MANCHESTER, New Hampshire (AP) — Bernie Sanders defeated Hillary Clinton in the New Hampshire primary Tuesday, and Donald Trump also scored his first victory in a triumph of two candidates who have seized on Americans' anger at the Washington political establishment.
Both outcomes would have been nearly unthinkable not long ago. Sanders, a self-described democratic socialist, defeated Clinton, the former secretary of state and first lady once seen as the all-but-certain Democratic nominee. While Clinton remains the favorite in the national race for the Democratic nomination, the win by Sanders could be a springboard into a competitive primary campaign.
For Trump, the brash real estate magnate and television personality who has never run for public office, the win was an important rebound after his loss to Texas Sen. Ted Cruz in last week's Iowa caucuses, the first nominating contest. Trump has led national polls for months and the New Hampshire win reinforces his position as front-runner, proving his unorthodox, populist campaign can win primaries.
With Trump's victory, attention shifted to the runners-up in the race. Several candidates needed a strong finish to ensure the survival of their campaigns.
Marco Rubio, a 44-year-old Florida senator, hoped to build on a solid third-place finish in Iowa and brush off a rocky performance in last weekend's Republican debate. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Ohio Gov. John Kasich and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie have spent most of their time in the state in recent weeks and needed to show voters, as well as crucial financial donors, that they're viable candidates.
If Rubio and the governors finish in a pack, it's likely to frustrate Republican Party elites who are eager to coalesce around a single more mainstream candidate to challenge Trump and Cruz, whom they believe could be unelectable in the November general election.
At stake Tuesday were less than 1 percent of the delegates who, at party national conventions in July, will choose nominees to succeed Obama. But a strong showing in New Hampshire can result in a wave of media coverage, donations and give a candidate momentum ahead of races in coming weeks, including the March 1 "Super Tuesday, when 11 states vote.
Nearly half of voters in the Republican primary made up their mind in the past week, according to early exit polls conducted by Edison Research for the Associated Press and the television networks. Republican voters were more negative about their politicians than Democrats, with about half of Republican voters saying they felt betrayed by party officials.
In a sign of Trump's impact on the race, two-thirds of Republican voters said they support a ban on Muslims entering the U.S., a position the billionaire outlined last year amid rising fears of terrorism emanating from the Middle East.
Among Democrats, Sanders, who narrowly lost in Iowa, had maintained a sizeable advantage over Clinton in New Hampshire for weeks. He has appealed to liberal Democrats who believe Obama hasn't done enough to address the nation's disparity in wealth. Clinton has cast herself as more pragmatic and able to achieve her agenda by working with Republicans, who are likely to continue to control at least one chamber of Congress after the election. She has been on the defensive, though, about her ties to Wall Street and her use of a personal email account for official business while secretary of state, which has raised questions about whether she mishandled government secrets.
The northeastern state was friendly territory for Sanders, a senator from neighboring Vermont, and was a must-win for him to stay competitive with Clinton as the race moves to more diverse states that are seen as more hospitable to Clinton.
The enthusiasm behind Sanders and Trump underscores the public's anger with the U.S. political system. Even if neither candidate ultimately becomes his party's nominee, whoever does will have to reckon with the voter frustration they've tapped into.
For Trump, New Hampshire was his state to lose. After his second-place finish in Iowa, he accepted some of the more traditional trappings of presidential campaigns, including smaller town hall meetings with voters. Still, he closed the final full day of campaigning with a vulgar insult of Cruz.
The Texas senator brushed off Trump's comments, saying the reason Trump engages in insults "is because he can't discuss the substance."
Cruz has also seized on anti-establishment sentiment with his uncompromising conservativism. But he was a longshot to win in New Hampshire, where Republican voters are more moderate and less religious than in Iowa.