Results are still trickling in, but with 93% of the vote in it is possible to pick the winners and the losers in the New Hampshire primary. While Bernie Sanders "won," Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar were not far behind and between them showed that a majority of Democrats want a moderate for the Democrat nominee. Sander - like Trump - seems to have a near fanatical core base beyond which he cannot rise above. The big loser, however, was Joe Biden who landed in 5th place seeming revealing what I have long felt: he simple does not have the spark or generate the enthusiasm needed to run against Trump. Add his constant gaffes, and even if he does better in South Carolina, his campaign looks like it needs to fold its cards and go home. The other big loser was Elizabeth Warren who appears to have hemorrhaged support to Buttigieg and Klobuchar while never making inroads with Sanders' cult followers who do not grasp that winning only 25% of the party does not make Sanders' the choice of the people. A column in the Washington Post lays out a post mortem. Here are highlights:
The New Hampshire primary may very well be remembered for the third- through fifth-place finishers and for how surprisingly close the race between Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) — the overwhelming favorite who won with 60 percent in 2016 — and former South Bend, Ind., mayor Pete Buttigieg was. Sanders was leading in the polls, but he nearly fell to the former Midwest mayor less than half his age.
Sanders was projected as the winner, but the margin of his victory was modest (less than 2 percent). As in Iowa, he did not juice the turnout with an influx of new voters as he promised. The youngest voters made up 12 percent on Tuesday compared with 19 percent in 2016. The Democratic establishment has panicked at the prospect of a Sanders win, but he now looks like a vulnerable front-runner, with well over half of his support coming from voters 18 to 29 and more than half coming from “very liberal” voters. If he was looking to expand beyond his traditional base, he did not do it. He actually got a larger share of repeat voters than first-time voters.
With the electorate heavily skewed in favor of electability (60 percent) rather than agreement on the issues, and about half the voters finding Sanders too liberal, there is reason to believe voters have become wary of Sanders as the standard bearer in a must-win election. His base of support seems not to have grown significantly from the start of the race.
Buttigieg, who won the most delegates in Iowa, finished strong in New Hampshire as well, overcoming questions about his experience. Buttigieg did almost as well with younger voters as with older ones, a sign of expanding appeal. His support was rather evenly spread among all education levels. . . . . He has yet to make inroads with African American candidates in other states, but he has grown beyond his initial base (mostly college-educated and older voters).
The shocker was Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), who charged past her opponents so quickly the polls never full accounted for her surge. A week ago, no one would have foreseen she would get to almost 20 percent of the vote and a third-place finish. She won voters who wanted to continue President Barack Obama’s policies (Obama’s own vice president came in third in that segment of the electorate), older voters, religious voters and voters for whom the debate was an important factor.
She didn’t focus her campaign on being a female candidate, but rather on being a moderate, a problem-solver and a Midwestern winner. She says, “That’s how I’ve always won. . . . When you are feeling left out, it is not enough [to run on gender].”
She concedes she lost time while tied to her desk during the impeachment trial, noting “I like to talk to people on the ground.” But she used some of that time thinking about the race and solidifying her message. Despite the punditry, she never bought into the idea the party had moved far left.
The stunning collapse of former vice president Joe Biden, who finished fifth and will get no New Hampshire delegates, cannot be underestimated. If moderate voters and African Americans (many of whom are moderate) get the sense he is no longer viable, the floor may drop out from him in Nevada and South Carolina, bringing an end to any hope for victory.
If not for Biden, Warren, who finished under 10 percent and failed to get delegates in her own backyard, would have been the big loser. A campaign that once seemed so promising now will be hard pressed to stay alive until South Carolina. Her refusal to go after Sanders and her effort to adhere to him on Medicare-for-all only to back away may have been her undoing. In a speech to supporters, she seemed to swipe at Sanders when she criticized candidates’ who boo rivals and seem to want to “burn the party down.” Her stress on unifying the party may be overshadowed by both Buttigieg and Klobuchar, who have made this a centerpiece of their message.
The field did narrow, with two candidates dropping out: Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), who never came on the radar screen for primary voters, and Andrew Yang, the champion of the universal basic income.
Among the most striking aspects of the contest, the vote-share of the moderate candidates’ (Biden, Buttigieg, Klobuchar) came in at more than 50 percent, swamping that of progressives Sanders and Warren, who together accounted for less than 40 percent of the vote. Here is yet another sign that Democrats are giving careful consideration to winning an election, not merely making a statement. That might be the best news of all for Americans angst-ridden about a possible second Trump term.