By BRIAN A. HOWEY

INDIANAPOLIS - Pete Buttigieg kept his presidential dreams alive in New Hampshire Tuesday, finishing an eyelash short of a stunning upset of Bernie Sanders in a state the Vermont socialist had carried over Hillary Clinton in a landslide four years ago. With 88% of precincts reporting, the former South Bend mayor trailed Sanders by less than 4,500 votes.

It was the late surge of Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar that prevented the outright Buttigieg upset. Klobuchar was widely credited with winning the New Hampshire debate last Friday night, and her late surge prevented Buttigieg from gaining enough momentum to overtake Sanders.

Appearing just before 11 p.m., a buoyant Buttigieg told supporters in Nashua, "Here in a state that goes by the motto Live free or Die, you made up your own mind. You have shown this campaign is here to stay. So many of you turned out—die-hard Democrats, Independents unwilling to stay on the sidelines, and even some newly-former Republicans, ready to vote for something new. Ready to vote for a politics defined by how many we can call in, instead of by who we push out."

"Now, our campaign moves on — to Nevada and South Carolina, and to communities all across our country—welcoming new allies to our movement at every step," Buttigieg sais. "We must get this right, with an unaccountable president, we must get this right."

Sanders told jubilant supporters, "Let me take this opportunity to thank the people of New Hampshire of this great victory tonight. The reason we won in New Hampshire, the reason we won in Iowa was the hard work of so many volunteers. This victory here is the beginning of the end for Donald Trump. The reason we're going to win is we're putting together a multi-racial, multi-cultural movement."

Veteran operative David Axelrod said, "What is striking ... and we saw last week in Iowa as well, Pete Buttigieg runs relatively well across all categories. He does well in different kinds of communities. And he has done a good job of casting a broad message that is hitting a large target."

Two weeks ago, Real Clear Politics polling composite at Sanders leading at 25%, Joe Biden at 17%, Elizabeth Warren and Buttigieg were tied at 14% with Klobuchar at 6%. "Give Pete credit, Pete drove turn out. Amy drove turn out. That's what we're looking for in November," said former DNC Chairman Terry McAuliffe.

ABC News exit polling revealed Buttigieg won those who made their choice in the campaign’s closing days. Those late deciders accounted for a remarkable 50% of all voters, far more than in previous New Hampshire primaries.

The "moderate" Buttigieg and Klobuchar massed almost 45% of the vote (over 50% if you include Joe Biden). Sanders ended up with a little more than a quarter of the vote.

Klobuchar celebrated her third place finish, but will probably lack the resources to compete effectively in the Super Tuesday states unless she picks up Biden and Warren supporters in Nevada and South Carolina. "We love you New Hampshire," Klobuchar said. "I love America and I will beat Donald Trump. We have beaten the odds every step of the way."

Joe Biden, who has has run for president three times and has never won a primary or caucus, said from South Carolina, "We just heard from the first two of 50 states. Two of them. Not all the nation, not half the nation … two. Now where I come from, that's the opening bell not the closing bell." 

Veteran political journalist Ron Brownstein observed, "Once again it seems virtually certain that the winner will capture the smallest percentage of any Democratic winner ever. None of these candidates is big enough to separate from the others." 

Larry Sabato, the University of Virginia political analyst, put Tuesday's election in perspective: "Two small white states aren’t the alpha and omega this time around." If Biden implodes before South Carolina vote 18 days off, veteran analyst Josh Kraushaar of the National Journal added, "Who wins the African-American vote going forward? No one, other than Biden, has a claim to their support. Bernie has a faction of the activist base, but deeply skeptical he can broaden support."

Developing . . . .