TEHRAN (Tasnim) - Bernie Sanders held off Pete Buttigieg in New Hampshire on Tuesday, slowing the former mayor's charge and asserting himself as the tentative frontrunner in a still-muddled US Democratic primary field.
- Other Media news -
Amy Klobuchar sparked to life with a third-place finish, while two one-time favorites - Elizabeth Warren and Joe Biden - lagged far behind. The returns reflected a surprising degree of momentum for Klobuchar, who is presenting herself as a moderate alternative to Buttigieg and Biden - but who before New Hampshire plodded forward largely as an afterthought.
Still, the night belonged to Sanders.
With 86 percent of precincts reporting, the Vermont senator had 25.7 percent, Buttigieg had 24.4 percent, and Klobuchar had 19.7 percent.
Warren was at 9.3 percent and Biden at 8.4 percent - both below the threshold required to win delegates in a devastating night for the top-tier contenders.
At a Sanders campaign party, supporters were waiting for later results, but cheering early returns. And at Klobuchar's campaign headquarters, there was no waiting at all. As results filtered into her event and she ticked up to third place, the campaign cut the music and cranked the TV volume.
The crowd chanted "Let's go Amy" and "All of us."
"Hello, America, I'm Amy Klobuchar and I will beat Donald Trump," Klobuchar said when she took the podium. "My heart is full tonight", Politico reported.
Shortly after the polls closed, meanwhile, two long-shot candidates, Andrew Yang and Sen. Michael Bennet, dropped out. Yang, the quirky entrepreneur and political novice, had vastly exceeded expectations in the primary, but he was counting on a strong finish in New Hampshire that did not materialize.
Going into the night, Sanders was not only preparing for a widely expected victory in New Hampshire, but eclipsing Biden for the first time nationally in a Morning Consult poll.
Biden was just desperate to escape.
Following a dismal showing in Iowa and with low expectations here, the former vice president planned to leave New Hampshire on Tuesday night for more favorable ground in South Carolina. Rather than Biden, it was a surging Pete Buttigieg whose momentum Sanders was seeking to blunt.
"We have a chance to do really, really well here tonight," Sanders said at a polling place in Manchester. "We have an agenda that speaks to the needs of working families all across this country who in many cases feel that Washington has turned its back on them."
A Sanders victory was not unexpected after his thrashing of Hillary Clinton in New Hampshire in 2016. But his victory marked his second strong showing of the campaign, after a one-two finish with Buttigieg in a chaotic Iowa contest whose outcome has yet to be called.
Biden, meanwhile, is reeling after finishing fourth in Iowa and, if the results hold, fifth in New Hampshire. The Biden campaign's election night party in New Hampshire was like no other of a top-tier candidate, with reporters and staff almost seeming to outnumber voters and the candidate not even there. The mood was resigned yet anxious: Many expected Biden would do badly. But the size of his loss made supporters and staff nervous about his viability.
From his firewall of South Carolina, he addressed supporters after speaking to the New Hampshire crowd via a video webcast about 9 p.m.
"It ain't over, man, we're just getting started," Biden declared. The eventual nominee needs to have support from "black and brown voters," he added. "We're not going to let them take this election away from you."
The Warren campain's senior leadership all watched Warren's speech stoically from the back of the assembled speaking space near the Manchester airport. They left as soon as the speech ended, not talking with reporters.
Communications staffers walked past the media with grim faces, politely saying "hi" but little else. Other staffers engaged in gallows humor about the disappointing result and went off to drink elsewhere.
Still, Warren's energetic, defiant speech drew an enthusiastic reception from the assembled crowd.
"We're two states in, with 55 states and territories to go," she said. "The question for us, Democrats, is whether it will be a long, bitter rehash of the same old divides in our party or whether we can find another way." In the face of a potentially devastating loss, Warren then stood on stage afterward for her signature "selfie" lines with supporters.
The outcome on Tuesday was unlikely to end any top-tier candidate's campaign, regardless how bad. And rather than beginning to settle the Democratic Party's nominating contest, the result was likely to only muddle it further.
The most surprising rise, Klobuchar's, followed an impressive debate performance, a week of packed events and a rise in the polls.
Klobuchar's campaign said it planned to expand staffing in Nevada, South Carolina and Super Tuesday states given Tuesday's outcome. Inside the campaign's New Hampshire war room, campaign aides were looking at how well she is doing in Sanders' strongholds, like Laconia, a moderate city that Sanders ran away with in 2016 but where she is now doing well.
But there was evidence Tuesday of the improvisational nature of an upstart campaign on a tight budget. Her party had a cash bar, and Klobuchar's campaign scrambled to set up an extra table and power cords for the unexpected crush of reporters who showed up.
Buttigieg's second-place finish to Sanders could make it more difficult for him to make inroads in the states that follow - a challenge Klobuchar faces now, too.
In an interview on NBC's "Today" show that aired Tuesday, Buttigieg said that "voters of color who are laser-focused on defeating this president, more than anything else, want to know that you can actually win," suggesting strong performances in Iowa and New Hampshire could help him as the campaign turns to Nevada and South Carolina.
Still, the former South Bend, Ind. mayor has only 4 percent support among black Democrats, according to a Quinnipiac University poll Monday.
For moderate Democrats, the most closely watched candidate Tuesday may not be a centrist at all, but the progressive alternative to Sanders, Warren. Following a third-place finish in Iowa last week - and with polls suggesting she could tumble further in New Hampshire - many moderates feared that if Warren slipped out of contention, the party's left flank would coalesce around Sanders.
Moderate Democrats were intently interested in Warren's viability, hopeful that she might continue to draw some progressive support away from Sanders and split the left flank's vote. The concern is especially pressing with so many centrist candidates dividing support, including billionaire Michael Bloomberg, who is bombarding the country with his television ads.
The head of the state's Young Democrats group said New Hampshire proved itself again as a place where low-profile presidential hopefuls can storm to national prominence.
"Two people who were basically unknown a year ago here are now being eyed by the entire country," Lucas Meyer said of Buttigieg and Klobuchar. "That's what the first in the nation is all about."