Bernie Sanders Wins New Hampshire, Falls Short of 2016 Performance

MANCHESTER, NEW HAMPSHIRE - FEBRUARY 11: Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) speaks on stage during a primary night event on February 11, 2020 in Manchester, New Hampshire. New Hampshire voters cast their ballots today in the first-in-the-nation presidential primary. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
oe Raedle/Getty Images

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) won the New Hampshire primary on Tuesday, but he fell far short of his 2016 performance.

Sanders, who had been leading in the polls ahead of the first in the nation primary, only bested former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg by less than two percentage points when the race was called with 80 percent of precincts reporting. Sanders beat Buttigieg, garnering more than 64,000 to the former mayor’s less than 62,000.

The numbers stand in stark contrast to 2016 when the Vermont septuagenarian bested former Secretary of State Hillary by double digits in New Hampshire. In that contest, Sanders garnered more than 152,000 votes, compared to just a little over 95,000 for Clinton. Overall, Sanders carried New Hampshire by more than 22 percentage points during that cycle.

The 2016 victory was made possible by high turnout and little competition—two luxuries Sanders did not have this time around. According to exit polls conducted by NBC News, turnout appeared to be lower across New Hampshire than in prior presidential primary cycles. The biggest dropoff seems to have come from new and young voters. In particular, according to one exit poll, only 11 percent of New Hampshire voters were younger than 29 on Tuesday, down from 19 percent in 2016.

Complicating matters for Sanders is that the same exit polls showed that half of New Hampshire primary voters found his position too liberal, while only 40 percent thought they were a good fit.

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