MANCHESTER, N.H. – New Hampshire’s presidential primary kicked off at midnight – as voters in three tiny townships in the state’s North Country and White Mountains cast the first ballots in the first primary in the White House race.
Dixville Notch – which has held the midnight voting tradition for 60 years – as well as nearby Millsfield and Hart’s Location, grab the national spotlight every four years as they report the first results in New Hampshire.
In Dixville Notch, a surprise candidate came away the winner. Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who did not campaign in the state, scored three write-in votes, followed by a vote each for former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar came out ahead in the other two locations.
On the final day before the primary, meanwhile, Sen. Sanders emphasized to supporters that “what happens here in New Hampshire is enormously important…the whole country is not only looking at New Hampshire – in fact, the whole world is looking at New Hampshire.”
The populist senator from Vermont who’s making his second straight White House run is in the driver’s seat – sitting atop the final public opinion polls, drawing large and energetic crowds in the closing days, and sporting arguably the largest grassroots get-out-the-vote operation in the Granite State.
After getting out of Iowa’s caucuses with essentially a tie with 2020 nomination rival Buttigieg, expectations are high for Sanders in a state where he shares home-field advantage with fellow progressive standard-bearer Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.
As he did in Iowa, Sanders is stressing to his supporters that “if we have the highest voter turnout in New Hampshire primary history, I am confident that we are going to win here in New Hampshire and if we win here in New Hampshire, we’re going to set the pace to win Nevada and South Carolina and California.”
But meeting expectations in a state where he crushed eventual nominee Hillary Clinton four years ago is crucial for Sanders.
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