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Democrats make final push in lead-up to New Hampshire primary

Democratic candidates are criss-crossing New Hampshire in last-ditch efforts to shore up votes before the first 2020 presidential primary is held on Tuesday. President Trump, who is not facing a serious Republican challenger, will hold a Monday rally in Manchester. New Hampshire Public Radio's Casey McDermott joins Alison Stewart to discuss the campaigns and what makes New Hampshire voters unique.

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  • Alison Stewart:

    For more on the campaigns and the Tuesday primary, New Hampshire Public Radio political reporter Casey McDermott joins us now from Manchester. So Casey, I have to ask, how have New Hampshire party leaders been reacting to the Iowa breakdown?

  • Casey McDermott:

    One of the things that they're doing this time around, which is something that they really do pretty routinely, is they're sending out state election inspectors to every single polling place throughout the day. But this time, they're actually hitting every single polling place, including the ones that open at midnight for that kind of famous New Hampshire midnight voting tradition. So that's something new.

    And then another thing they are doing this year, which is rather novel, is that they've set the expectation that if something were to happen, if something were to go wrong, they have committed to being very transparent throughout the day to the point where they have set aside space at the New Hampshire statehouse — this is something that I'm not aware of them doing ever before — for the media and also representatives from all of the presidential campaigns. So that throughout the day, if something were to require some kind of substantial update from state leaders, that there would be a place for that information to be shared as it's happening, as it's available. So that really misinformation doesn't kind of fester in the meantime.

  • Alison Stewart:

    So I'm wondering about New Hampshire voters. Are people locked in or will the results from Iowa — could they have an effect on people in New Hampshire on how they vote?

  • Casey McDermott:

    People are really still making up their minds for the most part. And that's borne out in a lot of the polling that we've seen. A large chunk of the electorate waits to make up their mind and really takes their time until, really, primary day to make up their final decision. So I know when I was talking to some people outside of an event for Mayor Buttigieg earlier this weekend, they were saying that they still weren't entirely sure if they were going to vote for him. Now, of course, there were people there who also said that they were fans of his, but a lot of people are really still scoping out their options.

  • Alison Stewart:

    One candidate who we haven't seen on the debate stage, but who I understand in New Hampshire is really trying to make a play for New Hampshire is Representative Tulsi Gabbard. Tell us how?

  • Casey McDermott:

    A few months ago, right before the deadline for people to update their party registration, she sent out a campaign email encouraging people if they knew Republicans in their lives that were perhaps interested in supporting her or supporting someone different, encouraging them to update their party registration to 'undeclared' or 'independent' so that they could vote for her in the primary. And what I found was that people were really coming in from a lot of different political ideologies to kind of find out what she was about and to perhaps line up behind her to support her. And I think that we're seeing at least a little bit of traction behind her from people who are, you know, uncomfortable with the political establishment of either party.

  • Alison Stewart:

    I also understand that Andrew Yang seems to be interesting to people in New Hampshire. Why do New Hampshirites like Andrew Yang?

  • Casey McDermott:

    You know, similarly, he has kind of appealed to people who are not perhaps part of the party establishment. I think he's also built up a lot of goodwill in the state. I know I've seen party leaders say that they have a lot of respect for him for the amount of time that he's put in here. People are definitely giving even those candidates who are not at kind of the top of the polls a close look.

  • Alison Stewart:

    There's been a lot of discussion about the demographics of New Hampshire and it having such a big influence on the election season given its demographics: 93 percent white, almost 4 percent Latinx, 3 percent Asian, 1.7 percent African-American. How do local political leaders, how are they defending their first in the nation status? I've seen the hashtag #FITN all over Twitter.

  • Casey McDermott:

    FITN, for the uninitiated, means first in the nation. And it's kind of a shorthand for the New Hampshire primary up here. There has been quite a concerted effort, particularly among the political establishment, to keep New Hampshire first in the nation. But one of the things that we've found in our reporting is that the kind of idea of what a New Hampshire campaign or what a New Hampshire primary really looks like is changing. We're seeing a lot of those traditional house parties and traditional kind of small, intimate town halls give way to larger rallies, a more kind of national media driven campaign. Just this week, we had CNN holding town halls where in the past those town halls may have been happening in local community centers. So one of the things that we've found is that while people who are very adamant about New Hampshire's place in the primary will say that we are a place where grassroots campaigning is important, and they will use that as kind of a counter argument to people who raise questions about our demographic makeup, that grassroots campaigning is not always what we still see in the modern New Hampshire primary campaigns of today.

  • Alison Stewart:

    Casey McDermott from New Hampshire Public Radio, thanks so much for being with us.

  • Casey McDermott:

    Thanks so much.

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