MANCHESTER, New Hampshire – Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders won on Tuesday the New Hampshire primary but his rival Pete Buttigieg managed to somewhat clip the wings of the celebration by splitting the delegates nine apiece.
Sanders took 26 percent of the vote share, some 71,400 individual votes, while former South Bend mayor Buttigieg took 24.4 percent (67,000). Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar was in third place with 19.7 percent of the votes, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren came in fourth with 9.3 percent and former Vice President Joe Biden languished in fifth with 8.4 percent.
The Vermont senator celebrated the narrower-than-expected victory in a state where he had received 60 percent of the vote against Hillary Clinton in 2016.
Hundreds of Sanders followers watched the results rolling in live on CNN. Only 5,000 votes separated Sanders and Buttigieg and there were fears of a repeat technical tie similar to that in the Iowa caucuses that prompted Buttigieg to prematurely declare himself the victor.
Those fears subsided by 10.42 pm local time when CNN announced that Buttigieg was on his way to address his supporters, specifically to acknowledge his defeat. Celebrations erupted in the Sanders camp and chants of “Wall Street Pete” the derisory nickname followers of the Democratic Party’s most left-wing candidate have given Buttigieg.
None of them tuned into the Buttigieg’s recognition of defeat and perhaps if they did, they could have found more fuel for their fire.
Without mentioning Sanders by name, the former mayor, who presents himself as a centrist, said: “Vulnerable Americans do not have the luxury of pursuing ideological purity over an inclusive victory.”
Sanders did not wait for Buttigieg to finish addressing his camp before taking to the stage to address his own.
“We’re taking on the billionaires and we’re taking on the candidates funded by billionaires,” Sanders told the crowd in Manchester.
“Let me say tonight that this victory here is the beginning of the end for Donald Trump,” the senator added.
“It is not just about beating Trump it is about transforming this country.”
Art Brandon, a former lawyer who said he had worked in Iraq, told Efe that he is swayed by Sanders particularly because of his anti-war position.
“Most of the other Democrats are neoliberal, they support our military industry,” he said.
Cathlyn Hanson, a student, said she would be willing to support another candidate if Sanders falls short, specifically Elizabeth Warren.
But it is her pursuit of democratic socialism and universal free education in the US that keeps her backing Sanders.
“Education is what allows people to become citizens,” she said.
Warren and Biden, who were tipped by many a few weeks ago to be the headline rivalry in this contest, slumped into the fourth and fifth place in New Hampshire, behind Klobuchar with less than 10 percent of the vote each.
Sen. Warren offered a warning that Sanders and Buttigieg were polarizing the party.
“The fight between factions in our party has taken a sharp turn in recent weeks with ads mocking other candidates and supporters of some candidates shouting curses at other Democratic candidates.
“These harsh tactics might work if you are willing to burn down the rest of the party to be the last man standing.”
Biden decided not to turn up in person in New Hampshire.
Earlier in the night, entrepreneur Andrew Yang and Sen. Michael Bennet, who obtained 2.8 percent and 0.3 percent of the votes respectively, dropped out of the 2020 presidential race.
Their withdrawal leaves nine candidates vying for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination.
The next stops in the Democratic primary contest will be Nevada and South Carolina on Feb. 22 and Feb. 29, respectively, two demographically diverse states that may throw up different results than those in Iowa and New Hampshire.