Bernie Sanders wins New Hampshire primary with Buttigieg second

Bernie Sanders won the New Hampshire primary on Tuesday night, with Pete Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, coming in a close second.

“Let me say that this victory here is the beginning of the end for Donald Trump,” Sanders said, hailing his “unprecedented grassroots movement” from coast to coast.

“It is not just about beating Trump it is about transforming this country,” Sanders said, ending his remarks with a nod to the next contests later this month. “It’s on to Nevada. It’s on to South Carolina. It’s on to win the Democratic nomination.”

On Wednesday morning, with 97% of New Hampshire precincts reporting, Sanders had taken 25.7% of the vote compared with Buttigieg’s 24.4%. Minnesota senator Amy Klobuchar celebrated a surprise surge into third place with 20%.

The Massachusetts senator Elizabeth Warren slumped in fourth with just 9% of the vote, a shade ahead of the now-ailing campaign of former vice-president Joe Biden, who came in fifth with 8.4% support – another disappointing result for the long-favoured frontrunner following last week’s chaotic Iowa caucuses.

The primaries and caucuses are a series of contests, in all 50 US states plus Washington DC and outlying territories, by which each party selects its presidential nominee. 

The goal for presidential candidates is to amass a majority of delegates, whose job it is to choose the nominee at the party’s national convention later in the year. In some states, delegates are awarded on a winner-take-all basis; other states split their delegates proportionally among top winners.

The New Hampshire results underscore Sanders’ position as the new frontrunner. The results also call into question the long-term viability of Biden and Warren’s respective campaigns. At the same time, Klobuchar’s third place showing suggests her campaign could outlast some of her better-known rivals.

In his speech to supporters, 38-year-old Buttigieg congratulated Sanders, but then offered a thinly veiled criticism of his 78-year-old competitor, saying voters should not have to choose between “revolution” and the “status quo”.

“Most Americans don’t see where they fit in that polarizing vision,” Buttigieg said.

New Hampshire put an end to some long-shot candidacies. Businessman and political newcomer Andrew Yang had attracted a small but loyal following with his signature policy offering Americans a universal basic income, but said the numbers were not there for him to claim a path to the nomination. He called it “bitterly disappointing”.

Colorado senator Michael Bennet also suspended his campaign on Tuesday night. On Wednesday, former Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick dropped out, saying: “The vote in New Hampshire last night was not enough for us to create the practical wind at the campaign’s back to go on to the next round of voting. So I have decided to suspend the campaign, effective immediately.”

Those announcements left just eight candidates in the Democratic primary. None of the remaining major candidates are African American, a stark contrast to the early months of the primary.

Elizabeth Warren answers questions in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, on Monday.
Elizabeth Warren answers questions in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, on Monday. Photograph: Brian Snyder/Reuters

After more than a year of campaigning, hundreds of events and millions of dollars spent, the New Hampshire primary came just over a week after the Iowa caucuses, which ended in chaos over the reporting of the results. No clear single victor has been officially declared.

Speaking to her supporters on Tuesday, Warren said it had been a good night for Sanders and Buttigieg, and congratulated Klobuchar on “showing just how wrong the pundits can be when they count a woman out”.

But she also said that it was still in the race – just “two states in, with 55 states and territories to go” – and once again attempted to cast herself as the candidate who can “unite this party and this country”.

After her strong performance at a televised debate on Friday, Klobuchar surged to third place, after placing fifth in Iowa, where she had devoted the majority of her resources.

“Hello America, my name is Amy Klobuchar and I will beat Donald Trump,” the senator told a crowd of about 400 people in New Hampshire. “My heart is full tonight. While there are still ballots left to count, we have beaten the odds every step of the way.”

Anticipating a lackluster result, Biden headed to South Carolina hours before the results were released.

His campaign is banking on strong support from black voters in South Carolina, which votes at the end of the month. Biden polls ahead of Sanders and Buttigieg among minority voters.

Democratic turnout was better in New Hampshire than Iowa. With 90% of the estimated vote reporting, the vote tally had already surpassed 2016’s 250,983, according to NBC News, and was approaching 2008’s record of 288,672 voters.

Trump’s 2016 win was attributed, in part, to an enthusiasm gap, with some Barack Obama voters staying home instead of voting for Hillary Clinton. After Iowa, fears had mounted that Democratic voters might again be less enthused by their choices, but New Hampshire’s turnout is a source of encouragement.

Trump, who faces no serious challenger for his party’s nomination, easily won the New Hampshire Republican primary on Tuesday night.

One person looming over the Democratic race was fellow candidate and former New York mayor and centrist Michael Bloomberg, the billionaire who decided to completely forgo New Hampshire and all other early primary states to instead invest heavily in the crucial set of Super Tuesday states that vote on 3 March – an unconventional and risky strategy.

Additional reporting by Joan E Greve, Lauren Gambino and Adam Gabbatt


Daniel Strauss in Manchester, New Hampshire

The GuardianTramp

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