MANCHESTER, N.H. – They'd been standing for hours in Southern New Hampshire University's fieldhouse, but when Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) walked on stage victorious, the crowd, made up of around 400 of his supporters, cheered with renewed passion.
With 25.7% of the vote, Sanders won the Granite State's first-in-the-nation primary by a little over one percentage point. In a tighter race than polls predicted, Sanders was followed closely by former South Bend, Ind. Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who attained 24.4% support.
Rounding out the top three was Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) with 19.8% of the vote.
Next came the two former Penn professors, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and former Vice President Joe Biden. Both turned in dismal performances, drawing in 9.2% and 8.4% of the vote respectively.
Hundreds of people, primarily white, populated Sanders' primary watch party, ranging from young to middle-aged adults. The attendees cheered and waved posters up and down, chanting a variety of slogans during the victory celebration: “Bernie beats Trump," “Not me, us,” “Green New Deal,” “Health care is a right,” and “We are the 99%.”
Meanwhile, about 20 minutes away in Nashua, nearly 1,200 Buttigieg supporters crowded into a community college gym, staring at a large television screen tuned to CNN. As their presidential pick gained on Sanders in the polls, the restless crowd rooted the mayor on, yelling “President Pete” and “Boot Edge Edge.”
The crowd at both events was made up of New Hampshire locals and other East Coast residents invested in politics.
Sanders supporter and Virginia Tech junior Lindsay Lozowskie drove up from school for the primary and canvassed for two days before attending the primary night rally. Lozowskie hopes the Vermont senator will win the presidency so she can receive affordable medical treatment for her chronic Lyme disease.
"With Medicare for All, I’ll be able to get the treatment I need without my parents going bankrupt for it," Lozowskie said. "So I’m really happy that Bernie won tonight in New Hampshire and I’m really excited to see where this momentum goes.”
Joe Dakin, a New England College sophomore and New Hampshire local, said he voted for Sanders in Tuesday's primary. Although he was eligible to vote in 2016, this year was the first time he felt an urgency to head to the polls.
"I wanted a certain person to win the election so I made sure to vote this time – I don’t normally vote just because I have a busy schedule," Dakin said.
Attendees at Buttigieg's watch party at Nashua Community College were primarily white and middle-aged, though many college and high school students were also in attendance.
Nashua Community College freshman Thomas McGreevy attended Buttigieg's primary night event and said he was not discouraged by the candidate's second-place finish.
"[The race] is still anyone’s ballgame," McGreevy said. "But, that said, I really feel like the Buttigieg movement has so much energy. It’s so exciting to see with this movement, not only for Pete, but the rest of the Democratic party."
New Hampshire resident and Millford High School senior Kat Raino said she supports Buttigieg because she thinks he can unite the country better than any other candidate.
"I see a lot of things in Pete that remind me of that vision of America where we have diverse opinions to come together to get things done," she said.
In 2016, Sanders won the New Hampshire Democratic primary by more than 20 percentage points over former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The winner of the state's primary has gone on to win the Democratic nomination in three out of the last five elections, according to The New York Times.
Though they champion different Democratic candidates, young supporters of Sanders and Buttigieg both stressed the importance of their vote.
Twenty-four-year-old New Hampshire local Cameo Bixby, who currently works at New England College, supports Buttigieg. She said all people, especially new voters, should take advantage of their newfound privilege — regardless of their preferred candidate.
"I think it’s important to stand up for what you believe in, and if you think the system is not working out, you should stand up and want to see change," she said. "You need to vote to see change."
Sanders supporter Harrison Herbert emphasized the importance of all votes, but especially for those in swing states. Herbert is now a senior at a New Jersey high school, but was born and raised in New Hampshire where he is still a registered voter.
"It’s just important to vote," he said. "It’s important to get your opinion out there, because if you don’t, the only person to blame is yourself.
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