Takeaways From New Hampshire – By Sean Trende (Real Clear Politics) / Feb 12 2020
Here are six thoughts on Tuesday night’s Democratic primary in New Hampshire:
1. Sen. Bernie Sanders’ ceiling might be real.
Sanders received the most votes in Iowa and won New Hampshire. He should be considered the front-runner for now. Yet there are causes for concern within the Sanders camp. In both states, his performance lagged his polls somewhat.
More importantly, undecideds almost entirely broke toward other candidates. The knock on Sanders has been that there is a ceiling to his poll numbers; he gets about 25% of the vote everywhere but can’t expand beyond that. I was somewhat dismissive of that criticism — given that he won over 40% of the vote in 2016 in the Democratic primaries — but it seems like these two early-state results are consistent with the ceiling theory.
Of course, in a crowded race, 25% of the vote will win a lot of primaries.
2. The Klobucharge
For months, pundits have waited for Democrats to warm to Sen. Amy Klobuchar. It appears that her moment might be now, which is the perfect time for her to get a hard look from the electorate. But we shouldn’t get carried away. Finishing fifth in Iowa and third in New Hampshire is much different than winning those two races. She has some momentum, however; that seems undeniable. Whether she can carry it forward into states like Nevada and South Carolina, where she hasn’t yet competed, remains to be seen.
Overall New Hampshire turnout looks likely to exceed voter participation for the 2008 Democratic primary, which is superficially good for Democrats, to the extent that primary turnout can measure excitement. On the other hand, there are more Democratic candidates trying to get out the vote, the population of New Hampshire has grown in the past 12 years, and more importantly, there isn’t a Republican primary to draw away independent voters. To steal a line from the HBO series “Chernobyl,” this is “not great, not terrible.”