What are the consequences of New Hampshire?

This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," February 9, 2016. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


SEN. MARCO RUBIO, R, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: In most races, delegates are a foregone conclusion. But in this race with this many people, delegates are going to matter.

GOV. JOHN KASICH, R, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's really been a great run. I've had an absolute ball, and of course I'll be back for the fall campaign.

DONALD TRUMP, R, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I just want to do well. I want to win even if it's by one vote. I would like to do it maybe a little better than that, but I want to win. It's very important to me.

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE, R, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This is far from over. We have work to do. This is going to be incredibly close, everybody.

JEB BUSH, R, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's amazing how many people don't make their mind up until the very he said. It is a uniquely New Hampshire experience.


BAIER: It is uniquely New Hampshire, late deciders. And late deciders are having a big impact tonight from everything we're seeing so far. We also want to show you this ballot I showed you the other night. There are 30 names on the Republican side on this ballot, and it's pretty interesting to see. And there you see a sample ballot there.

As far as who people are talking about on Facebook, Donald Trump and John Kasich are leading the way. And on the Democratic side, it is Bernie Sanders. And there you see kind of the breakdown on the conversation that they're having, the economy driving the issues.

Let's bring in our expanded panel, Steve Hayes, senior writer for "The Weekly Standard," James Pindell, a political reporter for the "Boston Globe," Kirsten Powers, "USA Today" columnist, David Catanese, senior politics writer for "U.S. News and World Report." OK, guys, we are digesting some of these numbers. Obviously voting is still going on. I want to be careful about characterizing some of it. But Steve, what do you see here.

STEVE HAYES, SENIOR WRITER, "THE WEEKLY STANDARD": Certainly on the issues, Donald Trump is dominating. He's dominating across the board on the issues. Immigration, people who said that was their most important issue, Donald Trump took 44 percent, economy and jobs, 30 percent, terrorism, 26 percent, government spending, 29 percent. The top choice of all of the issues sets was Donald Trump. He also did quite well among vote who say they value a candidate who tells it like it is, someone who is blunt and straightforward. And 62 percent of voters who saw that as the most important characteristic of a candidate picked Donald Trump. I think that probably stepped a lot on Chris Christie since that was his campaign slogan, telling it like it is.

BAIER: James, evangelical voters, smaller population here in New Hampshire. Ted Cruz, I talked to him about it today. It doesn't line up perfectly for him. But if he finishes in the top three he could get some wind behind his sails heading to South Carolina.

JAMES PINDELL, "BOSTON GLOBE": That's right. And he should finish quite well. One thing he's been able to do in this state, and he did it a couple months ago, is consolidate conservatives behind him. Those people who think that Ted Cruz and New Hampshire do not mix, you do have to understand that there are so many candidates and the vote is split so many different ways that if first place is around 30 percent, the second place, you're in the teens. And are one-fifth of New Hampshire Republican Ted Cruz Republicans? You bet.

BAIER: And you've been here this turnout. Is it living up to everything the secretary of state said?

PINDELL: It has been. We have been hearing reports. You had a traffic jam just south of here earlier today. You are seeing record turnout in a lot of different communities tonight.

BAIER: Kirsten?

KIRSTEN POWERS, COLUMNIST, "USA TODAY": I think one of the things I've been looking for is the Sanders phenomenon has been a lot about him digging into a little bit to some of Hillary's strongholds last time, people who made less than $50,000, for example, he is doing very well with them tonight. With women, he was in the polls before we came into this he was doing much better than Barack Obama did against Hillary Clinton. We're seeing that sort of being borne out. He is getting pretty broad based support, Sanders is getting pretty broad based support from pretty much everybody. But in particular it's interesting, if you look at women, he's doing very well.

BAIER: On the Republican side, David, I think you can't really look at these numbers and say definitively Marco Rubio took it on the chin from that debate. But you can say that late deciders looked at Trump and looked at Kasich and didn't seem to be looking too much for Marco Rubio.

DAVID CATANESE, "U.S. NEWS AND WORLD REPORT": I did talk to a Republican pollster with access to Ted Cruz's final polling over the weekend and said that they tracked a precipitous decline of Rubio over the weekend, not just on the ballot which was 67 points but also his favorability rating went down. So the Cruz people are hoping that this hurts Rubio, because a third place finish for Cruz here would be great. A fourth place finish would be fine. But if Rubio ends up in fifth place tonight, or in fourth place, I think that's a big story.

The other big thing is what is Donald Trump's number and margin? Everybody agrees he's going to win, but did he get over 30 percent? Does he win by five points or 10 points? I think that's a big part of the narrative.

PINDELL: To pick up on what David just said here, New Hampshire is supposed to decide this establishment lane. And what happens if it doesn't? It may well just go to South Carolina if these folks are clumped between second and fifth. And the second part of that is what happened exactly with Marco Rubio? I think if you're Jeb Bush, you just want Marco Rubio somewhat damaged. You can go below him. You want him damaged going forward.

HAYES: I don't think Bush can finish below Rubio. I think that's trouble. Bush is clearly going on. The super PAC is spending in these states. But I think if he finishes below Rubio in fourth or fifth place that will be trouble.

The other interesting number that jumped out at me was people who thought electability was most important. Rubio won that here in New Hampshire as well as in Iowa, but it is a much smaller share of the voters. Here only11 percent said that was their most important candidate characteristic. In Iowa it was 21 percent. Rubio won 44 percent of those in Iowa, 37 percent here. So he took a little hit here.

BAIER: Yes, polls are again still open some of them all the way until 8:00 p.m. eastern time. I brought in Facebook and the conversation on Facebook earlier. Google also provides data and what the search is. And there you see the latest breakdown, Rubio, Carson, Kasich, interestingly one of the top questions about Donald Trump, "where does Donald Trump stay in New Hampshire?" That was a search question on Google.


BAIER: Kirsten, from those conversations, sometimes we can see what people are interested in.

POWERS: It is fascinating to watch the types of things. We actually know where he's staying. I think he is staying in our hotel, the lovely Holiday Inn, Manchester. So I think the great thing about this also is just the excitement we've seen in this election that people have gotten so engaged, especially on the Republican side. At least in 2008 it was the Democrats, and now you see that kind of excitement for this race.

BAIER: Quickly.

CATANESE: Speaking of staying, back to James' point, does New Hampshire winnow the field at all? I think it might for Chris Christie. If he is in single digits, I think Jeb may stay in, Kasich, obviously all go on. But is Chris Christie still a candidate a week from now? That's another question I have. If he is below 10 percent, is anybody going to give him money? Does he have a rationale to go on in sixth place?

CATANESE: I hate to say it, but also Carly Fiorina.

BAIER: Which is also interesting. After the debate he went on the attack, and was it a double edged sword.

Next up, we talk about the Democrats. And as we go to break, a look at a Salem polling place here in New Hampshire. They're still voting, at least one guy is. And as the time ticks down I caught up with Dr. Ben Carson at a diner today and asked him about his thoughts on this day and his way forward.

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