There’s no denying, at this point, that Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota seemed to have the best night at the Democratic debate last week in New Hampshire. She seemed to blaze a trail through the bluster and her poll numbers, for surveys conducted after the debate night, have shown a distinct rise in support. That rise likely won’t be enough to topple Sen. Bernie Sanders or former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg from the top position, but it may be enough to dig her out of the bottom half of the upper tier.
On the flip side of the equation, former vice president Joe Biden is floundering, by most accounts. His dismal finished in Iowa has left questions all over his campaign, and polling following the caucuses and Friday’s debate is leaving much to be desired. The big question now is whether Biden can hold on to fourth place in New Hampshire, or whether he actually risks the previously unthinkable result of being fifth in line on Tuesday night.
First, the good news for Klobuchar reported from Newsweek:
Senator Amy Klobuchar (Minnesota) has moved up to third place in New Hampshire following the Democratic primary debate on Friday, two new polls shows.
The surveys released by Emerson College and Suffolk University overnight found the Minnesota senator on 14 and 13.6 percent of the New Hampshire vote respectively, putting her ahead of Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren just 24 hours before the second nominating contest.
The Emerson College poll of Democratic primary voters conducted from February 8 to February 9 showed Klobuchar’s numbers were up five points on Friday, the date of the ABC News Democratic debate in New Hampshire.
By comparison, the latest Suffolk University poll found her 7.6 points ahead of her numbers going into the eighth Democratic debate, while Senator Warren and former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg saw their polling dip.
For comparison’s sake, here are the two polls in question mentioned in the Newsweek piece:
Emerson College New Hampshire Primary Poll
Conducted Feb. 8-9 | Source
- Bernie Sanders – 30%
- Pete Buttigieg – 23%
- Amy Klobuchar – 14%
- Elizabeth Warren – 11%
- Joe Biden – 10%
- Andrew Yang – 4%
- Tulsi Gabbard – 2%
- Tom Steyer – 2%
Boston Globe/Suffolk New Hampshire Primary Poll
Conducted Feb. 8-9 | Source
- Bernie Sanders – 27%
- Pete Buttigieg – 19%
- Amy Klobuchar – 14%
- Elizabeth Warren – 12%
- Joe Biden – 12%
- Andrew Yang – 3%
- Tulsi Gabbard – 3%
- Tom Steyer – 2%
Where to start with these? First off, clearly Bernie Sanders is in position for a big night on Tuesday and it looks like the debate helped solidify his standing. After coming off his strong finish in Iowa, where he topped Buttigieg in the overall vote count but lost slightly in terms of awarded delegates due to caucus rules, a big finish in New Hampshire will help continue his momentum into Nevada and South Carolina.
Buttigieg’s momentum has slowed slightly, and he has lost a few points to Klobuchar following the debate. He won the most delegates in Iowa, but the results in New Hampshire will be much more meaningful without any obscure caucus rules and procedures muddying the picture. Buttigieg finishing within a few points of Sanders on Tuesday could be a big night for him.
Beyond the two leaders, the field becomes a toss-up. From these two polls, at least, it looks like Warren, Biden, or Klobuchar could end up in third-place depending on how things shake out. If Klobuchar would finish in a solid third, with some clear late-breaking support, she has a case to make in South Carolina. If Warren can revive her chances and pick up third place, she’ll be looking to make a bigger splash in Nevada. If Biden can take third, which, quite frankly, he absolutely needs to win, he can continue his trek toward South Carolina as his firewall state where he still leads.
Just a few months ago, or even one month ago, to talk about Biden clinging to a fourth-place position in New Hampshire would have been unspeakable. As it stands now, a fourth-place finish could look pretty good with the prospect of finishing fifth becoming a possible reality.
As the Daily Beast reports, the Biden campaign is lacking rhythm and lacking enthusiasm, two traits which are needed to keep voters engaged:
Forty-five minutes after Joe Biden’s first campaign event was supposed to start on Saturday, his crowd had grown restless. The former vice president wasn’t at the Rex Theatre in downtown Manchester and those crammed inside were wondering just how much longer they’d have to suck in the heated air before they get to see him speak.
In the rafters, a chant broke out.
“We Want Joe!” the voices said, overpowering the soundtrack of classic rock and commercial motown that had been playing on blast to keep the crowd from completely dozing off.
But no one picked it up. Instead, after two renditions, the men simply stopped. And those who’d bothered to consider joining in the chorus did what they’d been doing since it became clear that the event would not start on time: they dumped their faces back into their cellphones.
“This is a microcosm of the failure of this campaign,” said Adam Ross, a Long Islander who helped start the chant. “The energy is slowly dissipating from this room.”
Biden’s campaign is running on fumes. A candidate with all the trappings of a traditional frontrunner—the long résumé, party backing, relevant experience, and steady poll numbers—suddenly is on electoral life support. A fourth-place showing in the Iowa Caucus days ago has raised the stakes for the upcoming primary. But even Biden himself seems to be grappling with the likelihood that another humiliation is on the horizon. His first answer during Friday night’s debate was devoted, in part, to explaining how he was likely to lose on Tuesday.
It’s premature to start writing epilogues on the Biden 2020 campaign, but there’s no denying, even for Biden supporters, that these early states have not been kind. New Hampshire could surprise us, and perhaps Biden has more support there than the polls would indicate, they’ve certainly been wrong before and are not perfect measurements.
If Biden places poorly in New Hampshire and fails to win Nevada, and then barely ekes out a win in South Carolina, the chances of a brokered convention and drawn-out primary will increase dramatically. The field could go on splitting states, with Sanders still well in contention, but some regions preferring another candidate, spreading the delegates around the field and leaving no candidate as a clear-cut victor in March or April.
We’ll have full live results for the New Hampshire primary on Tuesday, Feb. 11. Voting begins at 7 am ET in most precincts, but check this page for voting details and more information.