The most underreported story of the New Hampshire voting was President Trump’s win in the Republican primary. Despite Bill Weld taking about 12%, Trump was basically running unopposed, so there was no get-out-the-vote drive for him. Even so, Trump received 110,717 votes. That’s by far the most votes ever for an incumbent President running for reelection. Obama got only 49,080 votes in 2012, George W. Bush got 52,962 in 2004, and the previous record was Bill Clinton in 1996 with 76,797. Trump scored over 35,000 more votes than that.
As Jazz Shaw put it at Hotair.com, while the Democratic turnout wasn’t particularly high even with all the candidates and campaigning, “New Hampshire Republicans turned out in record numbers on a blustery February day to cast their votes for Trump in a primary election that was completely meaningless.” So what will it be like at the real election in November? I suspect that like the Trump rallies, people will start lining up 48 hours in advance.
MORE ON NEW HAMPSHIRE
As I write this, it’s early Wednesday morning, and close to 90% of the votes have been counted in New Hampshire (what is it with Democrats and math?) At the moment, it appears that Bernie Sanders won with about 26%, a couple of points ahead of Pete Buttigieg. Amy Klobuchar came in a surprise third with 20%. The Hindenburg moments belonged to Elizabeth Warren in fourth place (9%) and Joe Biden fifth (8%.) Neither even cracked double digits, much less the 15% minimum to win any delegates. Sad!
What’s all this mean? It’s tempting to say it doesn’t mean all that much at this point, but Iowa and New Hampshire offer the first opportunities for voters to weigh in on the candidates the hyper-partisan media have been hyping for months. This is when we find out whether the public agrees that they’re the greatest thing since sliced bread or just another New Coke or Lady Ghostbusters.
As I see it, despite the sprawling array of candidates, Democratic voters obviously aren’t that excited by any of them. Bernie boasted of this being the first step to his defeating Trump. But a near-record 270,000 people voted in the Democratic primary and if his 26% holds, he’ll finish with a little over 70,000 votes. In 2016, he got 60% against Hillary Clinton and a couple of dozen nobodies, and won over 152,000 votes. To me, this indicates less of a burning Bernie surge than a step down, and more evidence that even Democrats really couldn’t stomach Hillary. Bernie’s strength lies in his followers being rabid and well-organized, but his following isn't growing larger, they’re just making more noise. Like Spinal Tap, his appeal is becoming “more selective.”
If Bernie and Warren represent the socialist/far left/radical wacko wing, their combined total was only 35% of the vote. Granted, there’s nobody viable left in this race who isn’t so far to the left that the center looks like the John Birch Society compared to them. For instance, they all want to give free health care to illegal aliens, and alleged “centrist” Pete Buttigieg thinks babies can be “aborted” after they’re born and anyone who disagrees doesn’t belong in the Party. On this issue, he’s indistinguishable from Sanders.
Buttigieg came in second (and again got two more delegates than Bernie -- since he hates the Electoral College, shouldn’t he redistribute his delegates to the popular vote winner?) But Klobuchar’s surge based on one strong debate performance shows that many voters who want a “centrist” are still looking for one. Maybe they imagined sending Buttigieg to face down Vladimir Putin or the communist leaders of China. They’d eat him alive and send the bones home in a doggy bag.
Joe Biden was supposed to be the “centrist,” “electable,” preordained winner, but New Hampshire looked so dire, he bugged out at midday as if he were scrambling for the last helicopter out of Saigon. His dismayed voters told reporters they were stunned that he abandoned them. They should’ve known that when you’re under siege, don’t expect anyone from the Obama Administration to show up and help. At the ghost town-like post-election “party” at Biden headquarters, reporters outnumbered supporters. Biden hightailed it to South Carolina, where he hopes his rapidly crumbling firewall holds. It’s amusing that his only hope of survival is a wall he’s built in the south.
When will the media learn that declaring someone the presumptive nominee (Hillary in 2008) or President (Hillary in 2016) is a recipe for disaster? Particularly when it’s Joe Biden, who’s on his third run for President and has yet to survive past the earliest primaries. The fat lady might not be singing for his campaign yet, but I can hear her clearing her throat.
With New Hampshire’s uber-liberal base and proximity to her home state of Massachusetts, Warren was counting on a good showing. Her abysmal finish should spell the end, but she’s vowing to press on to Super Tuesday. How she’ll do that when it takes a lot of ad money that she isn’t attracting, I can’t say. Also, if she can’t make it in New Hampshire, is she really going to win the South? Her disingenuous praise of Amy Klobuchar for proving a woman can do well was a sterling example of trying to put a cherry on a horse poop sundae. What she really meant was, “Voters will support a woman…as long as it’s not me!” She really is Hillary 2.0.
Congratulations to Amy Klobuchar for doing better than expected, but all the talk of her “momentum” is a bit farcical. She won a better-than-expected 20%, but has there ever been this much media hoopla over placing third? I suspect it’s mostly a function of Democrats still casting around for someone palatable, and she had the lucky timing to be the latest option to come to their attention just as the voting started. They tried her on in New Hampshire, but it doesn’t mean they intend to buy. Let's see how she does in South Carolina when she's no longer the new flavor of centrism.
The primary winnowed the field a bit, but as with a weed-infested garden, the thinning was barely noticeable. Andrew Yang suspended his campaign (darn it, I was counting on him giving everyone a thousand bucks a month so my staffers wouldn’t ask for a raise.)
Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet and former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick also dropped out of the race, devastating the six people who remembered they were in. And a rumor circulated that Tom Steyer was quitting, but it was denied. I guess he realized he still had a lot more money to throw away.
Overall, my takeaway is that most Democratic voters don’t want Bernie or Warren, but they aren’t crazy about any of the other choices, either. Ironically, the continuing vote split is likely to encourage marginal candidates to stay in longer, allowing Bernie to keep winning with small pluralities. But that makes it less likely that any candidate will gather enough delegates to clinch the nomination. Unless more drop out so the non-socialist vote can coalesce around one candidate, the Dems could be looking at a brokered convention. By then, they could be so broke that Mike Bloomberg could buy the Party in a liquidation sale and just declare himself the nominee.
NOTE: Next stop is the Nevada Caucuses, where Bernie Sanders will get to explain to a lot of tough union negotiators why the great health care plans they won for their members should be traded in for “Medicare for All.” Good luck!