Breaking down the New Hampshire primary, by the numbers

How did Warren fare in towns closest to Massachusetts? What was turnout like compared to previous primaries?

Senator Bernie Sanders emerged as the winner Tuesday.

Senator Bernie Sanders emerged as the winner Tuesday. Reporter: Topic:Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff

The voting is over. The results are in.

Here are a few key numbers emerging from the New Hampshire results, and a look at what they mean for the larger race.

The towns bordering Massachusetts largely went for Buttigieg

Senator Elizabeth Warren performed poorly throughout New Hampshire on Tuesday, but the performance was especially pronounced in towns that border or are close to bordering Massachusetts, where, in theory, Warren should have widespread name recognition. The Massachusetts senator came in fourth and in some of those areas, fifth, among the crowded field of candidates, while former mayor Pete Buttigieg performed well in these areas, winning about 12 of the roughly 18 towns that border Massachusetts.


And Massachusetts loomed large over the New Hampshire primary in another important way: Much of the New Hampshire electorate is actually from Massachusetts. In fact, there are nearly as many New Hampshire residents who were born in Massachusetts as there are New Hampshire natives, according to a Washington Post analysis of Census data. Just 35 percent of New Hampshire’s adult residents were born in the state, while nearly 30 percent are Massachusetts ex-pats.

The New Hampshire primary results as shown by city and town.
The New Hampshire primary results as shown by city and town.Ally Rzesa

Cities went for Sanders

New Hampshire’s three most populous cities, Manchester, Concord, and Nashua, all went for Senator Bernie Sanders by a larger margin than voters statewide. The gap was especially pronounced in Manchester, New Hampshire’s largest city, where Sanders won 31 percent of the vote, 11 points more than Buttigieg, who came in second.

Voter turnout surpassed record 2008 levels in the Democratic primary — but there’s a caveat

With 98 percent of precincts reporting, voter turnout in the 2020 Democratic primary surpassed the record seen in 2008, with 295,129 votes cast. That compares to 287,556 votes cast in 2008 and 249,587 in 2016. The turnout was right on par — almost eerily so — with the 292,000 N.H. Secretary of State Bill Gardner predicted last week. The turnout numbers should come as a relief to Democrats, who were disappointed after record turnout predictions for the Iowa caucuses failed to materialize.


There’s one important caveat. The 2008 Democratic turnout record was set despite the presence of competitive races in both parties: In addition to a contested race for the Democratic nomination, there was a wide-open primary race to succeed President Bush for the Republican nomination. Because New Hampshire, like Massachusetts, has a semi-open primary system where independent voters can choose which primary they’d like to participate in, it’s likely that some independent voters opted to participate in the competitive Democratic election, boosting the Democratic turnout. And there a lot of independents: 42 percent of the nearly 1 million-person electorate is unaffiliated with either party, compared to 28 percent who are registered Democrats.

Democratic voters are angry

According to exit polls conducted for CNN, eight in 10 Democratic primary voters in New Hampshire described themselves as “angry” at the Trump administration. That’s the highest level of anger reported by a party out of power since at least 2000. The previous high was in 2008, when 62 percent of Democratic primary voters said they were angry at the Bush administration.

Among the 95 percent of precincts reporting, neither Biden nor Warren won a single town

Former vice president Joe Biden departed New Hampshire for South Carolina before the polls had even closed on Tuesday, and later addressed his sparsely-attended election night party via video message. It was a reflection of Biden’s performance in the state, where he came in fifth place behind Sanders, Buttigieg, Senator Amy Klobuchar, and Warren, with just eight percent of the vote. It was a stunningly poor showing for a candidate who has been considered the front-runner of the race nationwide for the last several months.


Warren, meanwhile, placed fourth, with nine percent of the vote. She indicated in her election night speech that she is prepared to battle well beyond the early primary states, and has been organizing in states that go to the polls after Super Tuesday.

Among the cities, towns, and unincorporated towns that have reported their results, neither Biden nor Warren won a single one. That’s compared to Sanders who won 124 municipalities, Buttigieg who won 78, and Klobuchar who had 23. Even former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg, who was not on the ballot, won tiny Dixville Notch with a total of three write-in votes.

Warren may have had a poor night, but she remains third in the delegate count

Because Warren didn’t cross the 15 percent threshold required to be awarded delegates, she came away with zero from New Hampshire. But thanks to her third-place finish in Iowa, she is third in the overall delegate count with eight delegates, behind Buttigieg with 23 and Sanders with 21, according to a Washington Post estimate.


Christina Prignano can be reached at christina.prignano@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @cprignano.