New Hampshire is the first state to kick off the 2020 primary and a lot of voters from The Granite State and other states who have not made their choice yet take advantage of the moment to get close to candidates and learn more about their policies and personalities.
It’s unlikely for all voters from Washington, Pennsylvania and most other states to meet candidates in an intimate setting like in New Hampshire. In most cases, they consume the media version of the candidates they vote for. For this reason, voters who do not have the chance to get to know their candidates make their way to New Hampshire where they can ask questions directly to the candidates.
Ryan Bonner and Nick Fanelle are from New Jersey. On Saturday, they drove from Manchester to observe Bill Weld, a Republican candidate, at a Town Hall meeting in New Boston, a small town in New Hampshire.
“I came to see him because he is the only available candidate on the Republican side” Fanelle said. “he is interesting; former governor of Massachusetts; uhm, it’s always interesting to see what other perspectives are.”
Abigail Nelson and Ashley Slimy, two young voters from Rhode Island flew to New Hampshire to observe all the Democrat candidates and Bill Weld, a Republican candidate. The candidate who will impress them, they said, will have their support in their state.
“I’m still undecided,” Nelson said. “I don’t know who I’m gonna vote for. Everybody on the Democrats’ side sounds pretty much the same; I’m trying to figure out who represents me.”
Following Bill Weld’s interaction with voters, Nelson said she is not persuaded by the candidate. She will go to Manchester to listen and observe more Democratic candidates before she can make her final choice.
“I think I need more information,” she said. “I would have liked to hear something about the opioid crisis, how he’ll handle that; and also, the LGBTQ youth rights.”
The majority of those who travelled from other states to New Hampshire are voters who have just turned or will turn 18 by the polling time. Most of those interviewed are more concerned with issues related to climate change and technology rather than foreign policy and other matters.
Tad Hogner, 18, who lives in New Boston, also attended a Bill Weld meeting in her hometown to know the candidate in a more personal way and learn more about what his policies are.
“I’m not a Democrat and I don’t consider myself a Republican; that’s why I’m here today to, sort of, see what people have to say and see where we’ll go from here.”
After hearing what Weld said and how he answered questions, Hogner said he is still undecided and will travel to either Nashua or Manchester to learn more about other candidates in person rather than watching them on TV.
Asked about whether or not Weld’s policies are likely to attract millennials, Peter Spaulding, Weld’s state campaign manager from New Hampshire said the candidate is aware of issues that affect young people directly.
“The whole problem he did talk about today about artificial intelligence and changes in technology,” Spaulding said, “are problems that affect millennial folks. And also, the climate change; as an older American I should be more concerned to the extent that in 20 or 30 years the millennials are going to be affected by seas rise and other climate issues. Weld is aware of these issues.”
While the Democratic National Convention disqualified some candidates from the televised debate, undecided voters became more curious about what the policies of those who are not on the debate are.
After attending Michael Bennet and James Carville’s rally in Manchester, a parent from Washington, D.C. said he decided to travel all the way to New Hampshire with his 17-year-old son to meet and speak directly with Bennet and learn more from his perspective.
Walker Price, 17, from D.C, said he was going to support Bernie Sanders but after the debate he changed his mind and wanted to know what other candidates had to say about the cost of college education and minimum wage, both issues that affect younger generations more than “older folks,” he said.
“I personally come from a home with a lot of privilege,” Price said. “So, it doesn’t affect me as much, but I recognize that it does affect a lot of Americans. We’re coming to a world where college is so expensive and so competitive, that’s awful. If I decided to support Bernie Sanders it’s because he’s been, kind of, touching these issues in his entire career. I think that’s why he’s been able to, kind of, draw some of his support from the younger crowd. But I’m curious about what Bennet has to say and my parents thought the easiest way to meet him and Bernie is in New Hampshire.”