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Biden wins the New Hampshire Democratic primary as a write-in candidate

NBC News projects that President Joe Biden won the state's unusual primary, even though his name wasn't on the ballot.
Image: President Biden Welcomes Mayors Attending The U.S. Conference Of Mayors Winter Meeting To The White House
President Joe Biden speaks at an event in the East Room of the White House on Friday.Drew Angerer / Getty Images

MANCHESTER, N.H. — President Joe Biden easily won New Hampshire’s unusual Democratic presidential primary as a write-in Tuesday, NBC News projects, blowing past two long-shot challengers whose names were on the ballot. 

With more than 35% of the expected vote counted, Biden had a commanding two-thirds of ballots cast, almost 50 percentage points ahead of the competition. Rep. Dean Phillips, D-Minn., was in a distant second with about 20% of the vote. And self-help author Marianne Williamson had about 4%.

Biden’s name was not on the ballot and the primary will not award delegates, because it was held in violation of the Democratic National Committee, which wanted South Carolina to hold its primary before New Hampshire.

Biden did not compete in New Hampshire, and he alienated plenty of local Democrats because he was the one who directed the DNC to rewrite the primary calendar to end New Hampshire's 100-year reign as the first-in-the-nation primary state.

See the results in New Hampshire.

Phillips and Williamson sought to capitalize on Biden's snub and Democrats' concerns about Biden. Phillips went all in on New Hampshire, arguing to Democratic voters that Biden cannot beat the likely GOP nominee, Donald Trump, that he is too old and that he needs to be replaced.

It didn't work.

Biden is on track to win more votes in New Hampshire as a write-in candidate than President Barack Obama did when he ran for re-election in 2012, unopposed and on the ballot.

Phillips, meanwhile, may not quite meet the unambitious goal he set for himself of clearing 20%.

Biden was buoyed by a write-in campaign organized by New Hampshire Democrats, who mainly wanted to avoid the embarrassment of his finishing behind one of his challengers.

Biden allies now hope a strong victory will settle Democrats' nerves and shut down any further competition against him in the primary campaign.

“What Joe Biden and Democrats really need is for Dean Phillips to just go away and not have any momentum,” said Jim Messina, who managed Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign. 

Phillips and Williamson have both signed up to attend a party fundraising dinner this weekend in South Carolina, which will hold its primary on Feb. 3.

Meanwhile, the Biden campaign is undergoing a shakeup, with 2020 campaign manager Jennifer O’Malley Dillon leaving her position at the White House to take a leadership role with the re-election campaign in Delaware.

The New Hampshire secretary of state has said write-in votes are counted as long as voters’ intentions can be reasonably determined, so misspellings of Biden’s name were accepted.