New Hampshire Gov. Maggie Hassan’s early endorsement of Hillary Clinton did little to sway Democratic primary voters who overwhelmingly supported insurgent socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders.
The Vermont senator trounced Clinton in the Tuesday primary vote, winning 60 percent of the vote. Sanders managed to beat Clinton in nearly every voter demographic with the exception of women older than 65 and people making more than $200,000 a year. The surprise 22-point victory puts Hassan at odds with the base of voters she needs to defeat freshman Republican Sen. Kelly Ayotte in November.
Republican activists said that the stunning defeat could open up a rift between Hassan and her fellow party members. Colin Reed, executive director of the conservative America Rising PAC, said that turnout would matter in what is considered one of the most competitive races of the cycle.
“Governor Hassan’s inability to rally Granite State Democrats is frankly embarrassing, and does not bode well for her U.S. Senate campaign,” Reed said in a statement.
The Hassan campaign did not respond to request for comment.
Hassan, a two-term governor, endorsed Clinton in September a few weeks prior to officially declaring her candidacy for the Senate. She repeatedly stumped for Clinton in the months leading up to the first-in-the-nation primary.
Clinton began the election cycle as the unrivaled frontrunner. She steadily nosedived in the polls as Sanders attacked her ties to Wall Street and the details of her secret email server gained national media attention. She had not led a single poll since a Jan. 6 poll from Democratic firm Public Policy Polling, according to Real Clear Politics.
Reed said that Hassan’s early support for the embattled presidential candidate demonstrates a disconnect between her and the state’s voters. It also pointed to a disconnect between Hassan’s reputation as a major voice in the Democratic Party.
“New Hampshire voters dealt Secretary Clinton a devastating setback tonight, one that reflects particularly badly on Governor Hassan’s effectiveness as a surrogate,” Reed said. “Governor Hassan’s marquee endorsement was touted as a game changer by the Clinton campaign and political pundits, but in the months since Governor Hassan began campaigning with her, Secretary Clinton’s numbers have plummeted.”
Clinton left New Hampshire with just as many delegates as Sanders thanks to Hassan’s support despite her crushing loss. The governor is one of eight “superdelegates” pledged to support the former secretary of state at the July Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia.
New Hampshire Republicans welcomed Clinton's thrashing at the hands of Sanders. State GOP chairman Jennifer Horn called Hassan's close ties to Clinton "embarrassing" in a Wednesday release.
“Governor Hassan and Senator Shaheen enthusiastically endorsed Hillary Clinton and threw the weight of their political machines behind her disastrous candidacy," she said in a statement. "Last night’s results are an enormous embarrassment for the governor and the senator and raise serious questions about Hassan’s political operation as she runs for higher officer.”