Five Things To Watch in New Hampshire Primary Results Tonight

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With the New Hampshire primary occurring today, here are five story lines to watch as the results unfold.

1.  Who’s Number 1?

As of Tuesday morning, many viewed the top-two contenders in New Hampshire as Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders and former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg. Sanders won the New Hampshire primary with ease over Hillary Clinton in 2016, but his support has dropped with more people in the race. It’s also a prime indicator that the winner of the New Hampshire primary is not guaranteed the nomination.

However, if Buttigieg can pull off a win in New Hampshire as he did in Iowa, his campaign will be in much better shape. After all, his success in Iowa helped him in the New Hampshire polls. However, Buttigieg has struggled to win the support of minority voters and trails mightily in national polls, so a strong showing in New Hampshire could help him stay afloat with the inevitable poor showing he will have in South Carolina where former Vice President Joe Biden, billionaire Tom Steyer, and Sanders are polling in the top-three, according to RealClearPolitics.

It’s also worth noting that according to precedent, a candidate from a state neighboring New Hampshire cannot win the party’s nomination for president without winning the Granite State. Therefore, a New Hampshire loss would be a bigger setback to Sanders than it would Buttigieg.


2.  Where’s Warren?

Although precedent says Massachusetts U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren needs a New Hampshire win, she is going to have to try to get the nomination without a victory there. However, it didn’t work for then-Massachusetts Sen. Ted Kennedy in 1980, former Vermont Governor Howard Dean in 2004, or former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney in 2008. 

In most polls, she’s been behind both Sanders and Buttigieg. However, how far her candidacy goes may depend on where she ends up in New Hampshire. If she falls to fourth or fifth behind Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar and former Vice President Joe Biden, that could be a serious problem for her.

Success in New Hampshire is not as vital for Biden or Klobuchar, who come from Delaware and Minnesota, respectively, but surely either of them would welcome a third-place finish in the Granite State.


3.  Bloomberg Support

Former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg is not on the ballot in New Hampshire because he announced his candidacy in November, but he is a write-in candidate. He got three out of the five votes in Dixville Notch around midnight Tuesday. Although that’s a tiny sample size, if he receives even just a few percent of the vote as a write-in, it could legitimize his campaign — especially because he has not campaigned there. It would not be unprecedented, either: Henry Cabot Lodge Jr. won the 1964 New Hampshire Republican primary as a write-in.


4.  Minor Candidates

Don’t expect a poor showing in New Hampshire to kill the candidacy of Tom Steyer with the strong support he has bought himself in South Carolina. However, when it comes to U.S. Representative Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) and U.S. Senator Michael Bennet (D-Colorado), each of whom has done more than 100 events in New Hampshire and is no longer on the Democratic debate stage, poor showings could mark the end of their respective candidacies.


5.  The #Resistance

Former Massachusetts Governor Bill Weld might have no chance at defeating President Donald Trump in a Republican primary, but he is still in the race. A poor showing for Weld, like the one he had in Iowa where Trump got more than 97 percent of the vote, would be a positive sign for the sitting president. It would indicate the Republican Party is united behind Trump at a time when Democrats are bickering over who they want as their nominee.

Surely, Weld could stick around until at least Super Tuesday in March because he has done plenty of campaigning in Massachusetts, but New Hampshire has the opportunity to make him look like a frivolous candidate.