Best from the Trail

Here's a selection of the best audio and digital pieces from NHPR's coverage of the 2016 New Hampshire Presidential Primary.

New Hampshire Wakes Up With A Primary Hangover

Feb 10, 2016
Casey McDermott

The morning after Primary Day, I stopped by Ben Carson’s campaign headquarters in Manchester to see if anything was going on.

There wasn’t. The lights were out, and the doors were locked. Carson was also long gone. At a neighboring hair salon, stylist Kettia Fenestor said the Carson camp made for good neighbors. But she’s happy to put it all in the rearview.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

For months after announcing his White House bid, Bernie Sanders didn’t run a single campaign commercial on television. But he was everywhere online: emails, social media posts and paid ads on desktop computers and mobile devices.

Sanders has spent $10 million building a presence on the Internet, more than anyone else running for president this year. While the Vermont senator has hardly turned his back on TV, he’s betting that the voters most likely to embrace his vision for the country are online, not in front of a 50” flat-screen.

If you want to know whether Hillary Clinton will stay close to Bernie Sanders Tuesday, or are looking for an early hint of how the Republican race will end up, here's a tip: Keep an eye on Rochester.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

During primaries, candidates usually try to appeal to their party’s hardliners. In New Hampshire, John Kasich has been doing the opposite: pitching himself as a mainstream politician with a bipartisan record. 

Ask a Kasich supporter what they like about him? You’ll hear something like this:

"Middle of the road...Not an ideologue...He’s more moderate.

Jack Rodolico

Around 6 am last Friday, the Mt. Pisgah Diner in Winchester was packed with regulars: people who come to share good food at a small counter. The diner's owner, Joni Otto, says no presidential candidate has ever graced her doorway.

But that doesn't mean politics is missing from the menu.

Natasha Haverty / NHPR

Primary elections have a tendency to push candidates to the political extreme—fire up the base and draw bright lines around the issues. But during the New Hampshire presidential primary, where political independents play a central role those tactics often mean the campaign rhetoric sometimes doesn’t line up with how voters actually think.

Here are a few voters feeling that disconnect on one issue: guns.


Allegra Boverman / NHPR

Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign has a challenge ahead of it before Primary Day.

The Vermont senator gets some of his strongest support in New Hampshire from independents. But those same voters could, at the last minute, decide to cast a ballot in the Republican primary.

NHPR Staff

Every four years in New Hampshire, the presidential primary season is heralded by the flowering of lawn signs. And while yard signs are hardly the most innovative campaign technique available today, a new scientific study suggests these old-fashioned political tools can still have an impact.

Natasha Haverty

In the 2016 presidential campaign, few issues have been as fiercely debated as immigration. Here in New Hampshire, the US Southern border thousands of miles away can feel like an abstraction. But a small and growing number of voters in New Hampshire take the immigration debate very personally: the state’s Latino community. And as that community grows, so does its resolve to find a political voice. 

NHPR Staff

There is a certain mystique to the New Hampshire presidential primary: flinty New Englanders trudging to the polls through snow and cold to be the first voters in the nation to cast their ballots. That earnest, Norman Rockwell image applies to how candidates are expected to campaign in the Granite State: shaking hands at coffee shops; chatting with locals at small-town diners; courting activists one by one.

Allegra Boverman / NHPR

New Hampshire’s primary is just five weeks away, and state election officials are anticipating record turnout. There’s something else on their minds too—this will be the first presidential primary with the state’s new voter ID law in place. 

The law, which passed three and a half years ago, was part of a wave of stricter voter laws pushed by Republicans across the country. How it plays out on Primary Day is still an open question.

 


Allegra Boverman for NHPR

All political campaigns boil down to one question: How do you get more people to vote for your candidate than for any other?

The outcome of this year's New Hampshire Republican presidential primary could hinge on how well campaigns manage this so-called ground game.


Allegra Boverman | Kate Harper

The fight late last week among Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton and the Democratic National Committee seems to have simmered down.

The DNC censured Sanders' campaign for improperly getting access to confidential voter data from Clinton's team. The restrictions have since been lifted, but the incident shone a light on a little known, but critical aspect of the 2016 presidential race: how candidates use data to identify, reach and influence potential supporters.

Allegra Boverman / NHPR

Over a presidential campaign season that grows longer every four years, candidates have long counted on voters changing their minds before Primary Day. But we don’t often hear about how or why voters make up their minds in the first place. NHPR followed up with three voters to see how they are forming – and changing—their opinions over the course of the campaign.

NHPR File Photo

Whether measured in polls, crowds or money raised, Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton appear in a tight race as New Hampshire's Primary Day approaches.

Clinton, of course, is no stranger to hard-fought Granite State contests. She edged out Barack Obama in New Hampshire’s 2008 Democratic presidential primary, winning 39 percent of the vote to Obama’s 37 percent.   

But the bottom-line vote tallies can obscure a simple fact: The New Hampshire primary is not just a statewide contest. 

Natasha Haverty

It’s on every presidential candidate’s checklist: make at least one swing through northern New Hampshire, deliver a stump speech, shake hands with residents of the quiet mountain towns. But what about the people who aren’t at those campaign events? 

Brady Carlson / NHPR

Huge rallies with thousands of supporters. Ad buys that try to reach millions of voters. Those are the hallmarks of modern presidential campaigns.

But there’s a good chance the next president will have also spent some time getting to know voters one on one in much smaller settings – like Rich Ashooh's living room.

Jason Moon / NHPR

For months now presidential candidates have been campaigning in New Hampshire. But to officially enter the race, candidates large and small, Republican and Democrat alike, must pass through the Secretary of State's office. It's a time honored tradition of the New Hampshire primary, but it can lead to some unexpected presidential run-ins. Like yesterday with Jim Gilmore and Hillary Clinton.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

If any single mode of campaigning could be said to typify the New Hampshire Primary it would probably be the town hall meeting, where would-be presidents throw open the floor to questions from all comers. Some New Hampshire Primary winners - think John McCain - have put town halls at the very center of their strategies. But that’s not been the case with top candidates this year.

Presidential candidates boosted their spending in New Hampshire this summer, spending nearly six times as much as they did in the previous three month period.

The Republican and Democratic candidates doled out nearly $2 million across the state from July to September. The vast majority of that cash, however, went to a small handful of Republican operatives and consultants -- and the New Hampshire Democratic Party.

UNH Communications and Public Affairs

Last week we told you about Dante Scala and Andy Smith, the UNH political scientists who occupy a rarefied niche in academia that makes them precious commodities every four years.

That’s in large part due to their impressive resumes.

The pair have both authored books on the New Hampshire primary, and they've developed networks of sources to keep them informed on the state's political landscape.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

By most measures of success, South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham’s presidential bid is lagging: low poll numbers, few major endorsements, little money raised. But those challenges aren’t slowing the GOP candidate in his efforts to win over Granite State voters.

Allegra Boverman / NHPR

Recently, the Sanders campaign held an organizing party in Nashua.

There have been thousands of parties like these throughout the country, but in the beginning they were organized by local volunteers. 

NHPR Staff

The Hillary Clinton campaign has been doing it for weeks, rolling out the names of prominent local backers. Sometimes the names are big, such as Gov. Maggie Hassan. Other times, they are smaller, like Wednesday's endorser, former Executive Councilor Debora Pignatelli.

Either way, the Clinton campaign keeps them coming. But the same thing can’t be said for Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who counts no current office holders among his Granite State backers. The question is: Does that matter in this election?

Associated Press

When talking to voters on the campaign trail, Ohio Gov. John Kasich likes to sum up the last time he ran for president in New Hampshire with a story. It starts with him talking to a potential supporter in Bow in 1999.

Josh Rogers/nhpr

History suggests a strong finish in the New Hampshire primary – first or second place -- is mandatory for anyone who wants to become president. History also shows New Hampshire can be tough terrain for frontrunners, or candidates who enter the race perceived that way. Such are a few of the challenges facing former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush at this stage in the First in the Nation primary. 


It’s a familiar scene: Carly Fiorina’s presidential campaign has a meet and greet at a lumber yard in Wentworth. Nitsa Ioannides and Kerry Marsh stand behind a table, greeting guests.  Ionnides hands you a red CARLY For America sticker and a brochure; Marsh might recommend a yard sign.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

New Hampshire’s independent streak is wider than ever and still growing. And that could make predicting the outcome of the 2016 presidential primary tougher than usual.

In political terms, increasing numbers of New Hampshire voters are showing their independence by declining to register with either major party. There are more of these “undeclared” voters in New Hampshire today than in any previous election cycle, and they are playing a bigger role in the state's primary elections.

Paige Sutherland for NHPR

Presidential candidates usually hit the campaign trail carrying a long list of issues they hope to talk about. But lately, voters in New Hampshire have been forcing an issue of their own into candidates’ stump speeches: the state’s ongoing opioid crisis.

Emily Corwin / NHPR

Throughout the 2016 presidential season, NHPR will bring you profiles of the people and places behind the scenes of the New Hampshire Primary. We start with Geno's Chowder and Sandwich Shop, an iconic campaign stop in Portsmouth for candidates looking to meet voters - and maybe sample a lobster roll.