As the race for the White House shifted from Iowa to New Hampshire � the Democratic presidential candidates and the national media arrived in the first-in-the-nation primary state wading through uncharted waters.
The morning after a technical meltdown delayed the reporting of any Iowa caucus results � causing chaos in the political world — the Iowa Democratic Party blamed the debacle on a �coding issue� in its reporting app � forcing the party to count votes the old-fashioned way. That left the nomination race without any clear winners � or losers � as the spotlight moved to the Granite State.
On Tuesday afternoon � more than 20 hours after the caucuses kicked off � partial returns were finally released. The incomplete figures � 62% of caucus precincts � pointed to a battle between Pete Buttigieg and Bernie Sanders for the lead. Buttigieg, the former South Bend, Indiana mayor, had 26.9% of the state delegate count. Sanders, the populist U.S. senator from Vermont, had 25.1%.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts was in third, at 18.3%, followed by former Vice President Joe Biden at 15.6% and Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota at 12.6%.
Here are seven things we learned as the race moved to New Hampshire:
1. New Hampshire is more important than ever
The lack of clarity coming out of Iowa means the results next Tuesday in New Hampshire will take on added significance.
Iowa Democratic Party chair Troy Price � speaking with reporters on Tuesday � wouldn�t say Tuesday when the remaining results would be released. The delay in Iowa ups the ante in the Granite State and gives Democratic presidential primary voters in New Hampshire a larger impact.
�The stakes are now higher in some ways for a timely counting of the votes and a declaration of winners and runners-up. The good news is New Hampshire has an advantage. Our app is the ballot box,� said Wayne Lesperance, a veteran New Hampshire-based political scientist. �At the end of the day, this may be good news for New Hampshire.�
2. Buttigieg got a big boost
A year ago, Buttigieg was the longest of long shots for the nomination. It�s remarkable how far the 38-year-old contender, who would be the nation�s first openly gay president, has come since those days.
The U.S. Naval Reserve intelligence office who served in Afghanistan faced criticism for preemptively declaring victory Monday night in Iowa, emphasizing �by all indications, we are going on to New Hampshire victorious.”
But the release of the partial results from the Hawkeye state to a major degree backed up Buttigieg�s confidence.
Speaking in Laconia Tuesday, Buttigieg touted his Iowa results, saying, �They’re not complete, but results are in from a majority of precincts, and they show our campaign in first place.�
And he emphasized that �no matter what happens next,� it was �undeniable� that the initial results �represents an astonishing victory for this campaign.�
While we still don�t know if Buttigieg�s the winner in Iowa, he hit the ground running Tuesday � holding eight events in New Hampshire � far more than any of his 2020 Democratic rivals.
Waiting for him in the Granite State was a formidable field organization that has set the stage for his surging campaign.
3. Sanders returns to NH on a roll
Sanders was also claiming a partial victory coming out of Iowa.
His campaign, pointing to the incomplete raw vote totals, said, “We are gratified that in the partial data released so far, it�s clear that in the first and second round, more people voted for Bernie than any other candidate in the field.�
Now he�s back in New Hampshire, where he has the largest campaign organization of any of the Democratic contenders, and his already energetic supporters are even more pumped up.
But expectations in New Hampshire � which were already high considering Sanders lives in neighboring Vermont and won big in New Hampshire�s 2016 Democratic presidential primary � are now even inflated. And in politics, it�s crucial to meet or exceed expectations.
4. There’s a lot on the line for Warren
The partial results in Iowa put Warren in third place � which considering her slippage in the public opinion polls the past couple of months – is a welcome finish. And Warren � like Sanders � will now enjoy some home-field advantage, being from a neighboring state.
Warren � taking a jab at Biden – told reporters on Tuesday �we came out of Iowa knowing it is a tight three-way race at the top and that the three of us � Buttigieg and Bernie and I — will divide up most of the delegates from Iowa, and that�s important to note.�
Warren � like Sanders � has an extremely formidable ground game in New Hampshire that will now be under the gun to live up to its reputation.
5. NH is now very important for Biden
The former vice president�s hasn�t ignored New Hampshire this cycle � far from it. But Iowa and his firewall of South Carolina � the fourth and final early voting state in the primary calendar � have always felt like higher priorities.
But by sitting in fourth place in Iowa so far, the Granite State now seems more consequential for Biden.
Asked about the partial results in Iowa, Biden told reporters in New Hampshire on Tuesday �let�s wait until they�re all in.� And he once against insisted, �I feel good so far.�
But the former vice president seemed to get a gift with the mass confusion in Iowa. A potential disappointing finish for him in Iowa is being overshadowed by the results reporting debacle.
�If Biden was heading for a fourth-place finish, he dodged a big bullet,� said Lesperance, who is vice president of academic affairs at New England College.
With the impact of Iowa�s results compromised to a degree, Biden now gets a second chance to make a first impression.
And he�s getting a helping hand: The pro-Biden super PAC Unite the Country announced Tuesday it will spend nearly $1 million to run ads in New Hampshire through next Tuesday�s primary.
6. It’s desperation time for the rest of the field
Klobuchar cracked double digits in Iowa � which was a must for a senator who hails from Iowa�s neighboring state to the north.
But she needs another healthy finish in New Hampshire to keep the campaign coffers full. The centrist senator appeared to be off to a good start on Tuesday, drawing a large crowd at Portsmouth�s historic South Church.
A lot is also on the line for tech entrepreneur Andrew Yang, who has spent a lot of time and committed a lot of resources in New Hampshire. New Hampshire�s familiar ground for environmental and progressive advocate Tom Steyer, but it isn�t a must win for the billionaire who is self-financing his White House bid.
The state is vital for candidates like Sen. Michael Bennet of Colorado and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii, who skipped Iowa and are running New Hampshire-centric campaigns. It�s a similar story for former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, who is splitting his time between the Granite State and South Carolina.
The results in Iowa are nearly inconsequential for these candidates. But it could be do-or-die for them in New Hampshire.
7. NH could profit at Iowa�s expense
Longtime New Hampshire Democratic Party Chair Ray Buckley, contrasting the first-in-the-nation presidential primary with Iowa�s caucuses, touted the New Hampshire contest’s virtues.
�New Hampshire’s primary is conducted by local elected officials overseen by the secretary of state,” he said. “New Hampshire uses paper ballots and has run smoothly for 100 years. We expect a great turnout in the Democratic primary by Democrats, independents and those who register on primary day. It is a magical week in the Granite State.�
The �we expect a great turnout� line could also be interpreted to be a jab at Iowa � where the state party said Monday night they were on track to match the 2016 Democratic caucuses turnout, which was significantly lower than the historic high of 2008.