Democrats ‘feel the Bern’ as Sanders and Buttigieg pull ahead

The crowded field of Democrats who want to beat Donald Trump is narrowing. Iowa and New Hampshire’s contests may have played out very differently – one a chaotic mess – the other swift and decisive.

But they both produced the same two frontrunners – Bernie Sanders and Pete Buttigieg. One old, one young. One progressive, one moderate. The early states are about momentum and right now – they have it.

New Hampshire felt the Bern – and ran with it. Senator Bernie Sanders gave this Democratic primary contest its first and much needed clear winner.

Bernie Sanders has declared victory following the New Hampshire primary
Image:Bernie Sanders has declared victory following the New Hampshire primary

The self-proclaimed democratic socialist commands a dedicated, passionate following. His fans were never in any doubt that he could win this first crucial primary. Everyone I spoke to at his victory party used the words “honest” and “consistent” to describe him.

Their passion most closely rivals that of Donald Trump’s loyal fanbase. But outside their diehard support, there’s a dawning sense that Sanders has a very credible chance of becoming the Democratic nominee.

His progressive message is unwavering and resonates with millions of Americans but there’s a concern that not everyone wants a revolution – especially in those crucial rust belt states.

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That’s something that moderate Pete Buttigieg is banking on. He finished a strong second, a healthy follow-up to his surprise Iowa win.

But he could have some unexpected competition in the moderate field. Senator Amy Klobuchar finished just a couple of points behind Mr Buttigieg, exceeding all expectations.

It also means Elizabeth Warren is no longer the leading female candidate. A disappointing night leaves her campaign with some urgent questions.

A Bernie Sanders supporter cheers and waves a poster in New Hampshire
Image:A Bernie Sanders supporter cheers and waves a poster in New Hampshire

But Joe Biden’s campaign is surely in the deepest danger. The former presumptive nominee came fifth, skipping his New Hampshire party in a desperate bid to start winning upcoming, more diverse states.

All of these early contests are largely about faith. After months of uncertainty, nervous Democrats may be starting to feel more confident about who they can trust to bring down Donald Trump.

Mark Gibson

Graduates in Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois 1990. Move to Los Angeles California in 2004. Specialized in Internet journalism.

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