Stunning stat explains how Bernie Sanders surged to a strong finish against Hillary Clinton

Both Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton are each claiming victory in the Iowa Democratic caucuses, which ended with them separated by about four delegates.

But the finish was almost unfathomable for Sanders a little less than a year ago, when he launched his campaign. And a stunning statistic helped explain how Sanders, who once trailed Clinton by more than 50 points in the Hawkeye State, was able to close the gap.

Exit polls from the Iowa caucuses revealed that younger Democratic voters aged 17 to 29 voted for Sanders at an astounding 84% clip.

Just 14% of those voters, meanwhile, broke for Clinton, while an additional 2% chose former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley (D), who suspended his campaign later in the night.

Sanders’ popularity with young voters outpaced even President Barack Obama during his 2008 campaign rise. In the 2008 caucuses, the youngest Democratic voters ended up voting for Obama at a 57% clip. Clinton’s share among that group was similar: 11%. The rest of the share went to other Democratic candidates.

By contrast on Monday night, older voters over the age of 65 opted for Clinton at a 69% clip. Clinton also had a sizeable advantage among the 45- to 64-year-old age group, while Sanders edged her out among voters aged 30 to 44.

During a Tuesday-morning CNN interview, anchor Chris Cuomo noted Sanders’ strengths with younger voters, and asked him what his message would be to older voters.

“My message is: Check my record. You will find that there is no United States senator who has been stronger on senior issues,” Sanders said, going on to cite his proposals on Social Security and the pharmaceutical industry.

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