WASHINGTON: Liberal US senator Bernie Sanders won the New Hampshire primary on Tuesday night but Pete Buttigieg, the mayor of a small town in Indiana, pulled even with him in the delegate count.
The final count after the two primaries – in Iowa and New Hampshire – gave Mr Buttigieg 23 delegates while Senator Sanders has 21. Senator Elizabeth Warren has 8, Senator Amy Klobuchar 7 and former Vice President Joe Biden has 6.
A candidate needs to win 1,991 delegates to get the Democratic Party’s nomination for the presidential election, scheduled in November this year.
Now, the race shifts to Nevada, and then South Carolina – the two states where Latino and African American voters play a key role.
But the biggest day for winning the Democratic nomination is on March 3, popularly known as the Super Tuesday when 15 jurisdictions and the Democrats Abroad hold their primaries and caucuses.
With both California and Texas — the two most populous states in the United States – also holding their primaries on Super Tuesday, more than one-third of the US population is expected to vote on March 3.
So, most probably the candidate who wins Super Tuesday will also win the nomination.
The New Hampshire primary, however, has solidified Senator Sanders’ status as a national front-runner, with his poll numbers and fundraising outpacing his rivals. Yet, the results indicate that Mayor Buttigieg will make him sweat. He is uncomfortably close in voting percentage – 24.5 percent as against 25.8 percent for Mr Sanders – and is ahead of him in delegates, 23-21.
And whether it helps Mr Buttigieg or not, President Donald Trump indicated in a tweet on Wednesday that he likes him better. “Buttigieg is doing pretty well tonight. Giving Crazy Bernie a run for his money. Very interesting,” wrote the man the Democrats have to defeat in November to seize the White House.
“Elizabeth Warren, sometimes referred to as Pocahontas, is having a really bad night. I think she is sending signals that she wants out,” he wrote in another tweet. “Calling for unity is her way of getting there, going home, and having a ‘nice cold beer’ with her husband!”
President Trump makes no attempt to hide his contempt for left-leaning, liberal politicians like Senators Sanders and Warren.
Another candidate who did well in New Hampshire is Ms Klobuchar, a senator from Minnesota, who came in third-place, after Mr Sanders and Mr Buttigieg. This puts her in a competition for moderate votes with Mr Buttigieg but has little impact on liberals who are more likely to vote for Mr Sanders.
The New Hampshire primary also shows that Senator Warren and Mr Biden need to improve their image before March 3, or they will be out of the race. Winning primaries is important as it helps fundraising, and a lot of funds are needed to run an election campaign in the US.
The US media also warned Mr Sanders not to be complacent, as Tuesday night’s voting pattern showed that moderate democrats are still reluctant to rally behind the Vermont senator.
Published in Dawn, February 13th, 2020