Five Democratic candidates will likely earn delegates in Tuesday’s primary in New Hampshire for the first time, Karl Rove noted on Fox News Sunday.
That reflects a close race among several frontrunners, each of whom will win something in the proportional vote — and each of whom hopes the Granite State will fuel their campaign for the weeks ahead.
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) is the favorite to win, as he did in 2016. He has the advantage of being a familiar face from next-door Vermont. He also has devoted followers, who have been packing town hall meetings in the state for months.
But if he wins, he is unlikely to do so by 22 points, as he did when he trounced former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in 2016. The question is who will be contending with Sanders for frontrunner status.
Former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg has not been a factor until the last few months, but he surged in November and briefly held a lead in New Hampshire in December, according to the RealClearPolitics poll averages. He has a large campaign war chest and an army of volunteers. A second-place finish would help him stay among the leaders; a win could transform the race.
Former Vice President Joe Biden is struggling, and telegraphed in Friday’s debate that he does not expect to win in the state, even though he was the early frontrunner. If he finishes in the top three, he will still be competitive in the crucial Nevada caucuses (Feb. 22) and the South Carolina primary (Feb. 29), where he has a “firewall” of African-American support. But if Biden finishes fourth or worse in New Hampshire, that firewall might not last.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) has endured one of the most puzzling ups-and-downs in the state. After a much-hyped outdoor town hall meeting in August, she surged to the lead in New Hampshire, and even looked like she could challenge Biden for national frontrunner status.
But Warren’s struggles to explain how she would pay for her version of “Medicare for All” dogged her campaign, and she finished a somewhat disappointing third in Iowa. Her best chance to regain her footing is in Nevada, where she has a large organization — albeit one beset by recent claims of racism. And to compete in Nevada, she has to do well in New Hampshire.
Finally, there is Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), whose debate performance Friday was well received, and whose complaints about gender bias are starting to gain traction. (A popular Facebook meme shows her smiling wryly as three male candidates around her raise their hands and try to talk, presumably over her.)
Klobuchar has taken aim at Buttigieg, whom she considers to be the beneficiary of male privilege. She enjoys the endorsement of the New Hampshire Union-Leader, and could do what Clinton did to Barack Obama in a come-from-behind victory in 2008 by rallying women to her cause.
If Klobuchar finishes in the top three, she can shake up the race and create a narrow path to victory.
There are several other candidates in the running, but it could be the last stop for some of them, though billionaire Tom Steyer has paid for so much advertising in Nevada and South Carolina that he will likely stay in the race through the end of the month, regardless of the New Hampshire result.
Polls will open at 7:00 a.m. and close at 7:00 p.m. ET Tuesday in most locations.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He earned an A.B. in Social Studies and Environmental Science and Public Policy from Harvard College, and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. He is also the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, which is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.