Without his name on the ballot and without actually campaigning, President Joe Biden has won Tuesday’s Democratic primary contest in New Hampshire.
After polls closed on Tuesday evening, Biden was projected to win the contest by the CNN and NBC, leading his two primary challengers—Rep. Dean Phillips of Minnesota and self-help guru Marianne Williamson—whose names appeared on the ballot and who campaigned heavily in the state.
The president’s victory came after a well-funded and well-organized campaign to urge Democratic voters to write his name in on their ballots.
Obviously, Tuesday’s election was not a normal primary. After the national Democratic Party moved to reshuffle its early state calendar and bump New Hampshire from its prime status, the state refused to move the election, in deference to state law that mandates its primary go first in the nation.
No delegates will be awarded for the unsanctioned primary, so the contest is effectively meaningless for the numerical path to the Democratic nomination. Biden’s name did not appear on the ballot.
But Phillips, a late entry to the 2024 race, camped out in New Hampshire in hopes of proving the core rationale of his longshot campaign: that Democratic voters are worried Biden is too old and unpopular to win and want someone new.
Setting expectations for such an unusual contest proved vexing, but Phillips’ camp generally argued that they did not need to beat Biden in order to demonstrate he was a viable candidate. Instead, they argued, a showing in the 20 to 30 percent range would convey Democrats’ dissatisfaction with Biden.
Biden’s victory did not come without serious effort, of course. While his re-election campaign was officially not involved in the race, high-profile allies like governors and congressmen have powered a slick effort to get voters to write him in. According to NBC News, a super PAC set up to support the write-in campaign raised at least $500,000 by the end of December.