In what appears to be a photo finish, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has unofficially won Kentucky’s Democratic presidential primary. The race was so close that Clinton will split the state’s 55 delegates with Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.
Although the Associated Press said the race was “too close to call” as of early Wednesday morning, state election officials say all counties have reported completely.
Clinton took 46.76 percent of the vote with 212,550 votes, while Sanders took 46.33 percent with 210,626 votes.
Sanders swept coal country in Eastern Kentucky by wide margins, but Clinton took the populous metropolitan areas of Louisville, Lexington and Northern Kentucky.
With another state in the win column, Clinton would stymie some of Sanders’ momentum late in the primary season. Sanders has won seven of the previous 12 primary contests despite trailing in the delegate count with a narrow path to victory.
With all counties reporting, Clinton was ahead by fewer than 2,000 votes. More than 24,000 people — above 5 percent — voted “uncommitted” in the race, meaning they cast a ballot without weighing in on the presidential campaign.
Less than 21 percent of registered voters showed up to the polls.
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Paul resoundingly defeated two political newcomers, taking 85 percent of the vote.
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Real estate agent Harold Bratcher won the Republican nomination for Louisville’s 3rd Congressional District; he’ll face incumbent Democratic Rep. John Yarmuth in the fall.
Incumbent 4th District Republican Rep. Thomas Massie had no primary challenger but will face Highland Heights resident Calvin Sidle in the general election in November. Sidle also had no primary challengers.
Longtime 5th District Republican Rep. Hal Rogers won 82 percent of the vote over newcomer John Burk. Rogers has no Democratic challenger in the general election.
Nancy Jo Kemper, a pastor and former executive director of the Kentucky Council of Churches, won the 6th District Congressional primary over Lexington engineer Geoff Young. She’ll face incumbent Republican Rep. Andy Barr in the general election.
Republican Rep. Brett Guthrie of the 2nd District is running uncontested this year.
With nearly all votes counted, Hillary Clinton leads Bernie Sanders in the Kentucky Democratic primary by about 1,800 votes.
The Associated Press has said the race is too close to call. With 99.7 percent of all precincts reporting, Clinton is up 46.7 percent to 46.3 percent for Sanders.
If her lead holds, a narrow win in the Bluegrass State could give Clinton a slightly wider lead over Sen. Bernie Sanders, but would really be more of a moral victory as she seeks to turn her attention toward a likely general election race against de facto GOP nominee Donald Trump.
Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes told CNN that based on her lead, Clinton is the "unofficial winner." There is no automatic recount process in Kentucky. A candidate would have to request a recount within 10 days, and would be responsible for all costs.
Oregon Democrats are also voting Tuesday, and results from that state are expected after 11 p.m. ET.
Even though the former secretary of state has an edge of more than 280 delegates over rival Bernie Sanders, a win in Kentucky would be Clinton's first primary victory since April.
The Vermont senator recently notched wins in Indiana and West Virginia, but by margins that did little to close the gap with Clinton. Still, her repeated losses spurred talk that Clinton would have difficulty uniting Democrats in the fall, and also exposed her weaknesses with younger voters and white, working-class men.
A Kentucky win is one Clinton fought hard for, campaigning heavily in the state. According to NBC News, it was the first state since March 15 where she outspent Sanders on the airwaves.
The Kentucky contest was a closed primary — meaning only registered Democrats, and not independents or crossover Republicans, could vote in the primary. Throughout the primaries, Clinton consistently has won such closed contests.
Sanders did well in more rural areas of the state — coal mining-heavy regions similar to those he captured last week in the West Virginia primary. Those are areas Clinton did well in versus Barack Obama in 2008. Since then, she has come under fire for comments suggesting she would begin to phase out the industry in favor of cleaner energy sources, and she also has become aligned with Obama's unpopular environmental policies in the region.
But Clinton did well enough in metro areas of the state like Lexington and Louisville to take the lead over Sanders
Kentucky's 55 pledged delegates will be split proportionally, and such a close finish means they each will get roughly the same number of delegates — again, not really enough to change Clinton's advantage over Sanders. He still needs to win about 66 percent of all remaining pledged delegates to hold a majority of them; when superdelegates are included that proportion climbs to around 84 percent.
Sanders has remained in the race despite nearly insurmountable odds of reaching the 2,383 delegates needed to clinch the Democratic nomination. Tensions escalated between the campaigns and the national party on Tuesday as the Sanders campaign doubled down on charges they had been unfairly treated at this past weekend's Nevada Democratic convention. There were tense confrontations between Sanders delegates and Nevada officials, and the state party chairwoman has said she since has received threats from Sanders supporters.