As expected, Vermont senator Bernie Sanders has won the New Hampshire Democratic primary.
With the final vote count showing 25.8% for Sanders, 24.5% for South Bend, Indiana mayor Pete Buttigieg, 19.8% for Minnesota senator Amy Klobuchar, and 9.3% for Massachusetts senator Elizabeth Warren, the Democratic Party is now stands sharply divided between its progressive and centrist constituencies.
One of the big stories this evening is Klobuchar’s late surge, following an impressive debate performance last Friday. With newfound momentum, her campaign hopes to capitalize on a rising tide to take her to the front of the pack.
Having eclipsed Warren as the main choice of the party’s left wing, Sanders now looks ahead to a more concentrated schedule of primaries. While Buttigieg currently leads the Vermont senator in the the delegate count 22-21, advance polling favours Sanders in the upcoming Nevada caucus (February 22nd) and South Carolina (February 29th).
This comes as sobering news to the Democratic Party’s centrist candidates. Buttigieg’s first-place showing in the Iowa caucuses and second-place in New Hampshire are likely the end of his early successes; having struggled to gain minority support, his numbers are expected to drop as the primaries move on to states with much larger black and Latino populations.
Biden, who finished a disastrous 5th in today’s New Hampshire voting, has seen his support erode precipitously all month. Originally, the upcoming South Carolina primary was seen as a Biden firewall due to his wide support in the black community, but it’s now looking as if he will come in a middling second to Sanders in that contest.
This raises the question: who will emerge as the surviving centrist Democratic candidate? There remains a large ideological bloc of opposition to Sanders in the Democratic Party, and it will no doubt coalesce behind another candidate. But seeing as the herd will thin after tonight’s results—businessman Andrew Yang has already suspended his campaign this evening, and Hawaii congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard probably isn’t far behind—who will be left? Is Klobuchar’s last-minute surge the shape of things to come, or merely a flash-in-the-pan?
Perhaps this is the moment that billionaire and former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg (who wasn’t even on the ballot in New Hampshire) has been waiting for. He’s been quietly and steadily peeling off support from other moderates, and has an unlimited war chest. But is he the savior that centrists have been hoping for? Or does he have the potential to play the part of a latter-day Ross Perot, another billionaire, who split the vote and handed a presidential election to his party’s opponent?
The winner of the Democratic nomination will face president Donald Trump in the general election on Tuesday, November 3rd.