Voters in the nation’s first presidential primary headed to the polls Tuesday in New Hampshire, as Democrats are hoping voters will bring clarity to a young primary season that has been marred by deep dysfunction and doubt.
Since the chaotic Iowa caucuses failed to perform their traditional function of winnowing the race, it now falls to New Hampshire to begin culling the Democratic field, which still features almost a dozen candidates.
Former Vice President Joe Biden left the Granite State ahead of a scheduled campaign rally Tuesday night for South Carolina, while Andrew Yang’s poor showing in Iowa last week and New Hampshire Tuesday night ended his White House hopes.
New Hampshire's secretary of state predicated record-high turnout on Tuesday, according to The Associated Press. If that doesn't happen, Democrats will confront the prospect of waning enthusiasm following weak turnout in Iowa last week and President Donald Trump's rising poll numbers. Trump received 86% of the vote in New Hampshire among Republicans.
For Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, the vote is an opportunity to lock in dominance of the party's left flank. A repeat of his strong showing in Iowa could severely damage liberal rival Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who faces the prospect of an embarrassing defeat on her near-home turf.
After essentially tying with Sanders for first place in Iowa, Pete Buttigieg, the 38-year-old former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, begins his day as the centrist front-runner. But at least two other White House hopefuls — former Vice President Joe Biden and Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar — are competing for the same voters, a dynamic that could delay the nomination contest if it continues.
Sensing a poor showing, Biden canceled a New Hampshire primary night event and headed straight to South Carolina, a state which has been strong for him in the past.
A Monday poll from the UMass Lowell Center for Public Opinion shows Sanders leading, but with 40% of voters open to changing their minds. Sanders is leading by eight points, with the support of 25% of likely voters.
Buttigieg has vaulted past Biden and Warren into second place, with 17%, up five points since a week ago. Biden, who was just a point behind Sanders Feb. 3 with 22%, has dropped eight points into fourth place with 14%. Warren is in third place, but is down from 19% to 15%.
More than a year after Democrats began announcing their presidential candidacies, Democrats are struggling to coalesce behind a message or a messenger in their desperate quest to defeat President Trump. That's raising the stakes of the New Hampshire primary as voters weigh whether candidates are too liberal, too moderate or too inexperienced — vulnerabilities that could play to Trump's advantage in the fall.
Trump is riding a wave of strong showings. First, last Monday’s Iowa Democratic caucus was plagued by delays thanks to a new app designed to make it easier and faster for delegates to choose their favorite candidate. Instead, technical difficulties caused delays of more than 48 hours in reporting full results, fueling GOP claims Democrats can’t even run a single state caucus, much less the entire federal government.
On Tuesday, Trump delivered a State of the Union address that roused congressional Republicans but soured Democrats, as evidenced when House Speaker Nancy Pelosi ripped her copy of Trump’s speech in half.
Less than 24 hours later, Trump was acquitted in his historic presidential impeachment trial. Democrats failed in their months-long effort to remove Trump on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.
On Thursday, Trump said the move to impeach him began the moment he announced his candidacy, and decried those who led the effort as “evil, corrupt, dirty cops, leakers, liars ... and bad people.”
On Monday, Trump held a packed rally in Manchester, touting his Senate acquittal and ridiculing Democrats for the failed Iowa caucus.
“Does anyone know who won Iowa?” he asked the crowd. “I don’t know.”
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