MANCHESTER, N.H. — Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Bernie Sanders were moving on Wednesday from commanding wins in the first-in-the-nation New Hampshire primary to more diverse states that will challenge their transformation from outsider candidates to their parties’ presidential nominees.
The next Republican contest is the Feb. 20 South Carolina primary. The state is a hotbed of conservative tea party groups and evangelical voters that will test Trump’s staying power. Next for Democrats is the Nevada caucus on the same day.
Sanders, a self-described democratic socialist, easily beat Hillary Clinton, a former secretary of state and first lady once seen as the all-but-certain Democratic nominee. With more than 90 per cent of the vote counted in New Hampshire, Sanders had 60 per cent to Clinton’s 38 per cent.
Trump, the brash real estate billionaire and television personality who has never held public office, had 35 per cent among the Republicans, with moderate Ohio Gov. John Kasich a distant second with 16 per cent.
Texas Sen. Ted Cruz finished third in New Hampshire, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush was fourth and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio was fifth. Less than a percentage point separated each of those positions.
“I think they’re all really potential threats,” Trump said of his rivals Wednesday on MSNBC. “But I’m ok at handling threats.”
Kasich, who surged from relative obscurity in New Hampshire, has a poorly funded campaign that will struggle to keep up momentum in South Carolina and beyond.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie was expected to drop out after finishing sixth in New Hampshire. That’s according to a two people familiar with his plans, who spoke to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly.
Sanders’ campaign launched ads Wednesday in Oklahoma, Minnesota, Colorado and Massachusetts — all states where they believe the Vermont senator can grow.
Clinton’s campaign argues she will perform better as the race heads to more racially diverse states, including Nevada and South Carolina. Both New Hampshire and Iowa are overwhelmingly white states.
Civil rights activist the Rev. Al Sharpton said he met with Sanders on Wednesday to discuss issues that affect the African-American community, including affirmative action and police brutality.
Sharpton said he won’t endorse a candidate until he and various heads of national civil rights organizations meet with Clinton next week.
Nevada has been considered Clinton territory, in part because of her strong relationships to the Latino community and longtime Democrats in the state.
At stake Tuesday were less than 1 per cent of the delegates who, at party national conventions in July, will choose nominees to succeed Obama. But a strong showing in New Hampshire can give a candidate momentum ahead of state contests in coming weeks, including the March 1 “Super Tuesday” when 11 states vote.
Trump, Cruz and Rubio all have expansive organizations in South Carolina and several Super Tuesday states. Bush’s campaign released a radio ad Wednesday in South Carolina featuring his brother, former President George W. Bush.