Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) eked out a win over former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg in Tuesday night's New Hampshire primary after enjoying a wide lead early in the count.
Meanwhile, Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) was able to clench third place over Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and former Vice President Joe Biden, whose fourth and fifth-place finishes have knocked serious wind out of their sails.
Here are key takeaways following the first primary of the 2020 election cycle.
Sanders is the clear frontrunner
While Sanders and Buttigieg have traded close victories in Iowa and New Hampshire, the Vermont socialist won the popular vote in both contests, and is the favorite heading into Nevada, according to The Hill.
Sanders narrowly lost the delegates edge to Buttigieg in Iowa and didn’t post a resounding win in New Hampshire, but with Warren fading and the packed lane of centrists splitting votes, he’s in the best position of anyone going forward.
There will be rocky times ahead — the moderate Democrats and anti-Sanders crowd aren’t going down without a fight. -The Hill
One thing that's clear is that young voters are showing up for Sanders in droves vs. his rivals, with "indie rock bands and electrifying surrogates adding to the energy around his campaign."
If anyone is in a position to challenge Donald Trump's energized base, it's Sanders.
Biden is toast
After a fourth-place finish in the Iowa caucuses and a fifth-place finish in New Hampshire, things aren't looking great for the former Vice President, whose popularity has taken a nosedive in recent weeks while Sanders, Bloomberg and Buttigieg's have all risen.
With the wind currently knocked out of his sails, Biden is looking to make up ground with minority voters in Nevada and South Carolina, where he will stage what could be his last stand in the race.
At this point, all Biden may get out of the 2020 election is a reputation as an out-of-touch, mentally unfit, quick to anger politician whose documented history of molesting women and children - and his family's suspect international dealings, will be his legacy.
Debates are key
As The Hill notes, Klobuchar was slipping into obscurity a week ago - however a strong debate performance in Manchester on Friday night clearly helped her in New Hampshire.
Klobuchar mixed sharp arguments about how she’s shaped policy in the Senate with folksy Midwest humor. She’s shown a propensity to fight, at times clashing with Buttigieg in the center and Sanders on the left.
National Democrats rewarded her with a flood of donations after the debate and Granite State voters sent her to a surprise third place finish, pushing her into the thick of this contested primary. -The Hill
Moderate Democrats have some tough choices
Over 50% of New Hampshire voters chose Buttigieg, Klobuchar and Biden last night, while left-wing candidates Sanders and Warren captured approximately 36% of the vote.
And while Buttigieg may be the moderate winner in the last two contests, Mike Bloomberg has been making strides according to national polls (see above). So until Biden and Klobuchar drop out, moderate Democrats won't be able to elevate a centrist to try and beat Sanders for the nomination, and despite his broad support in the last two weeks, Buttigieg is miles away from Sanders in national polls.
Another thing to consider - will southern, bible-belt Democrats vote for a gay president who has a poor reputation with the black community?
Hey @PeteButtigieg,— Robby Starbuck (@robbystarbuck) February 11, 2020
Isn’t it a little condescending to think you need to explain what dark money is to a room full of Black Americans? Would you explain what dark money is to a wine cave full of rich donors? If not, then why? pic.twitter.com/kejJ4Y6zeE
At the end of the day, the Democrats my be headed for a contested convention in which nobody arrives in Milwaukee with the required 1,990 delegates needed to secure the nomination, according to The Hill.
It’s still possible that someone breaks away from the pack and takes it all.
But no one has even reached the 30 percent mark in the first two states to vote.
The centrist vote is split. Sanders looks strong on the left but hasn’t been able to run away with it. Nobody has a clue how Bloomberg’s billions will impact the race when the calendar turns to March 3.
And while all eyes were on the Democrats last night, it shouldn't be overlooked that President Trump won over 100,000 votes among Republican and independent voters - which is more than double what Obama won in 2012 among New Hampshire Democrats in 2012 when he ran uncontested.