Trump Rolls, Sanders Edges Buttigieg in New Hampshire
Written by Steve Byas
Overshadowed by the Democratic contest is the feat of President Trump, who outdid the reelection New Hampshire performance of Presidents Obama, Bush, and even the iconic Ronald Reagan.
Bernie Sanders, a senator from neighboring Vermont, edged the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, by a narrow margin of 26 percent to 24 percent, to win the New Hampshire Democratic Party primary Tuesday night. Overshadowed by all the attention understandably given to the Democrat contest was the overwhelming victory in the Republican primary by President Donald Trump.
Trump impressively garnered 86 percent of the vote in easily besting his closest Republican opponent, William Weld, a former Republican governor from neighboring Massachusetts, who netted less than 10 percent of the vote. Significantly, however, Trump won a larger number of votes as an incumbent president in the New Hampshire primary, besting the reelection performances in New Hampshire by then-presidents George Bush, Barack Obama, and even Republican icon Ronald Reagan.
Meanwhile, former Vice President Joe Biden probably endured a mortal political wound, finishing a dismal fifth in the primary, with less than nine percent of the vote. It is likely that the recent focus of the Trump impeachment hearings have raised a question in many voters’ minds — did Biden intimidate the Ukrainian government into firing the prosecutor who was investigating the company (Burisma) that had his son, Hunter Biden, on its board? In other words, the shots fired by the Democrats against Trump in the impeachment fiasco might have wounded Biden much more than Trump.
Anticipating his humiliating poor showing, Biden left New Hampshire before the polls closed, traveling to South Carolina, where a primary will be held on February 29. There, Biden spoke to a rally of supporters, reassuring them that the nation had yet to hear from the African American and Latino communities (arguing that Iowa and New Hampshire were just too white, comments that would not help were a miracle to happen, somehow giving him the Democratic nomination).
Finishing a surprising third in the Democratic contest was Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, who captured about 20 percent of the votes cast. She has been trying to position herself as a more “moderate” choice than the openly socialist Sanders. The implosion of Senator Elizabeth Warren of neighboring Massachusetts, who could only manage a little over nine percent of the vote, was almost as dramatic as Biden’s humiliating finish. Still, Warren put on a brave front after the results became clear, insisting that she was in it “for the long haul.”
Warren’s poor showing could lead to her dropping out of the race soon, which would likely help Sanders more than any other single candidate.
After the top five, no other candidate could break five percent of the vote.
Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who has spent about $350 million of his own money, in an attempt to jump-start his late entry into the race, is expected to be more of a factor in South Carolina, and an even bigger factor on Super Tuesday (March 3), when several contests take place on the same day, and his money for TV advertising will be of more importance. But Bloomberg’s comments from a few years ago, when he was defending his controversial “stop and frisk” policy while New York City mayor, might come back to haunt him, especially with African American voters. A video has resurfaced of Bloomberg saying that the reason he had more law enforcement personnel in the black areas of the city is that is “where the crime is,” and that the police were actually not stopping enough blacks, and were probably stopping too many whites.
Although Sanders’ victory was not smashing, he is probably the front-runner for the nomination. After all, even though Buttigieg edged Sanders 26.2 percent to 26.1 percent in the Iowa caucuses, Sanders actually got more “first ballot” votes in Iowa. Under the minimum 15 percent rule, if a candidate did not get at least 15 percent of the vote in a caucus, those supporting that candidate had to choose another candidate who did get more than 15 percent. Apparently, this happened for Sanders more so than Buttigieg, forcing some initial Sanders voters to go over to another candidate.
In announcing his victory, Sanders recited to his enthusiastic supporters a litany of socialist proposals, including cancelling student debt, ending private health insurance, and telling the fossil fuel industry that their “short term profits” are not more important than the long-term importance of the planet. He promised to take on the candidates “who are billionaires and those who are funded by billionaires.”
The last remark was probably directed at former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who has done quite well at fundraising among some of those very wealthy donors. Lest some think Buttigieg is some sort of free market candidate, it should be noted that Buttigieg said to his supporters Tuesday night that he had “admired Sanders since high school.” His admiration of an ardent socialist like Sanders is not so surprising when one considers that Buttigieg’s father was a noted Marxist college professor at Notre Dame.
With Sanders appearing to be the man to beat — at least for now — perhaps Representative Matt Gaetz (R-Florida) summed the night up the best when he said that the “Venezuela wing of the Democratic Party” had a good night, noting the irony that the new “spiritual leader of the Democratic Party” is the socialist Sanders, who is not even a member of the Democratic Party.
Sadly, New Hampshire — the state with the motto of “Live Free or Die” — gave its Democratic primary victory to an open socialist who spent his honeymoon in the old Soviet Union during the height of the Cold War.
Steve Byas is a university history and government instructor and the author of History’s Greatest Libels. He can be contacted at [email protected]
Courtesy of The New American