For Bernie Sanders, the revolution is going to have to wait. The radical socialist was hoping for a decisive win in New Hampshire that would knock rivals Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren out of the race and give him momentum that would start a juggernaut rolling, taking him all the way to the Democratic convention.
Biden and Warren are, indeed, down and out but the momentum Sanders was hoping for is not materializing thanks to two relative Democratic moderates who together won almost half the New Hampshire electorate.
Sanders won a quarter of the New Hampshire electorate. That’s hardly a ringing endorsement of socialism — especially when the gay mayor of South Bend, Ind., is trailing by fewer than 2700 votes this morning and the obscure senator from Minnesota that no one had heard of two weeks ago got 20 percent of the vote.
Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar may not be our idea of “moderate” politicians, but in the far-left Democratic Party, they’re a lot less crazy than most. And with establishment Democrats panicking at the prospect of Bernie Sanders at the top of the ballot next November, it’s now become an “anybody but Bernie” race.
But if this was an enormously disappointing night for the two people who once seemed like they would be fighting a one-on-one fight for the nomination through the spring, it was hardly an overwhelming thumping by Bernie Sanders. Even counting for the fact that in 2016 he was in a two-person race, the comparison with his smashing victory over Hillary Clinton (22 points and 60 percent of the vote) and, as of late Tuesday night, his less-than-2-point squeaker over Buttigieg, is notable. Sanders dominated the state in 2016, winning every county. Buttigieg and Klobuchar ripped holes through that map everywhere, turning color-coded maps from 2016 that showed a Sanders rout into a patchwork of colors.
Perhaps more important, Sanders overpromised and underdelivered. He has premised his campaign on nothing less than sparking a political revolution in which disaffected and first-time voters — especially young ones — pour into American politics to carry him to the White House. It didn’t happen in Iowa, and it didn’t happen in New Hampshire.
If you’re counting on the “youth vote” and low-information voters for victory, you’re going to be disappointed every single time. Every four years we hear the same thing from Democrats: “Young people are with us. They’re motivated. They’re enthusiastic. We can’t lose!” And then the polls close and the “youth vote” never materialized.
The percentage of young voters actually declined from 2016 to 2020 in New Hampshire, from 19 percent to 14 percent. Independents were a larger share of the electorate, but they did not break nearly as decisively for Sanders as they did in 2016. He received support from just 29 percent of self-described independents this time, as opposed to 73 percent (!) in 2016. Buttigieg, who is derided by Sanders supporters as “Mayo Pete” and “Wall Street Pete,” ran competitively with that group at 24 percent.
Two states down and no revolution yet.
For the moment, Democratic moderates will have the stage. Money will pour into both Buttigieg’s and Klobuchar’s campaigns in the hope that one will emerge as either the frontrunner or main challenger to Sanders, who is continuing to rake in cash in the most successful online fundraising operation in history.
Might Klobuchar be the candidate the establishment settles on?
“We know that we cannot win by trying to out-divide the divider in chief,” Klobuchar, who has been running as the rational, middle-of-the-ground Trump alternative, told the crowd. “Donald Trump’s worst nightmare is the people in the middle.”
“They predicted we wouldn’t make it to the debates, but man were we at the debate in New Hampshire,” Klobuchar added. After polling in the single digits and struggling to raise money for much of her campaign, Klobuchar is leveraging her fifth place finish in Iowa and possible third place finish in New Hampshire to assume the role of the dark horse of the Democratic primaries. “Even tonight in New Hampshire, as everyone counted us out, thank you pundits, I came back and we delivered,” said Klobuchar.
She told voters she “cannot wait” to win with a movement of “fired up Democrats, Independents and moderate Republicans.”
Klobuchar is no socialist, although she’s been forced to modify several of her positions to conform to the far-left vision of America. She, like Buttigieg, is no bomb-thrower. But opposition research on her hasn’t been cranked up yet, meaning we’re likely to start discussing her sins in the next few weeks.
There are just enough of us old codgers still kicking to keep socialism at bay for a while. Sanders will be dead and buried by the time his ideological progeny are able to take over the United States. But given the attitudes of young people toward socialism, it seems inevitable.