Updated Feb 12, 2020 - Politics & Policy

What to watch in New Hampshire

Amy Klobuchar waves to supporters at a polling location in Manchester. Photo: Scott Eisen/Getty Images

MANCHESTER, N.H. —  After the mess and delays of Iowa, Democrats are looking to tonight's presidential primary for some clarity as to whether Bernie Sanders emerges as a clear front-runner — or whether this remains a crowded field through Super Tuesday.

Why it matters: It's unlikely that Pete Buttigieg pulls off a surprise victory, but if he's a close second to the Vermont senator with the regional advantage, that would be a huge boost for the 38-year-old former mayor of a town around 100,000 whose prospects skyrocketed after his performance in Iowa.

  • And watch for Amy Klobuchar, another moderate in the field and a come-from-behind player, who could have a shot at placing third.
  • Most of the polls closed at 7 pm ET, but the rest will remain open until 8 pm.

Details: If Klobuchar beats Elizabeth Warren and Joe Biden, it would give her campaign a shot of confidence and momentum — and likely dollars — to continue into Nevada. It also could make it that much harder for Warren and Biden's campaigns to make the electability case.

  • Klobuchar's campaign feels good about New Hampshire because of how often she was hitting the airwaves while stuck in D.C. for the Senate impeachment trial. 
  • They've been hosting events around the clock — including a last-minute add at 9:30 pm yesterday — to put her in front of as many voters as possible. 
  • They say they've been spending their money wisely, especially by not hiring huge staff like other campaigns.
  • And they're banking on the political makeup and trends of the state: "Expectations are different here because of the independent voters, and New Hampshire likes to elect women," said one campaign aide. 

You can't walk around New Hampshire without hearing mumbles about whether Biden's campaign is over. He left the state earlier today before polls closed to hustle to South Carolina to protect his firewall of black voters he's relied on, while others have done the same this week through their surrogates and teams on the ground.

  • Biden's team has done what it can — and tonight, they're trying to save face after a disappointing finish in Iowa.

Don't forget: In modern history, candidates don't place worse than second in New Hampshire and still go on to become the nominee.

  • But history has rarely had to account for such a crowded Democratic field.

Go deeper

Klobuchar's campaign says it raised $2.5M in 4 hours after New Hampshire polls closed

Photo: Preston Ehrler/Echoes Wire/Barcroft Media via Getty Images

Amy Klobuchar's campaign on Tuesday said it raised $2.5 million in four hours after New Hampshire polls closed and the Minnesota senator cemented her third-place finish.

Why it matters: The donations demonstrate how momentum from Friday's strong debate performance led into a strong electoral performance to boost her campaign.

Poll: Joe Biden loses status as most electable Democrat

Photo by Sean Rayford/Getty Images

The share of Democratic primary voters who believe Joe Biden has the best chance out of any 2020 candidate to beat President Trump has dropped to 17%, down 12 points since the New Hampshire primary, according to a Morning Consult national poll.

Why it matters: Biden's electability pitch is widely considered his core appeal as a candidate.

Bernie Sanders' uneasy New Hampshire win

Sanders at his victory speech in Manchester. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

MANCHESTER, N.H. — Bernie Sanders' victory in the New Hampshire primary was real, but he had two moderates close on his heels — suggesting that Democrats aren't ready to hand the nomination to a socialist without a longer fight.

The big picture: Amy Klobuchar's surprisingly strong showing, along with the close margin between Sanders and Pete Buttigieg, was a reality check on the idea that the moderate wing of the Democratic Party has disappeared.