The crowded field of moderate Democratic presidential candidates has been battling for attention in the Granite State ahead of today’s primary election, in hopes of winning over enough support to fare well in today’s vote. Polling averages indicate that Amy Klobuchar and Pete Buttigieg have been the main winners of the fight, surging ahead in polls primarily at the expense of former Vice President Joe Biden. Biden, who came into New Hampshire after a disappointing showing in Iowa, had difficulty distinguishing himself in the state from the other moderate candidates also fighting for survival in the nomination race.
Biden still seemed positive that he could win the eventual nomination, stating, “I’m not writing off New Hampshire. I’m going to campaign like hell here in New Hampshire, as I’m going to do in Nevada, in South Carolina and beyond. Look, this is just getting going here. This is a marathon.” However, historically no Democratic presidential candidate has ever continued to win the nomination without placing either first or second in New Hampshire. As the race goes on, candidates need to be wary of voter perceptions, who begin to consider whether or not the candidate they vote for can actually continue to win the overall nomination.
Most analysts agree that Biden’s situation is particularly precarious. The unrivaled front-runner for the nomination entering the campaign, Biden found himself up against a field of tenacious moderate candidates all with similar policy positions but either a more energetic and youthful persona (Buttigieg) or a more inclusive message (Klobuchar). If Biden fares poorly in both Iowa and New Hampshire, voters in Nevada and South Carolina will need to reconsider whether or not voting for Biden will be productive if he is unable to maintain strong support throughout the rest of the primary.
Also, besides standing out from other moderates, Biden’s largest task will be to come up with a strategy to counter Bernie Sanders, who is coming off of very strong performances in Iowa and New Hampshire and polling strongly going into other states. This is also coming at a time where many establishment Democrats are taking a hard second look at Bloomberg should Biden slip out of contention.