Washington (CNN)Here are the four takeaways for what's happening on the ground in New Hampshire.
The 4 keys to understand New Hampshire's #FITN primary
There's no question when you go to the other candidates' rallies, a lot of people are motivated by voting against Donald Trump. You hear them at events for candidates who are considered more establishment, like Marco Rubio or Jeb Bush. Some veteran Republicans here say they think it would be embarrassing for New Hampshire and its rich tradition for Donald Trump to win. Why? They feel he isn't a real Republican and therefore shouldn't win the first-in-the-nation primary.
There's a real race for the second and third spots out of New Hampshire. You meet people who are torn between Trump and his more establishment counterparts like Rubio, Chris Christie, Bush and John Kasich. Even though there are voters who want to cast a ballot against Trump, the anti-Trump forces are split and splintered now. In Iowa, they largely rallied around Rubio or Ted Cruz. Therefore, Trump was knocked down. In New Hampshire, opposition to Trump appears to be splintered.
Also, Trump has such a big lead, it still looks like he'll get what he needs: a win. Back-to-back losses would puncture the Trump brand.
New Hampshire voters could have the role of picking the establishment or center-right alternative to Cruz and Trump. The establishment wing of the Republican party wanted New Hampshire to give them a candidate they could rally behind in contests beyond the Granite State. That means Cruz as the tea party evangelical candidate and Trump as the disruptor, outsider candidate, and the establishment thought its odds of beating those two would get better if it had one candidate.
But it doesn't look like that's going to happen. There's no question there are a lot of establishment Republicans vying for that spot. But the race is crowded and you can find crowds at all sorts of rallies, whether its Christie, Bush, Kasich or Rubio. It doesn't look like any one of them is going to pull far away. It looks like New Hampshire's role won't be to pick one establishment candidate. It may be to send two on for that decisive decision to be made elsewhere.
The fact that New Hampshire, the second contest, could be Bush's last stand, given the family history, given his advantages, and predictions from the beginning of the race: It's pretty stunning. Jeb Bush could wake up Wednesday morning and have to have a conversation with himself and his team about whether to stay in the race. He was the Republican party's $100 million man. He was the early favorite, maybe the nominal front-runner. Then Trump got in and changed everything. Bush realizes New Hampshire's importance and its urgency. So what does he do in the last week? He rolls out his mother. He has his brother do a TV ad. In his head, he has another fight in him. But the money will dry up if he is behind the other two or three establishment choices in New Hampshire after the disappointment in Iowa.
It is fascinating to watch Hillary Clinton, and maybe even more so the people around her, deal with the fact that Bernie Sanders is for real. They've always thought of him as a protest candidate. They've thought of him as a message candidate. They thought there's no way this 70-something guy from Vermont, who spent most of his life as a socialist and not a Democrat, would pose a threat to their candidate.
You can tell it's sort of under the Clinton camp's skin. It doesn't just challenge them; it annoys them. You see that from Clinton, who has tried to push back at Sanders on who's the real progressive. In the last debate especially, she went after his record on immigration votes and his record on gun votes. But even more so, you can see how the Sanders threat is being handled with her loyal surrogates. Madeleine Albright used as an attack dog? That's a line she has used before and it's a line that has been used before in politics, but to use that line slamming young women who are for Sanders just days before New Hampshire votes? It's just proof that there was this disbelief inside the Clinton campaign about Sanders. It's clearly under their skin and they're trying to find a way to deal with it.