There were so many factors at play in the Democratic New Hampshire primary on Tuesday it was hard to keep track. But if current trends continue Sanders won a close night by 2-4% over Buttigieg. Not quite his 40% shellacking of Hillary here in 2016.
General turnout, internecine warfare, home region advantage, Biden bugging out at the last minute, youth turnout, moderate turnout, and even weather all played into the result. Also telling was the efficient and timely reports of voting data.
When the smoke cleared socialist Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont won by good turnout combined with a close to home state advantage. Though Buttigieg was on his tail all night. 24 delegates to the national convention were at stake. They are parceled out by relative showing. At this point, with over 75% of precincts reporting, Sanders and Buttigieg have both earned 8 delegates each and Klobuchar 5.
Sanders also won here in 2016. This result shoves the Democratic Party even harder to the left. Which pleases the president. But the Vermonter may not be so popular with southern voters on Super Tuesday.
Nevertheless, this will propel Bernie to the top of the pack. Buttigieg scored very well in second place, coming up close on Sanders’ rear at the end. Finishing third Klobuchar exceeded expectations and is now a top tier player. Warren will stay in the race but she did badly tonight. She’d be smarter to get out, endorse, and get a price for her approximately 10% of support.
As for Biden, his dismal fifth place showing will only amplify speculation that he should leave, or will leave, if he does not come in first in South Carolina on February 29th and one or two on Super Tuesday less than a week later.
As for the fallen by the wayside, Andrew Yang seems to be out of the race tonight and Tom Steyer is surely considering his options.
You can lose NH and still be president. Bill Clinton lost the NH primary in 1992, George W. Bush did the same in 2000, and Barack Obama lost in 2008. All went on win the big job. Harry Truman is the only incumbent president to ever lose a New Hampshire primary.
On the flip side others have won New Hampshire and gone on to lose the White House. Pat Buchanan pulled that off in 1996, John McCain in 2000, Estes Kefauver in both 1952 and 1956, Paul Tsongas in 1992, Hillary in 2008, and Sanders in 2016. So winning in New Hampshire tonight is not a sure lock on the Oval Office.
But it does get you closer to ultimate victory and lets voters, and more importantly donors, know you are a force to be reckoned with. It also usually assures you a nifty prime time speaking speaking slot at the convention.
Which means we’ll be listening to Bernie Sanders for at least about thirty minutes in July. Because it’s Sanders it’ll seem like hours. There could be worse things though, like listening to Liz Warren for any time at all.