Democratic U.S. presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders poses with students for selfie photographs after speaking at a campaign rally one day before the New Hampshire presidential primary election in Rindge, New Hampshire, U.S., February 10, 2020.
Mike Segar | REUTERS
Bernie Sanders leads Tuesday’s Democratic primary in New Hampshire, though the race is too early to call, according to NBC News.
The Vermont senator had an edge over former South Bend, Ind. Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota as of 9:30 p.m. ET. Those candidates will finish in the top three, according to NBC.
Early results found Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and former Vice President Joe Biden vying for fourth place. Neither candidate will reach the 15% threshold needed to win pledged delegates, statewide and in both of its congressional districts.
With only some votes counted, Sanders is expected to be awarded at least seven delegates, followed by Buttigieg and Klobuchar with at least six each. Both Buttigieg and Klobuchar appeared to perform well with late-deciding voters.
The first-in-the-nation primary is a key proving ground for candidates in the 11-person field hoping to take on President Donald Trump. Buttigieg left the nation’s first nominating contest, the Iowa caucuses, with the most pledged national delegates. Sanders followed closely behind him.
The early nominating contests have typically narrowed the primary field. Entrepreneur Andrew Yang became the first candidate to suspend his campaign after the New Hampshire results started coming in Tuesday night, followed by Sen. Michael Bennet of Colorado. They found themselves well behind the primary leaders as data trickled in.
Buttigieg and Sanders, who has overtaken Biden in national polling averages, came into the Granite State with a chance to build on a strong Iowa showing. Klobuchar looked to gain a measure of legitimacy for her campaign. Meanwhile, Warren and Biden aimed to improve on third and fourth-place finishes, respectively, in Iowa.
The former vice president, who emerged as an early front-runner as he made his case as the best Democrat to beat President Donald Trump, left New Hampshire on Tuesday night for South Carolina. All of his rivals for the nomination planned to hold gatherings with supporters in New Hampshire on primary night.
The former vice president has led polls of the state, driven by overwhelming support from black voters. Speaking to supporters in Columbia, South Carolina, he pointed out that nearly all of the African-American and Latino voters in the country have not cast ballots yet.
“It ain’t over, man. We’re just getting started,” he said. “Our votes count, too. … You can’t be the Democratic nominee and you can’t win the general election as a Democrat unless you have overwhelming support from black and brown voters.”
In New Hampshire, half of Democrats said they decided in the last few days, while the other half said they made up their minds earlier, according to NBC News exit polls.
The polls asked what mattered most to voters out of four issues: health care, climate change, income inequality and foreign policy. More than a third, 37% chose health care. About a quarter, or 24%, picked climate change, while 23% answered income inequality.
Another 10% chose foreign policy.
This story is developing. Please check back for updates.