The results of the Democratic Party’s Iowa Caucus may have been a “virtual tie” – but there was a clear winner in the contest among young people.

Bernie Sanders, the self-described “democratic socialist” senator from Vermont who has surprised pundits by giving Hillary Clinton a run for her money, swept the board in younger demographics.

According to figures published by the US’s New York Times newspaper, Mr Sanders won 84 per cent of the vote of people aged between 17 and 29 – a huge landslide.

Mr Sanders’s political programme has focused on fixing America’s broken healthcare system and replacing it with a public, free-at-the-point-of-use system similar to the NHS.

He also supports a significant rise in the minimum wage – the US equivalent of a “living wage” – and scrapping tuition fees at public universities.

With the very last votes being counted in the poll it appears that Hillary Clinton very narrowly won the overall electorate with 49.9 per cent, with Mr Sanders close behind on 49.6 per cent.

Mr Sanders’ campaign has wrong-footed seasoned Washington DC observers and he has been credited with forcing Ms Clinton to swing leftwards and focus more on issues of social justice and equality.

With a lack of other credible candidates – Martin O’Malley has struggled to even poll single figures – the narrative of the race for the Democratic nomination has been polarised between Ms Clinton and Mr Sanders.

The senator also did well amongst voters making less than $50,000 a year and amongst voters who described themselves as “very liberal”, the NYT reports.

Voters aged 17 were polled because people aged 17 are allowed to vote in primary elections in Iowa if they are set to be aged 18 when the presidential election occurs.

The Iowa Caucuses are the first of 50 local state contests to decide who becomes the Democratic and Republican nominee for president/

The other contensts, most of which are conventional primary elections, will be held over the next few months.

In the Republican contenst, held concurrently with the Democratic one, Texas Senator Ted Cruz pulled off a surprise victory, beating frontrunner billionaire Donald Trump into second place. Congressman Marco Rubio also outperformed expectations.

The winners of the two primary seasons will go head-to-head in the US presidential election on 6 November: candidates from other parties are rarely given the time of day.