The day started with a visit with New Hampshire Democratic Party Chairman Ray Buckley in Concord, New Hampshire. Chairman Buckley spoke about his extensive history with the Democratic Party, which started when he volunteered for Edmund Muskie’s campaign as a 7-year-old. When he was in his teens, he traveled around portions of the state with then-candidate, Jimmy Carter. Chairman Buckley is now in his fifth term of service as the state party chair. He then expanded on New Hampshire’s state party structure, as well as the opportunities open to New Hampshirites because of the state’s first in the nation status. Unlike some other experts we have talked to, Buckley is not worried about the status of the Democratic New Hampshire Primary which has become such an integral part of the state’s identity and economic health. Buckley also noted that due to increasing partisanship in American politics, there is a growing lack of communication between the Democratic and Republican state parties. Another trend Buckley discussed is the decrease in presence of local media at the state house because of the growing expense of running a newspaper like the New Hampshire Union Leader. A lack of reporters also leaves the door open for more miscommunication which can be amplified through the use of social media. We enjoyed tapping into Buckley’s extensive knowledge of party politics and comparing it to other party officials’ experiences both in New Hampshire and Iowa.
After a quick bite to eat, our group went to the office of the New Hampshire Union Leader to meet with Trent Spiner, the Executive Editor. Like the Des Moines Register, the New Hampshire Union Leader works hard to cover all eligible presidential candidates and refrain from discrimination based on success in irrelevant or unrepresentative pre-primary polls. However, the New Hampshire Union Leader (NHUL) differs in how the newspaper chooses to endorse a presidential candidate. While the Des Moines Register takes into account all opinions of its editorial board before deciding on a candidate and publishing the endorsement a week before the Iowa caucus, the Union Leader’s endorsement is decided and published by the publisher, Joe McQuaid. The paper endorsed Governor Chris Christie back in November 2015.
Spiner also noted that the Union Leader does not report on polls in their articles. The paper’s position is that pre-primary polls do not determine the votes of New Hampshire residents. Spiner also discussed how he embraces social media because it allows for more engagement and interaction with life and politics, especially among younger audiences.
Our day ended with a lovely dinner at a local restaurant and an inspiring testimony meeting at First Church of Christ Scientist, Concord.