Primary Sourch: Lynch says ‘last shot’ for Biden in S.C. and Nevada

  • John P. Gregg. Copyright (c) Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to Geoff Hansen

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 2/12/2020 10:10:19 PM
Modified: 2/12/2020 10:11:16 PM

Turnout in Tuesday’s New Hampshire primary exceeded predictions from Secretary of State Bill Gardner, who thought 420,000 votes might be cast. In fact, 457,000 voters went to the polls, the most votes cast in a New Hampshire presidential primary when an incumbent was running for reelection.

Among Republicans, President Donald Trump won 89.2% of the vote in the Upper Valley, with former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld at 10.5% (see charts, Page A4).

As for Democrats, U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., ran strong in a number of New Hampshire cities and working-class towns like Claremont, Haverhill and Charlestown to claim first-place statewide. Sanders, who called for free public-school tuition and wiping out student debt, also won the public university towns of Durham, Plymouth and Keene.

But former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg handily won Hanover and actually won the Upper Valley overall with 5,942 votes, 255 more than Sanders.

The Sanders campaign asserted that it is “expanding the Democratic base.”

“Our campaign is successfully reaching out to working people, young people, communities of color and all those who believe in a government of compassion and justice,” Sanders said in a statement on Wednesday. “This is the coalition that wins elections.”

The Buttigieg campaign said it won in Republican-leaning areas and voter-rich suburbs like Salem. “Pete won the suburbs overall with 26% of the vote and won towns that voted for Trump in 2016 (25.5% of vote share),” his campaign said in a voter analysis.

U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar’s surprising showing included winning in Sunapee with 25.4% of the vote and taking 19.1% across the Upper Valley, on par with her statewide performance.

Both U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and former Vice President Joe Biden finished in single digits statewide, though Warren did better (13.6%) in the Upper Valley.

In a post-primary talk before about 140 people at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth on Wednesday, former Gov. John Lynch and former WMUR-TV political director Scott Spradling both said they think Warren’s days on the presidential campaign trail are numbered.

“I don’t see a path for Elizabeth Warren going forward. I think Bernie Sanders owns that path. And that means the money is going to dry up. I don’t see her competing in South Carolina and Nevada,” said Lynch, who now teaches at Tuck. Lynch, who endorsed and campaigned for Biden, said he sees a “little bit of light,” but not much, for Biden.

“I think it’s his last shot. He has to win or do very, very well in South Carolina, and he has to do well in Nevada, and if he doesn’t, I don’t think he makes it to Super Tuesday,” Lynch said of upcoming contests between now and March 3.

Both said the Democratic contest could wind up in a brokered convention, especially given the strategic decision by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg to concentrate on Super Tuesday states.

A central issue is whether Buttigieg, Klobuchar and Biden continue to compete for the same pack of more centrist voters, while Sanders mops up with more progressive Democrats.

“It’s a market-share game, who takes market share away from whom. If there are three moderates in the race, that inures to Bernie Sanders,” Lynch said.

There was some winnowing of the pack on Wednesday, as former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, who won just 1,266 votes in Tuesday’s primary, dropped out of the race. Andrew Yang and U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., had done the same Tuesday night.

Klobuchar on the trail

Former U.S. Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., was the professional comedian from the North Star State, but Klobuchar deftly used humor in her speeches and debates to win over New Hampshire voters.

Among her lines were joking about declaring her candidacy in a Minnesota blizzard “just to impress” voters in New Hampshire; quieting Sanders supporters whose chanting threatened to drown her out by turning to them and saying, “Hi, Bernie people,” and telling the tale of her first campaign.

At a speech at Dartmouth on Saturday, and elsewhere on the trail, Klobuchar said that she has won every political election dating back to fourth grade, where her slogan was “All the way with Amy K — which I have since abandoned,” drawing knowing laughs from the audience.

Klobuchar supporter Polly Campion, a state representative from Hanover, said the 59-year-old presidential candidate uses humor to paint a picture of her life and to also demonstrate that she identifies with voters.

“She certainly practices how to deliver a line so that it has the greatest effect, but because she is self-deprecating, it allows people to see themselves in her,” said Campion, who worked for years as a nurse at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center.

Campion also said Klobuchar has been effective in pointing out how she would stand up against Trump were she the Democratic nominee.

“People have underestimated her toughness,” Campion said. “She can be empathetic, but she is not a pushover.”

New Hampshire voters may now be going through political withdrawal, but Vermont will be voting in the March 3 Super Tuesday contest.

And former New Hampshire Attorney General Tom Rath, a centrist Republican often active in presidential campaigns, noted on Twitter that New Hampshire had handled the primary well and will be back in the mix soon enough.

“We did our job … and now we rest,” Rath wrote. “We will see you all in the Fall. In case you didn’t notice, we are purple. We’ll be back.”

John P. Gregg can be reached at

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