win ever by a TV host and real estate entrepreneur, the races now diverge. Tuesday marked the end of regional contests and the beginning of a national campaign — with all the financial and logistical demands that entails.

The road ahead caused New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and former Hewlett-Packard executive Carly Fiorina to suspend their campaigns for the GOP nomination.

Christie’s sixth place in the New Hampshire primary raised doubts about his viability as a candidate.

Fiorina, the only woman in the Republican field, announced on Facebook she would drop out after placing seventh in the primary.

On Feb. 20, Democrats in Nevada and Republicans in South Carolina vote. On Feb. 23, Nevada Republicans make their picks, and four days later Democrats compete in South Carolina. Then the race widens to more than a dozen states, many in the South, that vote March 1.

The Republican electorate ahead will be mostly white, as it was in New Hampshire, but different from the suburban Northeasterners who controlled Tuesday’s vote. Southern voters care about social issues, meaning the next rounds will mostly be fought on favorable ground for Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, the Iowa caucuses winner, and perhaps U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida.

In Nevada, about half the Republican voters are Mormons or evangelicals, a different face of religion than in the South and the opposite of New Hampshire’s extremely secular electorate.

Trump has led convincingly in early polls in both South Carolina and Nevada, although arguably it is only in the last two weeks that most other candidates became more broadly known.

Trump’s remaining opponents, most of them mainstream Republicans, will likely benefit from Wednesday’s departures, which leave seven Republicans from a field that once had 17.

With Cruz, Rubio and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush bunched just a few points behind second-place finisher Ohio Gov. John Kasich, none has an incentive to get out.

Kasich is aiming at later spring primaries in the industrial Midwest, Bush and Rubio are looking toward Florida’s mammoth March 15 primary, and Cruz has his eye on March 1 primaries that include his home state.

Democrats have a simpler but perhaps similarly lengthy race ahead.

The ethnic makeup of the electorate will change radically from overwhelmingly white Iowa and New Hampshire. South Carolina is 28 percent black. In Nevada, almost 30 percent are Latino. In both states those groups represent the key element of the Democratic base.

Clinton’s campaign has expressed confidence publicly, at least that she would weather tough races in Iowa and New Hampshire and reassert her dominance as the contest turned to Southern and Southwestern states.

But the results Tuesday were a difficult turn. One Clinton campaign concern is that Sanders will benefit from the same primary dynamic that aided Barack Obama in 2008: a cascade of support that fell toward him as voters realized he might actually win the nomination.

But the situations are different. Obama was a breakout African American candidate trying to appeal to black voters. He never did yank Latinos from Clinton in the Southwest, despite trying.

As a senator from Vermont, Sanders has not had to forge the relationships that would come in handy now with black and Latino voters. But as the New Hampshire contest wore on, he became more adept at expressing concern about issues important to those voters.

As if to lower expectations, Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook released a memo saying that the road ahead is long.

“At the same time as we are competing aggressively in Nevada and South Carolina, it’s important to understand why the campaign is investing so much time, energy and resources in states with primaries and caucuses in March,” he wrote. “The reason is simple: While important, the first four states represent just 4 percent of the delegates needed to secure the nomination; the 28 states that vote (or caucus) in March will award 56 percent of the delegates needed to win.”

Or, as Kasich said in his speech Tuesday: If you don’t have a seat belt, buy one.

The Los Angeles Times and Reuters contributed to this report.

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