Bernie Sanders narrowly won New Hampshire’s Democratic presidential primary on Tuesday, with 26 per cent of the votes, solidifying his front-runner status in the nominating race and dealing a setback to moderate rival Joe Biden, who appeared likely to finish a disappointing fifth.
Sanders, a progressive senator from neighbouring Vermont, fended off attacks from rivals who warned his far-left views would lead the party to defeat in the Nov. 3 election against Republican President Donald Trump.
“Let me take this opportunity to thank the people of New Hampshire for a great victory tonight,” Sanders told supporters in Manchester, New Hampshire.
Moderate Pete Buttigieg, the 38-year-old former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, was in second place with 24.4 per cent of the votes after edging out Sanders in last week’s chaotic and disputed first nominating contest in Iowa. Both campaigns have asked for a partial recanvass of Iowa results.
It was also a good night for Senator Amy Klobuchar, who rode a wave of momentum from a strong debate on Friday into an apparent third-place finish, with 19.8 per cent of the votes, in projections by the networks and Reuters.
Biden, the former vice president who was once the front-runner in the Democratic race, limped to his second consecutive poor finish, winning just 8 per cent, after placing fourth in Iowa. He is certain to face growing questions about his campaign’s viability and his ability to consolidate moderate support against a surging Buttigieg and Klobuchar.
Biden fared poorly in two previous runs for president before winning election in 2008 as President Barack Obama’s No. 2. He hopes to stay afloat this time until the Feb. 29 contest in South Carolina and a series of contests in other Southern states on Super Tuesday on March 3, where his support among African Americans will be a strength.
Without strong showings there, his race could be over.
“It ain’t over, man. It’s just getting started,” Biden told supporters in South Carolina.
U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren, a progressive ally of Sanders who was considered a favorite in New Hampshire three months ago, also had a bad night. She finished fourth, and also will face questions about her continued viability.
The results began to thin the field of Democrats seeking the right to take on Trump in the Nov. 3 election, with businessman Andrew Yang and Senator Michael Bennet dropping out after it became clear they would finish well out of the running. CBS News reported that Deval Patrick, the former Massachusetts governor, would drop out on Wednesday.