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The Vermont independent’s 22-point win is the largest margin of victory in the state since John F. Kennedy captured 85.2 percent of the vote in 1960. Sanders beat Clinton in nearly every major voting category: young people, women and the elderly.
While the results are a clear boon for Sanders, who has new ammunition and legs going into the next wave of voting, it’s a complete embarrassment for Clinton, who entered this presidential campaign as the presumed front-runner with enormous backing from the party and no viable challenger in sight.
Here’s what Sanders’ landslide victory Tuesday night means for both candidates going forward.
Bernie Sanders: Money and Momentum
During his victory speech, Sanders took a subtle but powerful swipe at Clinton and her super PAC, telling the crowd that he was headed to New York, but not to fundraiser. Instead he held what he called a fundraiser right there on the podium, asking for small donations from the country to help propel his campaign into Super Tuesday on March 1.
The message was heard. Campaign officials told ABC News the senator had his biggest fundraising night to date. That money, plus the eye-popping numbers and headlines overnight, give Sanders a huge boost going into the next contests.
“We are on our way with real momentum into the states ahead,” Tad Devine, a senior strategist with the Sanders campaign, told ABC. “The voters in America did not know they had a credible option to Clinton until we fought her to a virtual tie in Iowa.”
The size of his victory also, momentarily, hushed critics who sought to spin his expected victory in New Hampshire as simply the result a home-field advantage.
The Sanders campaign from the beginning knew it needed to exceed expectations in Iowa and New Hampshire in order to archive name recognition and serious consideration from voters around the country. The campaign is now moving staff from early states to Nevada, South Carolina and Super Tuesday states, to gear up for a long fight against Clinton.
Hillary Clinton: Time for a Reboot (Again)
Yes, Clinton anticipated this loss, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t sting.
In the final days before the primary, the Clinton campaign had hoped to, at least, close the gap between her and Sanders: They flooded the state with resources and surrogates, tweaked their messaging and even sent Clinton door-knocking herself. But their efforts didn’t remotely pay off, and now Clinton is once again faced with the challenge of how to reboot.
Until then, the campaign is setting its sights on March. Campaign officials say they’re confident the support Clinton has among African-American and Hispanic populations in the critical Super Tuesday states will propel her to the nomination.
“The nomination will very likely be won in March, not February,” Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook wrote in a memo released Tuesday night, conceding a loss to Sanders. “And we believe that Hillary Clinton is well positioned to build a strong, potentially insurmountable, delegate lead next month.”