Convincing victories by political outsiders in New Hampshire demonstrate without doubt that most voters are disgusted with both political parties. The electorate will probably make one of them — more likely Donald Trump — the next commander in chief.
Since 1976, just one candidate won his party's nomination after failing to win either Iowa or New Hampshire: Bill Clinton in 1992. While history clearly is not determinative, it can hardly be ignored.
On the Republican side, Mr. Trump won by a compelling margin in the Granite State over Iowa winner Ted Cruz — 36 to 12 percent — because he did well among both moderates and conservatives and most age categories, except the elderly. His diverse appeal among Republicans and independents will be tough for Mr. Cruz — who relies principally on religious conservatives and libertarians now that Rand Paul is out — to counter beyond southern states. Perhaps not even those places; he is polling a bad second to Mr. Trump in South Carolina.
As for the very moderate Gov. John Kasich — endorsed in New Hampshire by both the New York Times and Boston Globe — he devoted enormous resources to that small state. With Gov. Jeb Bush and Senator Rubio still in the mix, Mr. Kasich won't have the money to mount a successful southern strategy but could do decently enough in many of the 16 states holding contests on or before March 1 to be a king maker.
With five reasonably viable Republican candidates — Messrs. Trump, Cruz, Kasich, Bush and Rubio — and a few stubborn stragglers all winning some delegates, it will be tough for Mr. Trump to gather enough delegates before the national convention to lock up the nomination.
The most logical target for one of Mr. Trump's famous deals is Mr. Kasich, who unless he trips, should have a nice bundle of delegates to bargain.
Mr. Kasich, like Mr. Trump, is not an ideology-pure conservative — at least as measured by those who impose a litmus test, such as the National Review. Rather both are malleable personalities interested in workable solutions. For example, instead of denying poor folks health care for partisan reasons, the governor implemented the Medicaid provisions of the Affordable Care Act expansion in Ohio.
By offering Mr. Kasich the second spot on the ticket, Mr. Trump would show voters he is serious about finding help from seasoned politicians to deliver on trade, immigration, health care and national security. On that score, if you can name a more solid candidate, then you can have my academic tenure.
Meanwhile, Bernie Sanders whipped Hillary Clinton across all demographic categories, including women, except voters over 65 in New Hampshire, But she still has a commanding hold on minority voters who are much more important in Democratic primaries elsewhere going forward.
To ultimately prevail, she will have to continue to emphasize positions that younger women embrace — such as the proposed Paycheck Fairness Act — and issues important to African-Americans and Hispanics: police behavior and social issues beyond simple economic justice.
That should be enough to ward off Mr. Sanders and win the Democratic nomination, but it will push her into an awkward position for the general election.
Criticizing police tactics to adequately appease Black Lives Matter advocates will alienate many white moderates. The notion that Ms. Clinton merits women's votes simply because she is a woman was roundly discredited in New Hampshire.
Young white women, along with young white men, often can't find jobs that make good use of their education or pay very well. And Democratic prescriptions like more taxes, further building out Obamacare, free trade and open immigration will not have the appeal of radical change offered by Mr. Trump.
If Mr. Trump moderates his rhetoric and with the help of Mr. Kasich polishes his pragmatism on taxes, health care, immigration and national security, he offers both sexes what they want most — a change in direction from the slow growth policies of Presidents Obama and Bush and the promise of a more effective national security policy.
Enter President Trump.
Peter Morici is an economist and business professor at the University of Maryland, and a national columnist. He tweets @pmorici1.