Clinton Campaign Turns Up Heat for N.H. Campus Vote in Race's Final Stretch

Nov 4, 2016

Haley Dunning, Avant, and Hannah Wilson at the UNH College Democrats Table
Credit Hannah McCarthy

Chelsea Clinton is campaigning for her mother, Hillary Clinton, in New Hampshire on Friday. She'll make stops at Keene State and Dartmouth College, just the latest in a series of college campus visits for the Clinton campaign in the state.

The youth could mean a boost for Clinton in the New Hampshire polls -- but only if college-aged voters bother to cast their ballot. 

Haley Dunning is one young voter who needs no convincing. Standing  behind the College Democrats table at the University of New Hampshire in Durham, she says she's done her research and feels Clinton is the right choice. But Dunning is more perplexed by her ambivalent peers than by those who are voting for Trump. 

"I try and only be friends with people who are definitely voting," Dunning says, "There's so many people that walk by that are not sure if they're gonna vote, or they're definitely not gonna vote, and I don't really get that. It sucks that people don't care, because it's super, super important."

It’s especially important in New Hampshire, a state that could spell a major difference in this year’s presidential election. Chris Galdieri, a professor of politics at St. Anselm College, recalls the last time New Hampshire played a vital role in a tight election.

"I think in the back of everybody's mind," says Galdieri, "is the 2000 election, where, if Al Gore had won in New Hampshire, which he lost very narrowly, the Florida recount would have been an afterthought with no impact on the final outcome of the race."

Galdieri says that the margin of victory this year could come from the youth vote, which leans Democratic. But young Democrats aren’t as enthusiastic about Clinton as they were about President Obama.

"I think the Clinton campaign," Galdieri posits, " knows that they need to turn out as many of those voters as possible, and boost their support amongst them, in order to win the election."

This is where a string of campus campaign events hosted by popular Clinton surrogates might come in handy. In the past week alone, the campaign has dispatched Senator Bernie Sanders to Plymouth State University and Dartmouth, and Chelsea Clinton to Keene State and Dartmouth. Julie McClain, the communications director of Hillary for New Hampshire, says those and other surrogates speak to a wide range of potential voters – but especially young ones.

"Even if it's just people that may have felt like they weren't interested in voting this year," McClain says, "we have people like Connie Britton and the stars of Scandal come to campuses and talk to people about why it is so imperative that they vote this year."

These events, says McClain, are also about educating students on the “nuts and bolts,” of voter registration and polling.

The Clinton campaign plans to keep up this campus tour until the final hour, and they’ve saved one of their biggest names for last. President Obama will make the final call for the youth vote at UNH on Monday – one day before Election Day.