Wow. What a trip to New Hampshire. The first in the nation primary is definitely all it cracked up to be. Despite some pundits expecting that Hillary Clinton or one of the establishment Republicans would come in and pull off a major upset, both Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump pulled decisive victories on Tuesday.
Before I talk a bit more about results, let me talk about my experience working for Secretary Clinton. I happen to be a fervent supporter of Senator Sanders, and after working last week for Senator Cruz; I knew that this week was looking to be an equal challenge. I was relieved to be back on the same side of the aisle, and I thought it would be exciting to see the inside of the “Clinton Machine”.
At the end of the day, I was left incredibly underwhelmed. I know that many supporters of Clinton would (rightfully so) say that Clinton had redirected much of her New Hampshire operation to Nevada, South Carolina, and even some of the Super Tuesday states, but I find that no excuse for what I saw in New Hampshire. While canvassing (on primary day, a day when campaigns should be focusing on their most likely voters, and ensuring they vote), I had more Trump supporters and Sanders supporters on my walk sheet, than Clinton supports (as a caveat: they said there were a mix of undecided voters and Clinton supporters on our walk sheet). Having done field (also known as GOTV- get out the vote) for a variety of other campaigns before, for candidates for both federal offices and state offices, a well organized campaign should be able to do a very good job targeting their likely voters by the day of the election. While some of the other members of the Clinton team had different experiences (meaning mine could have been an outlier), after we finished our third canvass packet of the day, I was concerned that Clinton might be heading for a loss with a magnitude that no one expected (more about that later).
Now to some positives. Clinton’s office was constantly running very smoothly from the inside. They had canvass sheets laid out for each of the wards in Manchester, and had a slew of drivers ready to take volunteers out to the neighborhoods. The office was also full of energy, and actually a little more diverse than I would have expected for New Hampshire. While there were still very few minorities in the office, there was a large amount of age diversity, and I spotted some major socio-economic diversity. Probably the most memorable moment of the day was when we were in canvassing in a low-income neighborhood in Manchester, and I knocked on the door of a middle-aged Hispanic voter. You could tell that his English was broken, so I asked Sophia Rossell, one of my friends, and fellow Wake-the-Voter, who I was canvassing with, if she could communicate with him in Spanish (my Spanish was no where near competent enough to communicate effectively with him). While I can only take what I heard second hand, I could see that he was really passionate about what Hillary Clinton could do for the Democratic Party and the country. Even as a Bernie Sanders supporter, moments like that give me hope and reassure me that if Hillary is the Democratic nominee, our party will be in good hands.
If you had told me when I woke up yesterday that Bernie was going to win New Hampshire by over 20%, I would have thought you were crazy. I did expect Bernie to win, but I expected a slightly closer race (maybe closer to ten points). While many Clinton supporters now find relief in the fact that the campaign is heading towards friendlier territory in Nevada and South Carolina, states with lower percentages of very liberal voters and higher percentages of minorities, the Sanders campaign can leave New Hampshire with positives coming from the fact that they exceeded expectations (and the likely windfall of cash that will come from that).
I leave optimistic for the future of my party. Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton have both worked incredibly hard for the Democratic Party over their political careers. Going forth in the primary, I look forward to hearing both of them continue to espouse their visions for leading the country into the future. The Democratic Party is lucky to have two strong candidates attempting to carry the mantle of our party into the future, while the Republican Party appears to be in more disarray than even I expected. I’m sure the upcoming months will lead to more twists and turns, but it’s on to South Carolina and Nevada, where we may be hearing an entirely different narrative in about ten days.
Go Deacs, Go Blue.