Sanders eked out a narrow victory in New Hampshire Tuesday night, but after a muddled one in Iowa, and recent polling showing him leading the field nationally and in the crucial Super Tuesday state of California, the Vermont Independent has unquestionably claimed the lead spot in the 2020 Democratic presidential primary race.
With 90% of precincts counted, Sanders had 26% of the vote and about a 4,000-vote lead over former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg who had 24.4% of the vote. Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar finished an unexpectedly strong third with nearly 20% of the vote, reflecting strong enthusiasm among New Hampshire voters for a moderate, young, but still experienced, alternative to take on President Trump.
Shortly before midnight, Sanders claimed victory, hitting the winning themes of his campaign.
“With victories behind us, the popular vote in Iowa and the victory here tonight, we’re going to Nevada, we’re going to South Carolina, and we’re going to win those states as well,” Sanders told his supporters. “We are taking on billionaires and candidates funded by billionaires, but we are going to win because we have the agenda that speaks to working people throughout this country.”
The Granite State ended the campaigns of businessman Andrew Yang and Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet, who hung it up after unsurprisingly dismal showings in the second primary state. But it could also mark the beginning of the end of the campaigns of former Vice President Joe Biden, who finished a remarkable fifth, and Sen. Elizabeth Warren who finished a distant fourth even though she’s a sitting senator in neighboring Massachusetts.
Both vowed to fight on even after they each got under 10% of the vote, not even enough to secure a single national delegate from the state.
Biden told a crowd in South Carolina, where he absconded to long before results even began to be tallied in New Hampshire, that he’d refuse to concede until voters of color, particularly African-Americans, had a chance to vote.
“We just heard from the first two of 50 states. Two of them. Not all the nation — not half the nation … two.”
“It ain’t over man, we’re just getting started,” he said Tuesday night. “We just heard from the first two of 50 states. Two of them. Not all the nation — not half the nation … two. Where I come from, that’s the opening bell.”
Warren, on the other hand, said her campaign is built to last and continued to make the case that she is the only candidate who can unify the moderate and progressive wings of the party.