What was extraordinary about the gathering was that I talked to a lot of people there, politically active Republicans, and most of them told me they personally didn't know anyone who supported Trump. Asked about the Trump lead, one very well-connected New Hampshire Republican told me, "I don't see it. I don't feel it. I don't hear it, and I spend part of every day with Republican voters."
Readers of the story came to one of two conclusions. Either New Hampshire Republican leaders were so out of touch that they couldn't tell something huge was happening right under their noses, or there really weren't very many Trump voters, and the Trump phenomenon was a mirage that would fade before election day.
Now, with Trump's smashing victory in the New Hampshire primary, we know the answer. There really were a lot of Trump voters out there, and party officials could not, or did not want, to see them.CNN reports:
Exit poll results from the New Hampshire primary on Tuesday night showed deep discontent with the Republican Party and the federal government, and the candidate who railed hardest on those topics, Donald Trump, won with multiple groups of voters.
Trump won New Hampshire's primary by carrying a range of demographic and ideological groups with more than 30% of the vote. He topped the rest of the field among both men and women, voters under age 64, voters without a college degree, and those who have a college degree but no postgraduate study.
He won among conservatives and moderates, first-time voters and those who've voted before and registered Republicans and those who are undeclared.
Trump won 6-in-10 voters who said they were looking for an outside candidate.At The Washington Post, Philip Bump looks at how Rubio crashed:
But New Hampshire also exposed a weakness for Trump: late-deciding voters, who made up almost half the Republican vote, broke evenly between Trump and Ohio Gov. John Kasich.
We can say pretty conclusively that a look at polls in New Hampshire on the day of the Iowa caucuses (when Rubio had an average of 9.5 percent) and a look at the final result would suggest that Rubio had no bump during the last week -- or that, if he did, the tide went out as suddenly as it came in.
Rubio was the favorite target of other people in that middle tier over the week, which was precisely why Christie went after him. Maybe that, as much as the debate, was what New Hampshire was reacting to, if it was reacting to anything.
Rubio's speech on Tuesday night may have been wrong. But it was purposeful. Rubio recognized that he did badly in New Hampshire, and, in front of his supporters, pointed to the broken part of his campaign that he said had caused it.