Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders has won the New Hampshire primary election, besting several other candidates to be top-of-the-pack in the nation’s first primary race to determine who should be the Democratic nominee for president.
Sanders’s win on Tuesday is without a doubt a positive thing for him, and perhaps a sign that Democrats across the nation are ready to elect someone with more progressive viewpoints. Sanders, a self-described democratic socialist, had been criticized many times by media for having stances that are too far left of the mainstream, which some have argued could be detrimental in the general election, should he become the Dems’ pick.
Polling suggests otherwise. According to Quinnipiac University’s numbers, Sanders polls nationally with 51 percent of the public supporting him in a hypothetical matchup against President Donald Trump, who only receives the support of 43 percent in the poll released earlier this week.
However, even with Sanders winning Tuesday night, and his poll numbers showing he is a viable candidate to take on Trump, his campaign shouldn’t be expecting the next contests to be a walk in the park.
Momentum is on Sanders’ side, having basically tied for first in the Iowa Caucus and winning first place in the New Hampshire primary. But it’s the outcomes of the other candidates who lost that he should be worried about.
With 87 percent of the polls reporting (as of 8 a.m. EST on Wednesday), Sanders only defeated second-place winner Mayor Pete Buttigieg by a margin of 1.4 percent. That spread could change as more places report their final numbers, but it still demonstrates a pretty small spread of victory.
Breaking: Bernie Sanders has won the New Hampshire primary, scoring a big shot of momentum in the Democratic presidential race after last week’s messy Iowa results https://t.co/5TxlaCfXaS #NHprimary2020 pic.twitter.com/IX3wDnpAK5
— POLITICO (@politico) February 12, 2020
Buttigieg led the centrist candidates in the primary, but he was by no means the only one who did well. Sen. Amy Klobuchar also performed well, attaining nearly 20 percent of the vote. If you combine hers and Buttigieg’s numbers (along with former Vice President Joe Biden’s surprisingly low finish of 8.4 percent), and you see where the trouble may be for the more progressive Sanders: the centrist candidates actually took home more than 52 percent of the statewide vote.
Will that matter down the road? It might. If some centrist candidates drop out, and voters pool around the remaining candidates(s) that match their less-than-leftist leanings, it could result in wins going to them in the future. It could also pan out that a contested DNC convention may end up with more delegates who are in the center, even though Sanders may technically have won more votes or states (that’s assuming he keeps on winning, too).
Momentum is a huge thing in primary elections. Undoubtedly, Sanders will get a huge bump heading into South Carolina’s contest next week. But if New Hampshire’s trends continue onward in upcoming primaries, it’s difficult to see how Sanders ends up the party’s nominee.