This is not one of those stupid, contrarian takes where I’m saying something just for shock value just to get clicks. Make no mistakes – Hillary Clinton may have lost by about 20 points last night, but she emerged from New Hampshire as the biggest winner of the night, and it was not close.
Let’s make one thing clear: Hillary Clinton does not give a crap about Bernie Sanders, or about losing this election tonight. Bernie Sanders wins one group of voters in the Democrat party: white liberals. Moving forward through Super Tuesday, those voters will be extremely hard to find. Clinton is going to beat Sanders by 30 points in South Carolina and probably by about as much in Nevada. Super Tuesday will feature a bunch of Southern states that Bernie Sanders is going to lose his shirt in. This was the first, and last, primary that Bernie Sanders will win (or even come close to winning).
Hillary Clinton is already looking forward to the general election, as she should. She knows good and well that she will likely lose that contest against any contestant not named Donald Trump. It’s not just that Trump polls the weakest against her out of anyone in the field (although he does) – it’s the more important metric (at this point of the race) of favorability.
Hillary Clinton’s unfavorability rating right now is at 52%, which is absolutely unprecedented for an expected nominee of one of the two major parties. There is no chance that someone with those kinds of ratings has any chance of winning in the general, if they are not an incumbent. The one and only exception to that rule would be if the nominee in question was running against someone who’s unfavorability rating of a whopping 60%, as Donald Trump is. There is absolutely no one Hillary wants to face more – including Ben Carson – than Donald Trump.
And what happened in New Hampshire was the best possible result for Donald Trump. Not only did Trump win comfortably, but Jeb Bush and John Kasich have emerged believing that they can win, even though Jeb finished basically tied with Ted Cruz in Ted Cruz’s worst state. The end result of this is that Trump now faces a field of five, rather than a field of three going forward.
In a field of five, Trump can continue to basically dominate primaries going forward with his 30-35% level of support. The longer that he keeps this up, the more fence sitters will become resigned to him as an inevitable front-runner – a psychological force that has been nearly irresistible in past Republican primaries.
Tonight’s results in New Hampshire were the best possible result for Donald Trump. And that’s the best possible result for Hillary Clinton, for whom her loss to Bernie Sanders was completely irrelevant. And that makes her the biggest winner of the night.