MANCHESTER, N.H. — Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont trounced Hillary Clinton in the New Hampshire presidential primary Tuesday, issuing a sharp rebuke to establishment politics that will likely set off warning bells among the Democratic elite.
The win, coming on the heels of his razor-thin loss in Iowa, officially establishes Sanders as a major threat to Clinton and one her campaign is taking far more seriously than it did just weeks ago.
Sanders received 59.9 percent of the vote with 87 percent of precincts reporting, to Clinton’s 38.4 percent.
“Together we have sent a message that will echo from Wall Street to Washington, from Maine to California,” said Sanders in his victory speech. “And that is that the government of our great country belongs to all of the people and not just a handful of wealthy campaign contributors and their super PACs.
Sanders concluded his 27-minute victory speech, which was interrupted often by a raucous crowd cheering enthusiastically, looking forward: “What began last week in Iowa, what voters here in New Hampshire confirmed tonight is nothing short of the beginning of a political revolution. Now, it’s on to Nevada, South Carolina, and beyond.”
Clinton called Sanders shortly after the polls closed in New Hampshire, Sanders said.
She congratulated Sanders when she spoke at her primary night party at Southern New Hampshire University but also struck a defiant tone.
“Now we take this campaign to the entire country,” Clinton said. “We’re going to fight for every vote in every state.”
She acknowledged the profound frustration felt by many voters, and cast herself as the change-maker best equipped to improve the lives of voters.
“People have every right to be angry. But they’re also hungry, hungry for solutions,” she said. “I will work harder than anyone to actually make the changes and make your lives better.”
Since early January the once-sleepy Democratic contest evolved into a bare-knuckled fight as Sanders worked to show that he could transfer the energy that filled his rallies over the summer into votes.
Daunting hurdles still loom for Sanders, who will have to capitalize on the win to broaden his appeal beyond the young, mostly white liberal voters who have so far propelled his candidacy.
Clinton’s double-digit loss marks a souring of the relationship between New Hampshire and the former first family.
Voters here have twice rescued Clinton campaigns, first in 1992 when Bill Clinton — battling revelations about an extramarital affair — spun a second-place finish into a victory. Then in 2008, Hillary Clinton’s come-from-behind victory over Barack Obama kept her candidacy alive for months.
She addressed her long history with the state in her concession speech. “I want to say I still love New Hampshire and I always will,” Clinton said.
This election cycle, however, Clinton struggled to inspire voters here — particularly the younger generation — with her message of pragmatic progressivism.
“I think Bernie has a fire that Hillary doesn’t,” Cara Vanuden, an 18-year-old freshman at Dartmouth College said after casting a ballot for him Tuesday.
Meanwhile, Sanders tapped into a deep well of angst with his calls for a political revolution.
“He was the first politician who didn’t confuse me with his answers,” said Janice Starkey, a 43-year-old Hanover resident who voted for Sanders.
“And I love that he’s not taking money from the billionaires,” she said, repeating a catch-phrase of Sanders’ campaign almost verbatim.
Clinton stressed her history-making campaign to become the country’s first female president at multiple stops in New Hampshire, and was counting on women voters to power her campaign.
But in the final days of the New Hampshire race, two iconic female figures — Gloria Steinem and former secretary of state Madeleine Albright — scolded young women who were supporting Sanders, creating backlash among those Clinton was hoping to appeal to.
In the closing days in New Hampshire, the race became increasingly negative, with the Clintons pushing out the idea that Sanders has taken money from Wall Street for his Senate campaigns, and is therefore being unfair when he slams her for taking millions from the industry.
The Sanders camp was quick to point out that money from large financial institutions supporting Sanders’ Senate campaign flowed through the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, which donates money to all incumbent Democrats.
The two candidates will take to the debate stage again Thursday night in Wisconsin. Then all eyes turn to Nevada, a state with a sizable Hispanic population where Clinton tends to have more support. The Democratic caucuses there will take place Feb. 20.
The Sanders campaign has said that its polling shows the Vermont senator is making inroads among Hispanics under 50 years old — a notion that Clinton’s camp rejected last week.
“We’ll see,” said Joel Benenson, Clinton’s pollster. “We’ll see if Senator Sanders’ predictions hold up or not.”
Clinton campaign telegraphed its concerns about New Hampshire frequently over the past few days, trying to keep expectations low.
A frequent refrain among top Clinton aides was that Sanders held a geographic advantage because he’s from a neighboring state.
“It’s hard to underestimate the neighboring state advantage in this race,” Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook said last week at a breakfast in Manchester sponsored by Bloomberg Politics.
Clinton also took the highly unusual step of leaving the state during a prime campaigning time for a trip to Flint, Mich., Sunday. Sanders also left briefly to appear on “Saturday Night Live.”
The loss also tarnishes the storied “Shaheen Machine” — a clique of Democratic operatives and field workers with a long string of victories under their belts associated with Senator Jeanne Shaheen.
They all lined up to work for Clinton, leaving Sanders with a less-experienced ground staff that initially seemed to be struggling with the onslaught of interest from volunteers.
But in the final days of campaigning, even Clinton seemed aware of the likely outcome. She frequently would say that she was going to fight for New Hampshire, even if everyone in the state isn’t ready to fight for her.
Those who voted for her Tuesday tended to cite her grit. “You have to be tough to be president,” said Charlotte Vanaskie, 66, when asked what she likes about Clinton.
Vanaskie recalled being impressed by the 11 hours Clinton spent in the witness chair when she testified before the Republican-controlled House Select Committee on Benghazi. “She withstood that,” Vanaskie said.
The former secretary of state’s sterling resume was also important to Clinton voters. “She has the experience we need,” said Jenifer Van Pelt, a 41-year-old Concord voter, who supported her.
Clinton started her day just before 6 a.m. with a stop at a polling place at the Parker-Varney School in Manchester where volunteers and some voters were gathering.
“As I’ve said over the past couple days, were going to keep working literally until the last vote is cast and counted and we’re going to go from there,” Clinton said to a TV reporter.
Then she praised the election process.
“I just love the way New Hampshire does this,” she said. “I like the way the people of New Hampshire take it so seriously.”
Sanders stopped in several polling places Tuesday, including one in Concord. The senator found he had some extra time, and decided to take a walk. He was accompanied by a horde of journalists who peppered him with questions that he mostly ignored.
Nearby at the True Brew Barista, musicians supporting Sanders prepared for a pop-up concert. “When I wake up in the morning I get a good feeling . . . about Bernie,” crooned Xavier Dphrepaulezz, a.k.a. Fantastic Negrito.