There’s a lot to unpack about the technical difficulties and other failures of these caucuses, but ultimately, after several days of waiting, two front-runners emerged: former South Bend, Ind., mayor Pete Buttigieg and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).
The two candidates, the liberal Sanders and the moderate Buttigieg, took different approaches to their successes in the first-in-the-nation state. But while the public’s focus may have lingered on the caucus chaos, they both began looking ahead to the New Hampshire primary on Tuesday.
Buttigieg declared an early — some may call it preemptive — victory in Iowa before all of the results had been reported.
“They’re not complete, but results are in from a majority of precincts,” Buttigieg told a crowd gathered at his campaign event in Laconia, N.H., just one day after the Iowa caucuses. “And they show our campaign in first place.”
Two days later, a reporter in Manchester, N.H., prompted Sanders: “Mayor Pete’s been declaring a win for days now. Why should people believe your victory speech over his?”
“Because I got 6,000 more votes,” Sanders deadpanned. “And from where I come, when you get 6,000 more votes, it’s generally regarded to be the winner.”
Seven of the 2020 candidates then participated in a Friday night debate hosted by ABC in New Hampshire, where Iowa had already begun to fade from the focus, barring a few general jabs at Buttigieg and one diplomatic comment from former vice president Joe Biden to open the show.
“This is a long race; I took a hit in Iowa, and I’ll probably take a hit here,” Biden said. “Traditionally, Bernie won by 20 points last time, and usually it’s the neighboring senators who do well.”
Biden is among the handful of candidates who fell in the middle of Iowa’s results, and he needs a win in New Hampshire for his campaign to sustain momentum. Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D) from neighboring Massachusetts and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) also fall into this camp.
Iowa confusion aside, Buttigieg and Sanders hope to repeat their success, while Biden, Klobuchar and Warren aim to change the game. In any case — the 2020 election moves on to New Hampshire this week.