Both Biden and Warren vowed to stay in the race and believe they will be more competitive in future states such as Nevada and South Carolina

By Sean Neumann
February 12, 2020 05:00 PM

On Friday, ahead of the New Hampshire Democratic primary, former Vice President Joe Biden conceded that his 2020 presidential campaign would “probably take a hit” after Tuesday’s votes were all counted.

He was right: With nearly all precincts reporting, Biden placed a distant fifth behind Sens. Bernie Sanders, Amy Klobuchar and Elizabeth Warren and former Indiana mayor Pete Buttigieg.

It was an even poorer performance than the Democratic caucus in Iowa last week, where Biden placed fourth. But in Iowa he had at least earned the minimum votes needed to secure the delegates who will determine the party’s nominee against President Donald Trump.

In New Hampshire, however, Biden did not even crack 10 percent of the vote and received no delegates. Neither did Sen. Warren, in a similar blow to her campaign.

(Two candidates who did even worse — Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet and entrepreneur Andrew Yang — quickly announced they were ending their campaigns.)

Both Biden and Warren have vowed to stay in the race and believe they will be more competitive in future states such as Nevada and South Carolina. Biden, in particular, now hangs his argument of electability there — on what his campaign says is his broad support from larger and more diverse groups of voters.

The two states, so far, have shaken the months-long narrative that he was the front-runner based on polling that showed him either in first or at the top of the crowded Democratic field.

“Nobody told me the road would be easy, but together we can and will win,” Biden, 77, wrote in a Wednesday tweet.

Even before Sanders claimed victory in New Hampshire on Tuesday night and solidified his front-runner status, Biden left the state and began campaigning in South Carolina, where he is hoping to rebound in terms of media perception and with voters.

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From left: former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Elizabeth Warren
SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty

Warren — who finished the New Hampshire primary in fourth place, earning only a few thousand more votes than he did — seemed to be similarly molding her campaign’s stalling momentum into an underdog narrative Tuesday night.

“We’re staying in this fight for the people who are counting on us,” Warren, 70, tweeted. She referred to the 2020 campaign as an “uphill battle” and a “long fight” that’s just getting started.

“Tomorrow morning, we’ll wake up and fight twice as hard—together,” she wrote on Twitter.

Of the three candidates who left New Hampshire’s primary with delegates, Sanders appears to be in the strongest position: He is the most well-known, has a large operation and fundraising network and performed similarly strongly in Iowa. Buttigieg likewise did well in Iowa and New Hampshire, seeing a surge in voter enthusiasm from the former state to the latter, but polling shows he will have trouble connecting with more diverse voters in states like South Carolina — the same states, with more delegates, that Biden is counting on to keep his campaign going.

Klobuchar was perhaps Tuesday’s surprise in New Hampshire. While she came in fourth in Iowa, she also saw a surge from voters, nearly doubling her vote percentage in New Hampshire, seemingly off a strong performance at the most recent Democratic debate and fracturing support for Warren and Biden.

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The final Iowa caucus results remain disputed, following headline-grabbing issues with the vote counting. Buttigieg emerged there with a razor-thin lead over Sanders in terms of delegates, though Sanders earned a few thousand more votes.

“Tonight, though, we just heard from the first two of 50 states. Just two,” Biden said at his rally in South Carolina on Tuesday. “It ain’t over, man. We’re just getting started.”

On Twitter this weekend, he showed off what has become a familiar line about his viability in the next several weeks of the campaign.

“I know there are a lot of folks who want to write our campaign off already — but I’ve got news for them: We’re not going anywhere. There’s too much at stake in this election,” he wrote, adding in a follow-up tweet: “I’ve lost a lot in my life, but I’ll be damned if I’m going to stand by and lose my country too. We have to beat Donald Trump.”

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