Bernie Sanders narrowly won New Hampshire’s Democratic presidential primary on Tuesday, solidifying his front-runner status in the race to take on Donald Trump and dealing a setback to moderate rival Joe Biden, who finished a disappointing fifth, Reuters reported.
Pete Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, who edged out Sanders in last week’s messy Iowa caucuses, came in a close second after splitting much of the centrist vote with Senator Amy Klobuchar.
Sanders, a progressive senator from neighboring Vermont, prevailed after fending off attacks from rivals who warned his left-wing views would lead the party to defeat in the Nov. 3 election against Republican President Trump.
“This victory here is the beginning of the end for Donald Trump,” Sanders told supporters in Manchester, New Hampshire.
In a sign of the growing rivalry between Sanders, the 78-year-old self-professed democratic socialist, and Buttigieg, a 38-year-old moderate, Sanders’ supporters booed and chanted “Wall Street Pete!” when Buttigieg’s post-primary speech was shown on screens.
It was also a good night for Klobuchar, who rode a wave of momentum from a strong debate on Friday into third-place finish. Senator Elizabeth Warren, considered a favorite in New Hampshire until a few months ago, came fourth, casting further doubt over her viability as the progressive alternative to Sanders, Reuters adds.
The two progressive senators have vowed to tax the rich, eliminate private health insurance in favor of universal state-run healthcare and take on Wall Street and corporate corruption.
But their moderate rivals argue their sweeping agenda would alienate swing and independent voters needed to win back the White House.
The results provided no clear answers for Democrats trying to decide whether their best choice to challenge Trump would be a moderate like Buttigieg, Klobuchar or Biden, or Sanders and Warren, who represents neighboring Massachusetts.
Turnout in New Hampshire approached the record 287,000 who cast ballots in the 2008 Democratic primary, when the battle between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton energized the party. That could ease Democratic concerns about smaller-than-expected turnout in Iowa.