World

Sanders narrowly beats Buttigieg in New Hampshire Democratic primary

Vermont senator wins Democratic primary as Biden limps to second consecutive poor finish

NEW HAMPSHIRE: Senator Bernie Sanders narrowly won New Hampshire's Democratic presidential primary yesterday, solidifying his front-runner status in the White House race and dealing a setback to moderate rival Joe Biden, who finished a disappointing fifth.

Mr Pete Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, who narrowly edged out Mr Sanders in last week's messy Iowa caucuses, came in a close second after splitting much of the centrist vote with Senator Amy Klobuchar.

Mr Sanders had 26 per cent of the vote and Mr Buttigieg had 25 per cent with more than 91 per cent of precincts reporting. Ms Klobuchar had 20 per cent, Ms Elizabeth Warren 9 per cent and Mr Biden 8 per cent.

Mr Sanders prevailed after fending off attacks from rivals who warned his left-wing views would lead the party to defeat in the Nov 3 election against Republican President Donald Trump.

"This victory here is the beginning of the end for Donald Trump," Mr Sanders told supporters in Manchester, New Hampshire.

In a sign of the growing rivalry between Mr Sanders, the 78-year-old self-professed democratic socialist, and Mr Buttigieg, a 38-year-old moderate, Mr Sanders' supporters booed and chanted "Wall Street Pete!", when Mr Buttigieg's post-primary speech was shown on screens.

It was also a good night for Ms Klobuchar, who rode a wave of momentum from a strong debate on Friday into a third-place finish. Senator Warren, who was considered a favourite in New Hampshire until a few months ago, finished fourth, which cast further doubt over her continued viability as the progressive alternative to Mr Sanders.

TURNOUT

The results provided no clear answers for Democrats trying to decide whether their best choice to challenge Mr Trump would be a moderate like Mr Buttigieg, Ms Klobuchar or Mr Biden, or progressives like Mr Sanders and Ms Warren.

Turnout in New Hampshire approached the record 287,000 who cast ballots in the 2008 Democratic primary, when the battle between Mr Barack Obama and Ms Hillary Clinton energised the party.

Mr Biden limped to his second consecutive poor finish after placing fourth in Iowa. He is certain to face growing questions about his ability to consolidate moderate support against a surging Mr Buttigieg and Ms Klobuchar.

He also faces competition from Mr Michael Bloomberg, the billionaire former New York mayor who is skipping the four early voting states in February and pouring resources into much larger, delegate-rich states such as California that will vote on March 3, known as Super Tuesday. - REUTERS

WORLD