By the end of next week, all the presidential candidates who want a shot at winning over New Hampshire voters will have swung through the state — at least long enough to file the paperwork to get on the ballot.
A handful of candidates have made a point to stick around, however, some of them following a strategy they’ve employed for months and others giving the state renewed attention in hopes that it might revive somewhat-languishing campaigns.
The national press corps is taking note, of course. In recent days, both the New York Times and the Washington Post have published stories looking at the candidates who’ve pinned their hopes on New Hampshire. (The Post’s story also looks at those focusing on Iowa.)
The main takeaway from both pieces: The state’s still a prime scene for face-to-face campaigning, but the ones leading the pack nationally haven’t necessarily been spending much time in New Hampshire.
Take, for instance, Chris Christie, Jeb Bush and John Kasich. The Times story is peppered with scenes depicting the quintessential retail politicking the state is known for, but also underscores a hard truth for those who like to tout the importance of New Hampshire grassroots campaigning: “With just three months remaining before the first votes are cast, two candidates who have spent little time here, Donald J. Trump and Ben Carson, are leading in most national and New Hampshire Republican polls.”
The Post also takes note of Christie, Bush and Kasich putting in extra time in New Hampshire. But their story also points out that Lindsey Graham and George Pataki — both of whom are polling so low nationally that they’ve been bumped from the “undercard” debate — are focusing almost exclusively on the state.
As has been written plenty of times before, these candidates who prioritize New Hampshire tend to be those who seek to appeal to a more moderate segment of the Republican electorate — one diner, living room or town hall at a time.
“It remains unclear whether the romantic notion of attempting to meet thousands of voters in one state may give way this cycle to the national dialogue steered by televised debates and poll-driven media coverage,” the Post writes.