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The Vermont senator will edge out former South Bend, Ind. Mayor Pete Buttigieg. Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota will come in third, according to NBC. As of the latest results Wednesday morning, with 98% of precincts reporting, Sanders had nearly 26% of the vote, while Buttigieg had more than 24%. The difference was slightly more than 4,000 votes.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and former Vice President Joe Biden were vying for fourth place as final results came in. Neither candidate will reach the 15% threshold needed to win pledged delegates, statewide and in both of its congressional districts.
The victory gives Sanders an early boost in the push for the Democratic presidential nomination after he left the Iowa caucuses with the second-most pledged national delegates in the field. The process now enters a series of generally larger, more diverse states, where the Vermont senator has outperformed Buttigieg and Klobuchar in polls.
"Let me say tonight that this victory here is the beginning of the end for Donald Trump," he told supporters as news outlets started to project his victory.
"Thanks to you, a campaign that some said shouldn't be here at all has showed that we are here to stay," Buttigieg told supporters Tuesday night.
The first-in-the-nation primary is a key proving ground for candidates in the field hoping to take on President Donald Trump, which was 11 people strong entering Tuesday. 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.
In speaking to supporters Tuesday night, several candidates argued they had the best shot to deny the president a second term. Klobuchar started her remarks by saying, "I'm Amy Klobuchar, and I will beat Donald Trump."
Warren, despite a poor performance in the state that neighbors her home of Massachusetts, cast herself as "a nominee that the broadest coalition of our party feels they can get behind."
Biden, 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.
Biden 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.
Crossfire among Democrats — particularly Sanders, Buttigieg, Biden and Klobuchar — marked the final days of the New Hampshire campaign. In his victory remarks, the Vermont senator took another swipe at his rivals, saying that "we're taking on billionaires and we're taking on the candidates funded by billionaires."
He has targeted both Buttigieg and Biden for taking money from ultra wealthy donors. Sanders has also criticized former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg for piling tens of millions of dollars into the race.
Even so, he urged his supporter to back whoever becomes the nominee against Trump.
"We are going to unite together and defeat the most dangerous president in the modern history of this country," Sanders said.