Bernie Sanders Won The Most Votes In New Hampshire Primary History: A Look At The Numbers

Bernie Sanders won the most votes of any candidate in the history of New Hampshire presidential primaries. New Hampshire is a tiny state, and the numbers may mean little outside of New England, but it is actually an important state for presidential candidates.

It was the second-highest voter turnout in the history of New Hampshire primaries. Bernie Sanders’ win, in particular, is historic in itself. His total win of 151,584 votes means he received more votes than any other presidential candidate in history, not just in this year’s primary. This translates into a total of 28 percent of the votes, a higher percentage than any other candidate in the race.

In a Business Insider story, the comments below the story argue about the straight numbers, some believing that the Feb. 9 primary was meaningless due to the state’s small size. In 2008, Democratic numbers were indeed higher, but what about the ratio of eligible voters? What percentage of voters threw their support behind the Democratic candidates?

Let’s look at the numbers.

For the sake of expediency, we’ll talk mainly about the Democratic side. In 2008, the state of New Hampshire had a total of 885,494 eligible voters. Of those, 258,776 were registered Democrats.

Total votes for Democrats in 2008, when Barack Obama ran against Hillary Clinton, came to 287,557, which clearly means some undeclared registered voters gave the Democrats their votes. In total, 527,349 people voted in that election, Democrats won nearly 55 percent of ballots in New Hampshire’s 2008 primary.

Prior to last week’s primary, New Hampshire had fewer registered voters at 873,932 voters. A total of 538,094 ballots were cast. Democrats had 229,202 registered voters and at the end of the day, the party received 250,974 votes. This means, again, that some undeclared folks gave their votes to a Democratic candidate.

But this year, Democrats only received 47 percent of the votes.

This means that Democrats did not get 53 percent of the available votes in New Hampshire. It means that 53 percent of voters chose a Republican candidate over either Bernie Sanders or Hillary Clinton.

New Hampshire is historically a moderate state often with more registered Republicans than registered Democrats, and this year was no exception.

PORTSMOUTH, NH - FEBRUARY 07: Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-VT) speaks at a campaign rally at Great Bay Community College on February 7, 2016 in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Sanders is hoping to win the New Hampshire democratic primary on Tuesday. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)

The GOP certainly performed better than either Democratic candidate, but Bernie Sanders’ win in New Hampshire was significant and a historic win at that due to his ability to energize voters. Even so, Sanders’ campaign acknowledges that the primaries remain an uphill battle

Donald Trump, likewise, has succeeded wildly in his ability to excite voters as well. He handily won victory in New Hampshire with 100,406 of the votes. In 2012, Mitt Romney was only able to muster 95,669 votes in the state’s Republican primary. In the veritable clown car that is the Republican field, Trump’s win is just as significant as Bernie Sanders’ win, if not more, due to the sheer volume of voter turnout last week.

For reference, Mitt Romney’s 2012 performance was still better than Hillary Clinton’s performance in 2016, where she garnered only 95,252 votes.

During the 2008 primaries, more people were registered to vote, with 59 percent of eligible voters turning out in the polls. Last week, 61 percent of New Hampshire’s voters turned out. As earlier noted, Democrats received 47 percent of the votes, but Republicans in total received 53 percent.

But all that may not matter going into the general election in November. If Trump manages to get the nomination, Bernie Sanders would beat him with 51 percent of the votes, according to a Quinnipiac poll from December. If Ted Cruz were to get the nomination, the same poll shows him beating Bernie, but only by one percentage point. Hillary Clinton would tie Cruz 44 to 44 percent.

But that was more than one month ago. How does Sanders do now? In a more recent Quinnipiac poll released on Feb. 5, Bernie defeats Trump 49 to 39 percent. He also beats Ted Cruz 46 to 42 percent. While Clinton trails Rubio in the latest poll 48 to 41 percent, Bernie Sanders manages to tie him at 43-43.

Even with results showing a higher number of people choosing the Republican side in New Hampshire, Bernie Sanders, with his resounding win last week, remains a favorite against most GOP nominees. And going into the Nevada caucuses, Sanders is in a better position to excite voters than his primary opponent.

[Photo: Andrew Burton/Getty]