Two big stories have emerged from New Hampshire. The first is not surprising: Bernie Sanders has won. The second is that Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar have stolen Elizabeth Warren and Joe Biden’s thunder.
The ‘Klobucharge’ is the surprise of the evening. She is replacing Warren as the leading woman in the race and Biden as the moderate centrist. Warren’s campaign is not disintegrating quite as fast as Biden’s, and she was expecting a bad night — but not this bad.
The polls in recent days have shown Klobuchar thriving, but she seems to have surpassed even those. It is widely thought she did best in the last two TV debates. The Minnesota senator has excelled in a famously moderate and independent state — she was the only candidate on the New Hampshire debate state to raise her hand against socialism on Friday night.
Biden’s campaign is a wreck. He’s not in the state tonight, having decided to head to South Carolina, where polls suggest he is still ahead. That’s his last hope — but it is vanishing fast.
The other beneficiary of Biden and Warren’s demise is former South Bend mayor Pete Buttigieg, who is currently sandwiched between Sanders and Klobuchar in second. As the results come in, he is catching Bernie. Projections are that he will seven delegates to Bernie’s eight: putting him on ahead of Sanders in the total count (assuming controversial Iowa vote stands.)
The media will focus on Klobuchar, but it must be acknowledged Buttigieg is a major force in the Democratic primary.
Further down the ballot, entrepreneur Andrew Yang is set to suspend his campaign, according to reports from CNN and the New York Times. The UBI proponent failed to break 5 percent. Colorado senator Michael Bennet also dropped out after a poor showing.
Bernie fans will be happy tonight — but his campaign is lacking the vast momentum it needs. At his rally at Southern New Hampshire University, there were cheers — but the mood was not as jubilant as it was for Bernie in 2016.
That year he won the Granite State with a whopping 63 percent of the vote. Obviously there are far more horses in this year’s first primary — still, given the weakness of his rivals, and the power of his ground operation here, he may have expected to win by more. His radicalism has lost some of its edge. But it’s enough for tonight.