Fox News can project that Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders will decisively win the New Hampshire Democratic primary, and Donald Trump will win the Republican primary contest.
The projection is based on Fox News exit polls and early voting returns.
The victories for Trump and Sanders come after the two placed second in last week’s Iowa caucuses.
A fierce battle is underway, however, for second place on the Republican side.
Ohio Gov. John Kasich is currently slightly ahead of Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush. But it is too early to say in what order these four will finish.
ORIGINAL STORY …
Independents are breaking big for Donald Trump in New Hampshire’s Republican primary, exit polls show, as voting closes in the first-in-the-nation primary contest.
Exit polls show 36 percent of the state’s influential independents are backing Trump. Close behind, 17 percent are backing Ohio Gov. John Kasich.
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio each pull 13 percent from that bloc, according to the data.
The exit polls are just one indicator as voting in the state is expected to wrap by 8 p.m. ET. Both Trump and Bernie Sanders on the Democratic side are aiming for a comeback after second-place finishes last week in Iowa.
Independents matter because the state’s “undeclared” voters — a huge chunk of the electorate — are allowed to affiliate with a party at the polling site and vote in that party’s primary.
On the Republican side, Trump has led virtually every poll in the state and is looking to secure a decisive win after placing second to Texas Sen. Ted Cruz last week in Iowa.
And on the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton consistently has trailed Vermont Sen. Sanders going into Tuesday’s contest. She wants to at least narrow the gap, after pulling off a squeaker victory last week in Iowa.
Clinton herself has pushed back on reports that the campaign may be looking at a shake-up in the near future – but the speculation is sure to mount if Sanders dominates the Granite State contest.
“We’re going to take stock, but it’s going to be the campaign that I’ve got,” Clinton told MSNBC on primary eve. “I’m very confident in the people that I have. I’m very committed to them, they’re committed to doing the best we can.”
The race on the Republican side has been even more competitive than in Iowa, with a half-dozen candidates in contention for the top three positions in New Hampshire.
The race for the second and third slots has been especially fierce, with the three current and former governors in the race pitting their on-the-job experience against the popular appeal of the contest’s two senators.
Florida Sen. Marco Rubio in particular has weathered the brunt of the attacks in recent days, seen as the candidate with momentum going into New Hampshire — though Cruz won last week’s caucuses, and Rubio placed third. Rubio was thrown off stride over the weekend, though, as New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie battered him at Saturday’s debate over his relative inexperience and reliance on campaign “talking points.”
Aside from Rubio and Christie, the battle for second is joined by Cruz, Ohio Gov. John Kasich and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.
Rubio, for his part, has not backed off the anti-Obama “talking points” Christie hammered him for at Saturday’s debate. The senator told Fox News he’s only saying what he believes, that “Barack Obama is changing America.”
He stressed that no matter how New Hampshire decides, there’s plenty of presidential race left to go.
“Obviously, we want to do well here in New Hampshire and get as many delegates as we can. The same is true in South Carolina and in Nevada,” he said. “I feel very confident that as we move forward in this process, that’s what we’re going to wind up at.”
Meanwhile, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson and former HP CEO Carly Fiorina have so far struggled to gain traction in New Hampshire.
From here, the campaigns head next to Nevada and South Carolina, which hold the next two contests before Super Tuesday at the beginning of March.
SOURCE: Fox News