Sanders narrowly wins in New Hampshire Democratic primary as Biden lags badly
MANCHESTER, NH (Reuters) – Bernie Sanders narrowly won New Hampshire’s Democratic presidential primary on Tuesday, solidifying his front-runner status in the White House race and dealing a setback to moderate rival Joe Biden, who finished in a disappointing fifth place.
Moderate Pete Buttigieg, the 38-year-old former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, finished a close second after edging out Sanders in last week’s chaotic and disputed first nominating contest in Iowa. Both campaigns have asked for a partial recanvass of Iowa results.
Sanders, a progressive senator from neighboring Vermont, prevailed after fending off attacks from rivals who warned his far-left views would lead the party to defeat in the Nov. 3 election against Republican President Donald Trump.
“This victory here is the beginning of the end for Donald Trump,” Sanders told supporters in Manchester, New Hampshire.
Sanders’ supporters booed when Buttigieg’s post-primary speech was shown on screens, and chanted “Wall Street Pete.”
It was also a good night for Senator Amy Klobuchar, who rode a wave of momentum from a strong debate on Friday into a third-place finish.
Biden, the former vice president who was once the front-runner in the Democratic race, limped to his second consecutive poor finish after placing fourth in Iowa. He is certain to face growing questions about his campaign’s viability and his ability to consolidate moderate support against a surging Buttigieg and Klobuchar.
Biden fared poorly in two previous runs for president before winning election in 2008 as President Barack Obama’s No. 2. He hopes to stay afloat this time until the Feb. 29 contest in South Carolina and a series of contests in other Southern states on Super Tuesday on March 3, where his support among African Americans will be a strength.
Without strong showings there, his race could be over.
‘IT AIN’T OVER’
“It ain’t over, man. It’s just getting started,” Biden told supporters in South Carolina.
US Senator Elizabeth Warren, a progressive ally of Sanders who was considered a favorite in New Hampshire three months ago, also had a bad night. She finished fourth, and also will face questions about her continued viability.
For Sanders, who won New Hampshire in 2016 with 60% of the vote against eventual nominee Hillary Clinton, the results offered new momentum but not the overwhelming win he had hoped for given his history in the state. Exit polls showed he only won about two-thirds of his 2016 primary supporters.
The results began to thin the field of Democrats seeking the right to take on Trump in November, with businessman Andrew Yang and Senator Michael Bennet dropping out after it became clear they would finish well out of the running. CBS News reported that Deval Patrick, the former Massachusetts governor, would drop out on Wednesday.
Democratic voters in New Hampshire chose a candidate from a ballot with 33 names, including those who dropped out weeks ago. But it did not include former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a billionaire who is not competing in any states before the 14 Super Tuesday primaries on March 3.
Bloomberg has been rising in polls, aided by his massive personal spending on campaign advertising, and is betting on doing well in bigger states such as California and Texas.
In New Hampshire, turnout was approaching the record 287,000 who cast ballots in the 2008 New Hampshire Democratic primary, when the battle between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton energized the party. That could ease Democratic concerns about the smaller-than-expected turnout in Iowa last week.
Democrats in New Hampshire and in the other states that will vote in the state-by-state battle for the Democratic nomination are trying to decide whether they want to pick a moderate like Buttigieg, Klobuchar, Bloomberg or Biden, or progressive leaders like Sanders and Warren, who represents neighboring Massachusetts.