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Sen. Bernie Sanders Wins New Hampshire's Democratic Primary


New Hampshire did what Iowa could not - give us a clear winner on election night. Bernie Sanders has won New Hampshire's Democratic primary.


BERNIE SANDERS: We are going to unite together and defeat the most dangerous president in the modern history of this country.


GREENE: Sanders won narrowly over former South Bend, Ind., mayor Pete Buttigieg, and close behind them was Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar, who had a strong late surge to get right into the mix. NPR's Scott Detrow is in Manchester, N.H. NPR's Mara Liasson is in Washington. Good morning to you both.



GREENE: So, Scott, you were with Bernie Sanders last night as he was celebrating. How significant of a win is this for him?

DETROW: Look, this was not the 20-point margin he won New Hampshire by four years ago, but this was a big deal for Sanders. And combined with that tie or whatever in Iowa, it gives Sanders an inside edge over everybody else in the Democratic Party right now. On one hand, yeah, he won with about a quarter of the vote, and when you add up the totals of the votes going to all the more moderate candidates, they're getting way more support than what Sanders is getting. And the other thing that could be a negative here is that the massive swell of new voters he's saying would elect him in November still hasn't really shown up, even though turnout was higher in New Hampshire than Iowa.

But here's what Sanders has going for him. He has better organization and advertising and strength in the next few contests than anybody else other than Michael Bloomberg. And he is already organizing and advertising on the March 3 stage, Super Tuesday, where a third of the delegates are up for grabs. So right now, he's in a strong position, especially because the moderate side of this field is totally muddled with no clear front-runner, and that only exacerbated itself last night with Amy Klobuchar suddenly coming into the conversation.

GREENE: Mara, I mean, Scott brings up delegates. I mean, this is about both momentum and also a race for delegates and there's a long way to go in terms of getting enough delegates. And Buttigieg actually has slightly more delegates coming out of Iowa and New Hampshire. So after yesterday, I mean, is Sanders the clear front-runner?

LIASSON: Yes, he's the clear front-runner, he's not a prohibitive front-runner. But Scott talked about all the things that Sanders can look forward to. You know, as long as the center-left lane has not coalesced around a single alternative to Sanders - there are a lot of people in that lane, there's Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar, there's still Joe Biden trying to recover in South Carolina and Bloomberg waiting with his billions to get in in March - Sanders has the most plausible path to the nomination.

Now, look, the next battle, now that we're past the two first lily-white states, is to put together the coalition that usually wins Democratic nominations, which is African Americans and white liberals, and that's where Sanders is ahead right now. The question is, will the alternative to him, the center left, coalesce around one candidate? This is what the Republicans could never do in 2016. They could never coalesce around an alternative to Trump.

GREENE: Scott, you have Klobuchar landing in third place in New Hampshire. And as Mara said, I mean, things - we go to different types of states going forward, but what did her surge here tell us about where her campaign is?

DETROW: I think it - to me, the most interesting thing about what Amy Klobuchar did last night was that there is a lot of anecdotal evidence that she won a lot of votes from people who were making up their minds in the last minute, people who were making up their minds over the weekend after that debate Friday night where she had a strong performance, even people who were telling us and New Hampshire Public Radio that they were making up their minds on their drive to the polling place.

And I think what that says is that the moderate and more centrist wing of this party doesn't really know who it wants to go up against Bernie Sanders right now, and Amy Klobuchar is suddenly peaking at just the right time, as she told her supporters last night.


AMY KLOBUCHAR: As everyone had counted us out even a week ago - thank you, pundits...


KLOBUCHAR: ...I came back and we delivered.


GREENE: A dig at pundits.

DETROW: Well, I think she's got a point there, and I think for most of last year, she was overshadowed by all the other senators in the race - Kamala Harris, Cory Booker and Elizabeth Warren, who at one point was up with Joe Biden as a national front-runner but has suddenly really faded and had a very poor showing in her home turf last night.

GREENE: Yeah. Mara, does Warren still have a path to nomination here?

LIASSON: It's hard to see right now. I mean, she - for a candidate from Massachusetts who shares a media market with New Hampshire to do as poorly as she did is really a big blow. I think Elizabeth Warren's campaign is kind of the big mystery of the race. She was considered to be the best retail candidate - she had a great stump speech, she was able to explain her plans and her message in very down-to-earth language, she had an impressive organization, she created this culture, the selfie lines, Bailey, the dog. I mean, she - her fall was really precipitous, and possibly it's because she made some very big strategic errors, especially with her plan for mandatory "Medicare for All" but it's hard to see what her path is.

Last night in her concession speech or her speech, she presented herself as the unity candidate and I guess her theory of the case is, if things get really ugly and it's a fight between somebody that is being called a racist billionaire versus a misogynist socialist, she might be able to be the unifying candidate that pops up again. But where does she win next?

GREENE: Well, let's talk about where we go from here. As you said, we're going to more diverse states like Nevada, like South Carolina. Joe Biden actually left New Hampshire early after finishing fifth, got to South Carolina and talked about demographics.


JOE BIDEN: We're moving in an especially important phase because up till now, we haven't heard from the most committed constituency in the Democratic Party, the African American community.


BIDEN: And the fastest growing segment of society - the Latino community.

GREENE: All right. So you have some candidates like Klobuchar, like Buttigieg, who have struggled with nonwhite voters. Does Joe Biden still have a shot here moving to states like South Carolina and Nevada?


DETROW: I think he's...

GREENE: Both of you go for it.

DETROW: (Laughter).

LIASSON: Sure. He does, but he's in a pretty deep hole and African American voters have been watching carefully. They want someone who can beat Donald Trump, too. And they see the candidate who built his campaign on the promise of electability not winning yet.

GREENE: Scott.

DETROW: And, yes, Biden has talked about South Carolina all along, and that's a strong area for him, but he did compete hard in Iowa and he came in fourth. And he did not win a single delegate last night in New Hampshire. And for that to happen to the former vice president really says a lot about the trouble that his campaign is facing right now.

GREENE: NPR's Scott Detrow is in Manchester, N.H., after the primary there last night. NPR's Mara Liasson in Washington, D.C. I'm sure we're going to be having mornings like this to come, many of them as this campaign goes on. Thank you both.

LIASSON: Thank you.

DETROW: Sounds good. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Mara Liasson is a national political correspondent for NPR. Her reports can be heard regularly on NPR's award-winning newsmagazine programs Morning Edition and All Things Considered. Liasson provides extensive coverage of politics and policy from Washington, DC — focusing on the White House and Congress — and also reports on political trends beyond the Beltway.
Scott Detrow is a White House correspondent for NPR and co-hosts the NPR Politics Podcast.
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