Sen. Bernie Sanders narrowly won the New Hampshire primary Tuesday night propelling the 78-year-old self-described democratic socialist to the front of the still-crowded Democratic presidential primary field.
Sanders had been leading top rival Pete Buttigieg and several other candidates as results came in throughout the evening, though only by a fraction of his 22-point margin of victory over Hillary Clinton in the 2016 New Hampshire primary.
“Thank you New Hampshire,” Sanders told cheering supporters late Tuesday, saying his campaign had won a “great victory.”
“The reason that we won tonight in New Hampshire, we won last week in Iowa — is because of the hard work of so many volunteers,” Sanders continued. “And let me say tonight that this victory here is the beginning of the end for Donald Trump.”
Buttigieg, meanwhile, touted his strong second-place finish as a sign that his campaign was “here to stay.”
New Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation presidential primary came days after Sanders won the popular vote in the botched Iowa caucuses. Buttigieg took home more delegates from that contest, however.
At the same time, Buttigieg wasn’t the only Democrat standing between Sanders and the nomination. A late-surging Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar landed in third place in New Hampshire as votes continued rolling in.
Sanders and Buttigieg will likely each receive nine delegates to the Democratic National Convention after Tuesday’s primary, because the state awards them proportionally; Klobuchar will receive six. Those numbers are a fraction of the 1,991 delegates needed for the nomination, but early primaries play an outsized role in candidate fundraising and momentum.
With 85 percent of precincts reporting, Sanders had 25.8 percent of the vote; Buttigieg 24.4 percent; Klobuchar 19.7 percent; Warren 9.3 percent; and Biden 8.4 percent.
Sanders received approximately 69,738 votes to Buttigieg’s 65,956, Klobuchar’s 53,265, Warren’s 25,232, and Biden’s 22,616.
Trump, watching from the sidelines on Twitter, mocked each Democratic contender in turn late Tuesday. “Bootedgeedge (Buttigieg) is doing pretty well tonight,” Trump wrote. “Giving Crazy Bernie a run for his money. Very interesting!”
At Sanders headquarters late Tuesday night, loud boos erupted as Buttigieg took the stage to thank supporters, in yet another sign of escalating tensions in the primary contest.
“A campaign that some said shouldn’t be here at all has shown that we are here to stay,” Buttigieg declared. He later took a thinly veiled shot at Sanders, insisting that “a politics of my way or the highway is the road to re-electing Donald Trump.”
Biden, knowing that his chances were slim at this point, fled early from New Hampshire trying to get a head start in South Carolina.
“I do love New Hampshire, and I mean it,” Biden said. “Now Jill and I are moving on to Nevada and South Carolina and beyond. … “We’re going on and we’re going to win in Nevada and in South Carolina.”
Biden’s campaign, meanwhile, sought to cast New Hampshire as one small step in the path to the presidential nomination. Biden hopes to retain his advantage among minority voters in what his campaign calls “more diverse” states Nevada and South Carolina.
“Regardless of what happens on Tuesday, we plan to move forward,” Biden senior adviser Symone Sanders said.
The night was especially stinging for Warren, given that the New Hampshire contest was set just next door to her Massachusetts home.
She has positioned herself as a mainstream alternative to Bernie Sanders but is suddenly looking up at him and Buttigieg as Klobuchar fights to peel away female support.
New Hampshire will send a total of 24 pledged delegates to the Democratic National Convention, which makes up only one percent of the total delegates available nationwide.
More than a year after Democrats began announcing their presidential candidacies, the party is struggling to coalesce behind a message or a messenger in its desperate quest to defeat Trump.
Trump, campaigning in New Hampshire Monday night mocked top Democrats and touted his successes in office.
He even suggested that conservative-leaning voters could affect the state’s Democratic primary results, though only registered Democrats and voters not registered with either party can participate in New Hampshire’s Democratic presidential primary.
“I hear a lot of Republicans tomorrow will vote for the weakest candidate possible of the Democrats,” Trump said Monday. “My only problem is I’m trying to figure out who is their weakest candidate. I think they’re all weak.”
Trump Campaign Manager Brad Parscale released staggering statistics on Tuesday night showing the massive level of support that President Donald Trump has in New Hampshire as Democrats simultaneously held their primary.
He pointed out that Trump received more New Hampshire votes than any of the last three presidents to secure re-election.
“The Democrat story in New Hampshire is the continued dominance of big government socialist policies and the success of their standard bearer, Bernie Sanders,” Parscale said in a statement.
“No matter which Democrat eventually emerges from their months-long dumpster fire of a primary process, we know the contrast will be President Trump’s record of accomplishment and optimistic view of the future versus Democrats and their socialist, job-killing agenda.”