This event has ended. Listen to the full special, as it aired, above.
New Hampshire is expected to decide the first primary winner of the 2020 election Tuesday night, just over a week since the Iowa caucuses left Americans confused about the process and without a declared winner.
After winning the New Hampshire primary in 2016 and performing well last week in Iowa, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders is a clear front-runner in the Granite State and continues to dominate in the state polls.
Sanders is closely trailed by former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who experienced a post-Iowa surge in the New Hampshire polls after coming in first in the Iowa caucuses last week by just 0.1%.
Former Vice President Joe Biden, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, and Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar are also vying for a good showing — but their poll numbers show them around 10 points lower on average than Sanders and Buttigieg.
That said, similar to Iowa, New Hampshire voters could always throw a curveball — as a significant amount may still be undecided.
A Boston Globe/Suffolk University poll from Jan. 21 found that almost 50% of likely New Hampshire Democratic voters say they could change their minds or stay undecided.
MICHEL MARTIN (HOST): Senator Bernie Sanders has an early lead as the first returns come in from New Hampshire. From NPR News, this is live Special Coverage. I'm Michel Martin.
RACHEL MARTIN (HOST): And I'm Rachel Martin. Polls in New Hampshire have closed, and the nation's first primary results are arriving.
M MARTIN: That's right. After Iowa's muddled outcome and much finger-pointing, tonight, New Hampshire promises to deliver actual results. And the candidates have made their case.
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PETE BUTTIGIEG (DEM PRES CAND): Remember, mayors have to get things done.
ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA, SEN/DEM PRES CAND): People are counting on us to get this right.
BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT, SEN/DEM PRES CAND): To create an economy that works for all of us.
ANDREW YANG (DEM PRES CAND): This is how we rebalance the most extreme economy in the history of the world.
AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN, SEN/DEM PRES CAND): If you are tired of the extremes, you have a home with me.
JOE BIDEN (DEM PRES CAND): Let's get up and take back this country and take it back now.
M MARTIN: Democrats are vying for a victory they can take to Nevada, South Carolina and onto Super Tuesday.
R MARTIN: Stay with us. It is live Special Coverage of the New Hampshire primary from NPR News.
And we do have a call to make. We can announce that President Donald Trump has won the New Hampshire Republican primary. This is breaking news. The Associated Press is projecting, again, Donald Trump will win, as predicted, the Republican primary in the state of New Hampshire. And we should just lay the land here. This is a - the country's first primary. This comes after a very complicated Iowa caucus, where things were too close to call between Pete Buttigieg and Bernie Sanders.
And so, Michel, a lot of people have that in the back of their mind as they are - as they went to the polls today, trying to decipher what that Iowa decision or non-decision meant as they make their choice.
M MARTIN: And we're going to try to make sense of it here - and Rachel and I. We are - suggest - it's been suggested that we tell you that we're not actually cousins, but we do claim each other.
R MARTIN: (Laughter).
M MARTIN: But we do claim each other.
R MARTIN: Two Martins are better than one.
M MARTIN: Two Martins are better than one. And we are joined here - we are going to try to make sense of this evening. We are joined by a large array of our colleagues who all have something to contribute. We have Domenico Montanaro, senior political editor and correspondent, with us. We have Ron Elving, NPR senior Washington editor and correspondent with us. We have Danielle Kurtzleben, political correspondent, with us. And, of course, Mara Liasson, NPR national political correspondent is also with us. And we also have an array of correspondents in the field, and we're going to hear from all of them this evening.
But we're going to start with Domenico. Couple questions for you, Domenico. First of all, the results are just starting to trickle in, of course. So I'm just curious about what those early results tell us, what the exit polls told us earlier today. And then how is today different from last week? A lot has changed.
DOMENICO MONTANARO (BYLINE): A lot has changed. Not everything has changed. But we've got about 9% of the vote in right now. And tracking right now - we have the top three candidates as Bernie Sanders, Pete Buttigieg and, perhaps surprisingly for some and not for others, Amy Klobuchar in third, with Elizabeth Warren and Joe Biden following after that. So, you know, like I said, 9% of the vote in here. But that's kind of what we expected, that Bernie Sanders would be the person who was the favorite tonight. Pete Buttigieg had been on an upswing after that virtual tie in Iowa.
But Amy Klobuchar, the thing that's really helping her here and what we saw in the exit poll data was half of people said that they decided within the last few days, in fact, and that half of them said that the debate was very important in their decision that they made. And Amy Klobuchar got a lot of plaudits for how she performed in that debate.
You know, you had Joe Biden, the former vice president, immediately off the top essentially say he was going to take a hit in New Hampshire. And I think a lot of the moderates whom were thinking about him eventually said, well, let's go with somebody who actually could win or wants to win here. And that's what we're seeing. And we'll see if this tracks in this direction. But there's a clear distinction between the top three and then the rest of the field. And you wonder what that's going to mean.
I mean, going into Iowa, we knew Sanders was the favorite there. Pete Buttigieg, we weren't expecting to necessarily be at the top, but we saw big crowds of his in the days before that. And you expected Joe Biden to do fairly well. That didn't happen. He's got this quote-unquote "firewall" in South Carolina where he does very well with black voters. But can he actually get to that point? It's weeks away. There - and there's already polling indicating that he's having some of his support with black voters already eaten away by someone who's not even competing yet in these first four races, Mike Bloomberg, the former mayor of New York, who we'll have to talk about because he's spent over $350 million of his own money on advertising.
R MARTIN: So speaking of Joe Biden and his exodus from New Hampshire to the great state of South Carolina, we have our own - NPR's Juana Summers is in South Carolina. She has been on the ground there reporting for the last several days. And now she is there to witness the vice president making this quite dramatic pivot. Juana, what are you hearing there?
JUANA SUMMERS (BYLINE): Hey, y'all. Yes, people are starting to file in for this event. We are in Columbia, S.C., where Joe Biden is expected to kick off his South Carolina campaign here. People are elated here. They are not concerned about not-as-strong finishes by the former vice president in the states of Iowa and what we might see tonight in New Hampshire. They say that doesn't, in fact - that does not affect what they feel on the ground here in South Carolina.
They say that Joe Biden cannot take the state's voters for granted, that he cannot take his strength of black supporters for granted. But they feel like he will have a strong showing here tonight. And they're glad to see him here. They're not really interested in talking about New Hampshire very much.
R MARTIN: And what are you hearing about candidates who may be lower down?
SUMMERS: Absolutely. So we were just able to confirm that Andrew Yang, the entrepreneur who ran on the message of having a universal basic income or a freedom dividend, is ending his campaign tonight. He is someone that had banked his fortunes in this race on a strong showing in New Hampshire. He spent a lot of time there, but is now saying that he does not have a path to the nomination, his campaign staffers telling us that he did not feel that he could continue to take folks' money, that it was simply time to end his race, and he will do that tonight in New Hampshire, where I hear he will be addressing supporters.
R MARTIN: OK. NPR's Juana Summers there in South Carolina with this news that Andrew Yang has ended his bid to become president of the United States, or at least the Democratic nominee. We are going to move over to NPR's Scott Detrow, who is with the Sanders campaign. Scott, what do you know?
SCOTT DETROW (BYLINE): Well, we're seeing something that's a bit different than last week, and that is supporters here in Manchester reacting to precincts reporting. There are actual vote totals to respond to, as opposed to an Iowa last week. And so far, it is great news for the Sanders campaign. He is currently in first place with about 10% of precincts reporting, about a thousand votes and some change ahead of Pete Buttigieg. So everyone in the Sanders campaign is feeling good. As Domenico was talking about, you have seen this real traffic jam, if you will, in the moderate lane of this primary.
Meanwhile, Bernie Sanders has been really unopposed with his progressive agenda. He has been holding big rally after big rally. I was at an event last night where 8,000 people were there to cheer him and Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez and others. And they had a band playing, The Strokes. So there's just been a lot of energy in this campaign. They feel very good about New Hampshire. And looking at the map going forward, in contrast to Joe Biden's campaign, they feel like they have a lot of strength with Latino voters and union rank-and-file in Nevada. And those are two key ways to win the Nevada caucuses.
R MARTIN: All right, Scott, we'll look forward to catching up with you as the evening goes on.
M MARTIN: And now we're going to go to Asma Khalid, NPR political correspondent. And she is with the Buttigieg headquarters at the Buttigieg campaign. Asma, what are you seeing?
ASMA KHALID (BYLINE): Hey there. I guess, similar to what Scott Detrow just described, there is a lot of enthusiasm in this crowd, just in part because we're actually getting real-time results. They're playing up on a giant screen here at the Buttigieg party. And so every time we see some results that look good for Pete Buttigieg, you're just actually getting real reaction from the crowd, which is so fundamentally different than that sort of very unclear night we had in Iowa.
M MARTIN: Asma, just briefly, tell us a little bit about the crowd there.
KHALID: So, I mean, it's large. It's been filling in. We're in - at a community college here in Nashua, which is near the border with Massachusetts. A lot of people here, you know, I asked them, what does success look like for Pete Buttigieg? And interestingly, people are telling me, you know, he doesn't need to win this state. People are reminding me that Bernie Sanders did really well in 2016. So they feel like a solid second-place finish means that Pete Buttigieg did well, and they'll take that as a win.
M MARTIN: And before we let you go for now, Asma - you're going to be with us throughout the evening - you've also spent some time with Senator Klobuchar's campaign, the Minnesota senator who's, as Domenico just told us, has kind of been on the march there. What can you tell us about that?
KHALID: I did. And I will say a lot of people told me that they were torn between Pete Buttigieg, Joe Biden and Amy Klobuchar. I was out with her yesterday at a campaign event in Exeter, N.H., and, really, it was amazing to me. She was able to completely fill the venue. There was an overflow crowd. And she seemed really comfortable. She was making jokes. The crowd was eating it up. And, you know, people came up to me afterwards to tell me that they were sold on her message.
You know, the big question I have, though, is, does she have the kind of infrastructure and resources to go somewhere after New Hampshire? And, I mean, I think that that is a challenge when you're looking at a campaign like Bernie Sanders, that has already begun to campaign in a number of Super Tuesday states.
M MARTIN: That's NPR's Asma Khalid at the Buttigieg headquarters in New Hampshire.
R MARTIN: OK. I'm going to bring in another voice to our conversation. He is Howard Dean. He is a former presidential candidate, also former governor of Vermont, former DNC chair. You have so many titles.
HOWARD DEAN (D-VT, FORMER GOV): I know. They're former, former and former.
R MARTIN: (Laughter) There's so many. Current wise person in our conversation to break down what we're seeing here. Thank you for being with us tonight. I'm going to start off with a question about Joe Biden. What did you make of his decision to punt essentially on New Hampshire and go to South Carolina early?
DEAN: You can kind of see it - that coming. So if you see it coming, then why not do what he's doing? South Carolina is the last stand for him. You know, this is not the last stand. I mean, former vice president of the United States of Barack Obama's presidency. So - but...
R MARTIN: But you think he has to win in South Carolina.
DEAN: I think he has to win or come in second, and he certainly can't come in third or fourth.
R MARTIN: And Amy Klobuchar.
DEAN: That's a big plus for her. I saw that coming because there are some early - some late polls in New Hampshire that are pretty reliable. And she had a great debate performance. And it looks like - we - by the way, this is much too early to start calling this because we don't know where these precincts are coming from. Some are coming from Manchester. And Manchester and Concord are really important. Manchester is a predictable, more blue-collar place. And Concord is more highly educated, liberal place. You're going to see a lot of Sanders votes, I suspect, in Concord. And in Manchester, it'll be all over the place. So it's a long way to go.
R MARTIN: You think it's going be close.
DEAN: Well, yeah. I think - I mean, Bernie looks like he's in pretty good shape right now. And I think it'll be close between Klobuchar and Buttigieg for second. And we'll wait. But we have a long way to go. I mean, we've only got - what? - 15,000 votes in or something like that. So we've got a long way to go here.
R MARTIN: NPR's Ron Elving. Ron, what do you see right now that strikes you?
RON ELVING (BYLINE): Struck by, I think, the location of some of these results that are coming in. Many of the venues around the state that went very heavily for Bernie Sanders in 2016 are still for Sanders but at a much, much reduced percentage of the vote. Now, in 2016, there were only two significant candidates. But the other significant candidate that Bernie was running against was Hillary Clinton, who was at that time considered the front-runner for the nomination, did win the nomination and did go on to win the popular vote in November - so not a negligible opponent. And yet Bernie then in 2016 got 61% of the vote here in New Hampshire. He's not going to be anywhere near that. He's not going to be near half that.
And in many of these venues that supported him very heavily, his vote is being somewhat dispersed with some other candidates and surprisingly not so much to Elizabeth Warren who is supposedly the great, great challenge to Bernie Sanders on the left among progressives. And she, last summer and fall for a while, looked like she was really going to overtake him. Then he had a heart attack, and it looked like it was a done deal and she was totally going to take over for the progressives. And then instead, he got a couple of stents put in and came roaring back and got new life in his campaign, in more ways than one, and suddenly was the old Bernie again. And now we see him winning New Hampshire but not getting the same vote or anywhere near the same vote that he got four years ago.
R MARTIN: We should just say we still don't have results. He is expected to do well, but we still don't know.
M MARTIN: Governor Dean, this is Michel Martin. I wanted to ask you a question as a person who's been out there on the campaign trail. There's what the polls say, and then there's what the voters say when they actually see these candidates perform. Your assessment of Joe Biden on the campaign trail, I mean, one of the things we keep hearing from Domenico, for example, is that people are changing their minds when they see him and not in a good way. What's your assessment about it?
DEAN: See, I think a lot of people don't understand what's happening inside the Democratic Party. We have a youth revolution going on inside the party, and it started in 2017 in Virginia. It was certainly accelerated in 2018. If you look at the - look at the pictures on the front of the Virginia statehouse and on the Capitol, they are younger, darker and much more female. That is what the Democratic Party looks like. And they are now taking over. Now, they're probably not going to go all the way to the top and - although they could - Buttigieg is 37 years old - and take over the whole thing at once. But the footprint of that generation is - that's what's driving all of this.
R MARTIN: You told me on stage at an event, Governor, not even a year ago that that was a good thing, that you want...
DEAN: It's a great thing.
R MARTIN: You were tired of people of a certain...
R MARTIN: ...Age.
DEAN: Well, so Michel asked me the question about Biden. The problem is he's caught in this generation. They like Joe Biden. They just want to do it their way.
R MARTIN: Mara, you have a question for the governor.
M MARTIN: Yeah, I have a question for Governor Dean.
R MARTIN: Very short.
MARA LIASSON (BYLINE): I agree that, you know - that the new energy is with young voters. But in Iowa, we didn't see a huge surge. We saw just a 30% uptick in 18-to-29-year-olds, but no other young group.
R MARTIN: Shortest of answers.
LIASSON: The early exits don't show a big surge in young voters here. So where are they?
DEAN: That's, you know - that's a very good point. I think they're actually divided. That's the problem. They're divided between Sanders, Warren and Buttigieg.
LIASSON: So they're not necessarily left if they're young.
DEAN: No, they're absolutely not. This is another story the media misses. Our party is actually moving towards the center.
R MARTIN: OK. This is...
DEAN: When young - look at all the 40 people...
R MARTIN: This is an important topic, and we're going to pick it up.
R MARTIN: OK?
DEAN: All right.
R MARTIN: We're going to take a break. You're listening to Special Coverage of the New Hampshire primary from NPR News.
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R MARTIN: OK. As we were saying, Governor Dean was just talking about the fact that there is a fracturing of the vote.
LIASSON: The young vote.
R MARTIN: The young vote.
DEAN: There is a fracturing of the vote. People think somehow that the younger people are going to be more left. They're not. They're what we would call very left on racial issues - on diversity, gay rights. This is the civil rights issue of their generation. I mean, of course, and the environment. But on money, they're not. And, you know, many of us have millennial kids. They're not. They're more conservative. They went through 2008.
M MARTIN: Well, speaking of conservative, former Vermont Governor Dean, we're going to ask you to pause for a second...
DEAN: All right.
M MARTIN: ...To bring in a colleague, a current governor, the governor of New Hampshire, whose state is holding its primary today. And that is Governor Chris Sununu. Governor, thank you so much for joining us as well.
CHRIS SUNUNU (R-NH, GOV): Absolutely. Good evening.
M MARTIN: And I just want to - first of all, I wanted to ask you about your decision to hold the primary. A number of states have - a number of Republican parties have canceled their state primaries, owing to the dominance of President Trump. You made a different decision. Why is that?
SUNUNU: Well, because that's the process, because everybody, especially here in New Hampshire, we really cherish the idea that anybody can run, anybody should run that wants to run. It doesn't take money. It doesn't take name I.D. Everyone's got a shot. So, you know, doing away with the primary is the absolute last thing we would do here in New Hampshire.
M MARTIN: And President Trump lost your state by a couple thousand votes in 2016. What do you think's going to be different this time?
SUNUNU: In November? He's going to win. And the reason is because - not just wishful thinking, but when you look at the economic success New Hampshire's had - it's had this amazing resurgence. We're the strongest state in the Northeast for business. We're the strongest state for millennials to move into. We're the strongest state for workforce. So this isn't by accident. And since 2017, 2018, the state started really charging ahead. And when you have the lowest poverty rate in the country and one of the lowest unemployment rates, it's economic success that creates opportunity for families. And they vote their pocketbook here in New Hampshire.
M MARTIN: I was going to...
SUNUNU: They vote in the interest of themselves, their neighbors and their communities.
M MARTIN: I was going to ask you about that, Governor, because, you know, that has been sort of the mantra for years now. It's the economy, stupid. And people have long said that presidential elections are essentially a referendum on the economy. This is a very different president with a very different messaging, a very polarizing figure, very alienating to key sectors of the electorate. Do you think that makes a difference?
SUNUNU: Well, sure. Look. How he talks definitely makes a difference. But at the end of the day, I still believe that the fundamentals of what people do in that ballot box hold true. I mean, they really do. And people want someone as gruff as he can be, to be sure. That is - you know, it's truthful. That's what Bernie does here, right? What you see is what you get. And you may not like how it's presented to be sure, but what you see is what you get. And there's something very genuine and authentic about that, which is why Trump did so well in 2016, and I think why he's going to continue to do well in 2020.
M MARTIN: I mean, he's not known to sort of hold his tongue. Did he have any problem with your - holding the primary?
SUNUNU: Did he have any problems with...
M MARTIN: Did he have any - did he take issue with the primary going forward when a number of other states have canceled theirs?
SUNUNU: No. No, not that I know of.
M MARTIN: He was fine.
SUNUNU: No, no. Yeah, he never mentioned anything to me.
M MARTIN: Oh. All right. That is the governor of New Hampshire, Chris Sununu. Governor, thank you so much for joining us.
M MARTIN: And you're listening to Special Coverage of the New Hampshire primary from NPR News.
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R MARTIN: The polls have officially closed in New Hampshire. This is live Special Coverage from NPR News with Michel Martin. I'm Rachel Martin. No call in the Democratic contest yet, but Bernie Sanders has a comfortable lead. He's followed by Pete Buttigieg, then Amy Klobuchar. Meanwhile, Joe Biden saw the writing on the wall for his bad chances in New Hampshire and he already left for South Carolina. Earlier today on MSNBC, Biden was managing expectations against Sanders.
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BIDEN: We got to see what goes from here. I mean, as I said, I didn't mince any words. I think I'm an underdog here. And Bernie won this with 20 points last time. He's got a next-door neighbor advantage. And he's got a real enthusiasm going here. And - but I still feel good.
R MARTIN: Amy Klobuchar needs to do well in New Hampshire. I'm joined in studio by a whole host of analysts, including NPR's Danielle Kurtzleben. Danielle, let's talk a little bit about Amy Klobuchar. She's enjoying what her campaign, anyway, is characterizing as some momentum. How real is it?
DANIELLE KURTZLEBEN (BYLINE): That's a great question. I mean, listen. She did reasonably well in Iowa, which for her campaign is to say that she exceeded expectations. And that is again what we may be seeing here in New Hampshire. And, you know, listen. When you talk to a lot of voters - I talked to a lot of Iowa voters who told me - who had Amy Klobuchar as their second or third choice - who said, you know, I like her well enough. I just might go caucus for so-and-so. And it seems like she has taken hold. Now, that said, I don't know how or where she goes from New Hampshire. She is not polling very well among black voters, for example, which could hurt her in South Carolina.
R MARTIN: I don't think she has money, right? How much money does she have?
KURTZLEBEN: Well, I mean, that's a great question. She may well have picked up some fundraising after Iowa. But again, it depends on how quickly she is burning it because she just did have a new ad buy. We saw some new ads that came out for her in Nevada today. So she - whatever money she is taking in, she may well be spending it. So the question is how much she is able to capitalize upon whatever energy there is in the, quote-unquote, "moderate lane." Now, that said, I think the whole framing of this in terms of lanes is a bit overplayed because voters do not necessarily think of this ideologically.
R MARTIN: OK. We understand that Elizabeth Warren is actually speaking at this moment. Let's listen in.
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R MARTIN: We've been listening to Elizabeth Warren addressing supporters in New Hampshire. NPR's Danielle Kurtzleben - Danielle, you and I were talking right before we went to Elizabeth Warren. Can you just pick up on the Warren campaign - where she is in this moment, why is she talking so early at this point in the night? What do you make of that?
KURTZLEBEN: Well, one thing I'll say is that the unity message that she was pushing very hard there, that is a thing that she started really pushing in Iowa in about the last week, give or take, before the Iowa caucuses. She added a line to her stump speech, which, you know, those stump speeches generally don't really change much throughout the campaign cycle. She added a line thanking explicitly everyone else in the race on the Democratic side, saying everyone else who's in this, everybody else who has dropped out, I would like to thank you all for your contributions to this race. You have made our party stronger, et cetera, et cetera - a pretty blatant call for positivity and all of us come together and defeat Donald Trump.
And that wasn't something she was explicitly pushing before. And it's a thing that voters will tell you, I don't like negativity, I really want someone who's positive. And you can see that she was trying to capitalize on that.
R MARTIN: Mara.
LIASSON: I think, as a campaign strategy, it puts her in the position that if things get really ugly, if you have a kind of Bloomberg-Sanders fight - you're a racist billionaire, you're a misogynist socialist - you know, if things get really bad, she could be, you know, that alternative. But I think the Warren campaign is one of the biggest mysteries of this whole episode. I mean, she started out universally considered to have the best stump speech. She explained her plans in common-sense language. She had a great campaign. She was really organized. She was kind of a thought leader in the party on policy.
But she made some - I'm curious about what Governor Dean thinks - she made some big strategic errors that seemed to have hurt her. One of them was deciding she had to cleave completely to Bernie Sanders and not let any daylight between her and him and...
R MARTIN: Was that a mistake?
LIASSON: ...Picked up his health care plan and tried to make it work on paper, something he never felt he had to do.
R MARTIN: Was that a mistake, Governor Dean?
DEAN: You know, I don't really know. I've thought about this a lot because she's an incredibly attractive candidate and terrific person as a human being. So I don't - I'm surprised at all this. I don't really know. It's almost as if the left wing of the party decided they had to make a choice someplace along the line, and they chose Bernie. Now, we'll see. I think your analysis is correct. If this really gets ugly, she's positioning herself so that she can come back in and save it. I - you know, I'm going to say something that I wouldn't have said for the last 11 primaries that I've followed since 1980. There are going to be six tickets out of New Hampshire. And one...
LIASSON: That's a very muddled race.
DEAN: And one of them is not on the ballot, which is Mike Bloomberg. So we are going to get a lot of this sorted out. It's inconceivable to me that all six are going to have the money to go to California. But I think you're going to see a couple possibly drop out in - of the six I'm talking about - in South Carolina and maybe one or two more. But I think you may see five or six candidates go to California.
If Klobuchar continues strong - she doesn't have much money now, but she may raise some. And the key thing for Elizabeth is going to be money. When her money dries up, if it dries up before California, that's going to be a problem.
R MARTIN: I want to bring in NPR's Asma Khalid, who is with the Buttigieg campaign. And Asma has also paid close attention to the Warren campaign over many months. Asma, what are you hearing there from the Buttigieg camp, who feels - I imagine rather secure tonight?
KHALID: Yeah. I mean, people here feel really good about his performance. You know, people have told me that they felt a solid second-place finish would be good. They acknowledge that Bernie Sanders, they feel - one woman said she - that she thought Bernie Sanders sort of had a head start in this race overall. People knew him, and he had such a strong performance where he beat Hillary Clinton by roughly 20 points in 2016.
You know, but to your point about Elizabeth Warren, I think what's really interesting to me here is, you know, one voter I met said he had really been considering Elizabeth Warren early on. He liked her plans. He ultimately decided to go with Pete Buttigieg. He liked his pragmatism. And I think that what we saw - you know, to Howard Dean's point is that I think that the progressive left ultimately made a choice. And we see this with the endorsements that progressive groups made. They started to tilt more towards Bernie Sanders. We saw this with many of the endorsements he got from members of The Squad as well.
You know, early on, you go to Netroots Nation, the progressives were torn between Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders. But somewhere along the line, they largely chose Bernie Sanders. And then you talked about the college-educated white voters who Elizabeth Warren had also been heavily courting, many of them opted to go with Pete Buttigieg. And then she was really left with a very small coalition at that point.
M MARTIN: Asma, this is Michel. I wanted to ask you, why? Why do you think that is? What are the voters telling you about why, when faced with the actual choice of Klobuchar or, really, Buttigieg, people went with Buttigieg instead of Warren? They seem like very different candidates.
KHALID: Yeah. I mean, I can speak first, I guess, more clearly even to the progressives, why the progressives opted for Bernie Sanders, and that I've done a lot of reporting on. And it seems that many people felt that he had been the original voice in the progressive movement. He had been advocating for these positions for years. They felt that Elizabeth Warren had come to some of these positions later. And they believed that he would fight tooth and nail.
You know, I thought it was so interesting. I talked to one progressive voice the other day at a Bernie Sanders rally. And he told me that he thought Elizabeth Warren's "Medicare for All" plan was realistic. It was likely the way things would go down. But he says I did not like that she put it out there on the negotiating table. And he feels like if you negotiate and you start giving stuff up, then you're going to be left with very little. And I thought that was just such candor to hear from.
You know, when we talk about Pete Buttigieg - yes, and Elizabeth Warren - they are different candidates, very much to the point. But I think that they both courted sort of your very elite college-educated voter. I mean, people do tell me here that they like Pete Buttigieg's intelligence. They like the way he speaks. And that's a lot of what I heard for Elizabeth Warren as well. But people here, at least in the Buttigieg camp, found that some of her policy positions, especially some of the things that she voiced early on around health care, Medicare for All, they felt were just too far left of where they are.
M MARTIN: And Danielle Kurtzleben would like to jump in here.
KURTZLEBEN: I just want to add one thing on Pete Buttigieg. I do get the sense that, in terms of he and Elizabeth Warren sort of fighting for the same demographic - the white, very educated demographic - Pete Buttigieg very much benefits from Warren and Sanders being in this race because Pete Buttigieg gets this reputation of being in the centrist lane. Pete Buttigieg is still a pretty progressive guy in terms of his policies. He at one point was for Medicare for All, then he backed off of that.
LIASSON: Well, mandatory Medicare for All. Let's be clear. There's mandatory Medicare for All and then the opt-in.
KURTZLEBEN: All right. He at one point he was for single-payer. But my point is he also - he may not want free college for everyone. He wants free college for 80% of people. That's still a really big change to the structure of the American economy right there. So if he is seen as the practical alternative to Elizabeth Warren, he benefits from Elizabeth Warren being somewhat more left of him.
ELVING: You know, we could also say about this arc...
M MARTIN: Ron Elving.
ELVING: ...The arc of Elizabeth Warren's campaign. We have a very long campaign now. It starts way back in the odd-numbered year before the election year. And she started quite strong. And then she seemed to be plateaued. And then she started talking about just how much money it would cost to do the health care plan that she and Bernie were talking about. Bernie didn't feel - as Mara said - didn't feel a responsibility to do that. She did. That was the essence of Elizabeth Warren to feel that responsibility. And it hurt her, and she never got her momentum quite back.
M MARTIN: Lots more to come, more speeches, more analysis, more results. You're listening to Special Coverage of the New Hampshire primary from NPR News.
DEAN: Anybody know what just...
R MARTIN: We are awaiting results. We are watching them closely, we are with former Governor Howard Dean, who is anxious to see the results, as indicated just now. So we are expecting results on a rolling basis tonight. We already have a good indication of who is leading. We can report that Andrew Yang has dropped out of the race at this point. And right now it is a contest between Bernie Sanders, Pete Buttigieg - Amy Klobuchar is polling quite well in this moment, and she needs a win here. NPR's Domenico Montanaro is watching all of this. Domenico, can you just get us up to speed? Where are we right now?
MONTANARO: Yeah. Right now, we have just shy of about a fifth of the vote in. And you have Bernie Sanders with a bit of a lead, 29%, Pete Buttigieg second with about 23 and Amy Klobuchar third at about 20% of the vote. Elizabeth Warren, Joe Biden follow after that.
One thing, though, to note here - this is a delegate race. And only candidates who get about 15% of the vote, statewide and in congressional districts, are going to get any delegates at all. So Sanders, Buttigieg and Klobuchar look like the only ones who are actually going to net some delegates out of this race. And the more that adds up, the more these other candidates are going to have a very difficult time catching up.
M MARTIN: And we can report that another candidate has decided to terminate his campaign. Colorado Senator Michael Bennet has dropped out, joining Andrew Yang in terminating his campaign today. And now we're going to go to Jim Donchess. He's the mayor of Nashua, N.H. Mayor, thank you so much for joining us.
JIM DONCHESS (NASHUA, NH MAYOR): Well, thank you for having me.
M MARTIN: And you've come out for Pete Buttigieg, who's having a very good night.
DONCHESS: He is.
M MARTIN: And you've said that, as a fellow mayor, you know why Pete Buttigieg is qualified for the job. What do you say to those who criticize his inexperience?
DONCHESS: Well, as a mayor, I know that in a city like South Bend, the mayor has to get results for people. And you can see that across the city of South Bend, where there's been an incredible renaissance. He understands communities like Nashua and other communities across the country, understands the needs and the desires of ordinary people.
And we need really to turn the page on all of the fighting in Washington and find someone who can get results on the major challenges that have only gotten worse in the last four years - on climate change, on health care, inequality, infrastructure. And Pete - Mayor Pete is the person who can get that done.
M MARTIN: Well, there is another mayor who's put his hat into the ring, Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Did you ever consider him?
DONCHESS: Well, he didn't run in New Hampshire. And I think Pete is the right guy because he - they're now chanting for Pete, so I am having trouble hearing you. But...
M MARTIN: OK.
DONCHESS: ...Pete really understands communities, at least like ours. He has a vision for the future that can move the country forward.
M MARTIN: That is the mayor of Nashua, N.H., Jim Donchess. Mr. Mayor, thank you so much for talking to us and hope we'll talk again when we have a little bit more time.
DONCHESS: All right. Thanks a lot.
M MARTIN: You're listening to Special Coverage of the New Hampshire primary from NPR News.
(SOUNDBITE OF BONOBO'S "KERALA")
M MARTIN: Bernie Sanders holds a solid lead in New Hampshire. This is live Special Coverage from NPR News. I'm Michel Martin. The polls have closed in the Granite State. In second place right now is Pete Buttigieg. And after that, it's Amy Klobuchar, Elizabeth Warren and, in the single digits, Joe Biden. He has already left the state, in fact. And another development - entrepreneur Andrew Yang, who's hovering around 3% tonight in New Hampshire, just dropped out of the race. Here he was on stage earlier this hour.
(SOUNDBITE OF NEW HAMPSHIRE PRIMARY)
R MARTIN: We are going to turn, at this moment, to Josh Rogers of New Hampshire Public Radio. Josh, how's it going?
JOSH ROGERS (BYLINE): Well, how are you?
R MARTIN: I'm fine. Josh, where are you right now?
ROGERS: I am at a Joe Biden-less Joe Biden primary night session in a hotel bar.
R MARTIN: (Laughter) So how's that going?
ROGERS: Well, you know, it's slowly filled up. It's full of a lot of firefighters, union members, hardcore Biden supporters. And you know, the mood was a bit funereal earlier, but, you know, people are drinking now and it's a little bit more festive.
ROGERS: But, you know, there's a - there - people are trying to put the best face on a situation that's obviously pretty grim as far as New Hampshire goes to the former vice president.
R MARTIN: Right. So were people there miffed that the vice president just up and left?
ROGERS: Not the ones that are showing up at the party. These are people who are - essentially, two of one that I've talked to are saying, you know, this race goes on, New Hampshire and Iowa just a few delegates, they may not be representative of the Democratic electorate as a whole - the kinds of arguments that Joe Biden himself has been making, more or less.
And that, you know, former Governor John Lynch, one of Joe Biden's top supporters here, said, you know, Joe did all he could in New Hampshire, and it was time to go to South Carolina. So, you know, that's - you know, he's always indicated that he believes the vice president has - that the first four contests were really - should be viewed in totality. But you know, it's hard to be seen as viable if you're not doing better than he has in Iowa and how he appears to be doing in New Hampshire.
M MARTIN: Josh, this is Michel Martin. The governor said that Joe Biden had done all he could in New Hampshire. From your - from where you sit, do you think that's true?
ROGERS: Well, he certainly gave a go of it. I mean, I think it's worth remembering that, you know, Joe Biden running for president on his own has never been terribly successful. He dropped out in '88 before any contest. He never made it to New Hampshire in 2008.
And you know, while he got elected in Delaware many, many times, you know, there's little in his record that suggests he's necessarily that great a presidential candidate. You know, he's not an adjunct to Barack Obama. And as much as he tried to make the argument that what he was really going to do is further gains made by, as he like to put it, the Obama-Biden administration, you know, he's running on his own.
M MARTIN: Can I go back to Governor Dean for a minute on this? Because - and, Josh, if you stay with us. A lot of people who've been out in the field have made the point that Joe Biden has just not been a very good candidate. And Governor Dean, you made the point that there are actually just sort of structural issues within the Democratic Party that are more relevant here, that there is just a new wave of people who have different issues, different concerns. So it's not really so much his failures as a candidate as it is these other sort of forces within the party. But is Joe Biden really an effective candidate in 2020?
DEAN: Well, I think that remains to be seen. So far, he has not been. But we don't know. I think that Josh's point about going to South Carolina - and those are two very different states. I mean, they're virtually - I mean, there's a - the number of people of color in Iowa and New Hampshire could probably be counted by the people in this room on their digits. You know, I mean, it's just - so this just doesn't look anything like the Democratic Party.
So I think Biden has got a point. He's going to try. And South Carolina is his Waterloo, though. He's got to do well there. And if he doesn't, I think he's gone.
R MARTIN: NPR's Ron Elving - Ron, you agree that South Carolina is critical for the vice president?
ELVING: Well, indeed, it is. It's clearly so. And the question here is, did Joe Biden ever have at any point in this year's process - and I'd like to toss this question to you, Josh - the kind of appeal to blue-collar white voters that was supposed to be part of his charm, part of his appeal, part of what made him valuable to Barack Obama back in 2008 and 2012 and, certainly, what made him a consistent winner in Delaware and a guy who could go back to Scranton and be a, you know, a son of Scranton?
R MARTIN: Right, Joe from Scranton.
ELVING: Josh, what happened to that?
ROGERS: Well, he certainly went for it. I mean, I accompanied him when he campaigned in Berlin, which is in the north of New Hampshire, a mill city that has really fallen on pretty hard times. He campaigned in Claremont which is another mill town along Connecticut river bordering Vermont, where, you know, there's a lot of poverty. And these are places where - that went Trump four years ago.
And you know, Joe Biden took the stage and would say, you know, boy, this reminds me of Scranton, this reminds me of Claymont, Del., you know, union jobs used to be great, et cetera. And, you know, he made a pitch that he was there for the people and that the unions built the middle class, et cetera. You know, a lot of the crowd that is here - there are a lot of union members here. But in terms of really galvanizing that part of the electorate, the results in New Hampshire would indicate that he probably hasn't.
R MARTIN: Josh Rogers with New Hampshire Public Radio - we appreciate it, Josh, and we'll be checking in with you throughout the night. I want to turn to Andy Smith. He is director of the University of New Hampshire Survey Center.
Andy, what you looking at right now?
ANDY SMITH (DIRECTOR, UNIVERSITY OF NEW HAMPSHIRE SURVEY CENTER): Looking at those middle candidates as well, like everybody else. One of the problems we're having with the numbers right now is they're coming in kind of scattered across the state. There's still some pockets to look forward to, especially the college towns which typically come in kind of late because they have a lot of new registrants to process their paperwork for, essentially. But right now, it's certainly Klobuchar doing well.
The thing that's most surprising to me is that the areas that I thought Sanders - that Elizabeth Warren needed to do well in were those upper-income, highly educated towns, especially among women. Amy Klobuchar has really just cleaned her clock there. And I think part of the problem was that Warren kind of moved away from that kind of a centrist image that she discussed just in her kind of a - her speech just recently where she became the alternative to Bernie Sanders. I think the voters here decided whether than having Bernie Sanders-light, they wanted their full-strength Bernie Sanders. And when she became competing for those same voters that Sanders was doing, it was really tough for her. She didn't have that broad crossover appeal that Klobuchar was able to pull off.
R MARTIN: Andy, stay with me. Governor Dean, I want to go to you.
DEAN: I have a question. You know, there's much been made about their voter suppression bill that was passed by the Republican legislature and signed by Governor Sununu, which prevents out-of-state college students from voting. Have you seen much evidence of that? And how do you expect that to - 'cause that is going to cut into places like Hanover, which are traditionally very, very liberal and have lots of college students, many of whom from out of state and have been barred from voting by the Republicans this time around.
SMITH: Actually, it doesn't bar out-of-state students from voting. They can...
DEAN: Well, they have to have a New Hampshire driver's license.
SMITH: No, you don't. You can have an out-of-state driver's license. You can have it - you can pay out-of-state tuition at the University of New Hampshire, like many of my students are. It's not really going to impact them much at all. They're supposed to have to get one within, like, 30 days, I believe it is, from the time that they declare that they're - this is their residency for voting purposes. But it's nowhere near as draconian as some of the indications are.
We're seeing a lot of turnout coming in from college kids in Durham. Apparently, earlier on today, turnout was up from 2016 in Durham, which is by far the biggest college town. And more than half the students are from out of state. So I think it's less of an issue than has been made out to be.
We still let just about anybody vote. We probably are the only state in the country that lets people that have out-of-state tuition, out-of-state driver's licenses and out-of-state car registrations - they can come and vote in New Hampshire.
DEAN: Vermont can, too.
SMITH: There you go.
R MARTIN: Andy, I'm going to bring in Mara Liasson.
LIASSON: Hi, Andy. It's Mara. I'm here.
SMITH: Hi. Hi, Mara.
LIASSON: How are you doing?
LIASSON: Good to talk to you. So I have a question about the Sanders vote - the difference from 2016 to now. He got a solid victory tonight. Absolutely. You can't take that away from him - a lot smaller than last time, obviously. Some of that could be explained, maybe, by the presence of so many other candidates on the ballot.
But what I thought was interesting is, where did that - all those other Sanders votes go? They didn't go to the other progressive candidate in the race, Elizabeth Warren. They scattered themselves among all of these centrists. So that - and when you add them up, they're - still have more votes than Bernie and Elizabeth Warren combined. So does that tell you that this party is still not decided which wing - which direction they want to go in - left or center-left?
SMITH: I think that about 40% of the Democratic electorate in New Hampshire has historically been progressive. And I think that's largely the case today, and then Bernie kind of had this ceiling. The big difference in 2016 was a lot of the vote - the support that Sanders got wasn't necessarily a vote for Bernie Sanders as much it was a vote...
SMITH: ...Against Hillary Clinton. And I think what you're seeing now is an opportunity for those people that really didn't like Hillary Clinton, but they weren't thrilled with Sanders - he was just more of the anti-establishment candidate - have a lot more options to go to. And I think that Amy Klobuchar at the very end here was able to pick up a lot of those votes.
One of the things that I think was really surprising with Klobuchar versus Warren was I kind of expected Warren to do pretty good in the towns that Clinton did in, and that would be, like, the towns with - the college towns among the faculty, not among the students. This time around, Klobuchar really won in towns that Hillary Clinton did well in or won in 2016. And that, I think, is the problem that Warren has had - that she just got out-centered by Amy Klobuchar.
LIASSON: Because you're saying that the progressives decided she wasn't progressive enough. They wanted the real thing in Bernie Sanders. And the other thing she was trying to bridge - she wasn't a real centrist either because she had so many plans that seemed like too much change, maybe.
SMITH: I think she probably had a plan for that plan.
SMITH: But you know...
M MARTIN: Let's bring Danielle Kurtzleben in here.
KURTZLEBEN: But I also want to get at here and ask the question of how much ideology really has to do with how voters are deciding 'cause I got to say, when I was walking around Iowa talking to voters, I came across remarkably few Sanders-Warren folks 'cause, as we know, people in Iowa - many of them chose a first and a second choice. I spoke to very few people who said Warren-Sanders, Sanders-Warren. I spoke to a fair number of Warren-Klobuchar people or even a Warren-Biden person or - it was all over the map. People have all sorts of ways they decide. And amazingly often, it is not about ideology.
M MARTIN: So what is it about? Is it, like, a cut-of-your-jib kind of situation, or what is it?
KURTZLEBEN: To a certain degree. I mean, there were some people who said, you know, I think so and so is authentic. And I did have a woman or two say, you know, I love all of the candidates, and therefore, I don't mind saying I would like to see a woman in the White House. Or you know - and, yes, there were also candidates who would say, I like how so-and-so speaks on the stump. They are great on the stump. I like them - or whatever crazy mathematical calculation they are doing about what electability is.
R MARTIN: Right. It's a personal choice. Ron.
ELVING: And let's go back to what Domenico was talking about at the beginning of our broadcast. A number of people made up their minds in the last two or three days. What does that take you back to? Friday night's debate, the debate in New Hampshire, the debate where Amy Klobuchar had what many people thought was her best performance and closed particularly strongly and had the closing argument that all of them were trying to make, but she had it. And she had the passion. Maybe that was just enough to move - what we're talking about here is just a few percentage points that lift her above Elizabeth Warren and take those votes away from the other alternative candidates to Bernie Sanders and put her in the top three.
R MARTIN: Governor.
R MARTIN: Governor, did you have some concluding thoughts?
DEAN: I have some concluding thoughts. I am watching some of these votes. Buttigieg's margin is now less than four points behind Sanders. It's tightening up. Klobuchar is less than four points behind Buttigieg. So this is - it's really fascinating. This is - I mean, you could probably bet that those were going to be the orders of the top three, but these are pretty damn narrow margins. And I don't think a whole lot has been decided here, other than the top three.
MONTANARO: Governor, you know, I heard you say once that with your run in 2003, 2004, that you knew you were in trouble when you had the same group of people following you around.
DEAN: Right. That's true.
MONTANARO: Remember that?
DEAN: That's true.
MONTANARO: And I just kind of wonder when you look at this field and you look at Bernie Sanders in particular - and the Warren campaign put out this memo today saying that he has a hard ceiling, that there isn't a - he's not expanding and he, in Iowa, won college towns, and he won urban areas. You know, if you're not seeing this surge of young voters, do you feel like there's the potential that there's this phenomenon with Sanders, too? Can he get to the majority of pledged delegates he needs at the convention?
DEAN: That's a great question. We, of course, don't know the answer. But this is why I'm totally relaxed about what's going on.
R MARTIN: Real brief.
DEAN: I'm not going through the wring-my-hands stage of this at all. This is a process.
LIASSON: You're the only Democrat who isn't.
DEAN: I'm not. But I - look; this is my 11th one of these.
R MARTIN: Very quickly.
DEAN: The fact of the matter is we've got a long way to go. This is going to get sorted out. And as it does, if Bernie really has a ceiling, he's not going to win the nomination.
R MARTIN: You are listening to Special Coverage of the New Hampshire primary from NPR News.
And we are back with our coverage. We are in studio. We've been listening to former governor of the great state of Vermont, Howard Dean, who is now going to take his leave. Thank you so much, governor.
And also in studio, we have NPR's Domenico Montanaro and NPR's Ron Elving. And I'm going to turn now to Michel, my co-host today.
M MARTIN: I also want to mention that Governor Dean is also a former chairman of the Democratic National Committee, so he does have a big - a broad overview of a lot of these races and has certainly sort of played a big national role.
We're going to go now to Melanie Levesque, a New Hampshire state senator. Senator Levesque, thanks so much for talking to us.
MELANIE LEVESQUE (D-NH, STATE SEN): You're welcome.
M MARTIN: And I understand that you are a supporter of former Vice President Joe Biden. How do you feel about the state of things? How do you think - how do you feel about, first of all, his decision to leave New Hampshire and go to South Carolina? And how do you feel about the state of his campaign?
LEVESQUE: Well, I would have liked to have seen him tonight. But for his reasons, he's gone to South Carolina. I think that in South Carolina, he's going to do much better than he did in New Hampshire.
I think there's a lot of people in the race, a lot to choose from. And we've also had candidates here in New Hampshire for - it feels like at least a year that we've been getting calls, and we've had an opportunity to meet a lot of these candidates. So these candidates that have been here that are doing quite well have a short period of time to get up to speed in South Carolina.
M MARTIN: Yeah. So you - can I switch gears for a second? Senator, you are yourself a first. In 2018, you became the first African American in New Hampshire history to be elected to the state Senate. Was there any part of you that was attracted to supporting another first - for example, the first woman to - possibly for president, the first openly gay candidate for president? Was there any attraction there?
LEVESQUE: Well, I actually supported Hillary Clinton, who would've been our first woman president, so in that regard, yes. But in this race, I really had an opportunity to meet all of the candidates except for, perhaps, a couple. But I've seen them all. I've heard their speeches, met several of them. We have a lot of good candidates to choose from.
And the previous segment talked about how people would like, like, Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren, who are very different. Well, I felt the same way. I like Joe. I like Elizabeth and Cory. Those were my top three, and they were all very different. But I had to sit down and really analyze, what is it that we need now? Our country is in such a dire-strait situation right now that I felt that what we needed was the experience that Joe Biden offered.
M MARTIN: Well, senator, thank you so much for joining us. I'm sorry that our time is short this evening. That is New Hampshire state Senator Melanie Levesque. And I do hope we'll talk again.
You are listening to live Special Coverage of the New Hampshire primary from NPR News. And we'll be right back.
(SOUNDBITE OF THIS WILL DESTROY YOU'S "THEY MOVE ON TRACKS OF NEVER-ENDING LIGHT")
M MARTIN: An official winner is expected soon in the New Hampshire primary. This is live Special Coverage from NPR News. I'm Michel Martin.
R MARTIN: And I'm Rachel Martin. Bernie Sanders was the favorite, and that hasn't changed throughout the night. He's leading comfortably.
M MARTIN: Pete Buttigieg is in second place at the moment, and in third, Amy Klobuchar. Joe Biden had a tough night. He's in fifth place right now with just single digits.
R MARTIN: Elizabeth Warren has so far continued to break out from the middle of the pack. She is in fourth place, but tonight she still sold herself as the most electable candidate.
(SOUNDBITE OF NEW HAMPSHIRE PRIMARY)
M MARTIN: Well, we lost two candidates so far. Andrew Yang and Colorado Senator Michael Bennet have both dropped out after results that were disappointing for them, and neither of them saw a path to go forward.
Domenico Montanaro, what else can you tell us?
MONTANARO: Well, so far, we know that Bernie Sanders, Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar are the top three candidates. They're the only candidates who are going to probably get any delegates tonight 'cause you have to get above 15% to do that. We have, currently, about 30% of the vote in, and Sanders has about 28%, Buttigieg at 23 and Klobuchar at about 20 - really quite a night for Amy Klobuchar to be able to really, you know, capitalize on that great debate performance that she had. And we saw half of voters saying that it was very important to their decision that she - that the debate would be something that they used to decide on their vote.
I want to talk a little bit about where the vote is coming from and what's left and not left. Already, Concord, Portsmouth, Keene and Lebanon are all areas where the vote is completely in. We are waiting for about 10 precincts to - there's only two out of 12 so far reporting in Manchester. We're waiting on a whole lot still in Nashua and some in Dover in the east. So Manchester is the biggest city. We're going to see a lot of the vote there still. And we'll see if these results still track between Manchester and Nashua.
R MARTIN: All right. We are going to turn now to South Carolina, where Vice President Joe Biden is addressing his supporters via livestream.
(SOUNDBITE OF NEW HAMPSHIRE PRIMARY)
R MARTIN: OK. Brief remarks from Vice President Biden. Again, he is not in New Hampshire. He is in South Carolina. He left New Hampshire early, but he was addressing his supporters who are still in New Hampshire. He was supposed to be at an event there tonight to watch election results. He decided to make a pivot move to South Carolina. He's looking forward because the prognosis for his campaign in New Hampshire is not looking good at this point.
I want to bring in NPR's Scott Detrow, who is with the Sanders campaign, Bernie Sanders. You are in Manchester, Scott. Well, just give me the lay of the land. What's the scene like there?
DETROW: We've got the room pretty full up. You've got the supporters all shuffled in behind the stage where Bernie Sanders will be speaking and hoping to declare victory here in New Hampshire. He's ahead right now, but it's getting pretty tight. He's got a slim lead over Pete Buttigieg. They've got a full slate of bunting draping the stage like a...
R MARTIN: Bunting...
DETROW: ...Baseball stadium...
R MARTIN: Yes (laughter).
DETROW: ...In the playoffs. I'm always a fan of that. And, you know, the Sanders campaign is feeling good where things stand right now. Of course, he did win by more than 20 points in 2016. Nobody in the campaign thought that he would have a margin close to that this time around, and I don't think that was just spin. I think they genuinely expected a tight race but felt good about being toward the top of it or at the top of it. Yeah.
R MARTIN: Go ahead, Scott.
DETROW: No, that was my point (laughter).
R MARTIN: No. You were done. Well, how has that shaped the candidate's expectations, do you think, for how he would perform in New Hampshire - the fact that he did win by such a large margin in 2016? Has it been dangerous at all?
DETROW: All throughout the weekend, Sanders would repeatedly talk about that 2016 race. And I wondered what his campaign manager felt about that as he was out there saying, it's not going to be like 2016. But Sanders' argument was that his big win in 2016 against Hillary Clinton validated the platform that he was running on. He was saying that he thought that most of the Democratic Party was skeptical about all the big progressive plans that were very outside the mainstream of what Democrats were running on up until that point - $15 minimum wage, Medicare for All, you know, overhauling the entire health care system, overhauling the entire electricity generation system with his massive climate change plans - all of his proposals that really reshape large swaths of the economy and government. His argument was that 2016 win validated that.
And even though he did not end up as the Democratic nominee in 2016, so much of the candidates running for president in 2020 adopted big chunks of Bernie Sanders' platform. Even as the party has this conversation about where it is nationally, you know, Bernie Sanders has had a major impact on this party's agenda and what the conversation is about. And he was saying all week that started with the win in New Hampshire as his campaign's aides were saying, yes, that's right, but don't expect a margin anywhere close to that this time around.
R MARTIN: Right.
M MARTIN: Scott, can I just ask you - what are folks yelling back there? I can hear that that's a happy crowd. What are they saying?
DETROW: I think that was a Bernie, Bernie, Bernie. The regular chants that we've been hearing over the last few weeks are Bernie - you know, makes sense...
R MARTIN: Right.
DETROW: ...And Bernie beats Trump. With the electability conversation, that's something the Sanders campaign has been trying to get ahead of all along, anticipating the pushback that you've been hearing in the last week from Joe Biden, from Pete Buttigieg, from others, that a democratic socialist would poise a major threat to the party if he is the nominee in November...
R MARTIN: Right.
DETROW: ...To not just the presidency but the House majority as well.
R MARTIN: I like the Bernie, Bernie, Bernie - you know, simple message - simple, simple message.
DETROW: Keep it on a bumper sticker.
R MARTIN: Right. But what do voters tell you, Scott, about what they think are the odds that Sanders can make these things happen? Like, it's one thing to talk about it on the campaign trail - free college - what are they telling you about what his chances are of actually creating legislation around these things?
DETROW: That's a great question, and that would be the biggest hurdle, right? If we get 37,000 steps ahead of where we are right now and Bernie Sanders was the president, it would be incredibly hard. The reason Obamacare looked the way it looked was because that was all that could get passed in a Senate that had an overwhelming historic Democratic majority. You know, the public option that Pete Buttigieg and Joe Biden and others talk about just was not politically feasible in that environment.
If Sanders or any other Democrat were to become president, the best-case scenario, I think, is a Senate majority of something like 51 seats - you know, one or two seats - seems very hard to get such a massive overhaul of the health care system accomplished or anything else that way. But Bernie Sanders plows past that. He makes the argument about mobilization, about mass movement politics. That's something you heard a lot at the big rally from Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Bernie Sanders - arguing he would organize his supporters...
R MARTIN: Yeah.
DETROW: ...To put political pressure.
R MARTIN: All right. NPR's Scott Detrow with the Sanders campaign. We'll be checking in with you. Thanks, Scott.
DETROW: Thank you.
M MARTIN: And now we're going to go to Tim O'Brien. He is a senior adviser to a candidate who did not compete in New Hampshire but is certainly competing elsewhere and one might argue is competing nationally, given the depth and breadth of his spending on ads that have appeared all across the country. We're talking about former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. And we're hearing from Tim O'Brien now, who is a senior adviser. And he's the author of "TrumpNation: The Art Of Being The Donald."
Mr. O'Brien, thanks so much for talking to us.
TIM O'BRIEN (SENIOR ADVISER, BLOOMBERG CAMPAIGN): Michel, thanks for having me on.
M MARTIN: Well, earlier - I don't know if you heard our conversation with Jim Donchess. He's the mayor of Nashua, N.H. He said that he was supporting Pete Buttigieg because Pete Buttigieg, of course, was the mayor of South Bend, Ind. And he said that mayors know how to get things done.
M MARTIN: I asked him the question about - did he consider another mayor who has certainly had a lot of experience? And he said that Mike Bloomberg didn't compete up here, so no. And do you have some work to do there?
O'BRIEN: Well, you know, we weren't in the first four - aren't in the first four primary states, Michel, because of the timing when Mike entered the election. We were just too late to set up shop in those states. We are now in 45 states and territories with over 2,000 people on the ground.
This isn't just an ad-driven campaign. You know, I've been now in, I think, 10 states. We're meeting with - and Mike has campaigned in 24 states. We're meeting with people on the ground. I think his movement in the polls isn't just because of the ads. It's because we're touching people locally. We've got, you know, scores of field offices that are staffed by locals who know the people in their communities and the issues that people in those communities care about. And I think that that's been the driving force in his rise in the polls.
I think the ads have been a huge advantage, obviously, because it gives Mike a lot of exposure. But if there wasn't a real, tangible, concrete record behind that, you know, he wouldn't be polling in third place nationally, and he wouldn't have the kind of momentum behind him that he does.
M MARTIN: And he's certainly gotten some attention-getting endorsements. I mean, here in Washington, D.C., the mayor of Washington, D.C., has endorsed him, Muriel Bowser. The mayor of San Francisco, London Breed, has endorsed him. And that's noteworthy in part because they are both African American women. And as you know, the mayor has had - I don't know how to quite - what word to use - a relationship with African American communities that has at times been fraught.
M MARTIN: And this week, he's come under fire for comments he made in 2015 about the so-called stop-and-frisk policing technique. He said this at the Aspen Institute. He claimed that 95% of murders and murderers and murder victims are male minorities between the ages of 16 to 25 and advocated throwing minority kids up against the walls and frisking them.
Now, we know that he's apologized for defending stop-and-frisk as long as he did. But what about that? I mean, is - clearly, people have an interest in putting these comments out and holding him to account for them. What is he going to have to do to overcome the impression that many people already have of him because of his long defense of stop-and-frisk?
O'BRIEN: Well, I think it's healthy that this is being put out there. I think our first and foremost response - that has to be that Mike made a huge mistake. And he stood by this for too long. He should've let go of it earlier. I think he deeply regrets, you know, having been part of that policy. And I think he needs to spend the rest of his public career demonstrating to people of color that this isn't who he is as a man or as a politician.
You know, this audio came out last year when he had announced his bid. It's been out there for a while. And it's fine. We should be held accountable for that. Having said that, this hardly defines the totality of his time as the mayor of New York or as a philanthropist. He has done enormous work reaching out to communities of color for decades. You know, he began a program when he was the mayor of New York, the Young Men's Initiative, that Barack Obama modeled My Brother's Keeper on.
M MARTIN: Sure. Forgive me for interrupting because we're going to...
M MARTIN: I'm sure that the mayor's going to have plenty of time to make his case. And I'm sure you're going to make the argument that it's awfully convenient to have this audio come out now. The conservative media is certainly very interested in it.
M MARTIN: But what do you say to those who say that his apology is certainly very convenient?
O'BRIEN: Well, what I was trying to say was I think the apology, I think, reflects where his heart is on this. And his record shows that he's not solely behind - defined by stop-and-frisk. I mean, it's interesting to me that the 1994 crime bill is not out there being discussed as much as stop-and-frisk is.
And I think Mike needs to have the support of people of color. Of course, he had to apologize if he wanted to run a race here. And I think it's good that he apologized. There's no mystery to it, I think, about why he did. There's a number of other politicians who have not apologized for similar policies. Our position on this is we will apologize for our mistakes, and we hope we can communicate to people of color in a way in which they trust what the totality of Mike's record shows.
And I think, actually, you're seeing that in the polls, Michel. He's - you know, the Quinnipiac poll that came out this week - he's now in second place, behind Joe Biden, among voters of color. And I don't think that is happening because of that. It's because we are familiarizing people with who Mike Bloomberg really is. And he was not a white racist mayor trying to shove white cops down the throats of black people. He's a conscientious man...
M MARTIN: OK.
O'BRIEN: ...Who's tried to develop sophisticated solutions to really complex public problems.
M MARTIN: Danielle Kurtzleben has a question for you.
KURTZLEBEN: Hey, Tim. So, of course, former Mayor Bloomberg has been rising in the polls, and that's nothing to sniff at. But I'm wondering about something that I've heard from a couple of voters - Democratic voters - who are fearful that, you know, listen; we feel odd about a person who is essentially able to, in their words, buy this nomination. Do you fear a backlash about that?
O'BRIEN: Well, I mean - well, you know, again, I think you can buy exposure. You can't buy an election. If Tom Steyer - if you could buy an election, Tom Steyer still wouldn't be at 1% or 2%. Tom Steyer spent more money in New Hampshire on television than every other candidate campaigning in New Hampshire combined. And he's running in sixth or seventh place.
Mike Bloomberg has bought exposure. And what that exposure has earned him is the ability to tell people his full story. And I think his voters get acquainted with that. They're impressed by it. There is nobody running that has his governing experience or has solved as many hardcore public policy problems as he has. I think the other...
M MARTIN: OK, Tim...
M MARTIN: Sorry, Tim. We're going to have to leave it there for now.
O'BRIEN: OK. All right.
M MARTIN: I'm sure we'll talk again. That's Tim O'Brien, senior adviser to former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. And Tim O'Brien's also the author of "TrumpNation."
R MARTIN: You're listening to Special Coverage from NPR of the New Hampshire primary. And I'm going to bring in another voice here, Brendan McQuaid. He is president and publisher of the New Hampshire Union Leader newspaper. And he endorsed Amy Klobuchar, as did the paper. Brendan, thanks so much for being with us tonight.
BRENDAN MCQUAID (PRESIDENT, NEW HAMPSHIRE UNION LEADER): Thanks for having me.
R MARTIN: So the endorsement ran with the following headline - "Amy Klobuchar Can Win." So what do tonight's results prove to you? I mean, right now, she is doing well. She needs to do well. But she's not on top yet.
MCQUAID: No. I'd like to say she's doing as well as she is because of our endorsement, but I don't think that's fully the case.
R MARTIN: If you do say so yourself.
MCQUAID: I think she - yeah. I think she's doing well because she's a strong candidate. And I think people really do look at electability, especially electability versus the current incumbent as part of their decision-making.
R MARTIN: What makes her more electable than - I mean, we can go down the list, but let's start with Joe Biden because he's been the national front-runner.
MCQUAID: Joe Biden is a great candidate. And Joe Biden is a perennially great candidate. I think Joe Biden did not have the same energy that he's had in the past. And people, rightly or wrongly, are looking for someone a little bit more fiery. They're looking at the current incumbent as someone who needs to be sort of hit with the same level. And Joe Biden's not that guy right now.
R MARTIN: What do you make of what - the reporting that we're hearing that Klobuchar's been able to peel off some supporters from Elizabeth Warren?
MCQUAID: I think that's probably part of it. I think there are a number of people there, as we said in our endorsement, who think that the time is right for a woman president. And we think that, you know, the time very well could be right. It's got to be the right woman, though. And Elizabeth Warren has some very left-leaning, especially in our opinion, ideas that we don't think fly with a lot of folks, especially New Hampshire pragmatists who don't like trillions of dollars in proposed spending. So Klobuchar is the right candidate for us.
R MARTIN: What does she do going forward, though? I mean, if she has a good performance in New Hampshire, does she have the support? Does she have the money to move forward to Super Tuesday?
MCQUAID: I am not part of the Klobuchar campaign. I'm not, you know, a national campaign strategist. All I can say is that I think winning in New Hampshire has always proven to be a good springboard. And as we saw with Bill Clinton back in the '90s, a strong showing and a stronger-than-expected showing can really springboard you into the national spotlight. And that's what someone like Amy would need for some big fundraising to help her compete. But I don't think she's going to be able to compete with Bloomberg on money.
R MARTIN: But you're feeling optimistic. You like where she's at right now?
MCQUAID: Yeah, I think she's a good choice.
R MARTIN: All right. Brendan McQuaid, we appreciate your time tonight - president and publisher of the New Hampshire Union Leader. His newspaper endorsed Senator Amy Klobuchar in the primary. Thank you so much. We do appreciate it.
MCQUAID: Thank you very much. Have a good night.
R MARTIN: And you are listening to Special Coverage of the New Hampshire primary from NPR News.
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M MARTIN: We're still waiting on an official call in the New Hampshire primary. This is live Special Coverage from NPR News. I'm Michel Martin.
But Bernie Sanders has held the lead all night. Behind him is Pete Buttigieg in second place. Elizabeth Warren and Joe Biden have both had disappointing nights, but Amy Klobuchar is having a pretty good one. After a strong showing in the debate last week, she's been surging in the polls, and she is in third right now. Here she was yesterday talking about why she believes she connects with moderate voters.
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KLOBUCHAR: I've always told people that if you are tired of the extremes in our politics and the noise and the nonsense, you have a home with me. And I can't think of a better place to make that case than in the first primary state.
R MARTIN: I'm Rachel Martin. And we're going to turn now to NPR's Domenico Montanaro. Domenico, just right off the bat, can you just ground us in the reality right now? What do we see?
MONTANARO: So there's a few things to mention. First of all, more than a third of the vote in - 35% in. Bernie Sanders is leading with 27% of the vote. Pete Buttigieg is second with 24%, and Amy Klobuchar third at 20%. Elizabeth Warren is fourth - just 10% - and Joe Biden - 8% - below that. That means Warren and Biden are likely not to get any delegates tonight because you have to finish with 15% or higher to get any delegate statewide and in each of the two states' congressional districts. And right now, Sanders, Buttigieg and Klobuchar are likely to be the only three to get any delegates.
I want to mention Klobuchar's upswing here into third place given where she was.
R MARTIN: It's a big deal for her.
MONTANARO: Obviously. And her finish in Iowa obviously helped propel her into this place that she's at. Her campaign said they raised about $2 1/2 million last week. That - a lot of that money is going to run ads now in Nevada. That's where they've started to place some of their money.
I also want to mention - you guys had on the publisher of the Union Leader. The New Hampshire Union Leader used to be the Manchester Union Leader, and the former publisher of that newspaper, who's the father of the person who's now the publisher, Joe McQuaid - very conservative. So very interesting that the paper actually wound up backing Amy Klobuchar 'cause traditionally, this is a paper that would weigh in on the Republican primary and have quite a bit of sway. And the fact that they're backing Amy Klobuchar tells you something.
R MARTIN: So it's interesting that both of these candidates who are underperforming tonight - Elizabeth Warren and Joe Biden - seem to have come to that conclusion early, right? We saw Joe Biden move physically - take a plane to South Carolina. And Elizabeth Warren - we heard her come out early and give a speech. We're all listening to hear what this was about. But it was just a rally the troops; I'm still in this. In other words, you know, sure, I may not do well, but I'm still in this.
MONTANARO: Her campaign talks about their vaunted organization that they have in a lot of these Super Tuesday states. Her campaign put out a memo today going after, frankly, each of the other candidates, talking about a hard ceiling that Bernie Sanders had. And today, you heard her talk about how she can be the consensus candidate. Now, as the reality sets in over the next few weeks and what conversations, potentially, she has with Senator Sanders, you wonder what that's going to look like. And you wonder how long this winds up going on. Does she have the money to continue? At this point, she does, especially considering the war chest she's had from the Senate - from her Senate time.
R MARTIN: All right. Mara - Ron.
ELVING: One of the storylines that we have already been seeing a little bit and this evening is that New Hampshire is going to be a muddle - that somehow, we're going to get so many candidates coming out - six tickets out of Iowa, as Governor Dean said earlier - that this is not going to be like a typical New Hampshire in the past that has really set the tone for the rest of the race.
R MARTIN: Wait, Ron. This just happened in Iowa.
ELVING: Well, and that's what I was next going to say - that that would also continue the theme out of Iowa, which was, where's the clarity? Everything is up in the air. And these two early races - these two early contests are not doing their job the way they have in the past to set the table for everybody else.
But I'm just going to say, in contradiction to that a little bit, I think they've scrambled the race quite a bit. If you look back over the last year, the two people who have been ahead in the polls more often than anybody else are Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren. And tonight, they're both down struggling to stay in double digits. The other person who's been up and down, up and down through that period is Bernie Sanders, who looks very likely to be winning tonight but not winning by nearly enough.
R MARTIN: Right. So...
LIASSON: That's why we like voters so much better than we like polls.
R MARTIN: Well...
LIASSON: Because the voters are telling us something. The voters are telling us that they are not willing to winnow this field yet. They don't want to anoint a powerful front-runner. Bernie Sanders got a solid win here, but he did not become the kind of front-runner that often has emerged out of Iowa and New Hampshire. And the voters tell us they are absolutely not ready to decide who is the center-left alternative to Bernie Sanders. They want to keep that pot boiling. Now you've got Buttigieg, Klobuchar and maybe Biden. I mean, they want to keep this going for quite a while. And I just want to make one - oh.
M MARTIN: Well, speaking of scrambling the race or voters not wanting to scramble the race, Joe Biden is in South Carolina. And he's talking to voters there. We're waiting for him momentarily. Juana Summers is there in South Carolina, awaiting the former vice president's arrival. Juana, just as briefly as you can, tell us, like, what's going on down there? What are people talking about?
SUMMERS: Joe Biden is taking the stage right now.
M MARTIN: He's taking the stage right now?
M MARTIN: And I think we're going to hear him - hear what he has to say.
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R MARTIN: We've been listening to former Vice President Joe Biden address supporters not in New Hampshire. He is addressing supporters in South Carolina on the night of the New Hampshire primary. The vice president's not doing well in New Hampshire. He knew that was going to be the case, and so he left early and went to South Carolina, where he hopes to do well. We just heard him, Mara, talking about - well, he's essentially trying to say, never mind you, Iowa and New Hampshire. We are moving on.
LIASSON: That is the happiest and most relaxed I have ever - I've seen Joe Biden since these primaries began.
R MARTIN: Why?
LIASSON: I just - he just seemed relaxed, giddy. He was among friends. This is a place where he can do well. I mean, it was a - the events that I went to in New Hampshire with Joe Biden were funereal. He was talking about loss and bread lines and pain. And it was just very downbeat. That was an upbeat, kind of almost gleeful Joe Biden.
Now, the thing about Joe Biden is even though he performed very poorly in New Hampshire, he has a place to go. He can go to South Carolina. Now, Amy Klobuchar and Pete Buttigieg, who did really well in New Hampshire and are...
R MARTIN: Don't have no South Carolina (laughter)?
LIASSON: They don't have a South Carolina. They are sharing the centrist lane right now, center-left lane with Joe Biden. So that's going to be the big question. The battle for who is the alternative to Bernie Sanders, who wins the center-left lane is on. And it's going to be very vigorous, and it's very crowded.
Elizabeth Warren - one last thought on her is that I think her showing was worse than Biden's. And here's why. She's from Massachusetts.
R MARTIN: Right.
LIASSON: That's just shocking to me.
R MARTIN: It's supposed to be her backyard.
LIASSON: Massachusetts shares - Boston shares a media market with New Hampshire.
R MARTIN: It's an important point. I want to close with Danielle.
KURTZLEBEN: Right. You can't hear it on the radio, but I was nodding furiously along with Mara as she was saying this. I've been to Biden events, too. They are downright somber. He talks a lot about the seriousness of democracy and says that this election is serious and so on. Serious is just the word of the night with him. Now, one thing that I want to talk about, though, looking ahead to South Carolina is that - is just how poorly Amy Klobuchar and Pete Buttigieg are doing there in the latest polls. They need momentum coming out of this. I wonder if it'll happen.
R MARTIN: All right. We will be back. You are listening to Special Coverage of the New Hampshire primary from NPR News.
All right. I want to bring in Lauren Chooljian. She's a political reporter with New Hampshire Public Radio, and she is the co-host of the "Stranglehold" podcast. And, Lauren, I understand you are with the Pete Buttigieg camp. Is that right?
LAUREN CHOOLJIAN (BYLINE): You are correct. I'm here in Nashua Community College in southern New Hampshire. And people have their eyes glued to CNN. One woman I was just talking to was trying to will the numbers to get boosted up a little bit more, closer to Bernie Sanders. But, you know, a lot of people in this room know that Sanders is tough to beat in New Hampshire, especially because he had such a strong showing here in 2016. And he has the neighbor thing going to him - going for him, like you guys were just talking about.
R MARTIN: Right. So do you know at this point, Lauren, where Buttigieg is performing well in the state and what it says about his voters? Do you have that data?
CHOOLJIAN: Well, we're still figuring that out. There have been a couple places - you know, you guys were just talking about this, you know, Boston media market. That's especially prevalent in southern New Hampshire. I saw a couple towns in southern New Hampshire where there are big commuter towns down to Massachusetts that he was doing well in. You know, the seacoast is still shaking out. That's a very strong Democratic area. So I'll be curious to see how that shakes out. But I did also notice he won a town in northern New Hampshire that had originally voted for Obama and then went Trump. And that was a place he was really focused on. And I know he also campaigned hard in similar precincts in Iowa as well.
R MARTIN: Can you just give me a sense, Lauren, what do people tell you about their personal connection? Do they feel a personal connection to Pete Buttigieg, because he has been someone who, at the beginning of his campaign, at least, kind of struggled to break through that way as a candidate?
CHOOLJIAN: Yeah, I would agree with that. And, you know, what's interesting is as someone who's had to follow him around every time he's been here, you know, sometimes, it feels he's - you know, he's very on-message, very on-the-talking-points. But voters I talked to here say they feel like he is thoughtful, he - they really can connect with him. They like what he's saying, and they're really all-in on this unifying message. Everyone here thinks that it's the pragmatic choice - everyone I've spoken to here, I should say, anecdotally, of course.
R MARTIN: Right.
CHOOLJIAN: They've said that they feel like this is the pragmatic choice - that if we're trying to build a larger group here, they say that Pete Buttigieg is the one to do it.
R MARTIN: Are we hearing - what is that, a USA chant? A Buttigieg chant?
CHOOLJIAN: No, it's Boot-Edge-Edge.
R MARTIN: Oh, Boot-Edge-Edge.
CHOOLJIAN: Yes, Boot-Edge-Edge.
R MARTIN: Just with the seconds remaining, Lauren, you've been reporting about the primary as an institution. And something that is true is that New Hampshire - the voters there tend to reward the candidates who spend the most time with them - right? - just working the state. How is that playing out tonight?
CHOOLJIAN: Well, I mean, we just saw Andrew Yang and Michael Bennet both drop out. Those are two of the candidates that have spent the most time in New Hampshire. Now, of course, it could also be because of them as candidates. But when I spoke to Michael Bennet about this, you know, he was trying to do that longshot Jimmy Carter, Gary Hart thing, where he would just - he did, like, 50 town halls before primary day. And I asked him, you know, if this doesn't work for you, if you don't do better than expectations, what does that say? And he said, well, maybe that says that people don't like Michael Bennet. But it also could mean that this is becoming a much more nationalized primary. And I think that, you know, that's been a topic we've been talking about at length - right? - about how the DNC set these thresholds for the debates so high that had that winnowing impact...
R MARTIN: Right.
CHOOLJIAN: ...That New Hampshire and Iowa usually do. So it's different for sure.
R MARTIN: All right. We appreciate you. Lauren Chooljian - political reporter with New Hampshire Public Radio, co-host of the "Stranglehold" podcast - thank you. And you are listening to Special Coverage of the New Hampshire primary from NPR News.
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M MARTIN: You're listening to Special Coverage of the New Hampshire primary from NPR News. I'm Michel Martin. We're going to go straight to Amy Klobuchar, who is speaking to her supporters now.
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M MARTIN: We've been hearing from Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar, who's having a good night in New Hampshire. We're going to go away from her now to talk to a couple of the correspondents who - Juana Summers is in South Carolina, and Scott Detrow is still in New Hampshire. So, Juana, let's go to you first. We heard from Joe Biden earlier. He gave a - well, we have different opinions about that kind of speech that he gave. So give us a sense of the room. How was it there?
SUMMERS: Sure. So one of the things that was really interesting from being inside this room is there was almost no signs whatsoever of the vote that was happening tonight, the results coming in from New Hampshire - no TVs broadcasting those results. These folks, when I spoke to them, told me that states like Iowa and New Hampshire that are largely white, compared with the population of a state like South Carolina where about two-thirds of voters are African American - that those states don't have a lot of impact here.
This was an elated room, the crowd at times jumping to their feet, announcing the number that you can text to join and support Joe Biden's campaign, along with the former vice president. A lot of energy here. They feel like this is, indeed, as the campaign has said, a state that can be a springboard for Biden's candidacy. And they think that some of this national media conversation around his campaign has been a little bit overblown. They believe he has a shot to win the nomination, that he will be able to deliver the state.
M MARTIN: Well, it is interesting that there were no TV cameras - there were no TV screens in the room there. That's kind of a standard feature of a rally at this point, isn't there? I mean, nobody took notice of that, or nobody asked, or they just were - sort of had an agreement to sort of not notice or something like that? I don't know. It's kind of interesting.
M MARTIN: Let's go to Scott Detrow, too. Scott Detrow, you are still at the Sanders headquarters. What did you notice?
DETROW: From Senator Klobuchar's speech...
M MARTIN: Yes.
DETROW: ...Or from the Sanders - from Senator Klobuchar's speech, I mean, she - the thing that stuck out to me was that line about all the times that she has been counted out of this race, and I think there's some truth to that. When she got into this race, she was really overlooked by a lot of other higher-profile U.S. senators who entered this campaign with a lot of high expectations. I'm thinking of California Senator Kamala Harris, New Jersey Senator Cory Booker, New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. One by one, all of those other senators who had a lot of media attention, a lot of fundraising numbers - one at a time, they all dropped out of the race, leaving Senator Amy Klobuchar. And tonight, she is finishing much higher than Senator Warren, who at one point last year was one of the front-runners of this contest. So Senator Klobuchar really has stuck to it, and it's paying off tonight in New Hampshire.
And what's interesting about that is it was Iowa that Amy Klobuchar spent - Klobuchar spent as much time campaigning in. She certainly had a presence in New Hampshire, but it was Iowa that, again and again, she pulled her resources into.
M MARTIN: OK. But let's talk about the point that Juana just raised. I mean, Juana just made the point that she - obviously, she's at a Biden event in South Carolina. He notably left New Hampshire early before results were in, knowing that it was not going to be a good night to go to South Carolina and sort of make the point that most of the people of color have not voted yet. What is - what about Bernie Sanders and his appeal to the minority vote? Talk about what efforts he's made there.
DETROW: Sure. He's made a huge effort of outreach. The - if you look at the polls, recently, Senator Sanders has done better than former Vice President Joe Biden among voters of color as a whole. And that has a large part to do with strong support that Sanders has from Latino voters.
The Sanders campaign over the last few days has been pointing to a study that UCLA did analyzing the Latino vote in the Iowa caucuses last week where, according to their analysis, he got more than 50% of the vote in the 32 high-density Latino caucus locations that UCLA studied. Nobody else came close. And the Sanders campaign feels like they can use that particular appeal in the outreach they've been doing there to do very well in the next contest, which is, of course, Nevada, which often gets overlooked by South Carolina. But Nevada's up next, and the Sanders campaign feels like they're going to have a strong showing because of the appeal that he has with a lot of Latino voters.
M MARTIN: OK. So that's where I want to - I want to talk about the other people, the second and third position, which is Buttigieg. What happens now? I mean, it's all been - you know, at every turn, he's kind of defied expectations. You know, people said, oh, you know, it's too small. He's too young. His - he's led a small city. He doesn't have enough experience. And at every turn, he's defied expectations. But now he goes to Nevada and South Carolina. What path does he have there?
DETROW: I think this will be an enormous test to Pete Buttigieg. If you looked, all along, he was doing really well in Iowa and New Hampshire, and his poll numbers in those two states were far higher - maybe even double at times - of where he was in national polls.
There has been a lot of conversation about Pete Buttigieg really struggling to connect with African American voters. Amy Klobuchar has the same problem. We just haven't paid as much attention to it because she hasn't been at the top of the race. If Pete Buttigieg is going to have to make his case to two very diverse states and states that he has not poured into the resources that he poured into Iowa and South Carolina - so I think the Sanders campaign feels like they'll have an edge on Buttigieg in those next two contests. And I'm really curious to see what happens. I think those next two states will really show whether Pete Buttigieg is a national candidate or not.
M MARTIN: And it's getting really loud where you are, so I'm going to go back to Juana, if I can. Juana, what about that? Is anybody - you're in South Carolina. Is anybody - have you heard the words Pete Buttigieg or Amy Klobuchar where you are?
SUMMERS: I've heard a lot more about Pete Buttigieg definitively (ph) than I have about Amy Klobuchar. I spent all of last week in the state, and one of the things I heard is that the Buttigieg campaign is working specifically among young black voters. He has spent a lot of time at HBCUs - historically black colleges and universities - in the state, like South Carolina State University, which is about an hour away from where I am in Orangeburg, S.C. So he has been working to that community.
This is a candidate who is - he's in his late 30s. He's making that promise of generational change, his campaign hoping that is something that transcends race and class and that he can speak to those demographics.
But there is no question that for both Amy Klobuchar and Pete Buttigieg, the road here does get harder. They have not spent as much time, perhaps, in South Carolina as they have those first two nominating contests, and clearly that paid off for them in terms of polls and support and having that enthusiasm. But there have been campaigns here who have been on the ground for months even they'll need to play catch-up with.
M MARTIN: That's Juana Summers, NPR political correspondent. She's actually in South Carolina...
R MARTIN: Standing next to a train.
M MARTIN: ...Where Joe Biden made a surprising announcement, leaving New Hampshire early to get there early and to start his - hopefully rebooting his campaign there. You're listening to Special Coverage of the New Hampshire primary from NPR News.
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R MARTIN: We're going to continue our live Special Coverage of the New Hampshire primary. I'm Rachel Martin.
And we're going to bring in Marc Lotter. He is someone with a different perspective than those we have been hearing from. He is the communications director - director of strategic communications for President Trump's reelection campaign. Marc, thanks for being with us.
MARC LOTTER (DIRECTOR OF STRATEGIC COMMUNICATIONS, TRUMP 2020 CAMPAIGN): Oh, thanks for having me.
R MARTIN: So you had a victory tonight - an easy victory in New Hampshire on the Republican ballot, an expected victory. But, you know, it's instructive to look back to 2016 because then-candidate Trump lost to Hillary Clinton in New Hampshire by only, you know, between 2,700, 2,800 votes. So how does that affect the message right now from President Trump?
LOTTER: Well, I think you saw that on display last night, Rachel, when the president was in New Hampshire. He had a rally in Manchester, had over 50,000 - close to 55,000 people request tickets for those - for that rally. We set another record. He beat his own record for the number of people inside that arena.
And when you get into the numbers a little bit deeper, you saw that 17% of the people who had requested tickets did not vote in 2016 and 25% of the people who had requested tickets were registered Democrats. And so when you look at that margin with just under 3,000 votes that you had mentioned, the president right there just closed that gap with new people that had signed up, are now in contact with our campaign. We - they stood in line for hours, in some cases days. And we're very confident that when we turn around and say in September and October, November, would you be willing to knock on a few doors, would you be willing to make a few phone calls or go to the polls, those folks will do it.
R MARTIN: So let me ask you. We've heard a lot from the Democratic contenders about unity. In particular, we just heard from Amy Klobuchar, who's pulling in third right now. And that's an important point for her that she keeps driving home - the idea that the country needs unity right now. How do you think President Trump can unify the country? Is that a part of his message right now?
LOTTER: Well, I think it can be, and because he has made it very clear from Day 1 when he came down that escalator and through his campaign, through the time in the White House and now in this second campaign that he's going to put American workers first. He's going to put America first. So when you look at New Hampshire...
R MARTIN: Is that a unifying message?
LOTTER: I think it is a unifying message because you see so many people that are succeeding in this economy - 18,000 jobs in New Hampshire have been created since the president was elected, a thousand manufacturing jobs. When you go back to the Obama-Biden years, they lost thousands of manufacturing jobs. So that's a case that he can make. We see a lot of the polls out there right now - I think there was even one out today from Monmouth that said two-thirds of the American people think the president's going to be reelected.
R MARTIN: Marc Lotter, we appreciate your time tonight. Marc Lotter is the director of strategic communications for President Trump's reelection bid. Thanks very much. We appreciate it.
LOTTER: Thank you, Rachel.
R MARTIN: And we're going to continue with our analysis and results coming in from the New Hampshire primary. You are listening to Special Coverage of the New Hampshire primary. It is coming to you from NPR News.
It is still Bernie Sanders' race to lose. This is live Special Coverage of the New Hampshire primary from NPR News. I'm Rachel Martin.
M MARTIN: And I'm Michel Martin. Behind Sanders is Pete Buttigieg. Behind him is Amy Klobuchar, who's gained surprise momentum tonight.
R MARTIN: Just moments ago, Senator Klobuchar rallied her supporters at her New Hampshire headquarters.
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KLOBUCHAR: We are going to South Carolina.
KLOBUCHAR: And we are taking this message of unity to the country...
KLOBUCHAR: ...Because we know in our hearts that in a democracy, it is not about the loudest voice or the biggest bank account. It is about the best idea and about the person who can turn those ideas into action.
R MARTIN: All right. We are joined in studio by NPR senior political editor and correspondent Domenico Montanaro. Domenico, start us off here. First of all, the top three slots have been pretty steady tonight - Sanders in first, Buttigieg in second, Klobuchar in third - but we don't have any confirmed results. How come?
MONTANARO: Well, we don't have a call. We have confirmed results.
R MARTIN: Correct.
MONTANARO: What we have here is about 57% of precincts reporting that Bernie Sanders is ahead. The margin has narrowed between Bernie Sanders and Pete Buttigieg - something to watch here. Sanders is about 26.4% of the vote, Buttigieg at 23.7. That's about 3,900 votes that are separating them. And if I can just call to your attention where that vote's coming from, Bernie Sanders does well in urban areas. Manchester's the largest city, and half of his margin against Pete Buttigieg is coming from Manchester. He won Manchester by about 2,100 votes, and that's more than half of his total margin right now.
We're still waiting on about eight precincts in Nashua, N.H. Only one of nine are in so far. And there's still some vote out in Dover in the east, and then some of the surrounding towns in between. But that's essentially what we're waiting on. That's probably why you haven't had a call just yet because Nashua, which is one of the larger towns right on the border with Massachusetts, doesn't have all of its vote in. But I bet it's getting pretty close for some of them. They want to see if this margin probably continues to close or if it widens at all for Sanders.
R MARTIN: You know, we knew Sanders was going to have a home-field advantage being from a neighboring state. We thought that about Elizabeth Warren. She is not performing as well as expected.
MONTANARO: Really faded. She's at only 9.5% of the vote, just 14,000 votes overall so far.
Amy Klobuchar has really been the story of the night in many ways. She's got 20% of the vote. She's really performed quite well in various parts of the state in large portions, especially Concord - did very well there. You know, and, look; she was on the upswing. She's caught it right at the right time. There's a lot of people paying a lot of attention. The challenge for her campaign is whether she can sustain some of this momentum, take it into places that now become a more diverse electorate. She hasn't shown any signs, really, that she can win with black and brown voters. She's going to need to be able to prove that she can do that. She's taken a flight of ads out in Nevada, which has a significant Latino and African American population. We'll see what she can do there.
ELVING: One point that Joe Biden made earlier tonight in his curious remarks and, really, in some respects, first to New Hampshire by recording and then to people in South Carolina live - he did make the point, though, that something like 99% of all the African Americans in America and something close to that of all the Hispanic Americans have yet to have an opportunity to vote in these primaries. They haven't had any kind of shot at all. So it's one thing to say we haven't seen a lot. The fact is we've scarcely seen any. So that really can have the potential to change things. But even Amy Klobuchar, and certainly Pete Buttigieg and Bernie Sanders, are making their appeal to those groups starting tonight.
R MARTIN: Mara?
LIASSON: You know, the problem for Amy Klobuchar - someone described it as going from a small ride-share company to becoming Uber overnight because it's almost an operational problem.
MONTANARO: Well, Uber still doesn't make money.
LIASSON: Well, OK. Well, I meant just being bigger.
ELVING: But it's big.
LIASSON: You get my point here.
ELVING: She got a Lyft. Let's put it that way.
LIASSON: Yeah. But she caught fire here. But now they're just going to come fast and furious. You've got Nevada. You've got South Carolina. Then, all of a sudden, humongous Super Tuesday states. Pete Buttigieg has a lot more money than she does, and she has to ramp up really fast. And she doesn't have a lot of foot in the African American community. She doesn't have a kind of natural constituency in either of the next two states. So that's going to be a challenge for her.
R MARTIN: But are we going to see...
LIASSON: But she's got momentum, and that's what the early states can give you. And now she has to do something with it.
R MARTIN: Are we going to start to see some consolidation, though, as people look at Biden's very poor performance and are his supporters or his financial backers going to (unintelligible)?
LIASSON: Well, here's the thing. The Biden campaign has been calming down their financial supporters and saying, just wait. Just at least be patient through South Carolina. And the thing about conventional wisdom - or as I always say, historical rules only work till they stop working. What we would normally think is, wow, somebody who finished the way he did in Iowa and New Hampshire, that's it. But he believes that he can have a fresh start in South Carolina and especially Super Tuesday when big portions of the electorate are African American. And he can really resurrect himself.
MONTANARO: And his team likes their turnout operation in Nevada. He's...
MONTANARO: ...Big with the unions there.
LIASSON: Yes, and the...
MONTANARO: And there's a lot of early vote that's already...
LIASSON: That's right.
MONTANARO: ...Started and they've tried to bank some of that.
M MARTIN: Hold on a second. We've all said that Amy Klobuchar is one of the big stories of the night, so why don't we go now to Minnesota Public Radio News reporter Mark Zdechlik who is with the Klobuchar campaign in Concord.
Mark, you there?
MARK ZDECHLIK (BYLINE): I am. Senator Klobuchar just wrapped up about 20 minutes of speaking to supporters here in Concord. And she is very happy tonight, almost as though she had won the caucus - or the primary in New Hampshire.
M MARTIN: And what about some of the people who are there with her? What are they saying?
ZDECHLIK: Well, they're happy about it. They think that she's a good candidate. They buy her argument that she is electable, that she can win where President Trump won in 2016. And they think that more people will give her another look coming out of New Hampshire. Obviously, she did much better here or is on her way to doing much better here than she did in Iowa where she placed fifth. So this is kind of a restart for her, or it sure is looking like it's going to be.
M MARTIN: We're hearing that among late deciders, Klobuchar seemed to be a popular choice, and a lot of people are attributing that to the strong debate performance that she had on Friday. When you talked to voters, what did they say?
ZDECHLIK: That came up over and over. As the campaign manager told me tonight that they heard it over and over on the ground, and a lot of people - some exit polls showed that, you know, nearly half of the folks that voted today didn't make their minds up until the last couple of days. And the campaign says they heard it on the ground over and over that people were talking about her debate performance. I certainly heard it over and over from Democrats in New Hampshire that they think that she posted a very strong debate performance. That caused many people, I think, to take a much closer look at her and ultimately support her.
M MARTIN: And from the Klobuchar campaign to the degree that you've had a chance to sort of report on this yet, what are they saying about what is next? Because, you know, they're coming from states - they've had, you know, stronger and stronger showings in states - you know, Iowa, then going to a stronger showing in New Hampshire. And she's from Minnesota which is - none of these are particularly diverse states. Let's just put it that way.
And now they're going into completely different territory. Have they - what has the campaign said to you about how they're going to address this next phase where they really have to appeal to a different demographic than they have had to so far?
ZDECHLIK: Well, the candidate says that she's going to be strong in Nevada, that she predicts that she'll do well. I don't know specifically how well she's (unintelligible) it, but she says strong in tourism. She's the head of this tourism caucus in the Senate. And she also says she has staff on the ground in Nevada. And when you talk to them about going forward, they will say things like, well, people never thought we'd get through our speech during a snowstorm or make it through the summer or get to Iowa, past Iowa and into New Hampshire. So they just say that they keep defying expectations, and their message is that they're going to continue to do that.
M MARTIN: All right. That is Mark Zdechlik who is with Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar's campaign in Concord. He is a political reporter for Minnesota Public Radio News. Mark, thanks so much for joining us.
ZDECHLIK: You're welcome.
R MARTIN: All right. Let's turn our attention to the campaign of Pete Buttigieg. He is currently coming in second as we look at results coming in from New Hampshire. Again, we don't have any official calls at this point, but he's doing well from his camp's perspective. We're going to talk with New Hampshire Congresswoman Ann Kuster who has endorsed Buttigieg, and she joins us now. Thanks so much for being here.
ANN KUSTER (D-NH, REP): Great to be with you.
R MARTIN: So Buttigieg had a strong showing in Iowa. They were quite pleased with the outcome there, coming in neck and neck with Bernie Sanders. And, as mentioned, he is currently, according to the numbers that we're seeing now, running in second place coming out of New Hampshire - again, no official calls yet. Is this where Pete Buttigieg wants to be in this moment?
KUSTER: Well, I think it's going to tighten as the evening wears on. What you're seeing, he's holding his own with college students and those towns on the Vermont border where Bernie is very, very strong. But he's coming in stronger than expected in the southern tier. So some of the towns like Londonderry, Salem, Hampstead, these are towns along the Massachusetts border and over into the seacoast where he's well ahead of Sanders and well ahead of Klobuchar. So I think what you're going to see as the smaller towns come in, these numbers will tighten. We've got about a 2% gap that I'm looking at with 60% of the vote in - just off Bernie Sanders by under 3,000 votes. And I think that's a very strong showing when you consider that Bernie won 60% of the vote just four years ago. And, by the way, nobody in New Hampshire had ever heard of Pete Buttigieg, nor could they begin to say his name. So it's an exciting night for Pete. He had a very strong showing. I think the big surprise is, obviously, the late-breaking voters to Amy Klobuchar.
R MARTIN: Right.
KUSTER: She took a lot from Elizabeth Warren, who had had a very strong campaign in New Hampshire. That's a big surprising result.
R MARTIN: How does that change things?
KUSTER: And obviously...
R MARTIN: I'm sorry to interrupt.
KUSTER: ...With Joe Biden.
R MARTIN: I'm sorry to interrupt you, but just with limited time, how does Amy Klobuchar's...
R MARTIN: ...Momentum affect Pete Buttigieg? You could assume based on their policy prescriptions and the lanes that they have carved out for themselves in this primary race that they would be competing for somewhat of the same voters.
KUSTER: Well, I think it's the discussion that you've been having on the air of whether or not she can keep up that momentum. Look; here's what I know about Pete. He has tens of millions of dollars. He has a 50-state organization. He's got dozens of staff and offices on the ground in - excuse me - Nevada and South Carolina. So he's going to go the distance. And hard to say - this is a little bit of a bump for Amy. New Hampshire's been historically very good to women candidates. I'm part of the first all-female delegation. So I think New Hampshire voters like to give female candidates a good outing.
R MARTIN: Right. And you had two to choose from right now - and more. Tulsi Gabbard's still in the race.
KUSTER: Exactly, exactly.
R MARTIN: And you still went with Pete Buttigieg.
KUSTER: Yep. I did because for me, temperament is a very big issue in this race. And I think I saw that - Pete and I have campaigned together over the weekend. We saw 10,000 voters with big, big crowds - 2,000 people down in Nashua, the anchor community to my district in the southern tier. And what I found - people were really responding to this argument. They're exhausted by the president. They're exhausted by the volatility and the divisiveness. They want a candidate who not only can win in November and put together this winning coalition, but a candidate that can turn the page and really make them proud of the presidency again and has the temperament.
What I got to see up close and personally with Pete was how he's put together his campaign with the values that he leads with and just how he interacted with his staff. It was just an amazing experience behind the scenes. He's a very gentle person, a very kind, thoughtful person. He empowers his staff. And I think that's really important for the long haul of what these campaigns require.
M MARTIN: Congressman Kuster, it's Michel Martin. It's a pleasure to talk to you again. So you just heard - since obviously you've been listening to the program, you heard one of President Trump's campaign managers speak to us earlier. And he says this is all about the economy - and the economy is doing very well - and all this temperament stuff isn't really relevant. Why do you think differently?
KUSTER: Just from the turnout of the people that we saw, from the voters that we saw. The economy in New Hampshire is quite strong, but we have 2.4% unemployment. That's very, very low. And what you find is that wages are still extremely low, people having to take two or three jobs just to keep it together, to keep their family moving forward. So Pete's got a vision of the future with higher wages, better jobs, stronger community. Everyone has access to health care, tackle the climate change issue. And I think people were genuinely inspired by that. And I found it to be very exciting myself.
But I think that temperament issue is going to be a big thing. It's going to carry through this campaign. As I say, people are just exhausted by this president. They want to be proud of the White House again.
M MARTIN: I wish I had more time to ask you again about why you weren't more interested - being a part of a historic delegation yourself - the New Hampshire delegation, one of the few, if only, all-women delegations in the country.
R MARTIN: We're going to have to hold that.
M MARTIN: We want to talk about that again some other time.
R MARTIN: This is Special Coverage of the New Hampshire primary from NPR News.
All right. She - I think we've got you still on the line. Congresswoman, are you still there? Do we still have Congresswoman Kuster? No.
M MARTIN: No?
R MARTIN: It appears that we're done with that conversation (laughter).
M MARTIN: We threw her a curveball.
R MARTIN: We did.
M MARTIN: But it is interesting to contemplate that she did make history as part of this all-women delegation from New Hampshire, a state that is - I think a lot of people elsewhere in the country think of as very conservative, as very traditional. And here she is part of this historic moment, this sort of glass ceiling-breaking moment. And there were a number of women candidates to choose from...
R MARTIN: Right.
M MARTIN: ...Including her neighbor, Senator Elizabeth Warren...
R MARTIN: Right.
M MARTIN: ...From Massachusetts, and she still went with Mayor Buttigieg.
R MARTIN: With Pete Buttigieg. Danielle, what did you make of that? She kept saying the word temperament. He's got the right temperament.
KURTZLEBEN: I mean, look; a couple things to get at here. One thing is, most definitely, we - one of the most notable things about this field is that it has been so diverse, and yet, white men have led it for almost the entire time. There was a heartbeat where the RealClearPolitics polling average had Elizabeth Warren leading it. That was it. Now it is Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders who seem to be duking it out. Now, Pete Buttigieg, I will say, we should not forget he is an openly gay candidate, and that is a new kind of diversity we have in this race.
But this represents to me such a turn for the Democratic Party because 2018 was, as we heard over and over again ad nauseum, that it was the year of the woman. Now, the Democrats not only elected a lot of women, but a lot - a very diverse slate of women. So to see Democrats take this hard turn back to white men really may speak to their anxiety about electability. But it is definitely maybe not something we all saw coming.
M MARTIN: Can I just speak to Ron about this? Ron, you see - Ron Irving (ph) - Ron Elving, you see that the conservative media is trying to sort of make this all like the Democrats are all about identity politics. But President Trump makes appeals to identity, too, does he not?
ELVING: One of the things that Donald Trump did very well in 2015 and 2016 was to re-energize people who felt that their particular identity, which happened to be the majority identity in the country at least in terms of Anglowhites, was being re-emphasized again and that he was going to go straight for their votes and be rather explicit about it.
Now, in his most recent campaign utterances, he has seemingly been interested in suddenly reaching out to certain elements of the African American community. I think we'll see him do a lot more of that in the Hispanic community in the weeks and months ahead, having consolidated a pretty solid grip on the white vote, not that Republican candidates haven't been pulling the majority of that vote for some while. But he did more so than his predecessors. And it was enough to put him over the top.
So this is something that you can describe it as identity when you're talking only about people who diverge from the majority or what has been the traditional majority, or you can describe it as identity going the other way as well.
LIASSON: Well, Donald Trump is a master of white identity politics, and white identity politics right now are very powerful. But when he makes those appeals to African Americans or puts them in his ads, he's also appealing to white suburban women to show them he's not a racist.
R MARTIN: Right. Lots more analysis and results to come. Stay with us. You are listening to Special Coverage of the New Hampshire primary, and it comes to you from NPR News.
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M MARTIN: New Hampshire results are rolling in a little slower than expected. This is live Special Coverage from NPR News. I'm Michel Martin. No official winner yet, but Bernie Sanders has held the lead all night. It's Pete Buttigieg in second place. Elizabeth Warren and Joe Biden are hovering in the single digits. And arguably the biggest story of the night, Amy Klobuchar in third place. She's been gaining steam in the polls lately after a strong debate performance Friday night. And tonight she is exceeding expectations again.
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KLOBUCHAR: Donald Trump's worst nightmare is that the people in the middle, the people who have had enough of the name-calling and the mudslinging, have someone to vote for in November.
R MARTIN: All right. So first place right now is too close to call, but Pete Buttigieg and Bernie Sanders are neck and neck, with Amy Klobuchar, as we noted, coming in third. Again we are waiting for a call in this race. And let's turn now to NPR political correspondent Asma Khalid who is with the Buttigieg campaign. Sounds like there's some chanting happening, Asma.
KHALID: Yes, Buttigieg.
R MARTIN: What's going on?
KHALID: Buttigieg in the background. I mean, folks here are excited. The margins have been getting closer all night long here. And, you know, as you mentioned, the race is still too close to call. But our results right now show about just, like, a 2% lead for Bernie Sanders. And that's much closer than what the race was at just a couple hours ago.
R MARTIN: Well, so people there, I mean - would Buttigieg be happy, presumably, if he came in in second or at this point, they'd like to come in at the top slot right now?
KHALID: You know, I talked to a lot of supporters tonight and even leading up to the New Hampshire primary. And people consistently told me they felt like a second-place finisher would be really good. They do feel like Iowa and his strong finish at the Iowa caucuses kind of set really high expectations. But they also really acknowledge that Bernie Sanders beat Hillary Clinton by some 20-plus% in 2016. And so being a neighbor, it's hard to beat a neighbor they say.
R MARTIN: Right.
KHALID: But, you know, I think that they would like to have a strong second-place finish even.
R MARTIN: Has the feeling changed there in the room, or is this what folks there were expecting?
KHALID: You know, I think throughout the night, people have been feeling fairly excited. I talked to folks. And, you know, I think that they feel like Pete Buttigieg is the one who's the best able to unite the party. Overall, the campaign seems to feel really positive. They're looking at some of the exit polls that show when you're looking at the person who's best able to defeat Donald Trump, on that particular question, Pete Buttigieg seemed to do pretty well.
I spoke to a number of voters. And, you know, some of them - what I thought was really interesting - kept going back to this comparison of Barack Obama. And this is a comparison that the Buttigieg campaign has been trying to message for a long time. And it was interesting to me that this is something that they hear. I talked to one woman. Her name is Marianne Howley (ph), and she kept going back to the fact that Pete Buttigieg really reminds her of that former President Barack Obama.
MARIANNE HOWLEY (PETE BUTTIGIEG SUPPORTER): I look at Barack Obama. It was the same thing. They said, you don't have an experience. He's just got the spark.
R MARTIN: Spark.
KHALID: But I think, Rachel, this is a really interesting argument because while this is messaging that the campaign has really tried to push, that this is the new Barack Obama - he is young; he may not have the experience as some of the other candidates in the field - it is a message that works with white voters in New Hampshire. It is a message that I am very doubtful will resonate as strongly once we get to South Carolina.
R MARTIN: Right. A very different demographic, a significant African American vote. And Pete Buttigieg has been polling around 0 to 1%, tops, with that population. If we could just kind of pull back and broaden the aperture, Asma, look at the big picture. You've seen a number of candidates recently. How does Buttigieg's strong performance affect the so-called moderate candidates? I mean, how does it affect a Joe Biden? How does it affect an Amy Klobuchar who is doing well right now?
KHALID: Yeah, I mean, I think in some ways, you can make the argument the other way around. You know, how does this strong Amy Klobuchar performance tonight affect Pete Buttigieg? I met a number of people at both Buttigieg and Klobuchar events who told me that they were torn between these two candidates. Her strong debate performance Friday night seems to have resonated with some folks here. And so given how tight the race is at this point and given how many people seem to be really interested in Amy Klobuchar in just the last couple of days, I am really curious that, you know, could there have been a situation where Buttigieg would potentially be doing even better had she not seen a kind of recent uptick in momentum? But to your point about Joe Biden, look. I think it's really interesting. People, you know, I think initially told me they had been leaning towards Joe Biden but moved towards either Pete Buttigieg...
R MARTIN: Something's going on there, Asma.
KHALID: They are...
R MARTIN: Something's going on.
KHALID: They are excited, but no candidate yet.
R MARTIN: OK.
KHALID: We do not have a Pete Buttigieg. But, you know, look. I think, Rachel, the argument that Joe Biden's camp has been making for a while now about the diversity is really a point that shouldn't be sort of undersold. I mean, no Democratic presidential candidate has gone on to be the nominee of the party who has not won a majority of black voters since 1988. I mean, that's decades at this point. And so, you know, the party has diversified. The country has diversified since then. And I do think that if you look forward, as good of a night as Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar might have here in New Hampshire, they have a difficult path when you get to South Carolina and some of the more diverse states on Super Tuesday.
R MARTIN: Right. We should just note the president is watching the results coming out of New Hampshire. President Trump tweeted out recently, (reading) Buttigieg is doing pretty well tonight, giving - and I'm quoting here - "giving crazy Bernie a run for his money. Very interesting!" I want to pivot, though, before I let you go, Asma, and ask about Elizabeth Warren because it's not a good result for her tonight. And she is - this is her backyard.
KHALID: It is. It's her backyard. We're in the Boston media market, and I say this as someone who used to live in Boston. I mean, Boston and New Hampshire are really - they're tight neighbors. I would argue they're even tighter in some ways than Vermont is to New Hampshire because of the media market overflow. She had been spending a lot of resources and energy in the state. As of now, you know, she has less than 10% of the vote. That would mean that she would finish with no delegates from New Hampshire. And I do think it is an extremely difficult path for her forward if she does not really do well in her neighboring state.
That all being said, though, I think, you know, when you talk about her night tonight, she talked a lot about being a unifier. I think that, you know, she has invested a lot in some of the more diverse states, in Nevada and South Carolina. And perhaps she sees an opening in the fact that a lot of candidates in this field have not invested so much in some of those diverse states. And I think part of the difficulty she has had is that for a long time, she was competing with Bernie Sanders early on in this primary cycle. And largely, the progressive vote has come home to Bernie Sanders and decided to stick with him.
R MARTIN: All right. All right. NPR's Asma Khalid with the Buttigieg camp. Thanks, Asma. We appreciate it.
KHALID: You're welcome.
M MARTIN: Speaking of what Rachel said earlier, widening the lens, we're going to go to Reverend Leah Daughtry now. She's pastor of the House of the Lord Church in Washington, D.C. But we're going to her in her capacity as a strategist. She was the chief executive officer of the 2016 and the 2008 Democratic National Convention committee. And she's a former DNC chief of staff. Reverend Daughtry, welcome. Thanks so much for joining us.
LEAH DAUGHTRY (FORMER CEO, 2008 AND 2016 DNC COMMITTEES): Thank you. Glad to be here.
M MARTIN: Well, let's just kind of go straight to the point. You've expressed frustration over the primary calendar, Iowa and New Hampshire going first - not the most diverse states by any means. On the one hand, Barack Obama got a big boost out of Iowa because, you know, the argument was made that if he could make the case there and persuade voters there, then that boded well for the rest of the field. So what are you seeing now about this? What are your thoughts about this now given what we see, given the field and what's happened so far?
DAUGHTRY: Well, you know, I maintain my concerns about the two of the whitest and the smallest states in the union really going first and having such an outsized impact on what happens in the rest of the state. So tonight, we have New Hampshire with its 24 delegates, fewer than Iowa and really just about 1% of the delegates that you need to win the nomination. And yet what happened - what is happening tonight is being prognosticating and seen as some sort of prediction of what should happen in the rest of the race. And I just think that's unfortunate given its lack of representation of Latino voters of African American voters who everyone knows you cannot win the Democratic nomination without the African American vote.
So if anything, I think what this cycle is showing, especially given the diversity of our candidates - and you know we've got center-left. You figure, you know - pick a candidate, and there's somebody for you - you know, is that we really got to go and examine the placement of these two states and literally time to shake up the calendar.
M MARTIN: What are you seeing so far, just what - just given what you've seen so far, how the primary is shaping up compared to 2008 and 2016?
DAUGHTRY: You know, it's interesting. One of the things that I noticed tonight - and of course, New Hampshire's still too close to call. And the last number, 71% in is Sanders with 26% of the vote and Buttigieg fast closing at 24.2% - 2 percentage points separating them - is that, you know, I worry all of the pundits, all of the numbers would indicate that turnout is flat, right? We haven't seen the surge of Democratic voters going to the polls. And I think that's got to be a little concerning for all of us who are counting on huge numbers coming out of November. And that's just not happening.
If I'm the Sanders campaign, I'm a little concerned that, you know, I've got 26% of the vote. And maybe that's a win, but that means 74% of Democratic voters tonight did not support my candidacy. And so I'm worried - I'd be worried about what my turnout machine really looks like. And where is the vaunted Sanders turnout machine, which we've all been waiting for and anticipating? It just doesn't seem to have materialized either in Iowa or in New Hampshire.
So I think, you know, those sorts of things don't bode well. It makes me nervous when turnout is flat in this kind of year. And I don't know who the candidate is that's going to emerge from all of this and able to galvanize and unify all of us. I would say to Warren, I'd be - you know, I'm disappointed. I thought she'd do better in a neighboring state. But for her and for Biden, who both are in single digits, don't get out. You still have the vat of South Carolina and then the Super Tuesday states, where you really will begin to see the race settling because, again, it's all about the delegate count and who's going to get to the magic number of 1,991 to become the nominee.
M MARTIN: Can I ask you, why do you think the turnout isn't as robust as a lot of people thought that it would be? Just as you just said, that everybody's got somebody to like in this, I mean, from a Democratic perspective. There are all different kinds of perspectives there. I mean, obviously some of the candidates a lot of people were excited about have already dropped out. Kamala Harris, the senator from California has already dropped out. Cory Booker has dropped out, and as of tonight Andrew Yang has dropped out. So why do you think it hasn't been as robust as a lot of people would hoping that it would be?
DAUGHTRY: You know, I think there are two sides of this. One is, you know, people are still deciding. A lot of the voters who we've seen break in Iowa and in New Hampshire decided very late, some in just a couple of days before the primary. There's so many options. You know, it's like me at a furniture store. There are too many couches, and so I just turn around and walk out because it's too many to choose from.
But it's also, I think, you know, if you look at it on the flip side, where most Democratic voters are saying they will vote for whoever the nominee is. People may just say it doesn't matter because if I can vote for anybody, I'll just wait and see who it is. And, you know, I don't have a favorite. So I'll just sit this out, and whoever emerges is the one I'm going to vote for.
M MARTIN: I want to go back to you mentioned that you don't think Elizabeth Warren or Joe Biden should drop out. Stay in it. Why do you say that?
DAUGHTRY: Because you have only - we've only heard from 2 out of 57 contests, in two states with the smallest number of delegates. So you still have New Hampshire - I'm sorry - South Carolina, which is 60% African American in the electorate. You have Nevada, which has a huge charge of Latino voters, who haven't had their say yet. And so for anyone to get out now without giving the backbone of the party, the African American vote, and also the Latino, the growing - fastest-growing segment of the Democratic Party, a chance to have their say and put their imprimatur on this race is too soon. And, you know, I would be disappointed if either one of them were to not wait to see what those segments of the electorate would have to say.
M MARTIN: Are you at all surprised by the fact that Warren and Biden seem to have fallen off the pace? I mean, they were - both of them - I know we spoke earlier - we spoke a couple of months ago. And you noted that Elizabeth Warren was sort of striking a real chord with some of the audiences that you had seen her in, that she seemed to really resonate with people in a way that perhaps surprised some people. And of course, Joe Biden has his long track record. Are you surprised that some - that their campaigns at this point don't seem to be as - I don't know - it's just - have the spark that I think a lot of people thought that they would.
DAUGHTRY: Yeah, I am surprised more about Warren than I am about Biden. But I think with Warren, I'm not - I've got to do some analysis on this. I'm not quite sure what happened. I think it's, you know, one is the constant battering around Medicare, around her health care plan, was she was, you know, backed into a corner and forced to answer questions about costs and details that other candidates were not required to answer. I think in the perceived flip-flop or the perceived divergence of one of her initial plan from the secondary plan, you know, kind of left people, I think, a little disenchanted. I think the thing with her saying that Sanders said a woman couldn't win, you know, put sort of a lightning rod up for folks who then may not have had an opinion, but now did have an opinion. And I think we just can't discount the impact of sexism and misogyny in the campaign. I think it was evident in Iowa where her speech wasn't even covered live.
M MARTIN: Well, we have to leave it there for now. Thank you so much for joining us to give us your take on things. That's the Reverend Leah Daughtry. She was the chief executive officer of the DNC committee in 2016 and 2008.
R MARTIN: All right. I'm going to bring in another voice here, Humberto Sanchez. He is Washington correspondent for The Nevada Independent. He is in Washington, D.C., tonight. Humberto, thanks for being with us.
HUMBERTO SANCHEZ (JOURNALIST, THE NEVADA INDEPENDENT): Thanks for having me.
R MARTIN: You're going to help us look forward because even though we don't have a call in the New Hampshire primary, we do have some results that give us a picture of what the race might look like in the Democratic primary in the state of Nevada. Bernie Sanders and Pete Buttigieg are neck and neck right now. Bernie Sanders has made Latino voters a real focus of his campaign. That's going to be important for him in Nevada. How does it look for him there?
SANCHEZ: It looks not bad. Sanders has a pretty big staff, about 150 people in Nevada. And he's going to have momentum if he wins this out of New Hampshire. And so it's going to be - it's going to be pretty interesting to see how he does. The one thing in particular is, as you said, it's - as you guys were talking about, that, you know, that the Latino electorate is about 29% of the vote in Nevada. And also African Americans make up 10% in Asian and Pacific Islanders make up 9%. And so that's a significant chunk right there. So this will be of a very kind of make-or-break I think going - especially going into South Carolina for folks.
R MARTIN: I want to ask about Joe Biden. He moved from New Hampshire to South Carolina. That's where his focus is right now. But what does he look like in Nevada? What are the polls saying there?
SANCHEZ: He has led in the polls and on average in Nevada for quite some time. And Bernie Sanders has come in - he's been in second place in those polls. But Joe Biden has really staked his camp on Nevada. And it's - again, it's a more diverse electorate than Iowa or New Hampshire. And so if he does really well, which he's looking to do, that will catapult him into South Carolina, which is really his bedrock support there. And that would be a huge boon for him because he needs to get some points on the board.
R MARTIN: Real quick, we've got a question from my colleague Danielle Kurtzleben.
KURTZLEBEN: Hey there. So I know that polling in Nevada is notoriously difficult for a variety of reasons, as I'm sure you know. How difficult does that make it for you to report on this and for really any of us to know or expect what might happen coming out of Nevada?
SANCHEZ: It's really tough. My boss, Jon Ralston, likes to say this is a constantly self-evaluating process, so anything that's 24 hours old is old. And so - so we talk to a lot of campaigns and a lot of voters and just try to keep our pulse - our finger on the pulse in that way.
R MARTIN: Plus you guys are the second caucus in the nation after all the problems in Iowa. I imagine there are lots of precautions being taken there.
SANCHEZ: Today, actually a representative, Dina Titus, told me that she's worried about the party being able to finish counting early voting ballots in time in a timely manner. Nevada is going to have early voting in its caucus, which is the first time I think it's ever been done in a caucus. It's going to happen for four days before the caucus. So we're going to keep an eye on that. The party says it's in a good spot right now.
R MARTIN: OK. We're going to have to leave it there. Humberto Sanchez of The Nevada Independent. You're listening to Special Coverage of the New Hampshire primary from NPR News.
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R MARTIN: Bernie Sanders and Pete Buttigieg are vying for first place in New Hampshire. This is live Special Coverage from NPR News. I'm Rachel Martin. Sanders has had a comfortable lead for most of the night. But Pete Buttigieg has closed some of that gap. Meanwhile, Amy Klobuchar made a surprise jump to third place. Elizabeth Warren wound up in a disappointing fourth, disappointing for her campaign. And Joe Biden left New Hampshire in fifth place. He flew to South Carolina, where he's hoping to do better later this month. He told his supporters there that a more diverse population in their state and in Nevada will turn his campaign around.
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BIDEN: Because up till now, we haven't heard from the most committed constituents in the Democratic Party, the African American community and the fast - and the fastest-growing segment of society, the Latino community.
M MARTIN: Let's go to Domenico Montanaro. We're going to talk about some of the things that I think are probably on people's minds right now, which is the first is, why haven't we gotten results yet?
MONTANARO: So impatient. My goodness.
M MARTIN: (Laughter).
MONTANARO: It's very close. I mean, you have Bernie Sanders at 26.2% of the vote, Pete Buttigieg on his heels with 24%, Amy Klobuchar a little further back at 20, but a very good showing for Amy Klobuchar. The thing I think we should mention is since it was at about 64% - now it's 69% of all the precincts reporting - Bernie Sanders has upped his lead by about 1,200 votes. So he's gotten some vote in. There's still a lot of vote out in Nashua, N.H., which is on the of Massachusetts, fairly populous place. So, you know, I imagine that that's where a lot of the decision desks are focusing on right now, an area like that, and in some of the in-between places because there's still some vote out in a lot of those spots as well.
M MARTIN: And a lot of times, results come in late because there's a big turnout, and people just, you know - and so has that been the case here? Because we heard our guest earlier just a few minutes ago say not really. What are you seeing?
MONTANARO: Yeah, frankly, no. I mean, this is kind of - again this is take two for the Democrats, and again the turnout appears to be lackluster. I mean, unless there's some huge surge in this last, you know, 30% of the vote in these precincts, right now they're only tracking for about 235,000 votes from my back-of-the-envelope math. It was about 250,000 earlier in the night. So, you know, you could see it sort of in between there. Two-fifty, just to put it in context, is more along the lines of 2016 turnout than 2008. 2008 was the record, which is about 288,000 votes. That's exactly what we saw in Iowa. That's exactly what Leah Daughtry was concerned about, said makes her nervous as a Democrat, and said where's this vaunted Sanders turnout operation?
M MARTIN: And talk a little bit more about that. Is that mainly a problem for Sanders because that's his theory of the case, that he's bringing these new voters here? Or is that a problem for Democrats overall?
MONTANARO: You know, I think it's a problem for Democrats overall to start with. But secondly, when you look at what Sanders' campaign had pushed us all to out of Iowa, which was this jump in young voter turnout, those under 30 in Iowa, that's not been reflected here in New Hampshire. So far, the exit polls have shown a far lower number of young voters coming out, those 18 to 29 than in 2016. 2016 was about 1 in 5 voters were young voters, tonight really only about 11%.
LIASSON: Yeah, and the exits also showed that - lower first-time voters...
LIASSON: ...Than before.
MONTANARO: Only 12%.
LIASSON: And that was the thing that Sanders was saying - I'm going to bring people in who have never voted before. But, you know, it's interesting 'cause when I was in New Hampshire and the crowds seemed smaller and people were predicting not a great turnout, the spin that you got from Democrats were, well, that's because people are paralyzed by indecision. They feel this is so important. They can't decide who would beat Donald Trump. But being paralyzed by indecision and not turning out is really the same thing as not finding anyone that excites you enough to turn out. And that is a bad thing for Democrats.
M MARTIN: Danielle.
KURTZLEBEN: But that's a thing - you've kind of gotten at the thing that I've been wondering. What else could it be? Because a thing that we saw in 2018, for example, was Democrats very energized. So what has happened?
LIASSON: None of these candidates are great.
KURTZLEBEN: That - that's it?
LIASSON: I think it's as simple as that.
MONTANARO: Well, and also I think in Iowa what we saw is...
LIASSON: Or they all have big flaws.
MONTANARO: In Iowa, a lot of the undecided voters may have stayed home because they're frankly fine with a lot of these candidates. They weren't able to decide. I saw an interview with one person who voted today and said she made her decision by eeny meeny miny mo. You know, that's just something else, I mean, to be able to do that.
M MARTIN: Well, in fairness though, one sees - admittedly, Washington, D.C., is a special place - OK? - and it leans very Democratic. But one sees posters around town saying, any functioning adult in 2020. So could it be that?
ELVING: But you can't go out and vote for any functioning adult, right? There has to be somebody who motivates you to go out and actually pull a lever, to actually get in line, to actually make the sacrifice of some of your time. Now, here in New Hampshire, it's not anything like what it is in Iowa, where you have to go out at night and invest a lot of time and stand around for a long time and then not get the results. These people expect to get a result tonight, and I'm sure that they will. Although, it may be a lot closer than some of the people were expecting.
KURTZLEBEN: This is one thing I want to...
LIASSON: Well, when you look at the head-to-head matchups, you know who does the best against Donald Trump? Generic Dem.
ELVING: Generic Democrat.
LIASSON: Generic Dem. Guess what? Generic Dem decided not to run this year.
ELVING: Well, that's the thing that...
KURTZLEBEN: Well, one thing...
M MARTIN: But does that mean - but does that mean that there are people who just say, look, it doesn't matter who they pick. I'm going to vote for whatever Democrat is there...
LIASSON: That is what Democrats are hoping.
ELVING: That's the positive spin.
LIASSON: But no, but this is true.
R MARTIN: Danielle. Danielle.
KURTZLEBEN: This is something - I talked to a lot of voters in Iowa, and I asked pretty much every one of them, who do you like this race? And you'd hear any number of answers of who they liked and who they found acceptable. I would ask every single one, are there any Democrats you could not vote for? And earlier in the cycle, you would have - I would have people say to me - and this is anecdotal - I'd have people say to me, I don't know about Bernie Sanders. At this point, I don't know if I had anybody in the last month in Iowa tell me there's no one in this field I could vote for or that I would not vote for.
LIASSON: These are people who are at candidate events?
KURTZLEBEN: Yes, these are - yes.
LIASSON: So these are people...
KURTZLEBEN: Which means they're motivated. I get this.
LIASSON: Yes, yes, yes, yes.
KURTZLEBEN: And, yes, absolutely. Now, on the flip side is this. I was just looking at some polling today. There is a new poll from Gallup that found that 45% of the electorate says they could not vote for a socialist. Now, that is a generic socialist, but that is a very potential weakness for Bernie Sanders in the general.
LIASSON: That's what the Trump campaign is going to do - make every Democrat into a generic socialist if they can.
M MARTIN: Well, let's bring Scott Detrow into this conversation. He's with the Sanders party in Manchester, N.H. Scott, can you hear us?
DETROW: I can hear you. How's it going?
M MARTIN: All right. All right. Well, you tell us. I mean (laughter)...
DETROW: There is - I would say the excitement has turned into anxiousness here. Everyone here is still confident, but we're talking about that pretty tight margin, folks on the Sanders campaign pointing out a lot of cities that they think they're - places that they think they'd do well still have not reported, including the town of Durham, which is a college town and the site of a massive rally last night with about 8,000 people coming out. So that's one particular precinct they're very excited to have report here. But, yeah, this is a tight race. And for the second time in a row, Bernie Sanders is the leading candidate - or one of the two leading candidates, going back to Iowa. He's doing pretty well.
But again, there are pros and cons if you look at it from the Sanders campaign's perspective. And I think one of the biggest cons is something that Mara and everybody else has talked about a lot tonight - that if you add up all the votes going to more moderate candidates, it far outpaces Bernie Sanders' vote total, and Elizabeth Warren's as well. But the thing is, as that lane continues to be muddled, continues to be a traffic jam, he is moving on to places where he feels like his campaign is well-organized, particularly in Nevada. And then the March 3 states - Super Tuesday - where a third of the delegates are up for grabs, his campaign is far ahead above anybody else except Mike Bloomberg in terms of money spent and organization there.
M MARTIN: OK, but...
M MARTIN: ...Is it still too close for comfort for the Sanders campaign? He got 60% of the vote there four years ago.
M MARTIN: He won the 2016 New Hampshire primary by more than 20 points. You've told us that he's mentioned that a few times over the past few days...
M MARTIN: ...But in what context? I mean, managing expectations? What's he trying to say there?
DETROW: He was trying to say that he thought that that 2016 win was an enormous moment for his 2016 campaign and validated him as a national presidential candidate, a national leader on the progressive left. But again, let's go back to about a year ago, right? And the conversation was Bernie Sanders gave Hillary Clinton a much-better-than-expected challenge, but what would he do in a fragmented field like this?
He has consolidated a lot more of the progressive vote than I think a lot of people expected, especially given how strong Elizabeth Warren ran for most of last year. But, yeah, it's a much larger field, and he is getting nowhere near the chunk of the vote that he earned in 2016. And I think that would be the case going forward.
LIASSON: And I think it's possible that Bernie Sanders could finish this night having been the candidate who won the biggest margin in the Democratic primary in New Hampshire and the smallest margin in the Democratic primary in New Hampshire.
ELVING: In history, in history.
DETROW: (Laughter) I think any candidate...
LIASSON: In history, in the history.
ELVING: Yes, in history.
LIASSON: Yeah, yeah.
MONTANARO: Let me give you...
MILES PARKS (BYLINE): His campaign likes to win (ph).
R MARTIN: OK, Domenico, quickly.
MONTANARO: Let me give you a number here. Bernie Sanders in New Hampshire right now has 26.3% of the vote. Anybody remember what he got in Iowa? I mean...
LIASSON: Sixty - 60-something...
MONTANARO: Well, no.
ELVING: No, no. We're talking about Iowa last week.
MONTANARO: Twenty-six-point-one percent of the vote in Iowa.
LIASSON: Oh, I thought you were talking about last time in New Hampshire. I'm sorry.
MONTANARO: Right. So what I'm pointing out here is that he's very close to the exact margin or the exact total of vote percentage that he got in Iowa. The question here - and this is, again, what we talked about earlier this evening about the Warren campaign putting out that memo saying that Bernie Sanders has a hard ceiling, he can't unify the party. Bernie Sanders, we have to point out - right now, he has the inside track to this nomination.
MONTANARO: He is the favorite at this point because the moderates are not able...
MONTANARO: ...To coalesce. And the further along this gets and the more this becomes a delegate race, the Sanders campaign has the advantage unless the moderates get behind one person.
PARKS: And let me...
MONTANARO: But is Sanders just at that 26% of the vote, or can he get higher than that?
PARKS: I think that's...
R MARTIN: So...
LIASSON: High ceiling, low - so he has a...
ELVING: A low - high floor, low ceiling.
LIASSON: ...Low ceiling, high floor.
R MARTIN: Everybody, take a pause because I want to bring in Miles Parks into the conversation. We keep saying that Bernie Sanders is on top right now, but we don't know, Miles, because they have not made a call.
PARKS: They have not. There's only about 71% of precincts reporting at this point.
R MARTIN: I mean, are we supposed to be grateful that at least we're getting some results, unlike Iowa, where things at this point in the night were incredibly chaotic?
PARKS: I mean, I'm grateful.
R MARTIN: (Laughter).
PARKS: I mean, it's really nice to look at real numbers as opposed to just getting, you know, hours go by, and then, you know, the tweets are flying. And, you know, by this time, not only did we not have results, but we were seeing disinformation flowing on social media. People were really confused. It was a truly chaotic event a week ago.
R MARTIN: So how does New Hampshire do things differently? I mean, first off, it's a primary, not a caucus.
PARKS: Right, exactly. And that's really the biggest difference, which kind of trickles down to all of the election infrastructure. It's kind of two big things. One is the people running the election. Last week, we had people - the party was actually in charge of all of this stuff. This time around, you've got election officials, people who actually - you know, an amazing concept - do this for a living. These are people who get practice every two years. This state votes for a new governor every two years. They have practice running elections. And then secondarily, the technology they're using isn't new.
R MARTIN: All right. Miles Parks, thank you. We're going to go now to Pete Buttigieg talking to his supporters in New Hampshire.
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M MARTIN: We're going to leave former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg for a moment and go to Bernie Sanders, who is currently leading the New Hampshire primary. And this is Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders talking to his supporters now.
(SOUNDBITE OF NEW HAMPSHIRE PRIMARY)
R MARTIN: That was Bernie Sanders, feeling very confident. He is in first place right now in the in the New Hampshire primary race. It is too early for the Associated Press to call that race, but Bernie Sanders there giving what amounts to a victory speech. I want to turn to NPR's Scott Detrow and NPR's Asma Khalid. So, Scott, you are there. You are there with Senator Sanders in the room with his supporters. Just tell me, what's the vibe?
DETROW: Roaring crowd, chanting Bernie beats Trump, chanting for policy items like a Green New Deal. I think the biggest cheer was when Sanders said this is the beginning of the end of President Trump's presidency. It was notable to me that earlier on, the crowd had some pretty loud boos for Pete Buttigieg as he was giving his speech on the TV monitor, but they all cheered along when Sanders made a point. It was noticeable that both Buttigieg and Sanders paused in their speeches tonight to say, I will support the eventual nominee of the party. I hope it's me, but we're all going to get together at the end of this.
R MARTIN: Right. And this was something - I mean, Bernie Sanders was expected to do well here. So he - it would have been news had he not performed well.
DETROW: I think that's the case. But I still think in a crowded field, he is the person who seems to be emerging victorious. And that's a big deal for his campaign. I mean, we have talked a lot about the challenges his campaign faces going forward. Two contests in a row, he consolidated a little more than a quarter of the vote. The question is, can he get more than that?
But what's working in his favor is that it is a very muddled field on the other side of the ideological spectrum here. And no candidate looks poised to break through to be the main candidate challenging him. And so if that continues, Sanders has a strong case to make in Nevada, South Carolina and especially on March 3, when, again, a third of the delegates are coming up. And there's not much time for a moderate alternative to emerge as the main one at this point in time.
M MARTIN: So let's go to Asma Khalid, who is at Buttigieg headquarters, Pete Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Ind., spoke earlier just before 11. And I have to note that Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders kind of interrupted his speech or went on the air while he was still talking. So, Asma, we missed a little bit of the mayor's sort of closing remarks. But just tell us, you know, what did we miss?
KHALID: I mean, largely this was a really optimistic speech. I mean, he talked about trying to be a unifier, which is something a lot of his supporters praise him about. He gave this kind of vent against ideological purity tests. And this is, again, something he's been talking about for a while, that you can't defeat the most divisive president modern history if you're going to be tearing down folks within your own party, people who don't agree with you 100% of the time. And then he talked about moving onwards, moving on to Nevada, moving on to South Carolina.
And, you know, he made a number of references to different, you know, racial groups, whether they're immigrants on the border, women in hijab, folks who feel, you know, discriminated against. And one thing that's interesting is, you know, all of these messages - even though this was a largely white crowd - received kind of, like, large rounds of applause here. You know, a lot of those messages do resonate with white Democrats in the party.
M MARTIN: OK. Asma, looking also looking ahead to Nevada and South Carolina, what's the campaign telling you? What is the Buttigieg campaign telling you about what they think their path is in Nevada and South Carolina? I mean, resources haven't been a problem yet.
KHALID: No, I mean, resources are not a problem. And so, you know, they will point to the fact that they are better staffed in South Carolina and Nevada than a candidate like Amy Klobuchar, who also performed pretty well tonight. So they feel optimistic in that regard. But again, they see this as a race for the long haul. You know, I know that it's widely expected, and I think they expect, you know, Joe Biden to do pretty well in South Carolina. But they feel that they have the resources to take this fight on for a while. And I would certainly expect them to be in this race for a while.
But look, I think I agree with Scott when he says that Bernie Sanders really did have a good night. I mean, I don't sort of agree with the idea that just because he didn't win by 20 points, this wasn't a good night. I don't think anyone expected him to win by 20 points. There were just a lot more candidates running this time around. But while the moderates fight and try to figure out which one should be the moderate candidate to take on Bernie Sanders, the fragmentation definitely benefits Sanders at this point.
R MARTIN: Asma, thank you. We appreciate that. I want to turn to NPR's Domenico Montanaro, who has been poring over the results as we get them in - again too close to call. But Bernie Sanders right now looks to be edging out Pete Buttigieg by a couple of percentage points. What was - do we know, Domenico, what turnout was like?
MONTANARO: Well, I think this is something we should talk about because the turnout seemed to spike. It had a bit of an upswing after we got about 70% of the vote in. It looked like turnout was going to be flat, about the same as 2016, maybe even a little less. But it looks like they may actually get to or become - or come close to the 2008 record at this point. Two-hundred-and-eighty-eight thousand was the record at that point, and we're at about, you know, 250,000 or so with about 20% of the precincts reporting left. So sometimes that happens where you have a percentage of precincts that are reporting, but the number of votes that are actually left within some of those precincts are larger than the overall share of the percentage.
R MARTIN: And Ron, Democrats have been saying that this is their game. Turnout is their game. They want people to come. They've been trying to animate an anti-Trump message. The hard part is getting it to coalesce around one candidate.
ELVING: It's all a question of what you're comparing it to. If you're talking about 2008, that was a huge enthusiasm election. George H. - and George W. Bush, rather, was rather unpopular at that point. You had the first African American candidate to get as far as he did in Barack Obama. You had Hillary Clinton becoming, at that time, people thought, the first woman president - enormous enthusiasm for those two candidates. And they weren't the only candidates in the field. That's when we set this record.
2016, we came way down. There was a lot of anti-Hillary feeling, as well as pro-Hillary feeling. And Bernie Sanders beat her by 23% points. He was over 60% of the vote. Tonight, he's at about a quarter of the vote, maybe just a hair over a quarter of the vote. So he's lost most of the percentage that he had in 2016. So that's a little different picture of momentum for Bernie Sanders. Although he clearly does have, as Domenico said, the inside track at this point because it's not easy to see what other candidate is going to get in front of him at this point.
LIASSON: Right. Yeah...
M MARTIN: Mara Liasson, so we haven't called this race because the Associated Press, whose guidance we take, has not called this ratio. But, Mara, what do you think we've learned tonight?
LIASSON: Well, what we've learned, I agree, Bernie Sanders is the front-runner. He's not a prohibitive front-runner, but he is the front-runner, right now, best path to get a plurality of delegates, get the most delegates, as long as the center-left lane doesn't coalesce around one candidate. Republicans could never do that in 2016 against Donald Trump. Donald Trump didn't win a majority, I think very few, if any, primaries. Of course, they had a winner-take-all system. So he got all the delegates, but he never got a majority of Republicans on his side.
So the big takeaway for me is Democratic voters, not quite ready yet to resolve this race or even to make it super clear. They still have a lot of candidates trying to be the center-left alternative to Bernie Sanders. It tells me that just - I don't want to diminish Sanders' victory at all. But if he squeaked it out by 1-point-something percent, I mean, it tells you that what he did last time was maybe more about the opposition to Hillary than it was about a positive response to his vision of democratic socialism.
M MARTIN: Right.
LIASSON: One thing about his speech tonight, he was extremely clear. He sticks to the issues. He's going to take on Wall Street, the insurance companies, the drug companies, the fossil fuel industries and the military industrial complex. I mean, he - corporate America is his enemy...
R MARTIN: He is consistent.
LIASSON: He's very...
R MARTIN: He is remarkably consistent.
LIASSON: ...Consistent. And he's going to make he - he wants to pass mandatory Medicare for All, and he's going to get a chance to see if Americans, writ large, not just in New Hampshire and Iowa, want that, too.
R MARTIN: Right. Ron.
ELVING: It's important in these things to look at the arc, to look at where we're going in terms of trend line. Ten days ago, it looked pretty likely that Bernie Sanders was going to be in the driver's seat in Iowa by quite a bit and that he was going to be certainly in the driver's seat in New Hampshire because that was his neighboring state where he was so strong four years ago. And if you had said 10 days ago that he was going to squeak by in Iowa, maybe - because we still don't have the final results from Iowa - we still don't know exactly what happened. And he probably didn't get the most delegates. And then he was going to have a less-than-2% win and maybe one more delegate out of New Hampshire, that kind of squeaking, that's not the one-two punch he was planning to land.
R MARTIN: Danielle.
KURTZLEBEN: One thing I would add here is, as we're looking ahead - is that South Carolina, along with New Hampshire and Iowa, those are three states with the lowest unemployment in the country. South Carolina has the lowest unemployment in the country, which makes those three states - it means that those mirror the conditions that Democrats are going to be contending with in the general election because Donald Trump, as we know, as we heard tonight, is going to go on and on, understandably, about the low national unemployment.
Now, on the one hand, you can make the case - and I have heard this from voters who have gone to especially Sanders and Warren events. You can make the case that with low unemployment, that gives them space to talk about these structural things because you talk to a lot of people who say, I have a job, but I don't have health insurance, but I have literally hundreds of thousands of dollars in student debt.
M MARTIN: I'm having flashbacks here because I remember when Bill Bradley - remember him? - the former New Jersey senator, made a brief run for the presidency, that was his argument. You fix the roof when the sun is shining.
KURTZLEBEN: Sure. Yeah, and that is a - that is the argument that you could say that Sanders and Warren are making. And one thing that you could say in South Carolina and an argument you may hear candidates making is that, you know, listen, unemployment is low here. But here, as in the rest of the country, black unemployment, for example, is much higher than it is...
LIASSON: Well, Donald Trump will say it's lower than it used to be. But one thing about the - it's hard in a good economy for the opposition party to make a good argument.
LIASSON: You cannot convince people the economy is bad if they don't think it is, and you can't convince them it's good if they don't think it is. But what you can say is, hey, you have a job, but you still can't pay for housing, health care, college or retirement.
KURTZLEBEN: This is...
M MARTIN: But is that really what we heard tonight from the candidates as they were giving their remarks concluding the evening, whatever the results were? Didn't most of them really make arguments about temperament, tone and the condition of the country kind of culturally? Wasn't that really what most of them were saying?
LIASSON: Bernie was...
KURTZLEBEN: Except for Sanders.
M MARTIN: Except for Sanders.
KURTZLEBEN: And I will say this about Bernie Sanders, also, is I mean, like, it is clear - and we all know this - he has appealed, largely - or not - he has appealed in a big way disproportionately to young voters. Well, those are young voters who may have jobs, but who graduated, came of age during a recession and many of whom instinctively feel that, yeah, I have a job, but the economy is broken, even if the economy isn't, quote, unquote, "bad." Now the problem...
LIASSON: For them, they're right.
KURTZLEBEN: Right. And so the problem then is do they turn out in a general election, which - shrug. I don't know.
R MARTIN: Do we know how Bernie Sanders' coalition of voters have changed since 2016?
LIASSON: It's gotten smaller.
MONTANARO: I mean, they - well, I mean, they haven't really changed all that much as far as the core goes. I mean, his core is young voters, I mean, under 30. He's very strong with them. And I mean, he is so strong with them, it's to the point where I'm not sure if they would vote for another candidate. You know, a lot of them, I mean, tonight in the exit polls, you saw about 13% said that they would not vote for another candidate overall of people in the field. So, you know, that's a significant percentage of the people who turned out to vote. And I would venture to guess that a lot of them are Sanders fans. And, you know, that is the difficulty of a big-tent party trying to keep that coalition together. We saw some of the issues with that at the last convention in 2016 when the Sanders campaign felt like they had the system rigged against them.
R MARTIN: They were angry.
MONTANARO: Yeah. I mean, some - I think a lot of people would argue it wasn't rigged against them. But, you know, they felt like there were things that they could have - could have helped them do a little bit better, being on stage for debates, etc., or having more debates, rather. You know, that was a big part of the problem and wound up being part of the problem in the general election at the margins.
M MARTIN: But this whole - but the question - the issue that Amy Klobuchar kept hammering on at the debate and also tonight and her remarks, this question of what President Trump has done to the fabric of the country, the social divisions. I mean, Joe Biden talked about that as well. Is there any way to test for that? I mean, or is this all anecdotal? Is this all the kind of thing that you hear when you talk to voters, and they tell you how they feel, and you have time to sort of sit down and have a cup of coffee with them? But is there any way to quantify that, people...
M MARTIN: ...Who feel that it's not just the economy. It's not just about the job or the dollars. It's about something that they feel is wrong in the tone and the culture of this presidency that needs to be changed?
LIASSON: Well, you can see it in the behavior deficit that Trump has. His approval ratings on the economy is so much higher than his actual job approval ratings. And that's what people call a behavior deficit. They don't like the tweeting. They don't like the divisive talk. They don't like the fact that he doesn't try to unify the country. That's why they - usually a president's approval on the economy would track his overall approval, and Donald Trump's doesn't.
MONTANARO: Well, and that's...
R MARTIN: OK. I'm going to interrupt for a moment, because we're going to go to the Sanders headquarters in New Hampshire. Our colleague, NPR's Scott Detrow is there, and he's got a guest with him, Jeff Weaver, senior adviser to the Sanders campaign. I'll throw it over to you, Scott.
DETROW: Hey, so I'm here. Jeff Weaver, you just won. We've been having a conversation on air. On one hand, you won the popular vote in Iowa, and you've won the New Hampshire primary. On the other hand, both times, it's about a quarter of the vote with a lot of vote-share going to, as a whole, lot of candidates who have a different view of things than Bernie Sanders. So how do you view that going forward? How do you grow that 26-or-so percent?
JEFF WEAVER (SENIOR ADIVSER, BERNIE SANDERS CAMPAIGN): Well, look, you know, we did - we are two-for-two down in the popular vote in the first two states. Now we're going on to some very different states. You know, Nevada - we've been working very hard in Nevada. I think you saw in Iowa - there was a smaller minority population in Iowa. But Bernie Sanders did very well in both the Latino and African American communities. So we're going to go to Nevada now where, you know, 40% of the - of people participating in the caucus there are people of color. And I think we're going to do very, very well there, frankly.
DETROW: You've been talking a lot about the strong showing Senator Sanders has with Latino voters, with union rank-and-file. We're seeing reports from The Nevada Independent that the Culinary Union, obviously a major political force in Nevada, is distributing flyers about raising concerns about Medicare for All and what it would do for the health care plan that they're so - that they value so highly.
WEAVER: Well, look, you know, we've won the endorsement of a number of Unite Here locals, which are what the culinary is part of, Unite Here. Of those locals in California, they have the same health care plan that the folks in Nevada have. And they came out and endorsed Senator Sanders. The truth of the matter is that Medicare for All will mean these folks will get better health care, and they will get a huge bump in their paycheck.
DETROW: Can Bernie Sanders win South Carolina?
WEAVER: Yes, he can win South Carolina. You know, the first four is going to be harder for us to win because we start started from a lower position in terms of how we did last time. But absolutely, he can win South Carolina, 100%.
DETROW: And last question, obviously, you're focused on your win tonight. But one of the big storylines is the former vice president getting less than 10% of the vote, right now 8.4%. What do you make of Joe Biden's campaign as you look at it?
WEAVER: Well, look, you know, he went - he left early the state today. So, I mean, I think that hurt his performance somewhat. But, you know, I've heard him on TV. He's committed to fighting in Nevada and South Carolina and other places. And look, Joe Biden, if anything, is a fighter. We disagree, obviously, on some issues. But he's a fighter, and I'm sure he's going to go on and compete strongly in a bunch of states going forward.
DETROW: I said last question. This was the real last question - journalist trick. There has been a lot of concern raised - Pete Buttigieg, Joe Biden and others - that a democratic socialist at the head of the ticket puts the House of Representatives in jeopardy, those moderate districts that they flipped. What is your argument? What is your response to that?
WEAVER: Look, we're happy to have a conversation with Donald Trump about democratic socialism. The truth of matter is who's ever nominated will be accused of being a socialist, even if it's Mike Bloomberg. And we're going to talk about Donald Trump's corporate socialism, how he uses the resources of the federal government to enrich his friends and large corporations. We're going to talk about Bernie Sanders' vision of helping people get affordable health care, affordable college and higher wages. So that's a fight that we are happy to have.
DETROW: Jeff Weaver, that was the real last question. Thanks so much.
WEAVER: Happy to be here. Thank you.
DETROW: Talk to you soon.
R MARTIN: All right. We're - thank you, Scott. We were just listening to NPR's Scott Detrow. He is at the Sanders headquarters in New Hampshire where the crowd there is celebrating. We just heard from senior Sanders adviser Jeff Weaver. We'll take it back to the room. Ron, the Sanders campaign obviously feeling very good in this moment, but it's not - it's not all smooth sailing from here, far, far from it.
ELVING: I like the way he says that they're two-for-two in the popular vote, which sounds great. And it is true that they seem to have had the best initial raw vote in Iowa. And now tonight, they're winning by maybe around 2 percentage points. And so, yeah, they won. And they can take that bragging right, right on into Nevada and see how well they can do with a very different demographic.
M MARTIN: A couple of things we didn't mention. We - well, we talked about New York - former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg tonight. We didn't talk about Tom Steyer, another billionaire Democratic activist who's been spending heavily in South Carolina.
ELVING: And he finished sixth with about 4% of the vote. And there were rumors going around that he was going to pull the plug. He did not. Those are apparently false rumors. And he was not among the candidates to hang it up tonight, although Senator Michael Bennet and entrepreneur Andrew Yang did decide that the end of the road had come for them.
MONTANARO: Yeah, it wouldn't make sense that Steyer would drop out here. He's been making a huge push in South Carolina. He's one of the people who is really threatening Joe Biden with support in the black community. So, you know, I...
M MARTIN: And what's his message, just briefly, for people who who aren't acquainted with him and haven't had the benefit of all these ads and visits that people in other parts of the country get? What's his message?
MONTANARO: Well, I mean, first of all, it's just running the ads and appealing in the first place and saying that you have to be in communities of color, sort of similar to what he said on the debate stage and making that a principal issue first rather than talking about Trump or the - or some of the other issues in the campaign. Ironically, considering he was the guy who started Impeach Trump and was sort of what launched his high name identification in the country.
KURTZLEBEN: Right, and if we're talking about Tom Steyer's platform, I mean, maybe his biggest issue - one of his biggest issues is climate change. A thing that he says over and over and over is that on day one as president, I would declare a national emergency on climate change. And he makes a point of that in every debate. And of course, as we know, climate change has rocketed towards the top of polls among Democrats as being one of their very most important issues in this election.
R MARTIN: OK. So let's just take stock of where we are. All the candidates have addressed their supporters. Bernie Sanders has declared victory. Earlier tonight, we heard from the two candidates who had the most disappointing showings, Elizabeth Warren and Joe Biden. In her speech, Warren tried to take the focus off her fourth-place finish and turn it towards the rest of the primary season.
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WARREN: The fight to save our democracy is an uphill battle. But our campaign is built for the long haul.
WARREN: And we are just getting started.
R MARTIN: Joe Biden was also trying to shift the narrative. He focused on how many states haven't voted yet.
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BIDEN: We just heard from the first two of 50 states, two of them - not all the nation, not half the nation, not a quarter of the nation, not 10% - two - two. Now, where I come from, that's the opening bell, not the closing bell. And the fight to end Donald Trump's presidency is just beginning.
R MARTIN: Next, we heard from the candidate who beat expectations tonight by pushing to third place, Amy Klobuchar. Her speech was about contrasting herself with the president and many of her fellow candidates. She is a proud moderate.
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KLOBUCHAR: When I am behind that desk, I will take responsibility instead of passing it on. I will reach across the aisle and work with Americans in good faith instead of picking fights. I will bring this country together instead of tearing it apart.
R MARTIN: And the battle for first place has been between Bernie Sanders and Pete Buttigieg. Sanders is still holding a slim lead. Buttigieg spoke to his supporters in an attempt to frame himself as a champion of a brighter future.
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BUTTIGIEG: So as we prepare to go West for the first-in-the-West contest in Nevada...
BUTTIGIEG: ...As we head to a state that looks like the future, I ask you to join us in taking a stand for a better tomorrow.
BUTTIGIEG: Join us as we turn the page to a new chapter in America's story and a better day for each of us.
M MARTIN: Finally, Senator Sanders emerged to address his crowd and declare victory. His biggest applause came when he directed his focus away from the primaries and toward the general election in the fall.
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SANDERS: This victory here is the beginning of the end for Donald Trump.
M MARTIN: And that will do it for our coverage this evening. I'd like to thank all of our NPR reporters who've been out on the road with the candidates tonight, Asma Khalid, Scott Detrow and Juana Summers. Thanks, of course, to everybody here at the table, NPR's Mara Liasson, Ron Elving, Domenico Montanaro, Danielle Kurtzleben. You can stay with NPR. There will be a lot to talk about in the morning. I'm Michel Martin.
R MARTIN: And I'm Rachel Martin. You have been listening to Special Coverage of the New Hampshire primary from NPR News.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.