Until next time, New Hampshire. And our condolences to the #YangGang and James Carville. Hope you get a few hours of shut-eye today before everyone flocks to Nevada. Thanks for waking up with us.
CONCORD, N.H. — Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) eked out a tight victory in last night's New Hampshire primary, pulling off what could be the narrowest win of a non-incumbent candidate here in history and cementing his status as the Democratic front-runner.
On the face of it, Sanders managed to consolidate progressives and nabbed the most votes in both New Hampshire and Iowa. His win here was fueled by young voters and liberals, but there were early warning signs for the leftist firebrand: Sanders did not make gains in his backyard compared to 2016 and failed to flood the zone with the young people he needs to pull off the "political revolution" he promises.
- Youth turnout in the state declined from 2016 to 2020 from 19 to 14 percent. And the candidate seen as most likely to beat President Trump was not Sanders but his 38-year-old rival — former South Bend, Ind., mayor Pete Buttigieg, according to exit polls.
Buttigieg and Sen. Amy Klobuchar (Minn.) finished in second and third place, vying to occupy the centrist vacuum left by former vice president Joe Biden after he rushed off early Tuesday to South Carolina in anticipation of a poor showing. In fact, Biden and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) all but collapsed, failing to nab any delegates as they finished in a distant fifth and fourth place.
How Bernie did it: These were his most supportive groups, according to exit polls:
Sanders's two-point victory margin, with two centrist candidates hot on his trail, indicates that voters are still searching for an alternative to the democratic socialist — and they’re unsure on whom to settle.
Here's how that margin looked statewide: (Note this is as of early this morning, check here for the latest results.)
These were the best groups for them, according to exit polls
The surprise of the night was Klobuchar, the Minnesota senator who had a standout debate performance Friday night in a contest where half of voters made up their minds in the last days. Sixty-nine percent of the voters who supported Klobuchar decided to back her over the last few days, per exit polling.
- New vibe: Her campaign felt the energy change after the debate and donations began pouring in, reports my colleague Jenna Johnson. “Her challenge now is to keep that momentum building as the Democratic nominating contest moves to states where she has spent far less time campaigning — and where she will face higher-polling candidates with more money and larger campaign operations,” Jenna writes. She's headed to a New York City fundraiser tonight.
- Onward: New staff will be on the ground for her by this coming weekend in Nevada and South Carolina, a campaign staffer told Power Up, and due to a flood of late-breaking donations, the campaign launched a seven-figure ad buy in Nevada.
In the Middle:
- Klobuchar's talked about “the people in the middle”: “Because of you we are taking this campaign to Nevada, We are going to South Carolina. And we are taking this message of unity to the country,” Klobuchar declared. “ … Donald Trump's worst nightmare is that the people in the middle, the people who have had enough of the name-calling and the mudslinging, have someone to vote for in November.”
- Buttigieg called out the moderates of the coalition he pieced together in Iowa and New Hampshire: He thanked the “diehard Democrats, independents unwilling to stay on the sidelines, and even some newly former Republicans ready to vote for something new, ready to vote for a politics defined by how many we call in, instead of by who we push out. "
SOME FINAL THOUGHTS:
Biden continues to lose ground on electability: Just like Iowa, the former vice president's argument he is best suited to oust Trump just isn't resonating. Buttigieg actually led in this metric in New Hampshire and Klobuchar placed third behind Biden.
Warren (ing) signs: “The history of Massachusetts statewide elected officials in New Hampshire is storied: John Kennedy, Mike Dukakis, Paul Tsongas, John Kerry, Mitt Romney all won New Hampshire (Romney lost in 2008 and won in 2012). And you could not have designed a better electorate for Elizabeth Warren,” Politico's Ryan Lizza reports of the senator's disappointing finish. Warren's team has already pledged to fight on.
Young, wild and Bernie: As we talked about before the primary, Sanders outperformed among younger voters in 2016. Last night, he did extremely well again with more than three times the support of Buttigieg among voters ages 18 to 29 and still bested the mayor among voters ages 30 to 44.
Last word: Welcome to the muddle. “Democrats braced themselves Tuesday night for a long and divisive contest for their party's presidential nomination after New Hampshire voters added new uncertainty to a race already scrambled by last week's caucuses in Iowa,” our colleague Dan Balz writes.
Delegate wise, here's where things are projected to stand after New Hampshire and Iowa combined: (Remember the lucky number is 1,990)
In short: We've only just begun
Democrats have a problem, though, as the race pivots toward diverse contests where people of color will start to cast their votes: Two of the top three finishers in New Hampshire barely have any support from nonwhite voters in the more diverse states in the South. In Washington Post-ABC polls over the past year, 54 percent of Democratic-leaning registered voters were white while 46 percent were nonwhite, according to our colleague Scott Clement. That's a substantial amount of the electorate we've ignored up until now.
It's not just that Buttigieg and Klobuchar barely register with black voters — Buttigieg is polling at 4 percent and Klobuchar is polling at 0 percent with African American Democratic primary voters, according to the Quinnipiac poll released over the weekend. But their records both feature errors that nonwhite constituencies have questioned.
- During an interview on Tuesday, Buttigieg conceded he has work to do with black voters but argued his strong performance will change minds: “But the process begins with these early opportunities first in Iowa, now in New Hampshire, to prove that we really have put together the campaign that cannot just talk about being able to win, but turn out voters and demonstrate the kind of strength it will take in November to put an end to the Trump presidency and win big enough that Trumpism goes into the history books, too,” he said.
- During the debate, Buttigieg was pressed on the number of marijuana arrests as mayor. He said it was “a strategy that said that drug enforcement could be targeted in cases where there was a connection to the most violent group or gang connected to a murder.”
- On Tuesday morning, Klobuchar was questioned on '"The View" about her record as Hennepin County prosecutor in Minnesota:
When pressed by @Sunny on @TheView about how her tough on crime approach disproportionally impacted people of color, Sen. Amy Klobuchar says she “worked really hard” to address systematic racism, but “there is so much more work that we have to do.” https://t.co/tmkyrg8m25 pic.twitter.com/FJa2yoJZBw— ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) February 11, 2020
The candidate who was at the top of the polls for black voters -- and has been counting on black voters to spark his comeback -- has faltered in recent weeks. Former Vice President Joe Biden's support from black voters has dropped substantially to 27 percent from 52 percent earlier in January with Sanders making small gains to 19 percent , per the most recent Quinnipiac poll. The cracks in Biden's base may allow for his rivals to expand their white constituencies as they leave New Hampshire behind.
- "After dismal showings in last week’s Iowa caucuses and then again Tuesday in the New Hampshire primary, the former vice president is now counting on what has so far been durable support from black voters who make up a large share of the Democratic electorate in South Carolina," our colleague Josh Dawsey reports. "But some people close to the operation have grown worried that Biden is no longer a sure bet in this state’s Feb. 29 primary and that his uneven performances on the campaign trail could dampen support."
- “Black voters in South Carolina really like Joe Biden, trust Joe Biden and respect Joe Biden,” Steve Benjamin, the mayor of Columbia and a Bloomberg supporte, told Dawsey. “But they are pragmatic and want to win and beat Trump. If your number one argument is electability, and you can’t crack the top four in two or three states in a row, that’s a tough argument to make.”
- Biden, however, was undeterred on Tuesday evening: “Up until now, we haven’t heard from the most committed constituency of the Democratic Party, the African American community,” Biden told supporters in the state last night. "I've said many times: you can't be the nominee, you can't win the general election as a Democrat unless you have the overwhelming support of black and brown voters," he said.
YANG DROPS OUT: “Andrew Yang, a Democratic businessman who campaigned on giving every adult American a monthly check for $1,000” ended his campaign before New Hampshire results were fully in after an equally disappointing showing in Iowa, our colleagues David Weigel and Amy B Wang report.
- Why now: “I am a numbers guy,” Yang told our colleagues before addressing supporters. “In most of these [upcoming] states, I’m not going to be at a threshold where I get delegates, which makes sticking around not necessarily helpful or productive in terms of furthering the goals of this campaign.”
- He isn’t ready to make an endorsement: Other candidates have reached out though.
His legacy: “Yang launched his campaign in November 2017 and celebrated his long-shot status as he polled higher and raised more money than many better-known candidates,” our colleagues write.
- Yang is the latest nonwhite candidate to exit what was once a historically diverse field.
Others leaving: Michael Bennet, the Colorado senator and former public school superintendent, also ended his campaign, our colleagues Amy B Wang and David Weigel report. And former Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick — yep, he was/is a candidate — may end his bid today, CBS reports.
In the Agencies
PROSECUTORS QUIT CASE AMID STONE SENTENCING FIGHT: “All four career prosecutors handling the case against Roger Stone withdrew from the legal proceedings — and one quit his job entirely — after the Justice Department signaled it planned to undercut their sentencing recommendation for Trump’s longtime friend and confidant,” our colleagues Matt Zapotosky, Devlin Barrett, Ann E. Marimow and Spencer S. Hsu report.
How it all unfolded: It began with a Trump tweet slamming prosecutors’ suggestion that Stone face a seven-to-nine-year sentence. “Hours later, a senior Justice Department official told reporters that the agency’s leadership was “shocked” by the recommendation,” our colleagues write. Then the resignations began.
- Different U.S. attorneys directly undercut their colleagues: They made a new recommendation with a sentence “far less” than the original filing, CNN’s David Shortell, Evan Perez, Katelyn Polantz, Kaitlan Collins and Jeremy Herb report.
- DOJ officials claim no politics at play: “Kerri Kupec, a Justice Department spokeswoman, said that the White House did not communicate with the agency on Monday or Tuesday about the Stone case, and that the decision to reverse course was made before Trump’s tweet.”
What’s happening behind the scenes: “The sudden and dramatic moves came after prosecutors and their superiors had argued for days over the appropriate penalty for Stone, and exposed what some career Justice Department employees say is a continuing pattern of the historically independent law enforcement institution being bent to Trump’s political will,” our colleagues write.
- Trump also pulled a nominee connected to the Stone case: “Almost simultaneously, Trump decided to revoke the nomination to a top Treasury Department post of his former U.S. attorney in the District of Columbia, who had supervised the Stone case when it went to trial.”
- Don’t forget the Mueller connection: Two of the prosecutors who quit worked for former special counsel Robert S. Mueller. Stone’s case also grew out of Mueller’s investigation.