Biden wins the Democratic primary in New Hampshire

President Biden won the Democratic presidential primary in New Hampshire on Tuesday, driven by a campaign by his supporters after refused to appear on the state ballot.

The victory, called by the Associated Press, was good, if expected, news for Mr. Biden. But votes were still being counted, and his final margin of victory will be closely watched.

As an incumbent facing a slate of long-term challengers, anything short of a decisive victory would be seen as a bruise for Mr. Biden, even though he has not attempted to compete in the primary.

Mr. Biden skipped the state after a dispute over the timing of the primary, as he and the Democratic National Committee sought to push the New Hampshire contest later in the nominating process. The Granite Staters, deeply protective of their first-in-the-nation tradition, refused to comply.

His allies in the state eventually jumped in, and the write-in effort, backed by top Democrats there, generated for Mr. Biden the kind of grassroots energy that had yet to materialize in other states — and that he did not enjoy in New Hampshire in the primary. elections in 2020, when he took fifth place.

“Despite President Biden’s absence from the polls, Granite Staters still turned out in large numbers to show their support for the great work the Biden-Harris administration has done,” said Ray Buckley, chairman of the New Hampshire Democratic Party — and ardent critic change of calendar – the announcement states, praising the success of the registration campaign. “Once again, New Hampshire’s first election has made history – and we’re proud as ever.”

Ahead of Tuesday’s vote, a memo from the Write-In Biden campaign emphasized the complex nature of the race and cautioned against drawing sweeping conclusions from the results.

“The write-in campaign is very difficult, and Joe Biden’s vote total on January 23 will underestimate his actual support among New Hampshire Democrats and independents,” the memo warned.

There are also signs that independents, most likely to back Mr. Biden in the general election, have entered the state’s Republican primary to challenge former President Donald J. Trump.

Mr. Trump still won his race, defeating Nikki Haley on Tuesday, according to The Associated Press. Ms. Haley, a former governor of South Carolina, has vowed to continue her campaign.

The Biden campaign did not directly comment on the outcome of the New Hampshire Democratic primary. Instead, a statement from Julia Chávez Rodríguez, the campaign manager, signaled that the team was in general election mode.

“Tonight’s results confirm that Donald Trump has all but locked up the GOP nomination, and the election-denying, anti-freedom MAGA movement has completed its takeover of the Republican Party,” she said. “Donald Trump is heading straight into the race to face the only person who has ever beaten him at the ballot box: Joe Biden.”

Still, Mr. Biden’s absence from New Hampshire left him exposed to a series of opponents who had virtually no chance of winning the nomination, but who saw an opportunity to gain attention.

That group was guided by Representative Dean Phillips, Democrat of Minnesota. Mr. Phillips, who pushed a message of generational change and denounced Mr. Biden, 81, as “indiscriminate,” spent heavily about advertising, while emphasizing the disparagement of Mr. Biden to the state. One of his own ads featured Bigfoot looking for the president.

He tried to capitalize on the Democrats’ dissatisfaction with the president, of which there are plenty evidently in voting. Biden’s allies argue that sentiment will change as Americans focus more on the election, particularly the prospect of another runoff against Mr. Trump.

On Tuesday night, Mr Phillips congratulated Mr Biden at his party in Manchester, saying the president “absolutely won tonight” – but, he added, “not at all in the way a strong incumbent should”.

More consequential tests for Mr. Biden will come when he competes in the Democratic primaries next month in South Carolina, Nevada and Michigan, three key states where the Biden campaign will have to show it can mobilize its most loyal voters. Amid Democratic concerns about the structure of his campaign — and as his team prepares for a looming general election fast approaching — Mr. Biden has approved a leadership shakeup that will see a top White House aide take functional control of the reelection effort, he announced in Tuesday The New York Times.

The drama surrounding this year’s nominating calendar began in late 2022, when Mr. Biden and the Democratic National Committee decided to reshuffle it, saying Democrats should give more influence to states with more racial diversity. Their plan would have put South Carolina in first place and pushed New Hampshire into second place, along with Nevada.

But New Hampshire Democrats, who pride themselves on the state’s long-standing tradition of first in the nation — a a matter of state law — he refused, and the state was stripped of its delegates.

In the end, the state’s top Democrats put aside their vocal criticism of the calendar overhaul to support their party’s leader, even as they staunchly defended their primary tradition.

“It’s in our DNA — it’s part of who we are,” said former Gov. John Lynch, Democrat of New Hampshire. “But also, I think there are Democrats, myself included, who are willing to step back and say, you know, what’s the bigger picture?”

Anjali Huynh contributed reporting from Manchester, NH

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