Biden, Warren on ropes after delegate shutout | TheHill

Biden, Warren on ropes after delegate shutout | TheHill.

The results of Tuesday’s vote, in which Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) narrowly held off former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg, represented a substantial blow to both Biden and Warren. Their vote totals combined did not equal the surprise third-place finisher, Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), who surged after a strong debate performance on Friday.
Sanders won on the strength of his leads in New Hampshire’s largest cities. He led his chief rivals in Manchester by more than 2,000 votes and in Concord and Nashua by 500 votes each. Buttigieg performed best in communities south of Manchester, in Boston sleeper suburbs and in college towns such as Hanover, home of Dartmouth College.
Biden, once the national front-runner, has now finished an embarrassing fourth in Iowa and fifth in New Hampshire. Warren, the neighboring state’s senator who claimed almost a third of the Democratic vote in an October poll, edged Biden out by less than a percentage point for fourth place.
The two candidates — who between them led 20 of the 39 polls of New Hampshire primary voters conducted before the Iowa caucuses — now face a grueling 11-day slog to the next contest in Nevada and an 18-day wait for the South Carolina primary. Both will have to convince donors and supporters they can regroup and rebuild their campaigns to score a win.
There were troubling signs for both Biden and Warren in Tuesday’s outcome.
Biden is losing the electability argument. Among the 63 percent of New Hampshire voters who told exit pollsters they would rather nominate a candidate who could beat President Trump, Buttigieg took 28 percent. Just 11 percent chose Biden, whose entire campaign is premised on the notion that he is best able to defeat the president.
Warren, who famously has a plan for everything, is getting beat among those who value plans over electability. Among the 33 percent of voters who said they preferred a candidate who agreed with them on major issues, more than a third chose Sanders, and only a tiny fraction chose Warren. Among the three in five voters who said they supported replacing America’s health care system with a single-payer plan, three times as many chose Sanders over Warren.
Both Biden and Warren took steps Tuesday to distance themselves from the New Hampshire results, even before the polls closed.
Biden decamped to South Carolina, bailing on a planned election night celebration in Nashua in favor of what his campaign dubbed a “kickoff” with Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-La.). South Carolina, where the primary electorate is more than half African American, has become Biden’s must-win state, his last pivotal chance to prove his viability before the campaign goes national on Super Tuesday.
Warren stayed in New Hampshire to concede, offering kind words to Klobuchar and pledging to fight on. In a memo to supporters, Warren campaign manager Roger Lau wrote that Warren’s candidate remains “the consensus choice of the widest coalition of Democrats in every corner of the country.” He said Warren’s formidable campaign organization was poised to win delegates across most of the states and districts that will vote on Super Tuesday,and that her ceiling is higher than Biden’s, Sanders’s or Buttigieg’s.
Each campaign will now have to convince its chief supporters that its candidate still has a path to the 1,990 delegates necessary to win the convention. Without the support necessary to sustain mushrooming national field organizations and seven-figure television budgets, any candidate’s campaign withers and dies; when a candidate loses or falls short of expectations, those money problems mount even more rapidly.
But after two early contests in which Sanders demonstrated his years of organizing and Buttigieg overperformed in his final poll numbers, both Biden and Warren face serious challenges.
Biden’s South Carolina firewall is under sustained assault from billionaire former hedge fund manager Tom Steyer, whose campaign has spent heavily to win over African American supporters. Once Super Tuesday rolls around, Biden’s support among black voters will be tested by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who has spent an unprecedented amount of money on television spots.
Warren, too, faces the challenge of breaking through for the first time. She does not lead in polls in Nevada, South Carolina or most Super Tuesday states — the last poll she led was an October WBUR-MassInc survey of her home state’s voters — and it is unclear where she will score her first win.
“The road to the Democratic nomination is not paved with statewide winner-take-all victories. This is not a race for governor, the U.S. Senate or the state treasurer’s office,” Lau wrote in his memo. “This is a district-by-district contest for pledged delegates awarded proportionally.”
The Hill · by Reid Wilson · February 11, 2020

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