John Kasich (R) was ultimately fighting for first or second place in the New Hampshire primary. He'd put all of his organizational 'eggs' into the basket, and came out with the expected second place finish that most polls had him in a 3- to 4-way tie.
The 'shocker' for Tuesday night was that both Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders came close to (or in Trump's case exceeded) polling expectations, while the rest of the pack, except Kasich, did remarkably worse.
Both Trump and Sanders swept every county in New Hampshire, with Sanders collecting the biggest win a Democrat has scored in modern elections.
The rest of the GOP primary electorate, while still consisting of 47 percent of the total vote, was definitely scattered between the six lower finishers in the Republican primary. None of these candidates came within the margin of error for 'claiming' a tie for second place, with Ted Cruz coming closest--but still 4 points back.
This was the real shock of the night -- that 47 percent of the Republican electorate is so fractured in ideology that they cannot unify their votes behind a majority candidate.
With no sign of anyone dropping out after New Hampshire, the current lineup is most likely to be set through Super Tuesday -- when 13 Republican contests will be held.
From a Republican establishment position, this could be a party disaster -- the possibility that Trump might accumulate an insurmountable lead on Super Tuesday with less-than-majority wins. And considering the last two election cycles, where Mitt Romney and John McCain racked up huge leads in delegates (225 & 511, respectively), the party has a legitimate worry.
Can a candidate who has yet to break 40 percent in a primary win in the general election?
The common theme of most party primaries is that everyone battles it out until a winner is decided, but when it's time for the general election, everyone becomes 'friends' again -- ready to take on their mutual 'enemy.'
Will such a fractured Republican Party be able to do this in 2016? This is the main concern of the establishment.
South Carolina will be the next big test, with about the same number of delegates up for grabs as Iowa and New Hampshire combined.
So while Sanders can enjoy his decisive win over Clinton in New Hampshire, the real shocker of the night will be how the Republican Party deals with an electorate faithfully voting for their favorites among the bottom of the pack. With no clear answer, Republicans may be handed the first Super Tuesday ever with a non-majority winner.
Photo Source: AP