Joe Biden has won New Hampshire’s Democratic presidential primary, even though the incumbent refused to campaign in the state and had to rely on a write-in campaign powered by his allies and surrogates to secure a victory.
Leading up to election day in New Hampshire, much more attention was paid to the Republican presidential primary, in which Donald Trump defeated Nikki Haley. But the results of the Democratic primary could provide additional clues about the general election in November.
When the Associated Press called the race shortly after the last remaining polling places in New Hampshire closed at 8pm ET, it appeared that a clear majority of voters had cast ballots for write-in candidates. Most of those votes were expected to go to Biden, although some New Hampshire Democrats had planned to write in “ceasefire” to register their outrage over the war in Gaza and criticize US support for Israel’s military.
Biden’s two top rivals in New Hampshire, the Minnesota congressman Dean Phillips and the self-help author Marianne Williamson, trailed far behind.
The primary followed months of heated disagreement between New Hampshire Democrats and the national party over the primary calendar. The Democratic National Committee decided last year to make South Carolina the first voting state, a move that upended a century-old tradition of New Hampshire hosting the first primary.
Outraged over the voting calendar change, New Hampshire officials chose to hold an unsanctioned Democratic primary on Tuesday, although the DNC has said it will not award delegates based on the results. Biden’s name did not appear on the ballot, which included 21 names in total, but the president’s allies launched a vigorous write-in campaign in support of his re-election.
Phillips and Williamson had hoped to capitalize on Biden’s absence and pull off an upset in New Hampshire. The two candidates held events across the state to make their pitch that the Democratic party needs to move in a new direction.
“We believe it is time to segregate the far left and the far right and give voice to the exhausted majority of America. Are you ready for that?” Phillips told a crowd in Nashua on Saturday.
That message ultimately failed to sway most New Hampshire Democrats. Given the large number of write-in votes, it was taking more time for New Hampshire officials to process Democratic ballots, but the AP was still able to declare Biden as the winner just minutes after polls closed.
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Biden’s clear win may help allay concerns about the possibility of decreased enthusiasm among the Democratic base heading into the general election in November. Polls already show Biden running neck and neck with Trump, who is widely expected to win the Republican presidential nomination now that he has won the first two voting states.
In an indication of Biden’s potential vulnerabilities, some of the president’s prominent allies, including Congressman Ro Khanna of California, spent time campaigning on his behalf in New Hampshire. Speaking at a house party in support of the write-in campaign on Saturday, Khanna predicted a “decisive win” for Biden in New Hampshire.
“That’s going to propel him to have a big win in November,” Khanna said. “At the end of the day, I am a believer that Americans love this country and love our democracy.”
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