As is the case during every election year, the race for the US Presidency kicked off on February 3, 2020, with the Iowa caucus. However, after a malfunction in an app used to count and report the votes put the results of the Democratic winner in doubt, all attention turned to the year's second noteworthy poll — the New Hampshire primary, which took place on Tuesday, February 11, 2020.
As expected, President Donald Trump, who is seeking his second term in office, overwhelmingly won New Hampshire’s GOP primary, with 85.5 percent of the over 150,000 votes cast. However, the race between the Democratic presidential nominee hopefuls was a little tighter. While 78-year-old Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders declared victory with about 26 percent of the votes, second place winner, 38-year-old former South Bend, Indiana mayor Pete Buttigieg, was not far behind with about 24.5 percent votes. Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar, whose national polling has been hovering in the low single digits since she entered the race in February 2019, came in a surprising third with about 20 percent votes.
Meanwhile, Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren and former Vice President Joe Biden, whose campaigns began on promising notes, seemed to have lost momentum. They placed a distant fifth and sixth with about 9.2 percent and 8.4 percent votes, respectively.
Winning the Iowa caucus or the New Hampshire primary does not bring the candidate any closer to being his/her party's official nominee for the US Presidency. That decision is made by the delegates who represent the residents of each state at the Republican and Democratic National Conventions, which will take place in July 2020. Nevertheless, a win or loss in these states has been known to make or break the aspirations of a presidential hopeful. Experts believe that this is partly because the Iowa and New Hampshire polls are the first real indication of a candidate's popularity. Those who fail to do well in these initial elections often lose the support of their campaign financiers.
Additionally, the extra press and media time dedicated to the winners affords them opportunities to sway the opinions of undecided voters in other states and receive additional campaign funding. However, Lara Brown, author of Jockeying for the American Presidency: The Political Opportunism of Aspirants, believes the early elections' most significant impact is that it helps reduce the number of candidates. Those who do poorly in Iowa and New Hampshire usually bow out and convince their followers to align themselves with other candidates.
This certainly was the case on February 11. Shortly after the polls closed, Democratic candidate Andrew Yang ended his two-year presidential run. In a tweet to his fans, the 45-year-old said, “I am so proud of this campaign. Thank you to everyone who got us here."
Colorado Senator Michael Bennet also dropped out of the race, with a promise to return again in the future. “I love our country. I love the idea of democracy. And I want to pass it on to the next generation,” he wrote on Twitter. “I feel nothing but joy tonight as we conclude this campaign and this chapter. Tonight wasn’t our night. But New Hampshire, you may see me once again.”
So how good are New Hampshire voters at narrowing down the final representatives from each party? An analysis of past results by personal finance website WalletHub revealed that 60 percent of the Democrat New Hampshire primary winners since 1976 have gone on to win his or her party nomination. The number was even higher for Republicans, with 80 percent of the state's winners going on to become the nominee.
Though the Democratic presidential nominee will not be selected until July 2020 the results of the upcoming Nevada caucus (February 22), and South Carolina primary (February 29) will signal whether or not New Hampshire voters will prove to be accurate in 2020. It will also help reduce the nine Democratic nominee hopefuls to a more reasonable number.