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E.g., 2/10/2016
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump greets people as he visits a polling station as voters cast their primary day ballots on Feb. 9, 2016 in Manchester, N.H. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty)

Trump scores easy NH win, reclaims frontrunner status

02/10/16 08:00AM

By definition, a development everyone expected to happen can't be a surprise, but that doesn't make the outcome any less remarkable: Donald Trump, a first-time candidate running on a bizarre platform, won the Republican Party's New Hampshire presidential primary -- easily.
 
The vote tally isn't quite finished, but as things stand, the New York developer is on track to prevail with a margin of victory of 19 points, which is the largest for a non-incumbent Republican since Reagan's 1980 win over three decades ago.
 
In the wake of the Iowa caucuses, in which Trump finished second, the conventional wisdom said the setback put the candidate on a trajectory towards inevitable failure: the Trump bubble had been pierced, the paper tiger had been exposed, and some degree of normalcy had been restored in the nominating fight.
 
No one is saying that anymore. On the contrary, chaos now reigns.
 
As we did after Iowa, let's again try to cut through the noise and break things down from a pitch-vs-hype-vs-truth perspective.
 
Donald Trump
 
The Pitch: "We are going to start winning again!" Trump said in his victory speech. "We are going to win so much. You are going to be so happy."
 
The Buzz: Meet the new GOP frontrunner, same as the old GOP frontrunner.
 
The Truth: It's interesting to see the Republican race effectively reset to where it stood before the Iowa caucuses. At that point, Trump was on track to prevail, and now he's right back where he was. Just as important, the road ahead looks favorable -- Trump enjoys big leads in South Carolina polling -- titling the odds further in his favor.
 
John Kasich
 
The Pitch: The Ohio governor suddenly has the "GOP establishment" lane all to himself.
 
The Buzz: A strong showing in New Hampshire doesn't negate the fact that Kasich is poorly positioned to compete in the next round of primaries and caucuses.
 
The Truth: Kasich deserves enormous credit for implementing an effective New Hampshire strategy, built largely on a foundation of retail politicking and a unique, positive message. His second-place showing, outperforming polling averages, gives the governor renewed credibility as a national candidate. What it does not give him, however, are the resources and organizational structure he needs to move forward. The best case scenario for Kasich: other establishment-style Republicans quickly drop out and endorse him.
Close race in NH means every vote counts

Close race in NH means every vote counts

02/09/16 08:01PM

Brian Williams and Rachel Maddow emphasize that even though projected winners in the New Hampshire primary have been declared before all of the voting is finished, the extremely close race for second place among Republicans means every remaining vote is still very important. watch

Tuesday's Mini-Report, 2.9.16

02/09/16 05:30PM

Today's edition of quick hits:
 
* Iraq: "In an address to the nation Tuesday night, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi congratulated the Iraqi people on the liberation of Ramadi and the opening of a road connecting the western city to the Iraqi capital, Baghdad."
 
* Texas can't block Syrian refugees: "U.S. District Court Judge David Godbey of Dallas ruled on Monday that it was not up to the courts to interfere with issues that should be handled by the executive branch and that Texas officials failed to prove the state could win its lawsuit challenging the process of finding refugees new homes."
 
* Not sure what to make of this one: "The Obama administration is 'on the verge of taking action' against the Islamic State in Libya, where the terrorist network has flourished in recent months, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee told POLITICO on Tuesday."
 
* At the height of the recession, there were 6.8 unemployed workers for every job opening. Now, that number has improved to just 1.4.
 
* Maine Gov. Paul LePage (R) decided to issue a written State of the State address, rather than deliver an address to members of Maine's legislature. It's an odd, eight-page document, which uses the word "socialist" a lot.
Voters in Manchester, N.H., on Election Day. (Photo by Kayana Szymczak/The Boston Globe/Getty)

The New Hampshire primary and an eye towards history

02/09/16 03:55PM

Ahead of the Iowa caucuses last week, candidates and their allies were reminded that history casts an interesting light on the context: plenty of candidates who came up short in the Hawkeye State have gone on to do quite well, just as plenty of candidates who thrived in Iowa ended up failing soon after.
 
In 2008, for example, John McCain barely tried to compete in the caucuses -- he ended up finishing fourth -- but he nevertheless won his party's nomination with relative ease. In 1988, George H.W. Bush finished third in Iowa -- six points behind a televangelist, believe it or not -- but nine months later he was nevertheless elected president.
 
The New Hampshire primary, however, is a very different story. Future nominees and future presidents have done well in the first-in-the-nation primary, and those who've finished outside of the top two in the Granite State have, without exception, failed.
 
We can start with the Democrats, because it's easy: there are only two contenders. Of the last six New Hampshire primaries, the party's presidential nominee has finished first three times, and finished second three times. What does that tell us about Hillary Clinton's and Bernie Sanders' odds of 2016 success? Not a whole lot.
 
But among Republicans, it's a more interesting story.
U.S. President Barack Obama delivers remarks to promote themes from his State of the Union address at McKinley High School in Baton Rouge, La., Jan. 14, 2016. (Photo by Carlos Barria/Reuters)

Conservative pundit: Obama's integrity 'taken for granted'

02/09/16 12:40PM

With less than a year remaining in Barack Obama's presidency, many observers are already focusing on the substantive elements of his legacy: ending the Great Recession, bringing affordable health care to millions, rescuing the American auto industry, restoring the nation's international credibility, and so on.
 
But every president is judged not only by what they accomplish in office, but also what they bring to the presidency itself. What kind of people were they? What kind of leadership qualities did they demonstrate? How did they conduct themselves in one of the world's most difficult jobs?
 
The New York Times' David Brooks, in the midst of a mild panic about what's become of his Republican Party, devoted his column today to an under-appreciated facet of the Obama era: the president's capacity for dignity and grace. The center-right columnist, not surprisingly, makes clear he disagrees with many of Obama's "policy decisions," but Brooks says he's going to miss this president anyway.
[O]ver the course of this campaign it feels as if there's been a decline in behavioral standards across the board. Many of the traits of character and leadership that Obama possesses, and that maybe we have taken too much for granted, have suddenly gone missing or are in short supply. [...]
 
Obama radiates an ethos of integrity, humanity, good manners and elegance that I'm beginning to miss, and that I suspect we will all miss a bit, regardless of who replaces him.
Brooks' compelling case highlighted the president's (1) "basic integrity" and ability to maintain a "remarkably scandal-free" administration; (2) sense of "basic humanity"; (3) "soundness in his decision-making process"; (4) "grace under pressure"; and (5) "resilient sense of optimism."
 
It's a welcome assessment, not just because it's a Republican pundit praising a Democratic president, but because Brooks is entirely right about this aspect of the Obama era being taken for granted.
 
Though, once he leaves office, that's likely to change.

Tuesday's Campaign Round-Up, 2.9.16

02/09/16 12:00PM

Today's installment of campaign-related news items from across the country.
 
* Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), a prominent Marco Rubio booster, tried to defend the Florida senator against criticism yesterday from Chris Christie. As part of the pushback, Issa said the New Jersey governor is "a lot overweight."
 
* If John Kasich struggles in today's New Hampshire primary, his campaign is likely finished, so it was of interest yesterday when the Ohio governor's super PAC made six-figure ad buys in Nevada and South Carolina -- the next two states holding nominating contests.
 
* On a related note, Christie would presumably be in big trouble if he fares poorly tonight, but his campaign released a schedule of upcoming Christie events in South Carolina, suggesting the governor intends to stick around for a while.
 
* Speaking of Christie, two of Mitt Romney's closest advisers decided to become campaign contributors to the New Jersey governor after seeing his performance in Saturday night's debate.
 
* Marco Rubio continues to rack up endorsements from Capitol Hill, where Sen. Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) threw her support to the Florida senator yesterday.
 
* The Iowa Democratic Party conducted a review of last week's caucus results, and though it discovered "errors in the results from five precincts," it concluded that Hillary Clinton still narrowly defeated Bernie Sanders.

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Launched in 2008, “The Rachel Maddow Show” follows the machinations of policy making in America, from local political activism to international diplomacy. Rachel Maddow looks past the distractions of political theater and stunts and focuses on the legislative proposals and policies that shape American life - as well as the people making and influencing those policies and their ultimate outcome, intended or otherwise.

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