The Vermont senator who promises “a political revolution” received 26% of the vote, with Pete Buttigieg falling closely behind him.
After one of the strangest weeks in presidential campaign history, New Hampshire voters delivered Bernie Sanders a victory on Tuesday, cementing him as the frontrunner for the Democratic nomination for president.
With more than 90% of ballots tallied, Sanders, the senator from Vermont who has promised a “political revolution,” earned approximately 26% of the votes, edging out the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, who received support from 24% of voters, and Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar who surged to a third-place finish with 20%. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) finished fourth with 9% and former Vice President Joe Biden fell close behind her.
“Let me say tonight that this victory here is the beginning of the end for Donald Trump,” Sanders told a deafening crowd in Manchester. He also expressed “appreciation and respect” for the other candidates. “What I can tell you with absolute certainty—and I know I speak for every one of the Democratic candidates—is that no matter who wins, and we certainly hope it’s going to be us, we are going to unite together and defeat the most dangerous president in the modern history of this country.”
In Nashua, Buttigieg shared a similar message about candidates ultimately uniting for the greater good, but he also told supporters: “A campaign that some said shouldn’t be here at all has shown that we are here to stay.”
Tuesday’s Democratic primary, which saw at least 280,000 people come out to the polls—surpassing turnout in 2016 and just below the 2008 record of 285,000—not only narrowly establishes Sanders as the frontrunner for the Democratic nomination, but also affirms Buttigieg as his primary rival. The two were also the top finishers in Iowa’s now-infamous caucus last week, where Sanders earned more raw votes, while Buttigieg came away with more delegates.
Indeed, in the days running up to Tuesday’s election, both candidates turned their fire on one another. Sanders blasted Buttigieg’s array of billionaire donors, while Buttigieg accused Sanders of being dishonest with voters about how much his proposals would cost.
In the end, both Sanders and Buttigieg earned 9 of the state’s 24 delegates, while Klobuchar received 6. New Hampshire only awards 24 delegates in all—less than 1% of the total 3,979 pledged delegates—which means winning the state is more of a momentum boost than anything. Now-President Donald Trump’s victory in New Hampshire in 2016 cemented him as a legitimate contender, if not the frontrunner for the party’s 2016 nomination.
Sanders, who also won the New Hampshire primary in 2016, hopes to capitalize in the same way. In that race, however, he earned 151,584 votes—far more than this go-round.
But the contest is far from a two-candidate race. Klobuchar’s surprise third-place finish and the narrow margin by which she trailed Sanders and Buttigieg is likely to further elevate her candidacy.
Klobuchar spoke to her supporters in Concord, where she thanked them for their support and framed herself as the best candidate to take on President Trump.
“We have beaten the odds every step of the way,” Klobuchar told her supporters. “Because of you, we are taking this campaign to Nevada. We are going to South Carolina and we are taking this message of unity to the country.
On Tuesday evening, a Klobuchar aide told CNN the campaign planned to expand and deploy staff to several Super Tuesday states.
Klobuchar’s finish was buoyed by voters who made their decision in the final days. Seven in 10 of Klobuchar’s supporters only made up their minds in the last few days, according to CNN exit polls.
Neither Warren nor Biden earned a single delegate from New Hampshire since they each failed to break the 15% threshold required for delegates.
Warren tried to reassure supporters while implicitly framing herself as the candidate best fit to unify the fractious Democratic field.
“Our best chance of beating Donald Trump is with a candidate who can do the work, and I mean the hard, disciplined work. A candidate who can build a campaign to unite our party and a candidate who can build a movement that is ready to take on corruption and win,” Warren said.
Meanwhile, Biden’s fifth-place finish represents yet another blow to his campaign after his fourth-place finish in Iowa. The former vice president, perhaps anticipating a poor finish, even opted to skip his campaign’s party in Nashua and head directly to South Carolina.
Biden tried to reassure his supporters in the southern state that his campaign was far from dead, citing his support among African-Americans and Latinos and the fact that Iowa and New Hampshire are both overwhelmingly white states.
“You can’t be the Democratic nominee and you can’t win a general election as a Democrat unless you have overwhelming support from Black and brown voters,” Biden said.
But according to Monday’s poll from Quinnipiac University, Biden’s support among African-Americans has plummeted post-Iowa, and a new Monmouth University poll found Sanders leading Biden 28-20 among non-white voters.
Still, neither candidate is out of the mix. Biden and Warren’s next opportunities to turn around their campaigns will be in Nevada, where voters will caucus on Feb. 22, and in South Carolina, where voters head to the polls on Feb. 29. Biden has consistently led the field in polls of South Carolina and placed in first or second in Nevada, while Warren’s organization remains one of the strongest in the field.
As if things weren’t murky enough after Tuesday’s results, the race could be thrown into further disarray in the coming weeks, when billionaire and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg officially enters the fray on Super Tuesday, March 3, when 14 states hold their primaries. Bloomberg, who joined the race in late November and is skipping the first four states, has already spent $300 million on advertising, including $10 million on a Super Bowl commercial.
That spending seems to have paid off, as the Quinnipiac poll released Monday showed Bloomberg in third place, behind Sanders and Buttigieg.
Two candidates who won’t have a chance at claiming the nomination are entrepreneur Andrew Yang and Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO), who both dropped out shortly after the polls closed. Yang only claimed about 3% of the vote, while Bennet earned less than 1%.