By: Daniel Galal
On Tuesday, February 11th, the New Hampshire Democratic Primary took place, an important early step in the 2020 election season. The primary signals the start of the major primary and caucus season, which ultimately determines who each party will nominate as their respective candidate for president. Both parties hold primaries and caucuses despite whether or not they hold the presidency, but since President Trump will undoubtedly be the Republican Party’s nominee, the focus this election season has been on the Democrats. Over the past few weeks, after examining the results of polls, the Iowa Caucus, and the New Hampshire Primary, a few things have become clear.
Sanders Takes an Early Lead
Bernie Sanders has been on a steady rise in the past few months, especially evident in the results of the recent polls and electoral contests. Sanders statistically tied Pete Buttigieg in the Iowa Caucus on February 3rd, both candidates with 26.2% of the vote. The Vermont Senator took a larger leap forward in the New Hampshire Primary, where he narrowly edged out Buttigieg with 25.7% of the vote. New polls have also showcased a surge for Sanders, with February 10th Quinnipiac National Poll showing 25% of Democratic voters prefer or vote for Sanders in the 2020 election against incumbent Donald Trump. Despite his rise, some have claimed Sanders has reached his peak and is in danger of being overtaken by other candidates who have not yet surged. It should also be noted that New Hampshire neighbors Sanders’s home state of Vermont, which usually provides a boost to candidates. While it is unclear as to how much this factor contributed to Sanders’s surge, a clear frontrunner will only emerge when multiple primaries and caucuses have taken place.
Biden On the Downturn
Also evident with recent electoral contests is an apparent slump in Joe Biden’s campaign. Former Vice President Biden, who began his campaign on top of the Democratic field, has made it clear that he is running first and foremost on his electability. His wife, Jill Biden, even made this obvious as early as August of 2019, where she stated the American people must “look at who is going to win this election” and beat Donald Trump, later arguing that though Biden may not have the best policies, he is the best choice “if the bottom line…is to beat Trump”. Recent performances in the Iowa Caucus and New Hampshire primary tell us that perhaps Biden’s image is waning among Democratic voters, only getting 15.8% and 8.4% of Democratic voters in the respective contests. Again, it is too early to draw absolute conclusions, especially when the trajectory of candidates in this phase of election season is so unpredictable; however, it does appear that Biden’s campaign suffered a relative setback after the underwhelming performances.
The Field is Narrowing
After nearly a year of an overwhelmingly crowded field, the Democratic field is finally beginning to narrow, and voters will have the opportunity to focus all their attention and a small, manageable group of candidates. With a small field now emerging from the pack, it is only a matter of time before a true frontrunner emerges.