Democratic presidential candidate Senator Amy Klobuchar speaks to supporters at her New Hampshire primary night rally in Concord, New Hampshire, U.S. February 11, 2020.
Gretchen Ertl | Reuters
WASHINGTON – Sen. Amy Klobuchar cemented her place in the top tier of Democratic presidential candidates on Tuesday, finishing in the top three in the New Hampshire primary, according to NBC News.
Klobuchar, who represents Minnesota, trailed only Sen. Bernie Sanders former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, according to results that trickled in throughout Tuesday night. She was set to score multiple delegates, while one-time front-runners former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Elizabeth Warren were set to be shut out, NBC News projected.
In a state where voters pride themselves on their self-reliance and pragmatism, the Minnesota Democrat’s moderate, no-nonsense message resonated with a wide swath of voters in the first popular ballot of the 2020 presidential calendar.
Klobuchar is vying for the middle lane with Buttigieg, another moderate who also campaigns on a message of pragmatism and reaching across the aisle to work with Republicans.
But by effectively splitting the vote of moderate Democrats, Klobuchar and Buttigieg cleared a path for Sanders, an ardent progressive who identifies as a democratic socialist, to come away with the biggest single slice of delegates out of New Hampshire.
After finishing in fifth place in the Iowa caucuses earlier this month, Klobuchar’s finish Tuesday also places her directly in the path of the two candidates who did better than she did in Iowa, only to finish behind her in New Hampshire: Warren and Biden.
Neither Biden nor Warren were on pace to finish Tuesday with enough votes to secure any delegates. It was a surprisingly poor finish for Warren. But for Biden, it was a five alarm fire.
Klobuchar’s Tuesday finish followed her strongest debate performance so far in the campaign, last Friday in New Hampshire. There, Klobuchar landed rhetorical blows on Buttigieg over comments he made about how Americans wanted to “switch off” the Trump impeachment hearings and “watch cartoons.”
“Pete, as you were campaigning through Iowa, as three of us were jurors in that impeachment hearing, you said it was exhausting to watch and that you wanted to turn the channel and watch cartoons. It is easy to go after Washington because that’s a popular thing to do,” Klobuchar said. “It is much harder to lead and much harder to take those difficult positions.”
Unlike Biden and Warren, Klobuchar has yet to draw significant fire from Trump. This is in large part because Klobuchar has only begun to surge in the new year.
CNBC reached out to the Trump campaign Tuesday to ask how they view a potential Trump-Klobuchar general election match-up. A spokesman did not immediately respond.
As the Democratic primary moves to Nevada next for a caucus Feb. 22, Sanders is again expected to finish in the top spot, with Real Clear Politics’ polling average for the state showing Klobuchar in seventh place, behind even entrepreneur Andrew Yang and billionaire Tom Steyer. Yang dropped out of the race Tuesday night.
But these figures could shift quickly in the coming weeks, allowing Klobuchar to accumulate a broader percentage of voters. For instance, it’s unclear where Yang’s supporters in upcoming states will go next.