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, beat a former secretary of state and first lady once seen as the all-but-certain Democratic nominee. While Clinton remains the favourite in the national race for the Democratic nomination, the win by the Vermont senator 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 under the banner of a major party, the win was an important rebound after his loss to Texas Senator Ted Cruz in last week's Iowa caucuses, the first nominating contest.

Trump led national polls for months and the New Hampshire victory reinforces his position as front-runner, proving he can win votes and adding credibility to his upstart populist candidacy.

Donald Trump

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, flanked by wife Melania, left, and daughter Ivanka, right, thanks supporters at his election night party in Manchester, N.H. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

"We are going to do something so good and so fast and so strong and the world is going to respect us again, believe me," Trump said at a victory rally.

Trump reiterated his key talking points and said his team is already gearing up for the primary in South Carolina.

"Remember, you started it," he told voters as supporters chanted the billionaire's name over and over in the background.

With nearly 90 per cent of precincts reporting Trump won 35 per cent of the vote, way ahead of second place finisher Ohio Governor John Kasich, who had just under 16 per cent

Cruz appeared headed for a third place showing, closely followed by Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio, with all undoubtedly pressing on to South Carolina for the Feb. 20 primary.

At stake were 23 delegates. Trump had locked up 10 so far, with Kasic grabbing three and Cruz and Bush earning two each.

'People want real change'

Among Democrats, Sanders, who narrowly lost in Iowa, had maintained a sizable 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.

​Sanders, who became the first Jewish-American to win a U.S. primary, thanked his volunteers and supporters and touted the strong turnout in New Hampshire.

"Let us never forget, Democrats and progressives win when voter turnout is high," he said. "Republicans win when people are demoralized and voter turnout is low."


Democratic U.S. presidential candidate Bernie Sanders smiles after winning at his 2016 New Hampshire presidential primary night rally in Concord. (Rick Wilking/Reuters)

He said his win in New Hampshire showed that Americans wouldn't accept a corrupt campaign finance system and a "rigged" economy.

Sanders looked ahead to the general election, saying Democrats must work together to make sure Republicans don't win the White House in the general election.

"The people want real change," Sanders said to cheers from his supporters.

"The government of our great country belongs to all of the people, and not just a handful of wealthy campaign contributors and their super PACs," he added.

Many Republicans decide last minute

The two candidates were battling for 32 delegates in the state. Sanders amassed 60 per cent of the vote and was 21 percentage points ahead of Clinton in total vote count with nearly 90 per cent of precincts reporting, with his delegate advantage 13-9.

Overall, Clinton has amassed at least 392 delegates and Sanders at least 42; the magic number to clinch the nomination is 2,382.

On the Republican side, Rubio appeared to be breaking away after a stronger-than-expected showing in Iowa, but he stumbled in Saturday's debate under intense pressure from Chris Christie. The New Jersey governor has relentlessly cast the young senator as too inexperienced and too reliant on memorized talking points to become president.

It may have damaged Rubio, but it didn't give Christie a much-needed lift. He was locked into sixth place and will finish with between seven and eight per cent of the vote.

Christie said he was heading home to New Jersey to reassess his presidential bid instead of a previously planned appearance Wednesday in South Carolina. His philosophical tone seemed to suggest the likely outcome, as he spoke of "the magic and the mystery of politics," to his supporters.

Carly Fiorina, with just over four per cent of the vote, gave no indication she was done. She said to supporters at a country club in Manchester that "I'm not going to sit down and be quiet, and neither are you."

Ben Carson campaigned relatively little in the state, as he looked towards South Carolina and Florida. Accordingly, he attracted just over two per cent of voters in New Hampshire.

At stake Tuesday were less than one per cent of the delegates who, at party national conventions in July, will choose nominees to succeed President Barack Obama. But a strong showing in New Hampshire can result in a wave of media coverage, donations and give a candidate momentum ahead of state contests in coming weeks, including the March 1 "Super Tuesday," when 11 states vote.

John Kasich

Republican presidential candidate and Ohio Governor John Kasich's candidacy could be boosted after a second place finish in New Hampshire, but it remains to be seen if he can appeal to voters in the next primary, in South Carolina. (Andrew Burton/Getty Images)

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.

Early exit polls showed Trump drew support from voters looking for an outsider and from those who made up their minds a while ago.

Clinton deemed less honest than Sanders 

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 and about her overall trustworthiness.


Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton congratulated Bernie Sanders on his win and said her team would push onward. 'I will work harder than anyone to actually make the changes that make your lives better,' she told her supporters. (Elise Amendola/Associated Press)

Clinton congratulated Sanders, thanked her volunteers and said, "I still love New Hampshire and I always will."

At her rally, she said she was taking her campaign to the entire country, where her team would fight for every vote in every state.

"Here's what I promise. I will work harder than anyone to actually make the changes that make your lives better," she told supporters.

Clinton said she knows she has work to do — especially with young people, saying that even if they aren't supporting her now, "I support them."

Fewer than half the New Hampshire Democrats polled find Clinton to be honest and trustworthy.

"He's had the same views forever, and he's never budged. That makes me feel confident in him," said Nicole Reitano, a 24-year-old from Nashua who voted for Sanders.

For Trump, New Hampshire was his state to lose. After losing 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 fiery conservative rhetoric. But he was a longshot to win in New Hampshire, where Republican voters are more moderate and less religious than in Iowa.

Sanders rally

People cheer results at the primary night watch party for Sanders in Concord, N.H. Sanders was the projected Democratic winner shortly after the polls closed. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

With files from CBC News