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 favorite 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, the win was an important rebound after his loss to Texas Sen.

Ted Cruz in last week's Iowa caucuses, the first nominating contest. Trump has 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.

For some Republican leaders, back-to-back victories by Trump and Cruz, an uncompromising conservative, add urgency to the need to coalesce around a more mainstream candidate to challenge them through the primaries.

However, it was unlikely that New Hampshire's contest would clarify that slice of the field, with Ohio Governor John Kasich, Florida Sen Marco Rubio and former Florida Governor JebBush all locked in a tight race, along with Cruz, behind Trump.

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