Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders has an early lead in the New Hampshire Democratic primary, the first primary of the 2020 presidential race.
With about 70% of precincts reporting, Sanders had 26% of the vote, followed by former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, with 24%, Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar, a surprising third with 20%, bouncing back from a poor showing in the Iowa caucus, and Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, with 9%.
The rest of the field trail the top four candidates in single digits.
Entrepreneur Andrew Yang, who is at the bottom of the pack with just 3% in the early going, plans to drop out of the race, his campaign announced.
Colorado Senator Michael Bennet also ended his bid for the presidency Tuesday in New Hampshire.
If the results hold up, Sanders could solidify his front-runner status, but would have two popular centrists close behind. Many political analysts question whether a self-avowed democratic socialist like Sanders could unseat Republican President Donald Trump, who has repeatedly lashed out at Sanders' socialist policies, which include a Medicare-for-All universal health care program.
Sanders and Buttigieg entered New Hampshire tied as the front-runners in the wake of last week's muddled Iowa caucuses, in which Buttigieg narrowly won the most delegates while Sanders narrowly won the popular vote.
Some analysts forecast there could be a number of write-in votes for former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Bloomberg was not on the ballot in New Hampshire, preferring to concentrate on other states that will be up for grabs in the coming month. But Bloomberg has become a recent target of Trump's criticism — a sign that he is starting to draw attention in a crowded field.
Former Vice President Joe Biden is currently in fifth place in New Hampshire, with about 8%. He left New Hampshire for South Carolina before the election results were even in.
Biden finished a poor fourth in Iowa last week after being touted as the front-runner long before he declared his candidacy.
Gibbs Knotts, a political science professor at the College of Charleston, said the February 29 primary in South Carolina "cannot get here soon enough for Biden."
"There's some good news for Biden. Every poll he has been up in South Carolina," Knotts told VOA. "He's going to very friendly territory, he's got the most endorsements, he's got really strong support from the black community in South Carolina, that's going to be over 60% of primary voters likely. It's such a contrast to these states that are much less diverse like Iowa and New Hampshire."
Biden expressed a sense of forward-looking confidence as he addressed his supporters at a rally Tuesday in Columbia, South Carolina, telling them, "We're just getting started."
"Tonight though, we just heard from the first two of 50 states, two of them," he said. "Not all the nation. Not half the nation. Not a quarter of the nation, not 10 percent -- two. Now where I come from, that's the opening bell, not the closing bell. And the fight to end Donald Trump's presidency is just beginning."
Warren also remained upbeat Tuesday despite a second disappointing finish to start the nomination process.
"This fight we're in -- the fight to save our democracy -- is an uphill battle," she said. "But our campaign is built for the long haul."
And highlighting an issue that many Democrats have said is among their biggest priorities when choosing a candidate, Warren said, "Our campaign is best positioned to beat Donald Trump in November, because we can unite our party."
The New Hampshire winner could gain an edge in the next two Democratic contests, in Nevada on Feb. 20 and South Carolina, ahead of 14 states voting on "Super Tuesday" March 3.