Dispatches From the New Hampshire Primary | Off Message

Bernie Sanders
Dispatches From the New Hampshire Primary

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Sen. Bernie Sanders speaking to supporters - PAUL HEINTZ
  • Paul Heintz
  • Sen. Bernie Sanders speaking to supporters
10:37 p.m.: With about 58 percent of precincts reporting, this doesn’t look like a Bernie Sanders win. It looks like a shellacking.

Current results have Sanders beating Clinton 59 percent to 39 percent. His strength transcended geographic and economic lines in the Granite State. Sanders won in virtually every community that has reported so far. He won blue-collar Canaan in the west, trendy Portsmouth on the seacoast, the state capital of Concord, the college town of Plymouth and the White Mountain village of Hart's Location.

But to understand Sanders’ victory, all you really have to do is look at Manchester, New Hampshire’s biggest city.

Full of middle-class, moderate voters, Manchester drove Clinton to her surprise victory over Barack Obama in the 2008 New Hampshire primary. This time, Sanders won Manchester, with 10,075 votes to Clinton's 7,536.

9:52 p.m.: In a jubilant victory speech, Sen. Bernie Sanders said his runaway victory Tuesday will help ignite his long-promised revolution to upend America's political and economic institutions.

“Together, we have sent a message that will echo from Wall Street to Washington, from Maine to California, 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 told a raucous crowd of supporters inside Concord High School.

Sanders hammered his campaign themes about income inequality and a “rigged” campaign finance system. Poking fun at his trademark Brooklyn drawl, he joked that turnout in New Hampshire was “yuuge,” and touted his ability to bring new voters to the polls.

“People came out in large numbers,” he said. “That is what will happen all over this country. Let us never forget Democrats and progressives win when voter turnout is high. Republicans win when people are demoralized and voter turnout is low.”

Sanders asked supporters to go online to make campaign donations to help fund his upcoming battles against Clinton in Nevada and South Carolina and then in other states on Super Tuesday.

“We cannot continue to have a campaign finance system in which Wall Street and the billionaire class are able to buy elections,” Sanders said. “That is not what democracy is about. That is what oligarchy is about.”

Minutes earlier, Clinton had conceded in a brief speech in nearby Manchester.

“I still love New Hampshire and I always will,” Clinton said. “Now we take this campaign to the entire country."

9:24 p.m.: Seven Days political editor Paul Heintz spotted this excited person feelin' the Bern at Bernie Sander's party in N.H.

8:50 p.m.: The dozen or so devoted Sanders supporters gathered at Finnigan's Pub in Burlington didn't let out whoops when CNN declared him the winner. This group expected their candidate to win New Hampshire. But they still wanted to know by how much once all the votes are counted. 
Sanders supporters at Finnigan's - TERRI HALLENBECK
  • Terri Hallenbeck
  • Sanders supporters at Finnigan's

“This is exciting,” said Charles Winkleman, the 26-year-old Burlington Progressive Party chair. Winkleman said he works at Burlington Children’s Space and feels a connection to Sanders, who started the center. He said he hopes Sanders will win by at least 15 percent, so pundits can’t say rival Democrat Hillary Clinton did better than expected.

“I hope this isn’t the only obvious, clear victory,” said Rebecca Grenier of Burlington, a Sanders supporter who came to Finnigan’s to watch the results with like-minded Burlington Progressives and Democrats. “It’s been so exciting to watch him rise.”

Guthrie Smith, of Huntington, said she cleaned the grime off her car to make sure her Bernie Sanders bumper sticker showed Tuesday. She went to Finnigan’s to watch the results with her daughter, Kyle Silliman-Smith of Burlington. Smith insisted she is not surprised by Sanders’ success. “Once he declared,” she said, “I felt like it’s Bernie; he’s going somewhere.”

8:25 p.m.:
Sen. Bernie Sanders declared victory in an email to supporters and said he was already moving on. He asked for donations to help in the contests to come.

“There are 14 primaries and caucuses over the next three weeks, and you can be certain that our victory tonight will prompt a desperate response from the nation’s financial elite and the political establishment who want to stop our campaign to transform America,” he said in a message sent not long after 8 p.m. "Nine months ago, if you told somebody that we would win the New Hampshire primary, they would not have believed you. Not at all. Too bold, they would have said. Not enough money to compete against the billionaires. You showed them tonight."

Sanders supporters had been still trickling into Concord High School as the clock struck 8 p.m. and the networks called it for the Vermont senator. The crowd cheered as they watched the news on a huge screen in the high school's gymnasium.

"Bernie! Bernie! Bernie!" they chanted.

Sanders was expected to give a speech shortly.

8:13 p.m.:
 Well, that didn’t take long. With a mere 7 percent of precincts reporting, the Associated Press and major networks have called the race for Bernie Sanders, based largely on exit polling. On the Republican side, Donald Trump has been proclaimed the winner.

The official results, for anyone who still cares about that kind of thing, have Sanders up 53 percent to 40 percent, with a mere 21,000 votes tallied.
Nonetheless, our bosses are going to make us stick around for a while longer tonight.

7:36 p.m.: Welcome to the Seven Days live blog of the New Hampshire primary. We will be here all night as the results trickle in, tracking the progress of our favorite Democratic Socialist, along with all the other candidates, and explaining what it all means.

Most polls have closed in New Hampshire, though several media reports indicate that the polls in Merrimack, a town of 25,000, will be stay open late due to a long line to get into the voting booth.

Bernie Sanders will be spending the evening at Concord High School. He's hoping that polls showing him with a large lead over Hillary Clinton in recent days turn out to be accurate.

To get started, we thought we'd give you a glimpse of what Granite State voters were confronted with in the voting booth. Below is the Democratic ballot from the Grafton County town of Canaan, N.H. Not too easy to find the big two candidates, huh?

In a proud New Hampshire tradition, the ballot was littered with fringe candidates, including perennial entrant Vermin Supreme, who wears a large boot on his head. He has pledged to give voters ponies, and says he is best equipped to deal with the coming zombie apocalypse.

The order the candidates' names appear on the ballot is randomized for every town.
Perennial New Hampshire presidential candidate Vermin Supreme. - COURTESY OF VERMIN SUPREME'S CAMPAIGN
  • Courtesy of Vermin Supreme's campaign
  • Perennial New Hampshire presidential candidate Vermin Supreme.

For what it's worth, New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner predicted the turnout today would be 268,000 for the Democrats, a bit lower than in the last contested New Hampshire Democratic primary in 2008. Gardner anticipated 282,000 votes would be cast in the Republican primary. New Hampshire has 883,000 registered voters, including nearly 390,000 who are registered as "undeclared." They are the notorious New Hampshire independents who are allowed to vote in either party's primary.

Technically, Sanders has spent the day enjoying a massive lead. Provided, of course, one sets aside the concept of statistical significance. The tiny mountain hamlet of Dixville Notch, N.H., voted, as always, at midnight. Sanders shut out Clinton, 4-0.

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