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What Last Night’s New Hampshire Primary Results Mean Moving Forward

Democratic presidential hopeful Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders arrives to speak at a Primary Night event

image: TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP via Getty Images

In Tuesday’s Democratic primary in New Hampshire, Bernie Sanders finished just ahead of Pete Buttigieg in the polls, with Amy Klobuchar coming in third, followed by Elizabeth Warren and then Joe Biden, who did so poorly he left the state entirely before the votes were even counted to focus on South Carolina. So what does it all mean moving forward?

Nothing. Nothing at all.

Or, on the flip side of that coin, they can mean basically anything!

The primary system is broken and stupid, and one of the biggest examples of that is how, right now, those results can be spun to mean whatever we want them to.

Take Sanders’ win. Obviously that’s a victory, right? He came out ahead. Unless you want to focus on how narrow his win was, then he’s vulnerable.

The same goes for Klobuchar, who was riding high after a good debate performance. She surpassed her polling by a wide margin. Another win!

Or you can focus on the fact that Klobuchar did very well with voters in New Hampshire, but is never expected to do that well again now that the elections are starting to move past two of the whitest states in the country.

As for Buttigieg, he lost to Sanders by about 4,000 votes. BUT he got the same number of delegates so he’s also claiming victory in the state. And if you combine the results from New Hampshire and Iowa, he has the most delegates overall, so he’s turning his second-place result into a #1 win.

The way the primary system is set up is so weird and it creates a lot of obstacles that don’t need to be there. It would be great if every person in every state just voted based on their own conscience and their passion and whatever else, but it’s inevitable that the results from these early states (that don’t necessarily reflect the rest of the country) will influence a lot of voters down the line based on a false sense of “electability.”

It’s the same thing we’ve been seeing with the ouroboros that is “polling.” We can’t pretend that polling doesn’t drive people’s opinions just as much as, if not more than it reflects them.

That would be bad enough if it weren’t for the obscene amount of money it takes to keep a campaign of this size going. Right now, the candidates are pouring huge piles of money into just a few states. If they do well in those states, they might see an uptick in donations that can fund their time in states where, if they had had to campaign there first, they might not have done nearly as well.

And if they don’t have a (Klobu)surge in one of these early states, they might be out of money by the time we get to Super Tuesday. In the last 36 hours or so three candidates–Deval Patrick, Michael Bennet, and Andrew Yang–dropped out of the race.

This is why so much is made of these early states. It’s not just going first in a line where everyone ends up having equal say. They really do determine so much for the rest of the country.

So for now, the candidates and the media covering them will continue to spin every piece of news in every direction until they run out of money. Democracy!

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Vivian Kane (she/her) has a lot of opinions about a lot of things. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri with her husband Brock Wilbur and too many cats.