Bernie Sanders made history on Tuesday night as the senator won the crucial New Hampshire primary by a landslide over Hillary Clinton, his rival for the Democratic presidential nomination, giving his campaign a critical boost as the U.S. presidential election starts to pick up speed.
Sanders took New Hampshire with a 22-point margin over Clinton as unprecedented crowds turned out for the first-in-the-nation primary. The margin of his win set a new record for non-incumbent candidates and again demonstrated how far his message of political revolution is resonating with voters from all demographics.
"Together, we have sent a message that will echo from Wall Street to Washington and from Maine to California that the government of this great nation belongs to all of the people and not just a handful of wealthy campaign contributors and their super PACs," Sanders said Tuesday after his win.
Among the demographics who turned out for Sanders was women, who were seemingly unmoved by the Clinton campaign's explicit—and controversial—grab for their support last week. According to NBC News, 55 percent of female voters in New Hampshire cast their ballots for Sanders, while only 44 percent chose Clinton.
Meanwhile, the two demographics that Clinton carried were those aged 65 and above and those with incomes higher than $200,000—which, as the Guardian points out, is "a reversal of her comeback against [President Barack] Obama in 2008 when she won the state with the help of blue-collar workers."
With New Hampshire under his belt, corporate media may now be forced to portray Sanders as a serious challenger to establishment candidates like Clinton, as well as their Republican rivals. One of the clearest takeaways from New Hampshire's game-changing primary was the issue of trustworthiness—exit polls showed voters who sought an "honest and trustworthy" candidate favored Sanders by an eye-popping 91-5.
The results are particularly surprising not just because Sanders has risen from a 12 percent approval rating in March 2015, but because New Hampshire, an important primary state, has historically been a Clinton family stronghold. As the New York Times reports:
The couple have been unusually attached to this state for decades: Bill Clinton stabilized his scandal-plagued presidential bid in 1992 with a second-place finish in the primary, and Mrs. Clinton made her own comeback in 2008 by winning here with 39 percent of the vote after losing the Iowa caucuses to Barack Obama.
This time around, the Clintons tried to diminish the state’s importance by arguing that Mr. Sanders had an advantage because he was from a neighboring state. But they campaigned vigorously all the same, and Mr. Clinton himself unleashed a lengthy, pointed attack on Mr. Sanders at an appearance on Sunday evening.
Sanders pointed to that challenge in his speech Tuesday night, stating, "Nine months ago, we began our campaign here in the Granite State. We had no campaign organization and we had no money. And we were taking on the most powerful political organization in the United States of America, a team that defeated Barack Obama here in the Democratic primary in 2008."
"And tonight," he said, "through a record-breaking voter turnout, we won because we harnessed the energy and the excitement that the Democratic Party will need to succeed in November."
Sanders' message faces a bigger test in the Nevada caucus on February 20 and the South Carolina primary the following week. As New York Magazine's Ed Kilgore writes:
There were not enough nonwhite voters to even register in the New Hampshire exit polls. In the next primary state — South Carolina, which votes after a murky, labor-dominated caucus in Nevada — 55 percent of the votes in 2008 were African-American. Sanders will then have his chance to show he can win such voters for the first time in his career. And Hillary Clinton will have the opportunity to show that the first two states are, as their critics have often said, simply not representative of the Democratic Party.
But the tables have turned for the Democratic rivals, Kilgore continues:
Clinton is the one facing the pressure... She's gone from being the "inevitable" nominee to having to make excuses for a win in Iowa so narrow as to be meaningless, and then a pretty bad loss in the state that saved her bacon in 2008.
"Even before she reaches what should be the safe haven of South Carolina," Kilgore writes, "she needs to show that her organization can win another caucus state in Nevada."