Bernie Sanders narrowly won the first Democratic primary election, an early success in the race to see who will oppose US President Donald Trump in the presidential election later come November.
Sanders, a 78-year-old self-described Democratic socialist, came just ahead of former mayor Pete Buttigieg in the New Hampshire primary, NBC News and the Associated Press reported.
Buttigieg was a little known mayor of South Bend, Indiana before entering the Democratic primary race. The more moderate candidate appeared to win the chaotic Iowa Caucuses last week where data inconsistencies delayed the release of official results from the state's Democratic party.
Senator Amy Klobuchar from Minnesota unexpectedly finished in third place, giving her momentum to continue in the race as it moves to more populous states.
Senator Elizabeth Warren came fourth and former vice president Joe Biden came fifth, disappointing results for both candidates who have been pegged as early frontrunners in the race.
"This victory here is the beginning of the end for Donald Trump," Sanders said after winning the primary race. An NBC News exit poll showed that Sanders' support came largely from young liberals in the state.
Sanders, an Independent Senator from Vermont, won the New Hampshire primary in the 2016 election as well.
"So many of you chose to meet a new era of challenge with a new generation of leadership," said 38-year-old Buttigieg in his speech in the state. The young mayor is ideologically more moderate than his older rival.
Leaving the race
For other candidates, New Hampshire signalled the end of the road.
Businessman Andrew Yang ended his presidential race, stating: "Together we will continue to do the work and move this country forward because the Yang Gang isn't going anywhere."
Senator Michael Bennet, a Democrat from Colorado and former school superintendent, also ended his presidential race after a poor showing in the early primary election.
"I feel nothing as we conclude this campaign and this chapter," Bennet tweeted.
Former vice-presidential candidate Joe Biden, who was thought to be the frontrunner of the Democratic race, left the state of New Hampshire early, heading to South Carolina which will hold their primary election at the end of the month.
"We just heard from the first two of the 50 states; two of them; not all the nation; not half the nation; not a quarter of the nation; not 10%; two," Biden said.
But historically, the Democratic candidate for president has come first or second in the early state primary.
Hillary Clinton finished second in New Hampshire in 2016, Barack Obama finished first in 2008, John Kerry finished first in 2004, Al Gore finished first in 2000, and Bill Clinton finished second in 1992.
The next states to pick their candidate for the Democratic party will be Nevada on February 22 and South Carolina on February 29.
Then, fourteen states, including the two most populous California and Texas, will head to the polls on March 3. The last states will vote in June.