New Hampshire scramble: Democrats’ slog heads south

Political Theater, Episode 112

Peter Buttigieg wearing a suit and tie
Former South Bend mayor Pete Buttigieg, has surged to frontrunner status in the Democratic primary and is a mere 1,969 delegates from clinching the nomination. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
Jason Dick
Posted February 12, 2020 at 3:15pm

The New Hampshire Democratic presidential primary is in the books, and its winner, Sen. Bernie Sanders, is now only 1,970 delegates away from securing the nomination.

To get there, though, he has to go through former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who only has to secure 1,969 delegates. (All delegate counts are from The Associated Press.)

Yes, the two earliest of the early voting states, Iowa and New Hampshire, and their combined 65 delegates, are now over. The sprawling Democratic field, such as it is, continues to shrink, with Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet, former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick and Andrew Yang dropping out after Tuesday’s Granite State vote.

But there is a long, long way to go, with two more of those early states, Nevada and South Carolina, voting this month. And then there’s March 3, Super Tuesday, when former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg will make his splash, having sat out the February contests.

So while it’s probably better to be Sanders or Buttigieg right now, who basically fought to a draw in Iowa and New Hampshire, it’s not like it’s over for former Vice President Joe Biden, who’s counting on winning South Carolina’s Feb. 29 primary to revive his campaign, or Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar or Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who will push hard to break through in Nevada’s Feb. 22 caucuses and South Carolina after that.

Yet, despite all that, New Hampshire and Iowa are still revered parts of the political campaign process. While the quirky rituals in the two states — kernel voting, cookie bribes, mugs of bacon, Dixville Notch — get a lot of attention, the candidates themselves and the votes that helped shape the coming election have taken on added significance.

Speaking to Reuters political correspondent Amanda Becker on this week's Political Theater podcast, we look into the state of the race, where it heads now and the moments that don’t get a lot of attention but reveal something about the candidates and the voters they are courting.

And we also talk about how calm some dogs are, running into candidates in your pajamas and what happens when you end up with the neon-green/pea-soup-colored rental car.