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Joe Biden’s campaign held a victory party in a New Hampshire hotel ballroom on Tuesday evening. But there was no victory. And there was no Joe Biden.

Before the polls had even closed, the Democratic presidential hopeful had left New Hampshire, where he ultimately posted a fifth-place finish. The dismal performance came just eight days after the Iowa caucuses, where Biden finished fourth.

The back-to-back stumbles have created a difficult situation for Biden, who must perform well in upcoming contests in Nevada and South Carolina this month to show voters and donors that his candidacy remains viable.

David Hopkins, an expert in presidential campaigns at Boston College, said no candidate has ever gone on to win the Democratic nomination who finished lower than third place in Iowa and New Hampshire.

“Does Biden have the resources to sustain a comeback?,” said Hopkins. “It’s hard to tell in this trajectory whether you are going to bounce back or just keep going downhill.”

Vermont U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders won New Hampshire, followed by South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Minnesota U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar and Massachusetts U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren.

Biden, the affable former vice president, has tried to downplay his early struggles. Iowa and New Hampshire are small states with few delegates whose populations are overwhelmingly white and unrepresentative of the country overall, his campaign has argued.

The candidate is looking to Nevada and South Carolina, the next two states on the nominating calendar, to revive his fortunes. Nevada boasts large numbers of unionized workers and Latino voters. South Carolina has a heavy concentration of African-American voters, who have shown a strong affinity for Biden, the former running mate of Barack Obama, America’s first black president.

While Sanders, Buttigieg and a suddenly surging Klobuchar celebrated their strong showings in New Hampshire on Tuesday night, Biden headed to a rally in South Carolina.

“Up ‘til now we haven’t heard from the most committed constituency in the Democratic Party, the African-American constituency,” Biden said in Columbia, the capital.

While Buttigieg and Klobuchar have emerged as formidable rivals to Biden in attracting modera te Democratic voters, they so far have attracted little support among Latinos or African Americans, whose votes will be critical to defeat incumbent Republican President Donald Trump in November. Sanders has attracted Latino support, but has yet to gain traction with black voters. Read more

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