Will New Hampshire Winnow a Muddled Field?

Kathleen Hunter
Will New Hampshire Winnow a Muddled Field?

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Democratic voters hoping for clarity in the race to pick their presidential nominee may have to wait.

New Hampshire’s primary today follows the messy Iowa caucuses, which failed to produce a clear front-runner.

After a delay in the Iowa count, Pete Buttigieg collected the most delegates, followed by Bernie Sanders (their campaigns have called for a partial recanvass of the results).

That’s left the two candidates who spent much of the past six months vying for top status — Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren — under pressure to perform in the Granite State. But Biden is also trailing in New Hampshire opinion polls, raising questions about whether his campaign can withstand another poor performance.

The former vice president has insisted he’ll fight on regardless, looking ahead to contests later this month in Nevada and South Carolina.

Sanders is favored to win today but, with up to 40% of New Hampshire voters undecided, Buttigieg and Senator Amy Klobuchar could also claim a measure of success.

So even if the leader board moves around it may not presage a clear trend. One national poll shows voters are still focused on who can beat Donald Trump rather than a preference for any particular candidate.

Global Headlines

German dilemma | The resignation of Angela Merkel’s chosen successor as Christian Democratic Union leader leaves the ruling party without an obvious candidate for chancellor in next year’s election. The CDU’s centrist and conservative wings are now preparing to back their respective replacements for Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer. But as Alan Crawford writes, whoever prevails will face the same dilemma: how to manage the rise of the far-right and mend a rift with supporters predominantly in eastern Germany.

War on media | Since winning a historic majority in the U.K. election, Boris Johnson is tightening his grip on the way his government communicates with the public by sidelining mainstream journalism and controlling his message on social media. As Tim Ross reports, he’s following a pattern set by populists around the world that British news outlets and the prime minister’s political opponents say is deeply worrying.

Johnson is set to push ahead with a controversial $129 billion high-speed rail project linking London to northern England.

Ghost towns | Largely empty streets, trains and offices — it’s the new normal in China as people go back to work in a country struggling to contain the coronavirus outbreak. Some employees in financial hub Shanghai and the capital, Beijing, may have returned to their offices this week, but the megacities that govern the world’s second-largest economy remain eerily quiet as many log on from home. The disease has claimed more than 1,000 lives.

China is asking farmers to wear face masks while urging them not to miss the spring planting season.

Tough talks | European Union governments ratcheted up their demands ahead of talks about the bloc’s post-Brexit relationship with the U.K., seeking stricter conditions on competition and fishing than those set out last week by the European Commission. They also want to force the U.K. to keep abiding by EU rules in areas such as state aid — even if those rules change in the future.

The U.K. will break away from EU rules governing financial services, Chancellor of the Exchequer Sajid Javid said. Cabinet Minister Michael Gove warned the logistics industry to prepare for strict border controls.

Severing ties | The Philippines told the U.S. it’s terminating a 22-year-old military agreement — it can do so with 180 days notice — hours after President Rodrigo Duterte said Trump was trying to save the deal. Scrapping the pact would be the first concrete step by Manila to cut defense ties with the U.S., as Duterte realigns his foreign policy toward China. But the move is not without risks.

What to Watch

The Trump administration’s indictment of Chinese military personnel over one of the biggest data thefts in U.S. history highlights a key source of animosity after their “phase one” trade deal. Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald laid out a plan for a left-wing alliance to form an Irish government with parties including the Greens and Social Democrats after winning the popular vote in last weekend’s general election. President Alberto Fernandez will lay out his plan to handle Argentina’s $320 billion debt and rescue an economy forecast to shrink for a third straight year when International Monetary Fund negotiators arrive tomorrow.

Tell us how we’re doing or what we’re missing at balancepower@bloomberg.net.

And finally ... It was meant to be a carefree voyage for 3,700 passengers on a cruise liner off Japan, and the new coronavirus took full advantage. As the cases aboard the Diamond Princess hit 135, authorities evacuated infected travelers, while the rest hunkered in their cabins. Curbing the virus at sea presents unique challenges — especially when ports refuse entry. Despite repeated pleas, and no signs of a single infection, a Holland America Line ship has been refused permission to dock by four nations after two weeks at sea, because its first embarkation point was Hong Kong.


--With assistance from Karl Maier, Karen Leigh and Alan Crawford.

To contact the author of this story: Kathleen Hunter in London at khunter9@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Rosalind Mathieson at rmathieson3@bloomberg.net, Michael Winfrey

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