In a state slammed by snow and ice, Hillary Clinton took second place in Tuesday’s New Hampshire primary against Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.), conceding defeat just minutes after polls closed at 8pm ET.
This result was a widely-expected fall from the former Secretary of State’s narrow victory over Sanders in the Iowa caucuses last week.
In her concession speech, Clinton touched on the key campaign issues she would be running on for the rest of the primary, including further health care reform, campaign finance reform, reigning in Wall Street and addressing economic inequality.
“People are angry,” Clinton said. “And they have every right to be. But I know they’re also hungry. They’re hungry for solutions.”
Clinton argued that although Sanders and her agreed on much, she was the “best change-maker” in the Democratic race, a case she’s been making for several months now.
Sanders’ New Hampshire victory is the capstone on a two-year battle that began in 2014, when Clinton was polling over 50 points higher than Sanders in the state. One year later, in August 2015, Sanders took his first lead in the state. For the last two months, he built a polling lead that made New Hampshire his strongest state in the 2016 campaign.
The Clintons have a lot of history in the Granite State. Bill Clinton’s 1992 presidential victory was buoyed by a second place finish in the face of numerous scandals. In 2008, Hillary Clinton stunned Barack Obama to win the state, halt his advance after his win in Iowa, and set the stage for what would be a long primary battle.
“I still love New Hampshire, and I always will,” Clinton said.
Say “Hillary”! pic.twitter.com/Wv9oqaiX5e— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) February 9, 2016
Sanders’ victory was necessary for him to continue the close primary battle he’s waging against Clinton; the upcoming slate of primaries are predicted to go much more heavily in Clinton’s favor.
“Now we take this campaign to the entire country,” she said.
In the face of mounting evidence of an imminent Sanders win in the pre-primary polls, the Clinton camp sought to minimize the significance of her likely defeat by saying that New Hampshire is very good to neighbors and Sanders is the senator from Vermont, right next door. That’s historically true, although both Sanders and Vermont at large have much more liberal politics than New Hampshire’s libertarian heritage.
The fact that Sanders pulled out his first victory here may prompt a new wave of donations to his campaign and a new way of thinking about the self-described democratic socialist from mainstream Americans. The man once written off as a long-shot could now be seen more widely as a real possibility for the next president.
The hope of Sanders campaign is that a victory in New Hampshire translates to momentum in the upcoming primaries in Nevada and South Carolina. President Barack Obama rode a similar wave of momentum by winning Iowa in 2008 to upset Hillary Clinton in that year’s primary battle.
Clinton leads by over 20 points in Nevada and close to 30 in South Carolina.
After that, March 1 brings on Super Tuesday. A dozen states will hold primaries in perhaps the single most important day of the 2016 primary season. Clinton holds substantial double-digit leads in virtually all of the Super Tuesday states.
Looking beyond poll numbers, the foundation of Clinton’s lead sits in part with her popularity with minorities. Both Iowa and New Hampshire have overwhelmingly white electorates compared to the upcoming states, a fact that benefits Sanders in those two early states but disadvantages him later on.
If Sanders fails to put up a major fight on Super Tuesday, his presidential ambitions may effectively end on that day. If Sanders pulls out surprise wins against Clinton on March 1, expect a long and unpredictable fight ahead.
Photo via Marc Nozell / Flickr (CC by 2.0) | Remix by Max Fleishman