This article contains opinion.
After the drama of the Iowa caucuses, the second state to vote had a much better night.
New Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation primaries went off without a hitch Tuesday night, where Vermont senator Bernie Sanders claimed a slim victory against Pete Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Ind.
Sanders won 25.7 percent of the vote, with Buttigieg earning 24.4 percent. Both men will each earn nine total delegates of the 24 available in the Granite State, which keeps Buttigieg in the lead in delegate count based on the draw between the two in Iowa last week.
The remaining six delegates went to third-place finisher Amy Klobuchar. The Minnesota senator earned a great deal of momentum following a strong debate performance last Friday night and grabbed 19.8 percent of the vote.
On the Republican side, incumbent President Donald Trump won handily as expected, but had 9.1 percent of the vote taken from him by former Massachusetts governor Bill Weld, who has focused the majority of his campaign in New Hampshire. Weld is the last remaining major GOP candidate going against Trump but will not see a performance better than this as Trump will cruise to the nomination.
Going back to the Democrats, alarm bells are sounding in the campaigns of Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and former Vice President Joe Biden. The duo finished fourth and fifth Tuesday, each earning less than 10 percent of the vote and earning zero delegates as a result. Candidates in the Democratic Primary must earn at least 15 percent to earn any delegates. Warren, unlike Sanders, could not take advantage of the fact that she is from a neighboring state to New Hampshire, which generally can give candidates a boost.
As for Biden, he has run for president three times (1988, 2008 and 2020) and has never finished in the top three, let alone won, a single primary or caucus. The former vice president didn’t even stick around to hear the results, heading Tuesday to South Carolina, a state where he is still a favorite. If he can’t win South Carolina, his campaign may be all but finished before Super Tuesday comes around March 3.
The voting in New Hampshire quite literally did end a trio of campaigns, most prominently the political outsider and businessman Andrew Yang, who ended his run after earning 2.8 percent and an eighth-place finish. Senator Michael Bennet of Colorado and former Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick dropped out as well after each earning less than half a percent.
The victory was great news for Sanders, who is now the favorite in the race, not only because he is polling well nationally but just as much because Buttigieg isn’t doing well in those polls. Voters from more racially diverse states have taken to Sanders relatively well and don’t seem to be as supportive of Buttigieg or Klobuchar, who are expanding their campaign operations in Nevada and South Carolina, the two next states to vote. Things also look good for Sanders because only twice in the last 48 years has a candidate gone on to win the nomination without winning either Iowa or New Hampshire (George McGovern was second in both states in 1972, while Bill Clinton was third in Iowa and second in New Hampshire). Coincidence or not, that once again doesn’t bode well for Biden or anyone else other than Sanders or Buttigieg.
The big story heading into primary voting was that Sanders’ and Warren’s similar progressive policies would split their supporters’ votes, clearing the way for a more moderate candidate to win early states.
Just the opposite has happened, however; moderate votes have been mostly split between Buttigieg, Klobuchar and Biden, while Sanders has done much better than Warren among progressives.
In New Hampshire, that trio took 53 percent of the total vote, but with the split, Sanders was able to grab the victory. With the party not necessarily loving Sanders’ frontrunner status, it will be interesting to see what happens moving forward.