Vermont senator Bernie Sanders put the disappointment of Iowa behind him last night as the progressive firebrand squeezed out moderate Pete Buttigieg in New Hampshire’s Democratic primary.
However, despite being the overwhelming favorite in the Granite State, Sanders’ 26 percent put him only 1.6 percent ahead of Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana.
Joe Biden, Barack Obama’s former vice president, came in fifth, another weak performance by a candidate who was widely expected to challenge for the nomination to take on Donald Trump in November’s presidential election.
After coming fourth in last week’s Iowa caucuses, Biden will need a strong performance in South Carolina to reverse what has been a dreadful start to the campaigning season.
Centrist Amy Klobuchar, a senator from Minnesota, was third behind Buttigieg, with whom she split the majority of the moderate vote. Sanders’ fellow left-winger Elizabeth Warren came fourth.
The result means that Sanders will take nine of the 24 delegates who will represent New Hampshire at July’s Democratic national convention. Speaking to supporters in Manchester, he said:
“This victory here is the beginning of the end for Donald Trump”.
Biden was bullish despite his performance, having already travelled to South Carolina, where voting will be held on 29 February.
“We just heard from the first two of the 50 states,” he said. “Where I come from, that’s the opening bell, not the closing bell. And the fight to end Donald Trump’s presidency is just beginning”.
Last night’s result means also led to businessman Andrew Yang and senator Michael Bennet quitting the race, as the tightly-packed field finally begins to thin out.
The campaign now moves to Nevada on February 22, which will be followed by South Carolina and then so-called “Super Tuesday”, on which 14 states will cast their ballots, with 1,357 of the 3,979 delegates up for grabs.