Sen. Bernie Sanders and former Mayor Pete Buttigieg — Photos: Gage Skidmore
Tuesday’s New Hampshire Democratic Primary was almost mundane after the calamitous efforts in Iowa’s caucuses a week prior. Results came in swiftly, there were no noticeable technical hiccups, and when all was said and done, there was a clear winner: Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.
Sanders ultimately teased out a narrow win after leading comfortably for most of the night, finishing with 25.7% of the vote, just over one percentage point ahead of former Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who came in a close second on 24.4%.
Related: Bernie Sanders: Where does he stand on LGBTQ rights?
Sen. Amy Klobuchar was the surprise of the night, using a strong debate performance last Friday to propel herself to third place, on 19.8% — something she hopes to parlay into more donations and volunteers for the states ahead.
But it was Sen. Elizabeth Warren and former Vice President Joe Biden who left New Hampshire bruised and shaken — and in Biden’s case, he left before polls had even closed, instead opting to head to South Carolina. When all was said and done, Warren came in a distant fourth on 9.2%, with Biden even further behind on 8.4%.
Sanders has clearly established himself as the frontrunner for the Democratic nomination, performing strongly in nationwide polls and enjoying an army of devoted supporters and a solid base of monthly donations to power him through future primaries.
However, Buttigieg has perhaps the most notable claim — at least from an LGBTQ perspective — to make after the first two states have cast their votes: an openly gay man continues to lead the Democratic field for president.
Buttigieg finished Iowa with 13 pledged delegates to Sanders’ 12, and their close vote share in New Hampshire means they’ll each leave the state with an additional nine, putting Buttigieg on 22 to Sanders’ 21.
Related: Iowa woman tries to retract vote for Pete Buttigieg after learning he’s gay
The former Mayor celebrated the results in a speech to supporters in New Hampshire on Tuesday night, saying, “Thanks to you, a campaign that some said shouldn’t be here at all, has shown that we are here to stay.”
“We go forward knowing that this is our chance, our only chance,” he said. “Not just to end the era of Donald Trump, but to launch the era that we know must come next. The stakes could not be higher. We cannot afford to miss the mark or to miss this moment. We must get this right.”
He also threw some love to the night’s victor: “I admired Senator Sanders when I was a high school, I respect him greatly to this day, and I congratulate him on his strong showing tonight.”Another point for Buttigieg to be happy about was an exit poll which found that 63% of NH voters would rather nominate a candidate who can beat Donald Trump, than one who agrees with them on major issues. And of those who want a candidate who can beat Trump, a plurality (28%) opted for Buttigieg over Sanders (21%), Klobuchar (20%), Warren (13%) or Biden (10%).
But a potential stumbling block for his historic candidacy comes in the Nevada caucuses on Feb. 22, as Buttigieg faces a state with a more diverse electorate than Iowa or New Hampshire, at a time when his polling among voters of color lags far behind Biden, Sanders, or Warren. He also lags behind all three, plus businessman Tom Steyer, in current polls in the state.
Related: Fox News host questions Pete Buttigieg’s sexuality: “Are we really sure he’s gay?”
That didn’t stop the LGBTQ Victory Fund, which endorsed Buttigieg for president last year, from celebrating his efforts in New Hampshire.
“The electability assumptions of political pundits are tumbling down all around us – with Pete showing in Iowa and New Hampshire that he can build broad coalitions in cities and rural areas and across the political spectrum,” former Mayor Annise Parker, President & CEO of LGBTQ Victory Fund, said in a statement. “It shatters the notion that an openly gay candidate can win in only the most liberal hotspots and underscores Pete’s position as the best candidate to unite Americans in defeating Donald Trump. That the historic nature of his candidacy is relatively subdued is a testament to our progress as a nation. With enormous momentum heading into the upcoming primaries, it is clear America is ready to elect its first openly gay president.
“Voters are gravitating toward Pete because he is the antithesis of Donald Trump — calm, thoughtful and solutions-oriented. Pete is not going to scream at rallies, point angry fingers or scapegoat entire groups of people to oversimplify complex problems. Voters want Washington to quit the bickering and extremism and produce for the American people and that is why they are choosing Pete.”
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