On our first day in the Granite State, the Race for the White House group met with University of New Hampshire Political Science Professor Andy Smith, who also serves as the Director of the UNH Survey Center. Professor Smith shared countless statistics that undermine the usefulness and accuracy of polls that rely on lists of prior voters—even those done the day before the New Hampshire primary election! He shared that polling is challenging in New Hampshire primary elections because up to 45 percent of voters in the state choose whom to vote for in the final three days before the election, and up to 20 percent of New Hampshire voters decide on Election Day.
UNH polling differs from some other polling techniques by conducting random digit dialing polls, a process in which thousands of voters across New Hampshire are randomly called and asked questions about various political topics. Such surveys may focus on candidate preference, candidate favorability, and probability of participating in the primary election.
One of the main differences between Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary is that the primary allows for voters to come to the polls throughout Election Day. Because of the increased flexibility and strong citizen interest in participating in the primary, voter turnout is higher, approximately 50% of the voting eligible public, as compared to Iowa’s average of 10-12%. We are excited to continue exploring the similarities and differences between these two lauded state contests!
After a quick break we were invited for dinner at Principia College alumn Pollyann Winslow’s house in Londonderry. She arranged to have New Hampshire State Senator Sharon Carson come and speak with us, among other guests. We asked questions about the New Hampshire primary and state politics. State Senator Carson expanded on how successful presidential campaigns are run in New Hampshire. Similar to Iowa, New Hampshire citizens expect to meet and talk to candidates multiple times and believe the fact that candidates have to look voters directly in the eye as they shake their hands and answer their questions provides an accountability that strengthens the democratic process. In both states, campaigns rely on grassroots campaigning to sway voters.
After Senator Carson left we met with Mateo Moran who is a field operator for Carly Fiorina’s Super PAC, Carly for America. Moran expanded upon the Super PAC’s grassroots campaign for Carly Fiorina, noting that Carly decided to run a true New Hampshire grass roots campaign, without relying on media advertising. Pollyann was nice enough to invite local Londonderry officials, established personalities, and campaign volunteers. We had a delightful time conversing with all invited individuals and beginning our New Hampshire trip by learning extensively about New Hampshire local politics. We were also treated to a wonderful meal and dessert – a cake decorated to celebrate 100 years of New Hampshire’s “First in the Nation Primary” status. Happy 100th Birthday, NH Primary!
Our group also visited First Church of Christ, Scientist, Concord, New Hampshire. We had an opportunity to ring the bells, which you can see here.