Senator Bernie Sanders has won the first Democratic primary of Super Tuesday after defeating rival Hillary Clinton in New Zealand.
Sanders came away with the early win after snagging 21 of the 28 votes in Monday’s contest, which took place at midnight local time on Tuesday at the Public Bar and Eatery in Wellington, New Zealand.
Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton earned just six of the votes cast, while one of the votes was ruled invalid.
— Democrats Abroad NZ (@DemsAbroadNZ) February 29, 2016
Despite the modest turnout of this morning’s primary, it represents the first of 39 overseas contests in which a total of 13 pledged delegates and four superdelegates stand to be won. Each of the primaries are staged by local chapters of Democrats Abroad, the international arm of the Democratic National Committee.
The GOP does not observe overseas primaries.
According to Kat Allikian, the head of Democrats Abroad New Zealand, Tuesday’s vote was a “great success,” and represented a key opportunity for American expats to demonstrate their passion for US politics.
“Tonight’s opportunity for US Democrats living in New Zealand to cast the first votes on Super Tuesday was a great success.” she said. “Our turnout was small, but like our fellow Americans in Dixville Notch, New Hampshire, we’ve made our voices heard about the issues that matter to us.”
A longstanding feature of U.S. presidential elections, the Democrats Abroad Presidential Primary takes place over the course of one week every four years. The event is open to any American citizen, and runs between March 1 and March 8 this year. In-person voting is set to take place in 104 cities and 39 countries across the globe, with 22 of those primaries being held on Super Tuesday itself.
Democrats Abroad was formed in 1964, after American expats living in Paris and London started to petition for their right to take part in the presidential nomination process. That being said, the group didn’t hold its initial global primary until 1976, when it was allowed to send its first official voting delegation to the Democratic National Convention.
In the 2008 presidential election, more than 23,000 American expats took part in the global event. President Barack Obama beat Hillary Clinton in that contest by a margin of 33 percent.
Thus far, Clinton has yet to show direct involvement in this year’s gaggle of overseas primaries.
Last week, Democrats Abroad staged a Global Town Hall event that was broadcast online to over 2,000 American expats based around the world. Although Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders made an appearance, the Clinton campaign was instead represented by former Secretary of State and avid campaigner Madeline Albright.
Sanders then followed up on the event by issuing a last-minute campaign video encouraging American expats to turn out for the Democratic Party’s 39 overseas primaries.
Despite Sanders’ relatively large win in New Zealand, Tuesday’s early victory represents just one of 39 votes that will ultimately decide how the expat group’s 13 delegates will vote.
Officials also pointed out that all overseas primary votes are considered unofficial until confirmed at the Global Voter Tally Center, which will take place in Germany later this month. The final results of the global contest will then be announced on March 21.
“Democrats in New Zealand have made the first contribution to what could be a decisive day in US Primary elections,” said Katie Solon, International Chair of Democrats Abroad. “Although the final results of our Global Presidential Primary won’t be known until March 21, we hope that the results tonight inspire other Democrats in New Zealand and around the world to cast their votes and influence the direction of our party and our country.”
On the home front, it appears as though Sanders’ New Zealand win will do little to sway Hillary Clinton’s current momentum.
According to pollsters at RealClearPolitics, Clinton is expected to clean house on Super Tuesday – winning every primary except Vermont.
[Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images]